Last Updated: 2020-01-17
Berths in Super Bowl LIV are on the line this weekend in the conference championship games. The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers appear first by rotation order, but are second in chronological order for the Sunday January 19 NFL schedule. The Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs will kick things off with some mid-afternoon action in the AFC Championship Game.
We’ve beaten these two games to death this week on BangTheBook Radio to give you every possible angle. Every possible bet. Every possible consideration. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed those shows as much as we have enjoyed doing them.
Waves upon waves of public money and some additional influential sharp money will hit the market this weekend. We’ll give you an update on what we have seen and what we expect to see in this week’s NFL Market Report. We’ve only got two of these left after this one, so enjoy it while it lasts, y’all.
Here is the Conference Championship Week NFL Market Report:
311/312 Packers at 49ers – A few things stood out about this game right from the jump. The total was 45, exactly the total number of points scored in the first meeting between these two teams, when the 49ers won 37-8 on Sunday Night Football. That game was played with the Packers off of a bye and with the 49ers struggling and it was a complete curbstomping by San Francisco.
Another thing that really stood out about this game is that it opened -7. Last week we saw the 49ers open -6.5 against the Vikings. The line had to be bet up to -7. This one did not. It opened there. Let’s keep in mind that the Packers beat the Vikings twice in the regular season and also won the division at 13-3. The line certainly would imply that the Vikings are viewed more favorably than the Packers in the betting market. The line move up to -7.5 confirmed that.
The early-week move to 7.5 was telling as well. There is a chance that some public money on Aaron Rodgers will be enough to drive this line back down to -7, but that seems unlikely. There will be some that bet this game solely on the premise of Aaron Rodgers vs. Jimmy Garoppolo. There will be others that look at the disrespect being shown to a 14-3 team and bet them getting more than a touchdown.
The influential sharp bettors that moved this line to 7.5 were not them. Keep in mind the importance of key numbers in the risk management process. If you get bet up to a key number, you want to stay there. If you get bet off of a key number early in the week, you know that you are exposing yourself to some money on the side that now has the half-point. Clearly the risk managers across the industry were not concerned about that. They aren’t worried about Green Bay public money. That says a lot to me as far as I’m concerned.
When you try to read context clues in this ever-adapting market, you have to analyze things like this. What does that move to 7.5 early in the week mean? What does this line opening 7 mean?
And now, we have something additional to think about. The total on this game got bet up from 45 to 45.5 earlier in the week, but it has since moved up to 46.5. When you consider game flow and the initial line move, it sure would seem like the 49ers would prefer a lower-scoring game and the Packers would want a higher-scoring game, given their QB advantage. But, the side AND the total have moved up in spite of that thought process.
To me, that suggests that the 49ers are going to have quite a bit of success offensively, much like they did the first time around. These are two very well-defined sharp positions on the over and the 49ers. I don’t think this line moves off of 7.5 and I think it could even close 7.5 and -115 at several shops.
I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see the total drift back down towards 46. After all, this is a bad and slow playing surface and the Niners defense, now finally healthy, is exceptional.
313/314 Titans at Chiefs – A cross-section of the sports betting market yields some very interesting clues as to where the money is on this game. It is really good two-way action. There are public shops sitting at 7.5 and sharper shops sitting at 7.5. There are some shops holding 7 and extra juice as they look to balance their books in-house. There are some shops that seem to be in wait-and-see mode, as they speculate about which side will ultimately be the sharper of the two sides.
Keep in mind that we can have a high-profile game and still not see an abundance of sharp action until game day. Playoff game lines aren’t going to move substantially. The lines are too tight. We may see game day moves, when the vast majority of the money hits the board, but we aren’t going to see early-week moves of two or three points like we can during the regular season. That just isn’t standard operating procedure in the playoffs. The books aren’t forced to line and manage 16 games. They are forced to line and manage two games. So, everything about that line will be as airtight as it can be.
Think back to the CFP National Championship Game when an avalanche of Clemson money came in on game day and that line actually dropped to as low as +4 at some places. Clemson was not the right side, but the influential money that came in was enough to really push that line down.
Will we see the same here one way or another in this game? I will say this. At this point in time, if we get that type of movement, it will be on the Chiefs. If a heavier position was warranted on Tennessee, it would have come in already at +7.5. We’ve only seen mild movement and some nibbles on the trendy underdog. I think that speaks volumes about this game. I think the sharp side ultimately ends up Kansas City and we are 7.5. and quite possibly 8 market-wide.
Tennessee is a great story. They’ve already knocked off the #3 and #1 seeds in the AFC. They’ve gotten the respect that they deserve. Remember that these two teams played back in Week 10 and Kansas City was -5 on the road. Flip home field advantage and you have KC -11. This line is 7 or 7.5 now. Tennessee has gotten that respect. There has been a market correction.
But I believe that sharp bettors will consider that to be an overreaction. I think this line, which did open as high as 9.5 out in Las Vegas, will be going back up. I think Tennessee is the Cinderella story that a lot of public bettors get caught up in and I think that love fest will end as we get closer to kickoff because sharp money will come in. Bettors on the fence will piggyback that move to have some action.
I could be wrong. Maybe Tennessee is viewed in a more positive light than I have portrayed here. I just don’t think that is the case.
As far as the total goes, we seem to have peaked at 53 here with an initial move up from 51. It makes sense to expect points here. The first meeting was 35-32 with over 900 yards of offense. The Chiefs allowed 225 rushing yards in that game, which was the most that they allowed all season. Patrick Mahomes threw for 446 yards in his first game back from injury. The over move is certainly explainable.
On the other hand, I think we get some buyback here on this total to tick back down to 52.5 or maybe 52. Last week’s track meet between Houston and Kansas City has inflated this number a touch and remember that the Chiefs were a great under team down the stretch during the regular season as the defense improved. I would expect we close -7.5 with juice, and even -8 in some places, and then 52.5 on the total here.
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