It’s the NFL’s version of the Final Four. Championship Weekend has arrived, and in my mind, both games are difficult to handicap.
For the NFC, it is even more difficult to call as the status of San Francisco 49ers star wide receiver Deebo Samuel will likely be unknown until close to kickoff.
Our own Iain MacMillan pointed out that the 49ers are just 7-10 against the spread (ATS) without Samuel. As a result of the uncertainty, I’m sitting out this game.
The focus this week is all on the AFC. Which side am I going to land on? Well, there’s a reason why this column is called the Contrarian Corner so let’s get to it.
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NFL Championship Weekend Best Bet
AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Being a contrarian, I am usually on the opposite side of the public, and the reasons can be either scientific or intuitive or some combination thereof. So, how am I arriving at my pick for this game?
Step one, according to Bet Lab Sports, 54% of the bets are on the Ravens. That starts me out on the Chiefs’ side. What else supports me?
Step two. What are the trends.
Patrick Mahomes as an underdog is 9-1-1 ATS and 8-3 straight up (SU) in his NFL career. BetMGM’s John Ewing points out that Mahomes is 14-7 ATS when getting <50% of the bets.
Lastly, Action Network points out that Super Bowl winning quarterbacks after winning the Super Bowl are 33-16-2 ATS as an underdog over the last 20 years.
Step three. What does my intuition tell me?
I think the coaching match up is fairly even. Andy Reid vs. John Harbaugh. Two Super Bowl winning coaches with PLENTY of big game experience.
Both teams have superior defenses. Both teams have dangerous offenses. Both teams have dangerous quarterbacks. Both teams have great kickers.
This game is pretty darn even, isn’t it? The difference for me is Mahomes’ success in big games and the lack of it from Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have been the AFC’s best team all year, but for all the marbles, this contrarian is taking the experience and the 3.5 points.
The Pick: CHIEFS +3.5 (-110)
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.