Conference Championship Betting Guide: Spread, moneyline, over/under picks for first round of NFL Playoffs

With the AFC and NFC Championship games slated for Sunday, the 2020 NFL season has reached its final two matchups before Super Bowl Sunday. It’s the second-biggest stage in the sport, and it has already generated a ton of betting activity. Bettors will be looking back at the 19 weeks that led up to this final four weekend, looking for any angles they can find against the spread, on the moneyline, or on the over/under totals.

Every week, this column provides a detailed breakdown of our favorite bets, weaving in a preview of exclusive data from BetQL. This compilation serves as a mere sneak preview of all that BetQL offers. Check us out now to reveal our full betting predictions for every game of the conference championship round, including projections and best bet ratings from our NFL Best Bet Model.

All data presented is as of Friday morning. You can track all NFL line movement on  BetQL’s Line Movement Dashboard.


Conference Championship Betting Picks: Spread pick of the week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at Green Bay Packers

My favorite spread play of the week would be to buy a half-point and take the Bills +3.5 at Kansas City, but if I have to take a spread at its current position, I feel compelled to go against 65 percent of sharp bettors and go with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers getting +3.5 in Green Bay.

My longtime friend Steve has been a loyal Tampa Bay fan for 20-plus years, and he hates this pick because of the Bucs’ dismal track record. “They’re going to get beat bad this weekend,” Steve said. “That’s what they do.” 

But they haven’t had the greatest and most clutch quarterback of all-time under center until this season. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a huge Tom Brady fanboy despite my New England lineage, but I do recognize his contributions to the Patriots’ dynasties, and to the NFL as a whole. The man never gets flustered on the biggest stages. He competes until the very end.

The Bucs may not win Sunday, but I simply do not see them losing by more than a field goal. They forced four turnovers and held Drew Brees and the Saints to 294 total yards (190 passing) in their 30-20 divisional-round victory. They put up 507 offensive yards (365 passing) against a good Washington defense one week prior, good for a 31-23 wild card win. Brady has thrown 16 touchdowns and just one interception over the course of Tampa’s past six games.

Let’s also not forget that the Packers fell to the Bucs 38-10 in the first Battle of the Bays this season in Week 6. Brady went 17-of-27 for 166 yards and two TDs that week, finishing with a 104.9 QB rating. Tampa logged five sacks for 53 yards and forced Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to throw two interceptions. Pack running back Aaron Jones managed just 15 yards on 10 carries. Green Bay scored only one touchdown in the loss.

That game was obviously an outlier in Rodgers’ fantastic season, for which he will likely garner MVP honors. However, Rodgers has had his fair share of struggles in big moments, particularly in the postseason. Will All-Pro wideout Davante Adams once again be stymied by Tampa’s underrated secondary? Will the Bucs’ defensive line disrupt Rodgers in the pocket? Will Devin White maintain his borderline-inhuman rate of productivity? These are all distinct possibilities.

BetQL’s NFL Best Bet Model puts three stars on the Bucs covering the 3.5 points. It also points out an interesting trend: Tampa Bay has gone 7-1 against defensive units allowing over 5.6 yards per play this season. Green Bay has allowed just over 5.5 yards per play in 2020.

Ultimately, I have the Packers winning 27-24, but it will be a wild ride to the finish line and nobody will be breathing easy until the final whistle.

Conference Championship Betting Picks: Moneyline pick of the week

Kansas City Chiefs (-170) vs. Buffalo Bills

It’s so difficult to pick against the Buffalo, who I have touted as a breakout contender since before this crazy season started. Josh Allen has grown by leaps and bounds in front of all of our eyes and is on a collision-course with history in a fantastic run of prime-time conquests. But alas, he’s not Patrick Mahomes, and the Bills just do not measure up to the dominating depth chart of the defending champions.

If Mahomes clears the concussion protocol and plays Sunday, it’s simply impossible to pick against Kansas City on the moneyline. The question marks around the health of the reigning Super Bowl MVP are the only reason these odds are so good. Otherwise, we would likely be seeing KC +170 instead of -170.

Winners make winning plays, and Mahomes has proved time and time again that he’s the best in the NFL on the big stage. The Chiefs finished the regular season with the best record, somehow improving upon its 2019 offense. Kansas City also greatly benefited from the hire of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator. The Chiefs cracked the top 10 in fewest points allowed this season and finished fifth in the NFL in interceptions.

The majestic union of Allen and star Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been a fantastic story this season, and they are undoubtedly going to be wreaking havoc on the league for years to come. That said, Kansas City has far too many playmakers, including the always-explosive wideout Tyreek Hill and perhaps the best pass-catching tight end ever in Travis Kelce. The Bills will soon get their time in the sun, but I just don’t think it’s this year.

Conference Championship Betting Picks: Over/under pick of the week

Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OVER 51.5

BetQL likes the Bills-Chiefs game to go UNDER 54 points, but let’s face it: It’s more fun to bet on the OVER in the playoffs. Thus, we are rooting for a barnburner in the Rodgers-Brady showdown on Sunday afternoon.

Statistics are on our side here. The Buccaneers have scored at least 30 points in their past five contests and hit 44 twice in that span. Green Bay has hit 30-plus in seven of its past eight games, while reaching 40 twice. The Bucs are the third-highest scoring team in the NFL with the seventh-most yards on the season. The Pack are the top-scoring team in the NFL and produced the fifth-most yards.

These defenses have both been good this season, but their quarterbacks have been better. This will be a battle of two cagey veterans, and it seems highly unlikely that either will let it become a defensive slugfest. There’s always a risk going with the crowd — 79 percent of sharp money is on the OVER in this one — but investing in the points potential of two future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame QBs seems smart to me.

For more betting analysis and information, head over to BetQL and check out our model’s best bets, sharp data, and much more for every playoff game! You can find all updated NFL lines, spreads, and odds at BetQL!

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