NFL picks against the spread for the AFC and NFC championship games
Four NFL heavyweights are set to do battle on Sunday and we’ve got Against the Spread picks from multiple betting experts on both of the games.
Bengals at Chiefs kicks off first and is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game won by Cincinnati. Presumptive 2023 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is going to play on a hurt ankle, and didn’t look too bad in his first practice yesterday. Bengals QB Joe Burrow, meanwhile, is continuing to add to his reputation as perhaps the most clutch quarterback in the NFL right now.
In the NFC, the Eagles and 49ers, thought to be the top teams in the conference all year and proving it in the playoffs, will battle in what should be a smashmouth game between two of the most dominant lines (both offense and defense) in the NFL. Jalen Hurts was the MVP favorite before getting hurt, but looked just fine in a demolition of the Giants last round. Rookie Brock Purdy has been on a tear for the 49ers since taking over and likewise appears to have the stuff needed to win the big one.
So who are we betting? Let’s jump into it.
Bengals vs Chiefs Against the Spread Pick and Prediction
First of all, this line has moved from Chiefs -1 to Bengals -2.5 and everything in between. So let’s remember that it may still fluctuate before kickoff.
That being said, I like the Chiefs either way and so does betting insider Iain MacMillan. He explained why in his betting preview, which you can read fully here. But this one line stood out to me from his write-up.
“The Bengals rank 14th in the NFL in yards per play, and their defense ranks 16th in opponent yards per play. The Chiefs are first and ninth in those two metrics.”
Beyond their statistical advantage there, Mahomes is 8-2 in his playoff career at home and has recorded 32 TDs (28 pass, 4 rush) against only 3 INTs. While he is dealing with an ankle sprain, he was able to lead two scoring drives on a freshly-injured ankle last Sunday and should be in a much better spot this week after getting treatment all week.
I’m betting the Chiefs to cover, whether they’re underdogs or favorites.
PICK: Chiefs -1
49ers vs Eagles Against the Spread Pick and Prediction
Not that I’m tailing him, but me and Iain are on the same page when it comes to this game too. The Eagles have the better, more experienced, more versatile quarterback, and in a game that will likely come down to a few plays, I’ll side with the vet over the rookie.
Jalen Hurts, previous to getting injured in Week 15, was the presumptive MVP. He’s recorded 35 total TDs this year (22 passing, 13 rushing) and his ability to make plays with his legs could be the difference-maker against a terrorizing defense that’s among the best in the NFL.
You know who has the best defense in the NFL? The Eagles.
Iain pointed out the following: The Eagles defense leads the NFL in opponent yards per play (4.8), opponent yards per pass attempt (5.4), and sack percentage (11.4%).
Now, if the Eagles were playing against a veteran duel-threat, All-Pro quarterback, I wouldn’t be as concerned for the 49ers. In my opinion, they have the superior skill position players, though the Eagles are uber-talented too. But Purdy is a rookie who isn’t known for his mobility and is coming off his worst game since taking over against the first really tough defense he’s faced, the Cowboys.
End of the day, games like this often come down to a play or two, a mistake or two, and I’m willing to wager the Eagles and Hurts make the plays while the 49ers and Purdy make the mistakes.
PICK: Eagles -2.5
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.