Show Me The Money: Predicting QB Contract Extensions

Show Me The Money: Predicting QB Contract Extensions
“Show me the money!” is a famous line from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire. In the coming months, it also will be the battle cry for several of the league’s top young quarterbacks. The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert and the Giants’ Daniel Jones all are looking […]

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Playoffs Show Advancing Teams Have Quarterbacks with Elite Numbers

Playoffs Show Advancing Teams Have Quarterbacks with Elite Numbers
President Harry Truman is credited with saying, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” This is not entirely true, but it is the case that a talented mathematician can manipulate statistics to prove any point. I’m not a talented mathematician, but I have learned that if you take a hard look at year-end NFL statistics, […]

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Farley’s Best Bets: Let the Narrative Guide You in Conference Championships

Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship games are difficult to handicap. Some of that has to do with the teams – they’re all elite in their own way – most of that has to do with the lines. Lines this close make it hard to extract value, particularly when they’re not wrong.

The Eagles (-2.5) deserve to be slight favorites. They’ve been impeccable this season, and they have a true home field advantage. The 49ers deserve respect, too, and that’s why the line is less than a field goal. I can’t dispute the oddsmakers.

The Bengals (-1) and Chiefs should be listed as virtually even. At this point, it’s highly unlikely either will become more than two-point favorites. That makes sense: Kansas City has a legitimate edge at Arrowhead Stadium, but Joe Burrow and the Bengals have won three straight against their rival. Again, I don’t disagree with the oddsmakers’ perception.

When matchups are this close, I often turn towards a handicapping approach I call narrative betting. Narrative betting simply means I’m evaluating the game from a more macro-perspective and paying closer attention to intangibles like setting, experience, coaching, game management and team styles.

At this point, we know who these teams are. We have all the data, we know their tendencies and we know their weaknesses. All that information is vital, but I don’t quantify it the same. Instead, I account for what I think matters most in how the game will play out, and that becomes the deciding factor in how I wager on the contest.

Below are the factors I’m putting the most stock in for the AFC and NFC Championship games. Based on how those factors manifest is what creates the narrative, and each narrative presents a way to bet with more clarity. After all, nothing is more important than “the why.”

49ers at Eagles (-2.5)

Total: 46.5

Key Factor: Neither quarterback has been in a situation like what they’ll experience Sunday, and both quarterbacks are facing a Top-3 defense.

Since neither quarterback has been in this situation before, they’re the single most important and mysterious factor leading up to this game. The Eagles and 49ers are relatively even in a lot of other categories. They both have fast, aggressive, talented defenses. They have superstar playmakers on offense. Their defensive and offensive lines are full of veteran, All-Pro talent. And their coaching staffs are full of proven winners, although I would give Kyle Shanahan and his group a slight nod in that element. Let’s dissect why each quarterback could be limited Sunday.

Why Purdy Will Probably Struggle

  • Brock Purdy is undersized and may not be athletic enough to escape an Eagles’ defensive line that’s No. 1 in sack rate by a wide margin. Astoundingly, Philadelphia’s front seven averages more than four sacks a game
  • This is easily Purdy’s toughest test as a first-year quarterback with only eight games played. Few rookie quarterbacks could handle the kind of pressure he’ll experience
  • Lincoln Financial Field is one of the loudest and most raucous venues in the NFL
  • Purdy has only played in two NFL away games. He led his team to victories against Seattle and Las Vegas, but both were only one-score games
  • Philadelphia only allows a league-best 5.4 yards per pass and 174.1 pass yards per game

Why Hurts Will Probably Struggle

  • This is easily the best defense Jalen Hurts has seen all year. New Orleans, Washington and Dallas highlight an unimpressive 2022 schedule of opposing defenses
  • The Eagles usually rely on their run game to take pressure off Hurts, but I’m not sure if they can on Sunday. The 49ers allow only 3.4 yards per carry and 79 yards per game on the ground, which is the second-best in the NFL
  • San Francisco’s pass defense is among the best, too, forcing interceptions on 3.46% of plays (third overall) and only permitting 6.4 yards per pass (11th)
  • Hurts will have to command long, sustained drives. The 49ers are No. 1 in opponent points per play (0.272)

X-Factor: 49ers’ Run Game

The Eagles rank 24th in opponent yards per carry (4.7), something that could haunt them on Sunday if the 49ers find their ground game early. That would take a ton of pressure off Purdy’s shoulders, allow the 49ers to sustain long drives and it could gravely affect the rhythm of Philadelphia’s offense.


