FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Bookmakers have countless elements to consider in the NFL conference championship odds market, so much so that each year, it might be hard to dial in on the most surprising aspect of betting on the NFC and AFC title games.
That’s not the case this year. At least not for Casey Degnon, senior risk supervisor at The SuperBook.
“I would say right now, that there’s a lot of Lions moneyline love,” Degnon said Wednesday night, noting early bettors think an upset is brewing in the NFC Championship Game. “It makes sense. It’s a great storyline, and people really like Dan Campbell. Still, I’m a little surprised that the public is fading the Niners right now.”
Will that trend continue through kickoff of the NFC Championship Game between Detroit and San Francisco? Degnon offers insights on that and on the AFC Championship Game, while a couple of sharp bettors serve up wagers they’re making, as we dive into NFL conference championship odds.
The Public Pendulum
As Degnon noted, The SuperBook is heavy to Detroit moneyline for Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff on FOX and the FOX Sports app. The Lions are +280 to pull the outright upset against the top-seeded 49ers. So a $100 bet on Detroit would net a $280 profit, for a $380 total payout.
San Francisco is -340 on the moneyline, meaning it takes a $340 bet to win $100, for a $440 total payout. So you can see why that’s not terribly popular with the public betting masses.
On the point spread, however, action is much more balanced at The SuperBook. The 49ers opened -7, spent a few hours Sunday night at -6.5, then returned to -7.
“Straight spread bets are running pretty even. There’s slightly more money on the 49ers, slightly more tickets on the Lions,” Degnon said.
Detroit is 14-5 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) this season, while San Fran is 13-5 SU/9-9 ATS.
While the Lions are seeing a surge in moneyline action, Degnon anticipates that the public pendulum will swing toward the 49ers in other ways as kickoff approaches.
“I’m sure later in the week, we’ll see a lot more moneyline parlay/teaser love for the 49ers. But early in the week, it’s been all Detroit,” he said.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions: Who has the edge?
NFC Sharp Side
Professional bettor Randy McKay doesn’t quite have the confidence of the public crowd banking on a Lions outright upset on Sunday. But neither is he ruling it out, and he feels very good about Detroit +7 on the spread.
“I already bet Detroit +7, and I recommend Lions +4 first half, as well. Much like Green Bay, the Lions showed that they will take the ball if they win the coin toss,” McKay said in explaining part of his logic for the Detroit first-half play.
As for the whole game?
“Do we trust Brock Purdy and Kyle Shanahan to lay 7 points in a key game? I don’t,” McKay said. “Shanahan proved again last week what we’ve seen in a Super Bowl — that he becomes too conservative in the moment. I give the Lions a very good shot at the upset.”
Last week, the Niners were 10.5-point favorites and needed a late Christian McCaffrey touchdown to edge Green Bay 24-21. McKay’s Super Bowl reference comes from the 2019-20 championship game. San Fran took a 20-10 lead over Kansas City late in the third quarter, then got outscored 21-0 in the fourth to lose 31-20.
Another sharp Vegas bettor echoed McKay’s sentiments, taking the underdog.
“Detroit +7 is the play, in my opinion. Overall, I’m not impressed with San Francisco’s defense, and the Lions have a very dynamic offense,” he said. “Purdy is a game manager at times, and if the 49ers get down by seven, it’s way too much.”
Chiefs Taking Tickets
In the AFC Championship Game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, The SuperBook opened the Baltimore Ravens -3.5 (even) against the Kansas City Chiefs. The line has been at Ravens -4 since Tuesday afternoon.
Baltimore is 14-4 SU/12-6 ATS, while Kansas City is 13-6 SU/11-6-1 ATS. Degnon noted an intriguing component of betting on this matchup, as well, this time on the point spread.
“We’ve got a lot more straight bets on the Chiefs. Money is about the same, but the Chiefs almost double the Ravens in ticket count,” he said. “When the weekend comes and the public really starts to get involved, will that still be the case? I think the public will be on both sides.”
There’s much more consensus on the Chiefs-Ravens total. The SuperBook opened at 45.5 and quickly dipped to 44.5 on Sunday night. There’s been no movement since, but the number could be on the rise by the weekend.
“The Over is getting love. It’s 4/1 in terms of ticket count, and there’s a lot more money on the Over, too — straight bets and parlays,” Degnon said. “It’s very rare that you see the public on the Under in an NFL playoff game. Unless weather is in play, tickets and money are gonna be on the Over.”
Chiefs top Nick’s Tiers entering Championship Weekend of NFL Playoffs
AFC Sharp Side
The aforementioned sharp Vegas bettor is on the Ravens in a couple of ways this week.
“I took Ravens -3 when it opened. Get on Baltimore,” he said, while noting the Chiefs’ playoff wins over Miami and Buffalo came against injury-depleted defenses. “Mahomes is a monster, but the Chiefs don’t have the team to compete with Baltimore.”
He thinks the Ravens will then go on to seal the whole deal.
“I played Baltimore +195 to win the Super Bowl. It’s a bit of a risk with injuries potentially, but to me, the value in the number is too much,” he said.
I Like Big Bets and I Cannot Lie
In a Spaces discussion Wednesday on X — or as I still call it, Twitter — Caesars Sports assistant director of trading Adam Pullen noted there were “a couple of $50,000 bets” on Ravens -3.5 vs. the Chiefs.
Additionally, Caesars took a $100,000 bet on Baltimore +195 to win the Super Bowl. If that ticket cashes, the bettor profits $195,000, for a total payout of $295,000.
As Sunday’s games draw closer, trust me, the high-roller dollars will flow in Vegas sportsbooks and across the nation. There’ll be no shortage of major wagers on NFL conference championship odds.
But we like the small bets here, too, particularly the small bets that pay big. Back in May, a bettor put $300 on a three-team futures parlay:
Miami Heat +600 to win the NBA’s Eastern ConferenceBaltimore Orioles +950 to win MLB’s AL East DivisionKansas City Chiefs +410 to win the AFC
At the time, odds on that three-teamer hitting were a monstrous +37385. Putting it in terms perhaps a little easier to digest, that’s just shy of 374/1. So if the Chiefs beat the Ravens on Sunday, the bettor will profit a whopping $112,155. That is, if the bettor doesn’t sell the ticket first:
I won’t opine on whether the bettor should sell the ticket, let it ride or hedge on the Ravens. But let’s just hope, somehow, this person gets to drop a significant chunk of change into the bank come Sunday night.
Enjoy the conference championship betting weekend!
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas
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