The New Jersey sportsbooks nailed this on the first take.
Betting lines for Sunday’s NFL conference finals barely moved four days after they were posted at major sportsbooks.
The Kansas City Chiefs are still favored by a touchdown over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC Championship at DraftKings and Caesars sportsbooks. BetMGM enticed bettors by moving the line to Kansas City -7.5.
The Los Angeles Rams still give a little more than a field goal to the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship.
Winners will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.
While spreads remain the classic form of action, New Jersey online bettors view a prop-betting paradise.
One major reason, besides the online-gambling golden goose, is the nature of these rematches. Gamblers can match their expectations of this game versus the results of the most recent battle between the teams.
The Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17 and the Niners toppled the Rams 27-24 in Week 18. There is intrigue galore about what changes defensive coordinators will make in the rematch, and what impact that will have.
NFL Conference Championship Odds
“Kansas City reflects a sentiment,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, shared this week with NJGS. He loves having the Chiefs on his board because of their explosiveness.
Avello called Tyreek Hill, the fleet Kansas City wide receiver, perhaps the fastest player he’s ever seen.
So why not put a prop on him?
Hill is +450 to catch a 50-yard touchdown pass. It can be found in the conference specials section.
Perfect timing. Hill just accomplished the feat in Kansas City’s 42-36 overtime thrilling victory last week against the Buffalo Bills. His 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown gave the Chiefs a lead with 1:02 to go. There were three scores after that, unbelievably, but Hill’s grab prompts an enticing choice for bettors.
Another prop has Hill and tight end Travis Kelce combining for more than 200 yards. It’s +195.
Will Kelce or Bengals superstar Ja’Marr Chase gain 125 yards? That’s +200 for yes.
In their last encounter, Chase went off the charts with 266 yards. Does that mean Kansas City double-covers him all game and will that matter?
Will Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd each clear 50 receiving yards? That’s +330 and it’s tricky. It brings the last point into play about coverage of Chase. The book seems to be reading the minds of bettors who wonder what Kansas City will do against the young Bengals superstar.
In the first encounter, Higgins had 62 yards and Boyd 36. For this prop to hit, Burrow only needs to spread the ball a little differently. It looks capable of hitting, but what are we not seeing?
Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City and Joe Burrow of Cincinnati are listed at +150 to combine for 600 yards. Burrow had 446 of his own in the first game. Mahomes tossed for 259. They combined for 705 yards.
Caesars posts bets like these in its odds boost section.
One has Higbee and Boyd to each clear 49.5 receiving yards and Joe Mixon to rush for more than 49.5 yards. It pays +450.
This bet takes Chase out of play and makes the player roll the dice on whether Mixon (a rushing and receiving threat) gets enough rushing attempts. Nothing burns a rushing-props bettor more than the designated back hitting a long run on a swing pass.
Will Mahomes and Burrow each rush for more than 19.5 yards? Yes is +450. The variable is whether Burrow can or needs to.
Betting On Rams Vs. 49ers
The Niners and Rams may not be as explosive, but their props are interesting.
DraftKings has Cooper Kupp to notch more than 100 yards and for the Rams to score at least 33 points. It pays +400 for a reason.
The 49ers have played the best defense of any team, allowing just 34 points in the last 10 quarters. Kupp could go off, but can the Rams get to 33?
Two props involve players from opposite teams.
Can Elijah Mitchell of the Niners and Cam Akers of the Rams combine for 150 rushing yards? Yes is +170.
What the bettor of this prop needs is a game that stays close most of the way. If one team opens a big lead, the running game evaporates for the trailing team.
Can Odell Beckham Jr. and George Kittle combine for 150 yards? Yes is +175. Tantalizing.
OBJ is an excellent second threat for the Rams. The Niners may try to limit Kupp, who had a monster 183-yard game in the Rams’ 30-27 triumph over the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The Niners have beaten the Rams six straight times. Are the Rams due?
The Rams will succeed at being the host team for the Super Bowl if they can win this game on their home field.
Crazy things happen in waves. Tampa Bay became the first host team in a Super Bowl last year and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.
NFL Playoffs Betting Strategy
Big bettors employ a leveraging tactic small players can’t. It’s a significant part of their game plan. Take a game with the result all-but-established, lay a colossal sum on it with inflated juice, and collect a small, but guaranteed profit.
That’s how one DraftKings bettor saw the path to $46,000 last week.
When the Bucs stalled on downs and trailed the Rams 27-13 with 4:31 left, most people knew it was over.
This bettor decided to lay -1300 odds. To nail the $46,000, the player had to wager a whopping $604,000.
Can you believe that? We won’t even ask who has that kind of money, but this is not an uncommon play.
The gambler presumably figured the Bucs would use all three of their timeouts to stop the clock, fine. But then came a 77-yard touchdown drive on three plays, capped by Tom Brady lofting a 55-yard bomb to Mike Evans.
When the Rams got the ball back, they could practically run out the clock. But then came a fumble and Tampa Bay tied it late.
The Rams won, but this one triumph came with big-money palpitations.
We know few people who can make this kind of bet, but we can relate to the concept. How often does it seem that when bettors increase their wagers, crazy things happen?
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)