Where wiseguys are leaning on NFL championship weekend

January 27, 2022 08:23 PM
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After a public wild-card round bonanza in which favorites went 5-1 ATS, dogs barked back in the divisional round, going 3-1 ATS with three outright wins. For those keeping track, favorites are 6-4 ATS this postseason while Unders hold the edge at 6-4.

Historically, the conference championship games have provided an edge to favorites and Overs. Since 2003, home favorites are 22-8 (73%) straight up this round and 17-13 ATS (57%). We've also seen overs go 22-11 (67%) over that stretch, including a perfect 4-0 over the past two years. 

Will favorites and Overs continue to cash? Or will we see dogs bark and Unders come through? 

Let's dive into both games and examine where the respected money is leaning.

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (-7, 54)

The Bengals (12-7 SU, 12-7 ATS) took down the Raiders 26-19 in the wild-card round, covering as 6-point home favorites, then upset the Titans 19-16 in the divisional round, winning outright as 3-point road dogs. Meanwhile, the Chiefs (14-5 SU, 10-9 ATS) crushed the Steelers 42-21 in the wild-card round, covering as 11.5-point home favorites, then outlasted the Bills 42-36 in an overtime thriller, covering as 2.5-point home favorites. Cincinnati is currently + 800 to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM while the Chiefs are the favorite at + 120. 

This line opened with Kansas City as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is happy to lay the points with the Chiefs at home after their instant-classic win over Buffalo. This lopsided betting has pushed Kansas City from -6.5 to -7. Some shops are flirting with a further move to 7.5. The Chiefs will likely be a popular teaser play (-7 to -1), which goes through the key number of 3. At this point, the Bengals offer buy-low value as a road contrarian dog with an inflated line, especially if you can wait it out and pounce on the hook (+ 7.5). There's some familiarity here, with the Bengals upsetting the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17, winning outright as 3.5-point home dogs. Cincinnati also has a rest advantage, playing on Saturday afternoon while the Chiefs played Sunday night. 

Sharps have also hit this Over, steaming the total from 53.5 to 54.5. Some books opened as low as 50.5 and immediately adjusted upward. The forecast calls for low 40s with mild 5-mph winds and clear skies, perfect weather for football. Kansas City is 7-0 to the Over in their last seven games. Bill Vinovich, the lead ref, has historically leaned toward road teams (55.4% ATS) and Unders (59.1%).

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 46)

The 49ers (12-7 SU, 11-8 ATS) have won outright as road dog in both their postseason games thus far, upsetting Dallas 23-17 as 3.5-point dogs and then shocking the Packers 13-10 as 6-point dogs. The Rams (14-5 SU, 10-9 ATS) beat the Cardinals 34-11 in their playoff opener, easily covering as 3.5-point home favorites, then upset the defending champion Bucs 30-27 as 2.5-point road dogs. The 49ers are currently + 450 to win the Super Bowl while the Rams have the second-best odds at + 200.

This line opened with Los Angeles as a 3.5-point home favorite. The public is rushing to the window to back the Rams on a short number at home. However, all the juice is leaning on the 49ers (+ 3.5 at -115 or -120). This signals liability on San Francisco plus the hook, along with a possible fall down from 3.5 to 3. Playoff divisional dogs are 8-6 ATS (57%) over the past decade. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan is 27-18 ATS (60%) in his career as a dog. Jimmy Garoppolo is 15-4 ATS (79%) as a dog. The 49ers are 2-0 against the Rams this season, winning 31-10 in Week 10 and 27-24 in Week 18. The 49ers have a rest advantage, playing on Saturday while the Rams played on Sunday. 

We could be looking at a lower-scoring game, as the total has been bet down from 47 to 46 despite a majority of public bettors taking the Over. When the total falls at least a half-point in the playoffs, the Under is 35-30 (54%) over the past decade. Carl Cheffers, the lead red, has trended slightly to road teams (51.2% ATS) and Overs (50.2%) in his career. 

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