Bets to Make

Purdy under 19.5 pass completions (-120)
Purdy has only completed more than 19.5 passes in two games this season, and both were in higher-scoring affairs (vs. MIA and vs. LV)

Hurts under 48.5 rushing yards (-125)
Hurts is averaging 50.7 rush yards per game, but that’s an inflated number. He had his biggest rushing games against bad defenses (DET, AZ, IND, GB, NYG)

Nick Bosa over 0.25 sacks (-165)
Bosa is the league leader with 18.5 sacks and has yet to snag one in the postseason; I think he chases down Hurts and gets one in a big spot Sunday.

Both Teams to Make a First Down on Their First Drive: No (+110)
This is all about the pressure they’ll feel after kickoff – at least one team should go three and out.

Under 46.5 (-110)
Based on how good both defenses are and how challenging it’ll be for both young QBs, this is one of the traditional bets that make sense.

Bengals at Chiefs (+1)

Total: 47

Key Factor: The unstoppable nature of both quarterbacks and Kansas City’s added motivation.

Two of the hottest teams in the NFL clash in the late game Sunday. The Bengals have won 10 games in a row and have only failed to cover against the spread (ATS) in two of those contests. The Chiefs have won six in a row. They would have won 12 in a row, but a Week 13 loss to the Bengals stifled their momentum.

Both offenses have dynamic talent, and both defenses have enough playmakers to limit good offenses in most cases. I don’t think their defenses will experience much success on Sunday, though. Let’s discuss the below factors and why they’re so important when handicapping this contest.

Why Both QBs/Offenses Should Thrive

  • Burrow has been nearly flawless. Since the Week 8 embarrassment at Cleveland, Burrow has led his team to 10 straight wins, and he’s thrown 21 TDs and only 6 INTs
  • Since the Chiefs’ loss in Week 10 against Cincinnati, Patrick Mahomes has been on a tear. He’s put up 13 TDs, 4 INTs and an average QB rating of 105.6 through six games
  • Both QBs played a bit below their average output in Week 13 (Burrow: 286 yards, 2 TDs; Mahomes: 223 yards, 1 TD), yet their offenses still totaled 51 points
  • Kansas City has failed to pressure Burrow during the past two meetings, earning only one sack for seven yards in each game
  • Both offenses are top seven in points per game (KC: 1st – 29.1, CIN: 7th – 26.7)
  • The competition alone between two of the top QBs in football should enhance each thrower’s performance in an “I’m the best QB in football” scenario

Why Chiefs, Mahomes Have Extra Motivation

  • Mahomes has never beaten a Burrow-led Bengals; Joe “Cool” is 3-0 against Kansas City
  • The Bengals are calling the Chiefs’ home stadium “Burrowhead,” something Chiefs’ stars like Travis Kelce will look to use to their advantage
  • Last year, the Bengals knocked off the Chiefs in the same exact situation: the AFC Title game at Arrowhead Stadium
  • The Chiefs are currently underdogs at home. I’m certain Mahomes and his teammates will take that personally

X-Factor: Bengals’ Offensive Line

Last week, the Buffalo Bills played a curious style of defense, rarely attacking Burrow with aggressive blitz packages and giving Cincinnati’s wide receivers space off the line of scrimmage. That didn’t work as Burrow sliced and diced the Bills’ defense, and the Bengals took an early 14-0 lead.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged Chris Jones and the Chiefs’ defensive line has struggled to get to Burrow in these big games before. Something tells me they’ll have a more nuanced game plan to make sure they don’t only bring him down one time on Sunday.


