Gamblers, unite! The Daily Dollar returns with a very special edition of NFL best bets for the AFC and NFC championship games. Watching teams battle it out with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line is more exciting when there’s a little scratch on the result. This week, we have a pair of rematches to drop some coin on.
The early game features the upstart Cincinnati Bengals attempting to duplicate their thrilling 34-31 Week 17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be a tall order, as Kansas City has represented the AFC in the last two Super Bowls. The Bengals have not been to one in over three decades. In the NFC nightcap, the 49ers will take on division foe Los Angeles in the Rams’ house, which is also the location of Super Bowl LVI.
Las Vegas has installed both the Chiefs and Rams as favorites for today’s games, but the underdogs are hoping to set up yet another rematch. San Francisco and Cincinnati squared off in the big game in Super Bowls XVI and the aforementioned XXIII. Enough of the history lesson. Let’s make some stacks on today’s action.
Looking to play even more? You can also find Fanelli’s favorite individual prop bets for today’s games right here.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs o54.5 (-110)
Regardless of the Cinderella storyline and the Bengals’ unflinching confidence (led by Joe Burrow) in the face of challenge after challenge, pundits and Vegas alike keep betting against them week-in and week-out. The +290 money line bet on Cincinnati is awfully tempting. That’s a huge payout for a team that is on fire and in the championship game. It’s worth a dart throw. Likewise, the +7.5 is tempting, too. This is a team that has found a way to consistently dispatch teams this year, including these very Chiefs in Week 17 when they completely shut down Patrick Mahomes in the second half.
Full disclosure: Your author is born and raised in Cincinnati, and although I’ve avoided being labeled a homer thus far, I do like each of those bets. In this case, however, we are rolling with the over. As mentioned, these two high-powered offenses combined for 65 points just four weeks ago. Frankly, each left opportunities on the field in that one. The opponents will both want the upper hand early on, meaning they will come out gunning when they have possession of the football. Not only that, but in a high-stakes game with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line, it would not be surprising for each to eschew field goal tries after halftime. They could very possibly set the record for combined fourth down attempts in a game.
The Bengals completely shut down the Chiefs during the second half of the first meeting. That is not happening again. One of these squads is going to sniff 40 points, and it’s a slam dunk the other will keep it close enough to obliterate the 54.5 total. The +7.5 spread for Cincy is tempting to parlay, as are a pair of prop bets featuring Ja’Marr Chase and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The safest bet overall is the total. Let the touchdowns commence.
Book it: Bengals/Chiefs over 54.5 combined points scored (-110)
San Francisco 49ers +3.5 (-110) at Los Angeles Rams
The name of the game in the playoffs, and particularly this far into the playoffs, is coaching and mistake-free football. San Francisco holds the edge in each category today. Not only can they win the game, but they can do so by not abandoning the run while also relying on the dink-and-dunk ball-control factor. George Kittle is going to be the Jimmy Garoppolo security blanket in this one, and will likely have a big day. Kyle Shanahan is a champion of game plans and has beaten Sean McVay six straight times.
Matthew Stafford is having a playoff run that he truly deserves, but a zebra doesn’t just permanently change its stripes. He has avoided the interception bug thus far in the postseason. Zero in the two wins, a big reason they are here. Although, he did serve up seven picks in his final three games of the regular season, bringing his total to 17 on the year. One of those games was against San Francisco. In two games against their in-state rivals (both losses), Stafford threw the ball to the wrong team four times.
If the Rams can control the clock and have their signal caller manage the game, they can absolutely win. With that said, Cam Akers‘ complete recklessness with the football last week suggests a theme that will get them in trouble. Should he struggle to hold onto the ball or gain meaningful yards when it counts, Los Angeles may abandon the run. Then they are forced to rely on the arm of Stafford, and that’s where it goes down the drain.
The Rams could very well eek out a victory at SoFi Stadium and make themselves the second-straight Super Bowl entrant to play the game at home. If they do, they aren’t winning by much. Cooper Kupp is going to get his yards on the big stage, but it may be in a come-from-behind effort. I like the 49ers to win this game outright. Thus, I feel completely comfortable with placing my money on them getting more than a field goal from the bookmakers.
Book it: San Francisco 49ers +3.5 points
If you’ve made it this far and are looking for a couple bonus money-makers, you’re in luck. First of all, with the Chiefs playing at home, I fully expect this game with Cincy to follow the same script as Week 17. The Chiefs first half line of -4 (-110) is a slam dunk. Mahomes and Kelce will abuse Cincinnati in the middle of the the field and take at least a seven point lead into the half. Easy money. The Bengals will bounce back in the second half as they have done all year. Not before everyone is suspecting it’s going to be a bloodbath. Lay the Chiefs minus-4 points before halftime.
How about a little college ball bonus bet? There are not a lot of games on today’s docket, but the Boilermakers of Purdue present an amazing mismatch for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Purdue is a 10-point favorite, and I like them to win by closer to double that number at home.
That’s it for this Sunday’s Daily Dollar. Enjoy Championship Sunday, and cash those tickets! Watch for a whole host of betting action for the Super Bowl weekend in two weeks. Until then, reap the spoils and remember: You cannot win if you don’t play.
Follow Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin