NFL Conference Championships Preview

The NFL playoffs are designed to reward the league’s best teams. The top two seeds in each conference get a bye into the Divisional Round, and that extra week of rest usually spells doom for their opponents, who have to play on Wild Card Weekend. But last Saturday, the Super Bowl 54 favorites, the Baltimore Ravens, fell 28-12 to the No. 6 seed in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans (+10.5 away).

That means there’s a new favorite on the Super Bowl 54 odds board at Bovada Sportsbook, but the Kansas City Chiefs (+135) almost suffered the same fate as Baltimore. After falling behind 24-0 to the Houston Texans on Sunday, Kansas City mounted a fierce comeback and prevailed 51-31 as 10-point home favorites. Their victory sets up what promises to be the more intriguing matchup of this Sunday’s Conference Championships – even if the Titans are the runts of the remaining NFL betting foursome.

2020 NFL Conference Championship Odds and Matchups

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 3:05 PM ET, CBS)

They may be the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but the Titans (11-7 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) have been a completely different team with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback instead of Marcus Mariota. With Tannehill (117.5 passer rating) acting as a game-manager and RB Derrick Henry (16 rushing TDs, 5.1 yards per carry) pounding the rock, Tennessee has crushed the NFL odds at 8-3 SU and 7-3-1 ATS since making the switch.

Having dispatched both the New England Patriots (–5 at home) and the Ravens as road dogs, the Titans find themselves in much the same boat this Sunday. They’re getting 7.5 points on the NFL lines at press time, holding steady since the open, with the total bumping up from 52 to 53. The Chiefs (13-4 SU, 11-5-1 ATS) made their own statement on offense last week, scoring six unanswered touchdowns in a row on six consecutive drives – often with a short field, thanks to a series of Houston blunders. For now, reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes has proved himself more capable in the crunch than this year’s presumptive winner, Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson.

As important as the quarterbacks are, the sharpest football betting tips during the playoffs focus on the head coaches – and this is where Tennessee may have the advantage. Mike Vrabel has worked wonders in his two years at the helm; the former Patriots linebacker may have even out-coached his mentor, Bill Belichick, during their 20-13 Wild Card win over New England. Kansas City’s Andy Reid is one of the greatest offensive minds in the game, but his clock management skills have always been in question. Will Reid cost the Chiefs another shot at the Super Bowl?

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, 6:40 PM ET, FOX)

Sunday’s prime-time matchup features the top two seeds in the NFC, and the biggest brand names left in the postseason – but the Packers (14-3 SU, 11-6 ATS) face the same odds on NFL Sunday as Tennessee, getting 7.5 points after opening at +7. Green Bay needed to hang on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 last Sunday as 4.5-point home favorites. The Niners (14-3 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) had little trouble eliminating the Minnesota Vikings (+7 away) 27-10 on Saturday.

The total for the nightcap at Levi’s Stadium is considerably smaller at 45.5 points, even if the weather is expected to be much better in Santa Clara (60 degrees and partly cloudy) than at Arrowhead (20 degrees and mostly clear). Weather is another important consideration for NFL betting tips, but it’s only part of the larger environmental picture – the famously poor turf conditions at Levi’s Stadium will play a role as well. Combine that with San Francisco’s imposing defense, plus game-manager Jimmy Garoppolo (102.0 passer rating) at quarterback, and the Under cruised to the pay window against Minnesota.

It was much the same story in Week 12 when the Niners hosted Green Bay. The NFL betting odds had San Francisco laying three points with a total of 48.5; they controlled the game throughout and beat the Packers 37-8. Recent results take on added value when you bet on the NFL, and Green Bay’s performance level hasn’t been all that impressive lately, thanks in part to some holes on the offensive line. Their Super Bowl dreams could hinge on whether tackles Bryan Bulaga and back-up Alex Light can shake off the flu bug that kept them out of the Divisional Round. Keep an eye on the newswires for updates on their status, and keep checking in at Bovada Sportsbook for fresh odds and analysis.

*Odds as of January 17, 2020