Football Five: NFL Playoff Field Down To Chiefs And Three Strong Contenders

There’s hot. There’s sizzlin’. And then there’s the equator, like performance of the NFL’s Final Four class.

The Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs,  and Buffalo Bills have amassed an enviable, perhaps unprecedented pre-championship winning streak.

Discounting Kansas City’s resting of its regulars in Week 17, the conference championship aspirants have won an incredible 32 straight games.

Thirty-two. That’s the equivalent of two undefeated seasons. No wonder all the major sportsbooks have both games in the vicinity of a field-goal difference.

The teams are that good.

This week’s Football Five takes is a closer look at the two games from a NJ sports betting perspective.

Packers  remains a slight favorite over Bucs

Kansas City holds a tenuous edge over Buffalo. The health of Patrick Mahomes keeps that gambling line in a holding pattern. The Chiefs starting quarterback was knocked out of last Sunday’s division-round victory over the Cleveland Browns.

However, gamblers love the Bucs and Brady.

“I could tell you the money was going to be on the Bucs even before they played the Washington Football Team and I could say the same thing before the game against New Orleans,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites.

“Last week we had a ton of money on the Bucs moneyline and it kept pouring in, even on game day. We have been getting a lot of Bucs money ever since Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay (back in March).”

The Tampa Bay action was so heated that Draft Kings took a bit of a hit from the New Orleans result.

“This week, I think Green Bay is going to be bet pretty well,” said Avello. “Lay the Packers with the points and take a shot with the Bucs on the moneyline, I think that how this game will be played.”

The Kansas City shuffle

Avello expects significant late money to come in on the Chiefs and Bills because of the Mahomes situation.

If Mahomes is considered fully capable, the prevailing wisdom at mid-week, the Kansas City line could move as high as -4, Avello believes. If Mahomes can’t play, Buffalo may be -4. That’s evidence of the eight-point swing we have previously referred to regarding Mahomes’ perceived value to the line.

Buffalo bettors may toss in a few bucks at this line on the hope Mahames would later be ruled out. They would be giving themselves roughly a touchdown if Mahomes sat.

But they can’t go too heavy. If Mahomes does play, the Bills bettors would gain a better line later, Avello asserts.

“Nobody is whaling in yet,” he said. “If you come in with a large amount of money now, it’s totally a guess. “

It’s important to note the handicapping variable surrounding Mahomes’ status. He ran off the field after being injured and DraftKings posted a line for Buffalo-Kansas City on Sunday night. If there was concern that he could not play, the game would have been taken off the board.

That indicates the expectation that Mahomes will go, but he must clear several protocols required by the NFL.

“If I had to say right now whether he goes or whether he can’t, I believe he will play,” Avello said.

That is the consensus throughout the sports-betting community.

Watch that line, and rumors. Anything indicating uncertainty for Mahomes could be enough to change it.

Kansas City bettors provided enough money to create an early line move. A couple of hours after we spoke with Avello, the Kansas City line went from Kansas City -2.5 to -3 at DraftKings, evidence of confidence that Mahomes will start.

William Hill shakers and movers

Here are the mid-week numbers.

Green Bay is a 3-point favorite (-125) at William Hill, with the total sitting at 51.

The Packers are -175 on the moneyline, whereas the Buccaneers are +155 to take the contest outright. Green Bay opened as a 3.5-point favorite and went up to -4 before dropping down to its current number.

The total in this one has had some movement, too, as it dropped from 52 to 51. One bettor put down $11,000 on Buccaneers at Packers under 51.5 (-110) for a total potential payout of $21,000, which is the largest 2021 Conference Championship wager taken thus far at William Hill.

A closer look  at Chiefs-Bills showdown

This is the third straight year that Arrowhead Stadium has been the home of the AFC Conference Championship. The host Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots two years ago and surged back from an early deficit to topple the Tennessee Titans last year, earning their trip to the Super Bowl.

On the other side, third-year signal-caller Josh Allen has led the Bills to their first Conference Championship appearance since 1994.

The Chiefs are 3-point favorites (-110) at William Hill, and the total has settled at 53. The defending Super Bowl champions are -145 chalk on the moneyline and the Bills are priced at +125,

Kansas City was originally listed as a 3.5-point favorite when William Hill first listed AFC Conference Championship odds this past Sunday. The total has jumped two points from the opener, as it went from 51.5 all the way up to 55 before dropping back down to 53.

Checking out the NFL  early bird value

If you’re looking to get a head start on the Super Bowl odds, William Hill also has moneyline matchups for the Big Game in New Jersey.

The Chiefs are +350 against the Packers and +550 over the Bucs.

The Packers are +400 over the Chiefs and +600 over the Bills.

The Bucs are +750 over the Chiefs and +950 over the Bills.

The Bills are +900 over the Bucs and +550 against the Packers.

These high odds are profitable to bet on early, before official matchups are established.

A few weeks back, for example, Buffalo was +2000 to defeat the Packers in the Super Bowl.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.