Monday December 4, 2023

NFL Conference Championships Have Historically Tight Betting Lines

  • Both games feature spreads of less than a field goal for the first time since 1998.
  • The Super Bowl favorite comes into Championship Weekend with odds longer than +200.
Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL’s Conference Championship Games are shaping up to be hotly contested — and are already producing historically tight betting lines.

At Caesars Sportsbook, the Philadelphia Eagles opened as one-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship Game before moving to 2.5. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs opened as 2.5-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals — but that game is now a pick ‘em.

  • The last time an NFC Championship Game had a spread of less than a field goal was in 2012 when the 49ers were favored by 2.5 over the New York Giants.
  • The last time the same situation cropped up for the AFC Championship Game was in 1998 when the Denver Broncos were 2.5-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • That year was also the last time both Championship Games had spreads under a field goal (the Green Bay Packers were 2.5-point favorites over the 49ers) — something that has only occurred one other time in NFL history (1983), per ESPN Stats & Info.

Despite the lines being so tight, the public has a pretty clear idea of where they’re putting their money.

At Caesars, the Eagles have attracted 85.0% of the tickets and 90.1% of the handle, while the Bengals have drawn 77.6% of the bets and 87.2% of the money on the spread. The Bengals have also locked up a large majority of moneyline bets (84.3%/86.5% on -110).

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Super Bowl odds are even more historically tight.

Kansas City and Philadelphia are +260 co-favorites, with Cincinnati at +275 and San Francisco at +320. Per ESPN Stats & Info, it’s the first time in 45 seasons that the Super Bowl favorite has come into Championship Weekend with odds longer than +200.

“Any of these teams could win the whole thing and they’d be deserving champions,” says Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen. “Obviously the Kansas City situation with the [Patrick] Mahomes injury is making that line lower than what it would be. But it definitely seems like there haven’t been four teams this even in a while in a final four type of situation in any sport.”

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