With just two games on the board for Championship Sunday, there are slim pickings in terms of betting options. Let’s take a closer look at the totals for both games and see what are the best bets on the board in terms of over-unders:
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs
One week after putting up 51 points in a Divisional Round win over the Houston Texans, the Chiefs are listed as 7.5-point favorites versus Tennessee with the total set at 52 for the AFC Championship Game. Kansas City will have a hard time matching that offensive output against the Cinderella Titans this weekend.
First of all, the Titans just held the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens to a combined average of 12.5 points in back-to-back road playoff wins. Based on those performances, they should be able to put up a better fight against the Chiefs than Houston did. Second, Kansas City didn’t score more than 40 points in a game even once during the regular season, in which they averaged 29.5 points per game. Third, there is a real possibility that the weather could wreak havoc on this matchup with the guarantee of frosty conditions and the very real possibility of snow or freezing rain. Fourth and finally, Tennessee has done an outstanding job of running the football, controlling the clock and winning the time of possession battle. There is no doubt they will take that approach again this week in order to avoid getting dragged in to a potential shootout with the Chiefs in their own building.
The Titans did exactly that in a 35-32 win over Kansas City back in Week 10. While these teams still combined for 67 points in that matchup, the stakes will be that much higher this time around. Patrick Mahomes still threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in that regular season loss to Tennessee. If the Titans can trip him up a bit the way that they did with both Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson, then they will have a much better opportunity to win. At the same time, Derrick Henry was a beast in that regular season win, running for 188 yards and two scores highlighted by a 68-yard run. Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 181 yards and two scores in the win over the Chiefs, has been extremely efficient but hasn’t been shy to take shots downfield when they are there. If Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has his way, Tannehill won’t need to take too many deep shots in order to win this game. While both teams ranked in the top-10 in points per game during the regular season, they were a combined 19-16 in favor of the over, which isn’t a substantial split. Perhaps the most important factor in determining which side the smart money is on is the pressure that will come with being four quarters away from the Super Bowl. After a thrilling comeback win over Houston last week, Andy Reid and his players might want to take a simpler approach this week in order to get to the biggest game of them all. On the flip side, this Tennessee side is at its best when running the football and winning the time of possession battle. With the stakes as high as they get this week and the total already seeming a little inflated at 52 points, the smart money is on the under in this one.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
The total for the NFC Championship game is set much lower at 45. This is despite the fact that the 49ers are also listed as a 7.5-point favorite at home. The difference in this matchup is that San Francisco is expected to win on the strength of its defense. The 49ers owned the No. 2 ranked offense in the NFL during the regular season when they averaged 29.8 points per game. At the same time, San Francisco ranked fifth in the NFL with an average of just 18.8 points allowed per game. While the 49ers have the potential to put up some big numbers on offense, they also have a dominant defense that has the potential to completely shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, which is what happened when they met in the regular season. In arguably their most impressive victory of the year, San Francisco dominated Green Bay to the tune of a 37-8 victory back in Week 12. The 49ers sacked Rodgers five times and held him to just 104 passing yards. They also kept Packers running back Aaron Jones in check, holding him to just 38 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Meanwhile, San Francisco seemed to be able to move the football on the ground at will, racking up 188 rushing yards and two rushing scores on just 22 carries. Now four quarters away from the Super Bowl, there is no doubt that the 49ers will want to copy the blueprint that led them to victory during the regular season by running the football and playing tough defense. How can the Packers adjust? While Rodgers joked this week about building off the one touchdown drive that they did manage to put together against San Francisco in the regular season loss, the reality appears to be a lot more troubling for Green Bay. The Packers have relied heavily on the connection between Rodgers and his top receiver Davante Adams. If Richard Sherman and company can slow them down, then the Packers offense could really hit a wall. Adams had seven catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in that 37-8 loss in the regular season. However, he also had 12 targets and his biggest gain was just 14 yards. With a healthy arsenal of running backs featuring Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida, the 49ers are very capable of establishing the run, winning the time of possession and grinding out a victory at home. Jimmy Garoppolo has flashed his ability to put the offense on his shoulders, but he likely won’t need to in this specific scenario. After producing a combined 15-18-1 record on the Over/Under in the regular season, it makes sense to follow that trend and bet on these teams to deliver another low scoring game this time around. After combining for 45 points in the regular season matchup, albeit with San Francisco doing the bulk of the scoring, we expect these teams to battle in an even lower scoring game this time around. The smart money is on the under in this NFC Championship showdown.