NFL Pick for the AFC Championship Game (2019 regular season)
NFL PICK (AFC Championship Game)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written January 13th, 2020 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Tennessee Titans +7.5 or Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 ?
In the AFC Championship Game, the Titans will square off with the Chiefs.
Tennessee is coming off two stunning performances in a row: a 20-to-13 win in New England against the defending champs, followed by a 28-to-12 victory that snapped Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak.
Let’s put Derrick Henry’s heroics in perspective. According to ProFootballTalk, the top five rushers in the history of the NFL (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Frank Gore, Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson) have recorded just two playoff games, out of 46, with 140 rushing yards or more. As a comparison, Henry has AVERAGED 140 rushing yards in his four postseason matches! That’s truly remarkable. And he did so against very tough defenses.
Kansas City came back from a 24-to-0 hole to beat the Texans 51-to-31. Did you hear about diehard Chiefs fan called “Big Buck Chuck” on Twitter who left the stadium in the first quarter when the team trailed 21-0, as he felt he was jinxing his team? He figured leaving the stadium would help K.C. stage a comeback, which they did. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I thought the story was pretty funny!
Let’s get back to the betting side of the game. The Chiefs have now won seven straight games by at least 7 points. That’s impressive!
However, I feel like the Titans match up well against Andy Reid’s team. In order to beat Kansas City, you want to keep Patrick Mahomes and company on the sidelines. The best way to do it is to run the ball effectively, which happens to be Tennessee’s trademark! On top of that, K.C. is not well equipped to stop the run. They ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and 28th in yards per rush.
I mentioned last week how Kansas City’s defense had improved recently. They did not impress me very much against the Texans. Houston ran the ball pretty well, until they had to abandon it to try to keep up with the boatload of points that were getting scored by the Chiefs.
These two teams met in Week #10 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Chiefs gained 530 total yards versus 371 for the Titans in that game, and yet Tennessee came out on top 35-to-32. Derrick Henry rushed for 188 yards that day.
The Titans have beaten the spread in each of their past six matchups on the road against teams with a winning record. They also hold a 5-1 ATS record in their last six meetings at Arrowhead Stadium.
As a conclusion, my pick goes to Tennessee. I grabbed the Titans +7.5 at -112 odds (i.e. 1.89 in decimal format) late Sunday night after the Divisional Round.
If you like Tennessee, my advice is to bet early in the week as I strongly believe you’ll get a better line compared to what it is going to be just before the game starts. I expect the spread to drop to 7, perhaps even 6.5.
Grab your popcorn because this game should be fun to watch!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)