Betting

Between the Lines: Betting 2023 NFL Conference Championship Games

AFC Championship Preview

The final four teams are set, and it’s time for the AFC and NFC Championship games. As usual, this weekly piece is meant to dissect these games from an oddsmakers’ perspective, comparing them to where I would set the betting line.

We showed early value on the Jaguars +8.5, Giants +7.5, Bengals +5 and 49ers -4 when we wrote this article last week. Following those leans would have given you a 3-1 record in the Divisional Round. Let’s get to these early looks for this week’s action.

 

49ers at Eagles (-2.5)

Total: 45.5

Where I set the line: EVEN, with a total of 44

Philadelphia Weather: 51 degrees, partly cloudy, nine mph winds

The Eagles and the 49ers had different experiences in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. The 49ers were tested for the second straight week, overcoming all-out efforts from the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round and the Cowboys on Sunday. The Eagles, on the other hand, annihilated the Giants for the second straight time this season on Saturday. Here are some key takeaways from both teams heading into this big showdown. 

Eagles

  • They outgained the Giants, 416-227, in total yards
  • Jalen Hurts had three first-half touchdowns, and the Eagles had nearly 70% of their total production in the first half. If the game was closer, their numbers might’ve been even more staggering
  • The Giants have a bad run defense, and the Eagles took advantage. They ran for 268 yards on Saturday, rolling over their opponent for the final 30 minutes of game time
  • While the Eagles are obviously talented, that talent hasn’t been tested often this season. The toughest defenses they’ve faced are the Saints, Cowboys and Commanders. They struggled mightily against those units
  • They are the more well-rested team by far

49ers

  • They held one of the most potent offenses in the NFL to 282 yards and 15 first downs. They also forced Dak Prescott into two bad interceptions, which led to six San Francisco points in the first half
  • Brock Purdy did enough to win again, completing 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards and averaging 7.4 yards per pass. His decision-making and well-timed throws continue to fuel San Francisco’s offense
  • The 49ers’ running game was underwhelming on Sunday, earning only 113 yards on 32 carries. That included only 35 yards on 10 carries from star running back, Christian McCaffrey. Regardless, Kyle Shanahan ran the ball on 52% of their plays
  • San Francisco committed only three penalties for 30 yards. Dallas was penalized seven times for 50 yards and a few times on crucial drives, helping the 49ers regain momentum

Early Betting Take 

My concern for the Eagles is they haven’t had a real challenge yet. They limped through Weeks 15-18, going 2-2 and barely beating bad Bears and Giants squads without Hurts, who was out with a shoulder injury. Although they certainly seemed to find their footing again after destroying their division foe on Saturday. Still, the Giants are not the 49ers, and San Francisco’s defense might feel jarring for a Philadelphia offense that’s been coasting for most of the season.

The Eagles are the more rested team, and their home-field advantage is legitimate. Against most teams, the talent they have in the trenches is too much to handle, but the 49ers are one of those rare squads that match up well. They have pro-bowl talent on both lines, and San Francisco’s aggressive complex blocking schemes is something the Eagles’ defensive line hasn’t seen yet. I think the 49ers are the better all-around team, and that’s why I have this line as “EVEN.” I show early value on the away team. 

 

Bengals at Chiefs (-1)

Total: 47.5

Where I set the line: Chiefs -1.5 with a total of 48.5

Kansas City Weather: 24 degrees, snow showers, 15 mph winds

First of all, I’m pretty sure Patrick Mahomes will find a way to play in this game. Mahomes’ MRI on Sunday confirmed he has a high ankle sprain, but he’s been adamant he’ll play this Sunday. Because of that, I give the Chiefs a bit more credit in this matchup. After all, Mahomes is officially 0-3 against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. There aren’t many teams who can claim that record against a Chiefs team that has relatively dominated the AFC since Mahomes became the starter. Eventually, Kansas City has to win one, right? We’ll find out this Sunday in what’ll be a wintry, classic showdown between the two best teams in the AFC.

Chiefs

  • They slightly outgained the Jaguars (362-349), but it didn’t seem like the away team was in the same class as Kansas City. Mahomes went into the locker room after he injured his ankle in the first half, which slowed down the Chiefs’ offense that was rolling early. The Jaguars never led at any point in the contest
  • The Chiefs’ pass defense seemed to find a new level, limiting the surging Trevor Lawrence to 217 yards and a 61.5% completion rate. He was sacked twice and lured into a bad interception, too.
  • The Chiefs’ defense held Jacksonville to only five yards per play. Kansas City also ran for 144 yards and controlled time of possession (35:01 to 24:59)
  • The Chiefs never turned over the ball and committed only three penalties on Saturday afternoon. It was another clean performance from a perennial Super Bowl contender

Bengals

  • They outgained one of the NFL’s best offenses, 412-325, in total yards
  • Burrow was masterful Sunday, taking full advantage of a soft Buffalo defense that gave him space to throw early and often. He went 23 for 36 for 242 yards and two touchdowns, executing timely throws and precision passes on one big third down after another. Cincinnati went converted six of 10 third-down opportunities and gained 12 more first downs than Buffalo (30-18).
  • The Bengals ran all over the Bills, stacking up 172 yards on the ground behind tough runs from Joe Mixon (20 carries for 105 yards) and Samaje Perine (7 carries for 33 yards).
  • Despite that dominance from the offense, the Bengals’ defense  could have played even better. They held Josh Allen to a 59.5% completion rate, 265 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. They also limited the Bills’ running attack to only 63 yards on 19 carries.
  • Stats won’t show every nuance of how prepared, poised, and aggressive the Bengals played Sunday afternoon. They led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, never gave up the lead, and were only penalized twice. The Bengals continue to prove that they’re a confident, undeterred and well-coached squad. 

Early Betting Take

It’s going to be really hard to bet on a side in this contest. The Chiefs at home are tremendously tough, and I would imagine we’ll see Mahomes under center on Sunday. At the same time, the Bengals look like a better version of the team that got to the Super Bowl last year. Even with their offensive line issues, they were efficient and dominant in the trenches.

Burrow is playing like he’s the best quarterback in football, and it’s becoming harder to dispute that. I want to bet on the total, but the weather is talking me out of it. I don’t think either of these offenses can be stopped, but some snow and wind could dampen their potential. For now, I’ll lean to the over. I have no lean on a side just yet, but we’ll continue to break down this big battle throughout the week here at The 33rd Team.

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