Our 2-4 performance during the four Divisional round games brings our 2023 playoff record to 7-5 through two weeks and means our 2022-23 tally is now 40-31, including the regular season.
Neither of the favorites we took or overs that we played cashed, meaning that our reliable under wagers in the Bengals-Bills and Giants-Eagles games made up both of our winning bets this past weekend.
Despite straying from the strategy that made us some money in the regular season, we are still cash positive for the postseason and will seek to continue that run on Sunday.
The Eagles have dropped from 3.5-point favorites down to 2.5 since wagering opened for their home game against San Francisco. The line in the Bengals-Chiefs matchup has moved from Chiefs -2.5 at open to as far as Bengals -2 by Wednesday morning. That spread is now a pick’em at most outlets.
The total in Philadelphia is 46.5, up from 46, while some more line movement took place in Kansas City, with the point total falling to 47 from 50.5 when the first bets were placed.
We could not be more excited for two battles between the top teams in both conferences with point spreads under a field goal. After following the line movement, here are our best bets for Championship Sunday.
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49ers @ Eagles: UNDER 46.5
Best Available Odds: -108 at WynnBet
The 49ers’ rookie quarterback finally looked like just that against a speedy, disruptive Cowboys defense in the Divisional round. If not for KaVontae Turpin’s cutback into the rear end of Robbie Gould on his fourth-quarter kick return, the 49ers could have been in a position where they needed to drive down the field to win, not extend their lead with 11 minutes to go.
Instead, Brock Purdy’s first touchdown-less performance as a starter didn’t stop San Fran from being one game away from a Super Bowl appearance. Their defense held the Cowboys to 4.7 yards per play, and they would do well to repeat that feat against the Eagles on the road.
Jalen Hurts looked like the MVP candidate he was for most of the season while throwing two touchdown passes and running for another against the Giants in a rout. With AJ Brown tweaking his hip in that victory, we expect a regression from the Eagles’ offense, given that they may struggle to move the ball on the ground against the second-ranked 49ers’ run defense.
For these reasons, we encourage you to play the under on Sunday afternoon.
49ers +3 over Eagles (buy the half-point)
Best Available Odds: -120 at BetMGM
Kyle Shanahan has been an underdog 48 times since he took over as head coach of San Francisco in 2017. His teams are 29-19 against the spread and have won the game outright 20 times in those six seasons.
Purdy’s lackluster performance against Dallas could have been expected, and Shanahan will have prepared him to face another team that pressures quarterbacks as well as any in the NFL.
The best defense the Eagles faced all season was Dallas as well. The issue is that these two defenses are not equal. The difference in opponent scoring average between the 49ers (16.3 ppg, 1st in NFL) and Cowboys (20.1 ppg, 5th in NFL) is larger than the difference between Dallas and the Seattle Seahawks, who ranked 25th in the league in scoring defense during the regular season.
Both teams will struggle to score if our predictions hold, and we project that to benefit San Francisco more than it will Philadelphia. Take the Niners and the points, either with a little extra juice or by shopping around, in the NFC Championship game.
Chiefs PK over Bengals
Best Available Odds: -113 at Unibet
If you listen closely, you can hear the herd of bettors rushing to the window to take Cincinnati in this game. Patrick Mahomes is hobbled by a high-ankle sprain, and his team managed to escape with a home win against the Jaguars last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Joe Burrow and the Bengals smothered Buffalo on the road in a snowstorm to clinch their spot in the AFC title game for a second straight year.
Mahomes being less than 100% is not a joke, but our perception is that it’s being overblown. He may have been held out of a regular season game with the same injury, but this is the playoffs, and his team has lost three straight to Cincinnati dating back to the regular season last year.
The fact this game will be played at Arrowhead is a massive advantage for a KC team with one of the best home-field atmospheres in American sports. This line implies that the Bengals would be at least a three-point favorite on a neutral field.
That’s too much for as little as we know about Mahomes’ injury. We’ll go against the grain and take the Chiefs in a potentially unpopular play that we see as the winning one.