The NFL's Divisional Round saw three road underdogs win outright and, frankly, all four should have but not for a miracle comeback by Patrick Mahomes. Despite that, bettors are heavily backing the favored Los Angeles Rams vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC title game as well as the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC matchup. The lean also largely is Over the total in both games despite Unders holding a 6-4 overall record this postseason.
In Sunday's first game, the Chiefs are 7-point favorites over the Bengals and it sure doesn't look like it will move off that push number despite 71 percent of the money and 66 percent of the bets on Kansas City ATS. It's the first postseason matchup between the franchises, but they did play Week 17 in Cincinnati and the Bengals won 34-31 on a walk-off field goal as 3.5-point underdogs.
Joe Burrow is the first quarterback to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft and start a conference championship game within his first two NFL seasons. Burrow is 5-0 straight up and against the spread in his past five starts – he and most Bengals starters sat out Week 18.
The last QB drafted anywhere to win a conference title game within his first two NFL seasons was Russell Wilson in 2013. No quarterback has ever won the Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a Super Bowl. Back in the preseason, Cincinnati was +7500 to win the AFC title, tied for the second-longest odds in the conference.
As of this writing, the Bengals-Chiefs total is set at 54.5 points with 74 percent of tickets and 63 percent of money on the Over.
"There's only two games, so I think we're going to have a ton of action on both totals," said Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook. "There might be more of a consensus on this one since it's a higher total and people thinking that this matchup just screams points. Starting from (Friday), things will probably start to heat up with more public money being thrown into the pot. We got a big bet on Under 54.5, so maybe that's the number where the sharps will start to come in at."
Weather shouldn't be an issue Sunday in Kansas City as the forecast is for sunny skies and a high of 48 with a low of 30.
The Rams, meanwhile, are 3.5-point favorites over the 49ers despite the fact San Francisco swept the season series and has won six straight against Los Angeles. That spread isn't likely to move, either, by kickoff with 69 percent of tickets and 65 percent of money on the Rams.
In the Super Bowl era, teams that swept 2-0 in the regular season are 14-9 in a third playoff meeting. The 49ers are looking to join the 2004 Rams (against Seattle) and 1999 Titans (vs. Jacksonville) as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to record a three-game season sweep vs. an opponent including a road win in the playoffs.
Obviously no weather worries at SoFi Stadium, home of Super Bowl 56. The total is set at 46 with 54 percent of the tickets on the Over but 71 percent of the money on the Under – dropping the number from 47.
"It may not seem like a big drop from 47 to 46," Pullen said. "For these big games, the sharps are going to decide what they like and if their number favors it, they'll get down. Every half point is huge, and they saw value when it was at 46.5. We take bigger bets from the sharps than we ever have, and that might skew things. But when kickoff comes, we'll be needing the Under along with the sharps. Big games bring out Over money."
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