Bets to Make

Mahomes under 0.5 INTs (-105) and Burrow under 0.5 INTs (-135)
In Mahomes’ last seven playoff games, he only has five INTs. He had two INTs last time in last year’s postseason matchup with Cincinnati. That presents a point of correction. In six playoff games, Burrow has only thrown 2 INTs.

Chiefs over 23.5 points (-110)
The Chiefs have only failed to eclipse 23 points in three games this season.

First Quarter over 9.5 points (-110)
Both QBs will look to make an instant statement in this big game, and I don’t think they’ll feel any pressure – they’ve both proven they’re ice-cold in these high-pressure moments.

Over 47.5 (-110)
This line is ticking up, and it should. The weather looked grim early in the week but now it looks more amenable to points (12 mph winds, partly sunny, cold). Based on the narrative neither QB will be stifled often in this contest, I love the over.

WATCH: Bengals Own the Chiefs


AFC Championship DFS: Chiefs’ Toney Can Take Some Pressure Off Kelce, Mahomes vs. Bengals

Travis Kelce is a no-brainer for DFS against the Bengals, but Jordan Vanek and Greg Jennings think the next man up could be Kadarius Toney as a banged-up Patrick Mahomes will need some help to make plays.

Other Jennings/Vanek Previews: Bengals, Eagles


Patrick Mahomes: High Ankle Sprain Progressing, ‘Ready to Go’

Patrick Mahomes participated in the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice on Wednesday, and said the high ankle sprain he suffered in the Divisional Round against the Jaguars is “feeling good so far.”

“I’m doing good. AFC Championship week — ready to go,” Mahomes told reporters on Wednesday at the Chiefs’ Championship Sunday news conference.

“It’s doing good. A few days of treatment, a few days of rehab. Excited to be on the practice field and kind of test it out and see where I’m at. But, it’s feeling good so far.”

Early in Saturday’s game, Mahomes was injured when Jacksonville edge rusher Arden Key came down hard on Mahomes’ ankle. After a brief trip to the locker room, Mahomes returned and eventually led the Chiefs to a 27-20 victory, ensuring Kansas City a spot in the AFC Championship game for the fifth straight season.

After the game, he said he expected to play on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals. He said he began treatment on the injured ankle immediately after the Jaguars game.

“I was able to do some extra testing, just to make sure everything was good the night after the game. And then get a few things done to help the treatment kind of start off,” Mahomes said. “And then the next few days has kind of been an all-day thing where you’re either doing treatment, or rehab, or watching film.

“But it’s a full-day thing where you’re trying to make sure you’re obviously prepared for the Bengals and the great football team — mentally and physically.”

Mahomes was not in a walking boot, nor was he displaying a noticeable limp as he approached the podium at Wednesday’s Championship Sunday press conference.

“I’ll push a little bit today, and then the next day, and then the next day again, and see what I can do to not re-aggravate the injury, obviously, but to push it to see what I’ll be able to do on Sunday,” he said.

WATCH: Impact of Mahomes’ Injury


NFL Championship Game Betting: Odds, Spreads, Picks, Predictions for Bengals vs. Chiefs

Bengals (12-4) at Chiefs (14-3)

Opening Spread: Chiefs -1

Opening Game Total: 47.5

Opening Team Totals: Chiefs (24.25) Bengals (23.25)

Weather: Outdoors, cold temperatures expected

Line Report

  • This line opened between Chiefs -1 and Chiefs -1.5
  • This line has moved to Chiefs +2.5
  • This total opened at 47.5 points
  • This total remains at 47.5 points

Notable Injuries

Chiefs: Questionable: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Mecole Hardman.

Bengals: Out: RT La’el Collins. Questionable: LT Jonah Williams, C Ted Karras, RG Alex Cappa.

Chiefs Offense vs. Bengals Defense

The Chiefs have a top-10-level offensive line with one of the better interiors in the league. The Bengals have a below-average pass rush, but an above-average run defense. The Chiefs have an advantage in pass protection, but this trench matchup is more of a draw in the run game.

