NFL Conference Championships Preview, Betting Odds And Tips
After what was arguably the greatest and most dramatic playoff weekend in NFL history, just four teams remain in with a chance of earning themselves a spot at Super Bowl LIV at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on February 13th.
The two teams that will contest that grand finale of the NFL season will be decided this weekend in the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games.
Bet365 Sport is already offering odds on the two games this weekend and over the week, you will find that there will be more bets become available as we head towards game day. Remember too, that you can also enjoy In Play betting on the games when in progress.
Last week, we took a look at the Divisional Round games and it is fair to say that while we expected drama, there was no way we could have predicted just how exciting and incredible the four games that took place last weekend turned out to be.
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Divisional Playoff Weekend Review
Cincinnati Bengals 19-16 Tennessee Titans
Cincinnati won its first ever road playoff game in Nashville at the weekend, as the Tennessee Titans shot themselves in the foot repeatedly to gift-wrap the victory to the Bengals.
Joe Burrow was quietly effective on passing, but was also sacked nine times by a rampant Titans defense who did not deserve to be on the losing team as they held the Bengals to just one touchdown in the entire game.
However, it was the Titans offense that stuttered, with Ryan Tannehill in the firing line after three interceptions in the game proved costly, especially the final one.
That turnover handed the ball to the Bengals with under a minute left to go, just as it looked like the Titans would drive down field and kick the game winning field goal as time expired.
Instead, that turnover handed the Bengals that opportunity which kicker Evan McPherson took full advantage of to put his team into the Conference Championship game.
San Francisco 49ers 13-10 Green Bay Packers
In freezing and occasional snowy conditions in Lambeau Field, the 49ers prevailed for the fourth time in the playoffs over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, thanks largely to the efforts of their Special Teams.
The Packers took an early lead in the game and held onto that lead until late in the fourth quarter. By then the scoreline was 10-3 to the Packers and as they lined up to kick a punt away deep in their own territory, the game did appear to be drifting away from the 49ers.
However, the 49ers blocked the punt and returned the loose ball for a touchdown to bring the game level. Prior to this, the Special Teams unit for the 49ers had already blocked a field goal at the end of the first half and returned a kick-off 45 yards to put the 49ers in strong field position, from which they kicked their first field goal of the game.
On their final play of the game, the Packers could not score and punted the ball back to the 49ers, who then drove the ball downfield allowing Robbie Gould to convert his 20th field goal in 20 attempts in the post season to claim the win as time expired.
Los Angeles Rams 30-27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For three quarters of this game, it looked very much as if the Los Angeles Rams would be strolling into the NFC Conference Championship game. A combination of superb defence, which did not give Tom Brady time on the ball to pick his passes, with some fine offensive play saw the Rams open up a 27-3 lead over the Bucs.
The Bucs managed to get a field goal and a touchdown back to make the score 27-13, but early in the fourth quarter a brilliant Von Miller strip and sack of Tom Brady, which led to a fumble which Miller recovered, seemed to ice the game for the Rams.
However, the Rams then went jittery, first Cooper Kupp and then Cam Akers fumbled the ball, both of which led to Bucs touchdowns which meant that the game was tied with just 40 seconds remaining.
However, Cooper Kupp made amends, catching two passes from Matt Stafford to move the ball into field goal range for Matt Gay to kick the winning field goal as time expired to send the Rams into the NFC Championship game.
Buffalo Bills 36-42 Kansas City Chiefs (OT)
The three previous games had all been hugely exciting, but the final game was arguably one of the best NFL games in history. In the final two minutes, the lead changed hands three times, before the Chiefs tied the game in what was an absolute epic contest between two AFC powerhouses.
Throughout the game, the teams traded blows, scoring touchdowns in response to each other and the game was delicately poised all-square at the half.
The Chiefs then opened up a 9-point lead, only for the Bills to strike back to cut it to two. The Chiefs then scored another field goal, only for the Bills to score another touchdown and convert it for two points to open up a three-point lead inside the final two minutes.
Back came the Chiefs, as Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for a 64 yard touchdown to put the Chiefs back in front with just over a minute remaining. However, then the Bills came back, Allen finding Davis for his fourth touchdown of the game to pit the Bills back in front by three with just 13 seconds left on the clock.
Incredibly, even in that short space of time, Patrick Mahomes managed to get his team into position to kick a 49-yard field goal to tie the game as time expired and force overtime.
In overtime, the Chiefs won the toss and elected to receive, driving the ball downfield to the Bills eight-yard line where Mahomes found Travis Kelce for the game winning walk-off touchdown.
It was an incredible end to the most incredible Divisional Playoff weekend.
Which brings us neatly onto this weekend’s Conference Championship Games.
Conference Championship Games Preview And Tips
AFC – Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Bet365 have the Chiefs the -7.0 favourites to win this game and it is not difficult to see why. The Bengals did well to beat the Titans, but they were helped by some awful Titans play on offense, while the Chiefs were involved in a classic against the Bills, the two teams ranked by many as the best in the AFC.
I have to be honest and say that I think the odds do flatter the Chiefs and I would back the Bengals in the spread market at +7.0 even if I think the Chiefs will win, which I do. However, I think it is going to be a much closer game than many expect.
Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow are a special combination and they are going to keep this one close but ultimately, I’d expect the Chiefs to progress through here.
NFC – San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams start this game as the -3.5 favourites here, but a word of warning, San Francisco have won 10 of the last 13 games between these two teams, including all of the last six and both games that took place between them this season.
In fact, if the Rams wanted to avoid any opponent in the NFC in this Conference Championship game then it would have been the 49ers, so poor is their record against them.
However, I think both teams have upped their game in the playoffs so far and the things I am seeing from the Rams defense now, especially with Von Miller fit, is hugely exciting for the Rams, especially with the Super Bowl being in their home stadium, which is where this game will be played too.
The Rams are overdue a win over the 49ers and I think they will get it here, but only just.