A sports betting look at the Championship chalk — the two remaining top-seeded NFL teams and their place as favorites. The sportsbook hung these NFL point spreads at around a field goal, as we handicap them and offer a couple of early NFL picks.
Point Spread: -4 -110
Once again, the Green Bay Packers appeared simply untroubled in dealing with the team on the other side of the field, in this case, the Los Angeles Rams. The Packers ushered a slightly wounded Rams team out of the playoffs, all the while barely letting them catch a whiff of a point spread cover. In a three-touchdown performance, Aaron Rodgers never looked harried, and the Packers soundly covered their touchdown point spread in a 32-18 final.
Now, in a tighter matchup, they’re laying four points in the NFC Championship against the Tom Brady Buccaneers on Sunday. Of course, these two met in Week 6 when the Bucs handed the then 4-0 Packers their first loss — a slap-in-the-face to the field-goal favorite Packers, who blew a 10-point lead, giving Tampa Bay the 38-10 win.
That was the game Rodgers threw two picks, no touchdowns, was sacked four times and, claimed in the postgame press conference, the team needed that kind of kick to the glutes, as it were. He wasn’t wrong, as the Packers only lost two other games (both by a single score) the rest of the way. They went 5-2 against the number in their seven-game winning streak to cap off the regular season.
While they’ve played a range of defenses, they’ve failed to hang at least 30 on their opponent on only four occasions this year — against some notable defenses like New Orleans (37) and Chicago (35 and 41).
Back at home again, they’ll be bringing their 7,439 fans who have done their best to sound like an order of magnitude louder than their size. They’re in good shape with regard to injury coming out of last Saturday’s match. And we’d expect them to win and cover the number this Sunday as well.
That said, there seems to be a bit of an early divide on this game, and still lots of support left in the market for Tampa Bay. Laying four flat (-110) with the Packers is probably taking the worst of the number and would be better off waiting for it to drop to -3½ flat or at least -4 Ev.
Pick: Green Bay Packers
Point Spread: -3 -110
Betting markets turned sour on the Chiefs weeks ago. Having opened the year with a 6-2 ATS record after covering a historic three-touchdown point spread, the Chiefs then proceeded to set fire to their backers’ money, going 1-8 from that point. So it wasn’t a shock when they laid double digits last week against Cleveland, and come game day the Browns got steamed hard down to 7½ at kickoff.
The Chiefs not only failed to cover in their 22-17 squeaker over the Browns but for a decent chunk of the second half appeared in outright peril of losing. For a team that sported a 19-3 lead heading into the halftime locker room — and snagged an interception on the Cleveland 19 to open the second half — things fell apart quickly for the Chiefs.
Harrison Butker doinked a field goal attempt off the upright. They gave up a touchdown. Then they gave up their quarterback to a tackle by Mack Wilson on a called-run play resulting in a probable concussion. They did manage to survive, of course, with backup Chad Henne as quarterback, his earlier interception forgiven for piecing together a four-minute drive to close out the game.
Now in their third straight AFC conference championship, nothing will seem settled until an update is provided on Mahomes. It is known he is in the league’s concussion protocol, isn’t completely certain he has a concussion — though he sure looked like he’d gotten his bell rung when he stood up — and we’ll have no idea about a further update to his condition until the Chiefs offer their first practice and injury report on Wednesday.
Practically every NFL news outlet on earth is on high alert with regard to Mahomes’ status, and the BetUS NFL injury report is no exception. (Check in frequently as we parse through coach Andy Reid’s ambiguous equivocations.)
If it appears Mahomes can’t play, or isn’t practicing, or the team doesn’t offer some kind of optimism, expect this line to start coming closer to a pick. We like the Bills overall in this game, and would consider grabbing a +3 -110 play on them now before it isn’t available, which seems like it will soon be the case.