Regular Season Betting Notes Per TruMedia

  • The Chiefs are 7-10 against the spread this season
  • Kansas City is 8-9 on overs this season
  • Patrick Mahomes is 41-37-2 against the spread in his career
  • Mahomes is 42-37-1 on overs in his career
  • Andy Reid is 197-166-7 against the spread since 2000 as an NFL head coach
  • Reid is 181-178-11 on overs since 2000 as an NFL head coach

Chiefs Offense (Regular Season)

  • The Chiefs scored 29.2 points per game, which was the best in the league
  • Kansas City is first in the league in yards passing per game and 20th in yards rushing
  • The Chiefs are passing on 67% of plays and running on 33% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
  • Per The Edge, Isiah Pacheco has at least 58 yards rushing in nine of his last 10 games, which includes last week’s matchup with the Jaguars
  • Jerick McKinnon has a touchdown in each of his last six regular season games with a total of nine scores during that span
  • Pacheco has been the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier since Week 10 against the Jaguars, while McKinnon takes on the bulk of the passing game and goal-line work
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster finished the regular season with 78 receptions for 933 yards receiving and three touchdowns on a 17.1% target share and a 17.2% air yards share
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished the regular season with 42 receptions for 687 yards receiving and two touchdowns on a 13.2% target share and a 25.5% air yards share
  • Travis Kelce finished the regular season with the third most receptions in the league (110), eighth in yards receiving (1,338) and second in receiving touchdowns (12)
  • Kelce finished third among tight ends in target share (24.9%) and third in air yards share (24.2%)
  • Per TruMedia, Smith-Schuster played 433 snaps on the perimeter and 298 in the slot this season
  • Valdes-Scantling played 469 snaps on the perimeter and 264 in the slot this season
  • Kelce played 321 snaps as an inline tight end, 223 on the perimeter, and 313 in the slot this season


Bengals Defense (Regular Season)

  • The Bengals allowed 20.1 points per game, which is sixth in the league
  • Cincinnati is 29th in the league in sacks, 10th in forced fumbles and 18th in interceptions
  • Per The Edge, the Bengals allowed the 26th-most yards rushing per game and the 23rd-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season
  • Cincinnati gave up the 19th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
  • The Bengals gave up the ninth-most PPR points per game to slot receivers
  • Cincinnati allowed the seventh-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season
  • The Bengals allowed the eighth-most PPR points per game to tight ends lined up in the slot 

Bengals Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

The Bengals’ injury-ravaged offensive line held up much better than expected against the Bills last week. Even still, we should treat this group as a below-average unit if they are down multiple starters once again. The Chiefs have a fringe top-10 defensive front. Kansas City has a significant advantage in the trenches in this matchup. Chiefs premium defensive tackle Chris Jones has a major individual advantage in this contest.

Betting Notes Per TruMedia

  • The Bengals are 12-4 against the spread this season
  • The Bengals are 6-9-1 on overs this season
  • Joe Burrow is 27-15 against the spread in his career
  • Burrow is 20-20-2 on overs in his career
  • Zac Taylor is 38-27 against the spread in his career as an NFL head coach
  • Taylor is 29-34-2 on overs in his career as an NFL head coach

Bengals Offense (Regular Season)

  • The Bengals scored 26.1 points per game, good for seventh in the league
  • Cincinnati is third in the league in yards passing per game and 29th in yards rushing
  • The Bengals are passing on 66% of plays and running on 34% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
  • Per The Edge, Joe Mixon finished the season 27th in yards rushing with 814, and he’s sixth among running backs in yards receiving with 441
  • Samaje Perine is 21st among running backs in yards receiving
  • In 12 games Ja’Marr Chase finished with 87 receptions for 1,046 yards receiving and nine touchdowns with a 29.3% target share and a 39.1% air yards share
  • Tee Higgins finished with 74 receptions for 1,029 yards receiving and seven touchdowns with an 18.4% target share and a 28.5% air yards share
  • Tyler Boyd finished with 58 receptions for 762 yards receiving and five touchdowns with a 13.7% target share and a 17.8% air yards share
  • In 13 games, Hayden Hurst finished with 52 receptions for 414 yards receiving and two touchdowns with a 14.2% target share and a 9.7% air yards share
  • Per TruMedia, Chase has played 585 snaps on the perimeter and 154 in the slot
  • Higgins has played 585 snaps on the perimeter and 132 in the slot
  • Boyd has played 123 snaps on the perimeter and 633 in the slot


