With the NFL today being quarterback-driven, the potential absence of one of the league’s brightest stars under center during Conference Championship weekend has the power to create big odds swings, according to TheLines, which tracks odds in the US regulated sports betting market.
The NFC and AFC Championship games feature a matchup of two of the greatest to ever play, Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, and another featuring the brightest stars of the NFL’s younger generation, Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen.
However, in a quarterback-driven league, the health status of a star like Mahomes, who entered the NFL’s concussion protocol after exiting early in last weekend’s win over the Cleveland Browns, can create drastic swings in the betting market.
A look at a consensus of the nation’s largest legal online sportsbooks, including DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, PlaySugarHouse, BetMGM, Unibet, and William Hill, shows just how quickly things can change.
With Mahomes in the league’s five-step concussion protocol, the Bills opened on Sunday night as a 1.5-point favorite over the reigning Super Bowl champions. Yet, as bettors look to cash in on a favorable line as the status of the quarterback remains uncertain, Chiefs has been bet to a 2.5-point home favorite.
Mahomes’ status may be weighing on the oddsmakers’ point total, too. In a game featuring two of the top offenses in a historical offensive year, the over/under of 54 points is just the third-highest in the last 10 years of the AFC Championship.
In the NFC, a matchup of two certain Hall of Famers offers more clarity. Set for frigid Lambeau Field, the Packers sit as 3.5.-point favorites. Home teams are 33-17 straight up and 27-22-1 against the spread in the NFC Championship game since 1970.
Green Bay, though, is 1-3 against the spread in NFC Championship games in which Rodgers starts. Brady’s teams, on the other hand, are 9-3 against the spread in conference championship games, all with the New England Patriots.
Brett Collson, lead analyst for TheLines.com, said: “It’s rare that the status of a team lynchpin like Patrick Mahomes is so uncertain ahead of a conference championship game, so the consensus point spread will likely keep shifting as bettors make speculative plays.
“Add a matchup between two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live, both with long, intriguing histories in conference championship games, and this could be the most intriguing championship weekend for bettors that we’ve seen in a very long time.”
The consensus point spreads for the AFC and NFC Championship games, as of Monday, Jan. 18:
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (-3.5); over/under 51
- Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5); over/under 54
- Kansas City Chiefs +200 (+600)
- Green Bay Packers +220 (+3100)
- Buffalo Bills +325 (+2500)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +450 (+1500)