Now that It was a fun weekend of football.
The 2022 NFL playoffs divisional round helped make up for a lackluster wild-card weekend with a four-game showcase that was arguably the best week of postseason action in NFL history. All four games were decided by a score on the final play. The sole favorite to win and advance, the Chiefs, needed a miraculous 13-second drive from Patrick Mahomes to tie the game. Other than that, three underdogs won outright to set up a pair of intriguing matchups in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
Bettors will now enjoy a matchup of two of the best young quarterbacks from the AFC key side, while the NFC side will feature a divisional rivalry between two of the best young offensive coaches in the league.
These games are meant to be competitive, but what are players to do with them? Every team except the Chiefs lacks key experience in at least one area, so it could make this round as unpredictable as the last. As such, it will be necessary to watch the point spreads for each game as the lines move and the odds change based on the latest news and injury updates.
Speaking of injuries, every NFL team is banged up at this point in the season, but some are more so than others. For example, the 49ers are dealing with injuries to their two best offensive players, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams. If either one can’t adapt, that will affect the spread. Elsewhere, the looming threat of COVID still looms, but as long as players are asymptomatic, they won’t need to be tested, even if they aren’t vaccinated, per the NFL’s postseason COVID protocol.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News picks direct and against the spread for the Bengals vs. Chiefs and 49ers vs. rams.
MORE: Predictions for the AFC and NFC championship games
NFL odds for conference championship games
Below are the latest NFL odds for the AFC and NFC championship games, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for each game, according to FanDuel bookmaker.
Last update: Wednesday, January 26.
NFL conference championship game point spreads
|Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs||KC-7|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||LAR-3.5|
NFL conference championship game money lines
|Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs||IAS +270|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||SF +146|
NFL Conference Championship Game Over/Under
|Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs||54.5|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||46.5|
The best NFL bets for conference championship games
49ers (+3.5) at Rams
Both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay joined the NFC West as head coaches in 2017. During that time, Shanahan has enjoyed a distinct advantage over McVay, even as McVay has had a superior team.
Shanahan’s record against McVay is 7-3 straight, with Los Angeles’ last win coming late in the 2018 season when Nick Mullens was starting at quarterback for a banged-up 49ers squad. Since then, the 49ers have won six straight against the Rams. Four have been for one possession, but the 49ers have still won each time.
The 49ers just beat the Rams in Week 18, coming back from a 17-year deficit to beat them in the final week of the season. So even if they go down early, they have shown that they can come back. Their defense has also played well, as the unit limited Aaron Rodgers’ Packers to 10 points and has allowed an average of 16.3 points per game in the last seven. If they can upset Matthew Stafford, who has been prone to interceptions this year, they should certainly cover this gap; if not, win outright.
49ers money line (+146)
If you’re a little more daring, calling the 49ers money line isn’t a bad bet. He’s paying about 1.5-to-1 and, as mentioned, Shanahan has dominated McVay in recent years. That includes this season, during which the 49ers outscored the Rams 58-34 in two previous meetings.
SN’s Vinnie Iyer also predicts an upset from the 49ers this week. This game is more of a coin toss than most realize, so if you’re looking for good value in conference championship games, stick with San Francisco.
Bengals (+7) at Chiefs
Another underdog? your bet The Bengals may find it tough to beat the Chiefs for the second time this season, but they can certainly cover against a team they beat 34-31 in Week 17.
Cincinnati has played only three opponents who rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders DVOA Metric, which “breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on the field, current scoring gap, quarter, and quality of the opponent”. They are 1-2 straight in those contests, but have kept each game close with both losses coming in overtime.
Below is a look at each of their three games against the top 10 DVOA teams:
|5||packers||9||L, 25-22 (OT)|
|14||49ers||6th||L, 26-23 (AT)|
These past results bode well for Cincinnati to stay close. As they showed in Week 17, they can compete with Kansas City. This has the makings of another close offensive battle that could come down to the final push. As such, the Bengals look like a good pick as a touchdown underdog.
Bengals at Chiefs OVER 54.5
This number is high, so it may scare some, especially considering the Bengals had a lot of trouble moving the ball against the Titans with Joe Burrow under pressure. That said, the over has been a pretty safe bet lately with the Chiefs. They have won the over in seven straight games and have done pretty well most of the time.
In six of their last seven games, the Chiefs and their opponents have outscored the over by at least 7.5 points. The only time they didn’t was in Week 16, when they outscored by 1.5 in a game during which the Steelers scored just 10 points. On average, Chiefs games have finished by an average margin of 11.4 points since their 48-9 win over the Raiders in Week 14.
That makes betting appealing, especially considering the Bengals have averaged 27.6 points per game against playoff teams and both teams scored 30-plus the last time they met in Week 17.