Chiefs Defense (Regular Season)

  • The Chiefs allowed 21.7 points per game, which is 16th in the league
  • Kansas City is second in the league in sacks, 18th in forced fumbles and 21st in interceptions
  • Per The Edge, the Chiefs allowed the 25th-most yards rushing per game and the fourth-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season
  • Kansas City gave up the 18th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
  • The Chiefs gave up the seventh-most PPR points per game to slots receivers this year
  • Kansas City allowed the 20th-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season
  • The Chiefs have allowed the most PPR points per game to tight ends lined up in the slot this year

This Is What You’re Betting On

Back in Week 13, the Bengals beat the Chiefs, in Cincinnati, 27-24. Burrow’s Bengals enter this game with a 3-0 record against Mahomes’ Chiefs. That includes a 27-24 overtime win, in Kansas City, in last year’s AFC Championship. The Chiefs or Bengals have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl in each of the last three years.

If You’re Betting on the Chiefs

Any bet on the Chiefs is always built around Reid and Mahomes’ offense. Kansas City is the measuring stick in the AFC, and they have been the most reliable team in the league for years. The status of Mahomes’ ankle changes all of that.

Mahomes suffered, and played through, a high-ankle sprain against the Jaguars last week. Mahomes intends to play against the Bengals, but we can reasonably expect this injury to negatively impact his ability to extend plays and manage pressure. Expect Reid and his staff to game plan around Mahomes’ injury situation. That could include shorter, quick-release passes along with an uptick in screen passes. Reid is the master of the screen pass. If you’re betting on the Chiefs, you’re still building that bet around Kansas City meeting its team total.

The Chiefs’ defensive front against the Bengals’ injury-reduced offensive line is a key matchup in this contest. If Kansas City’s front can have more of an impact than Buffalo’s had last week, that creates a path where the Chiefs’ defense can spearhead a win in this contest.

Your primary concern as a Chiefs’ bettor is Mahomes either can’t finish this contest or is ruled out before the end of the week. Athletes generally miss at least four weeks with a high ankle sprain, so that type of outcome is in play. Your second biggest concern is the Chiefs’ pass rush doesn’t make a significant impact, and Burrow’s offense exceeds expectations.

If You’re Betting on the Bengals

Any bet on the Bengals is built around Burrow and his high-end skill group. The Bengals’ injury-reduced offensive line held up better than just about everyone expected last week. Taylor helped that group out with a self-aware game plan. I’m higher on Taylor than most because he’s shown throughout his Bengals’ tenure he is an opponent-specific game planner. Burrow and his fleet of difference-making playmakers are what makes the Bengals a title contender, but Taylor’s ability to game plan around his injury-ravaged offensive line is a major key to the game for the second week in a row.

The Bengals’ defense catches a major break in this matchup as Mahomes will play with a high ankle sprain. Chances are Mahomes’ ability to play out of structure will be significantly impacted. There’s also a chance Mahomes won’t finish this game due to this injury. The bottom line is Mahomes’ ankle injury creates more paths to a Bengals victory.

You have two major concerns as a Bengals bettor. The first is their offensive line doesn’t hold up against the Chiefs’ front. That’s the clearest path to the Bengals falling below expectations on offense. Your second biggest concern is Mahomes’ high ankle sprain doesn’t significantly limit his mobility.

I bet this game early this week here because I expected this line to move due to Mahomes’ injury situation. 

Score Prediction: Bengals 23 Chiefs 20

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record:

TS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

Props 2022: 60-43

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