NFL Conference Championship Best Bets

Here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, we can’t believe we’re already down to the Final Four with this weekend’s conference title games. The divisional playoff games were a mixed bag of results last weekend.

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It was also a little strange for yours truly, Dave Tuley. I wasn’t able to watch the games in my regular spot in the Westgate Theater (where Elvis used to play back in the 1970s) as it was hosting the Mrs. America Pageant. I also can’t believe the Westgate didn’t invite me to be a judge (note to self: “Self, you should probably change the subject back to football!”).

Favorites went 3-1 SU and ATS as the Ravens (-10) pulled away to rout the Texans 34-10, the 49ers (-10.5) beat the Packers 24-21 and the Lions (-6) held on to cover in 31-23 win vs. the Buccaneers. The lone upset was the Chiefs (+2.5) beating the Bills 27-24, though faves and dogs split 2-2 ATS with the 49ers’ non-cover. Over led 2-1-1 with the push in the Texans-Ravens game (44) while Bucs-Lions (49.5) and Chiefs-Bills (46) went Over with the Packers-49ers (50.5) staying Under.

Overall, in the NFL postseason, faves are 6-4 ATS, but dogs lead 6-4 ATS, with the Packers covering in their loss at the 49ers this round while the Rams (+3) covered in their 24-23 loss at the Lions on Super Wild-Card Weekend.

Home teams have dominated at 8-2 SU (Cowboys in the wild-card round and Bills in the divisional round being the only losing hosts) but just 6-4 ATS. Overs took a 5-4-1 lead overall.

As for our picks here, I lost with the Texans +9.5 at the Ravens. But I salvaged Saturday with the Packers-49ers Under 50.5 before winning my 2-team, 6-point teaser on Sunday with the Lions -0.5/Chiefs +8.5.

We’re technically a disappointing 1-3 ATS with our Best Bets on sides, but we’ve actually made a small profit as we’re 2-0 with Over/Unders and the teasers continue to bail us out like they have all season. Unfortunately, we don’t have a teaser play this weekend.
Let’s get to this weekend’s conference championship games. As we’ve written the past two weeks, the stakes are higher at this time of year, and even though I know I’m supposed to say that we should treat these games just like we would a regular-season game and not just bet them all because they’re standalone games, I know most of us won’t be able to resist so I’ll post a Best Bet on each playoff game through the Super Bowl.

At this point, I usually add, “If I don’t like a side, I’ll look at the Over/Under” … but I actually do love both dogs plus the points on Sunday (and also like both Unders, for what that’s worth!).

Kansas City at Baltimore (-4, 44.5)

I’m sure you’ve heard all week (and will continue to hear) that this is the Chiefs’ sixth straight year playing in the AFC Championship Game (all with Patrick Mahomes at QB) but the first time on the road. They’re 3-2 in those games on the way to two Super Bowl titles, including last year. As the defending champs, I can’t tell you how many times I heard last week that they were favored to beat the Bills, even though they actually were 2.5-point road underdogs.

Of course, that’s understandable (especially from those who don’t monitor point spreads all week long) as they Chiefs are rarely in the dog role; in fact it only happened one other time during the regular season when the Chiefs were 3.5-point dogs at the Chargers in Week 18 (though that doesn’t really count, right?) but still pulled out the 13-12 victory with their backups. They also closed at pick-’em in Week 9 at the Dolphins and also won that game 21-14.

You might have noted those scores are lower than we expect in Chiefs’ games, but the fact is the KC offense is the worst of the remaining four teams at just 22.3 points per game, ranking only No. 14 in the league. The Ravens are No. 2 at 28.7 ppg. The Ravens also have the No. 1 scoring defense, allowing 16.1 points per game, but few people realize that the Chiefs are No, 2 at 17.1 ppg as the D has helped them stay in games as the offense has been mediocre all season, especially at the wide receiver position.

But all of the above is why we still love the Chiefs, especially as the line has climbed to +4. The defenses should keep this close (which is also why we love the Under 44.5) and I’m expecting that the Chiefs’ playoff experience edge and the Mahomes’ clutch play will lead them to another thrilling victory – or at least get close for a back-door cover.

NFL Conference Championship Best Bets: Chiefs +4 and Under 44.5

Detroit at San Francisco (-7, 51)

Regular readers also know that the Lions have been very good to us as underdogs the past few years as we saw them as an improving team (they went 10-7 ATS in 2021 and then a league-best 12-5 ATS in 2022).

We haven’t been able to back them as much this year as they’ve been favored in 16 of their games (10-4 ATS as chalk during the regular season and 1-1 ATS in the playoffs, so wish we hadn’t been so chalk-adverse LMEAO).

Anyway, we do get them as live juicy dogs here and they’re 2-1 ATS in that role this year with their 21-20 upset of the Chiefs in Week 1 as 4-point road dogs and a spread-covering 20-19 loss at the Cowboys in Week 17 as 4.5-point road dogs. Their only ATS loss as a dog this season was in a 38-6 loss at the Ravens in Week 7 as 3-point road dogs (that will be a concern if that’s the Super Bowl matchup as I’m not a big “revenge” handicapper, but we’ll worry about that later if it happens).

The 49ers are certainly worthy of being this big of faves with the No. 3 scoring offense and defense and averaging 28.6 points per game and allowing just 17.7 ppg. However, while the Lions’ defense has been suspect at times (ranked No. 23 at 23.2 point per game), the offense has been able to keep them in almost every game as the No. 5 scoring offense at 27.2 ppg.

When it comes down to it, if this line was still 49ers -6.5, I would consider it a 50/50 proposition and pass. However, at 7, we could say that if this game is played 10 times that the 5-5 ATS result would go to 5-4-1 ATS in favor of the underdog as one of the 49ers’ mythcial covers at -6.5 could very well come from the game landing on 7. So that’s where we feel we get our edge at +7.

We also feel that the Over/Under should be closer to 48 points, so the cushion of about a field goal also places us on the Under.

NFL Conference Championship Best Bets: Lions +7 and Under 51