NFL Picks Conference Championship Games (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday January 20th, 2021 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
After going 2-1 against the spread (ATS) in the NFL Wildcard Round, we went a perfect 3-0 last week! The playoffs have been very profitable to us so far with a 5-1 ATS record.
Now, we have two great matchups on the menu for the Conference Championship games. I’ve got one official pick, and one lean for you.
Also, I will conclude this article by telling you my plan regarding the Super Bowl proposition bets this year. Remember that I crushed Vegas bookies last season by coming back home with more than $8k in profit.
Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s picks for the NFC and AFC Championship games!
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: TAMPA BAY BUCS VS GREEN BAY PACKERS (-3)
As I was watching the second half of the Bucs versus Saints game last week, I was thinking that neither team was very impressive. Both teams had ups and downs, especially on offense. In my mind, the winner would probably end up losing in Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.
I love anticipating what the point spread will be on each game. In this case, I was expecting the Packers to be 4-point favorites, and that’s exactly how the line opened. At that price, I was comfortable betting Green Bay. Now that the line has dropped to 3.5, and then 3 (as of Wednesday morning, which is when I wrote this article) I am definitely siding with the team from the frozen tundra.
Here are four arguments favoring Green Bay in this spot:
- Argument #1: The rest factor. The Packers will be at home for the third straight week, while the Bucs will be traveling for the third consecutive week.
- Argument #2: The revenge factor. Do you really want to face Aaron Rodgers a second time after you have crushed him earlier in the year? I don’t think so. Back in Week 6, Tampa hammered Matt LaFleur’s team by a 38-to-10 score. That’s the only game all season where Rodgers did not throw a single TD pass. Oh man, he will be super focused to get some payback!
- Argument #3: The matchup. Tampa’s defense ranked number one in the league against the run. That’s great, but they finished 18th in terms of passer rating allowed. That’s very bad news when facing Rodgers and company. I know that they held them in check earlier this season, but it’s not going to happen again.
- Argument #4: The extra day. Green Bay gets an additional day to rest and game plan after playing last Saturday’s first game of the day, while the Bucs played the late game Sunday.
I could have added the cold weather, as it is expected to be -6 degrees Celsius at Lambeau Field. However, Tom Brady has played many games in the cold with the Pats, but the rest of his teammates might not enjoy the weather too much, though… So I guess that could be argument #4B!
I do like the Packers enough to put some money at risk.
Official pick: Packers -3
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: BUFFALO BILLS VS KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3)
Here is how my point spread prediction went for this matchup: I was expecting the Chiefs to be favored by 6 points if Mahomes plays, while I anticipated K.C. to be 2.5- or 3-point favorites if Chad Henne is the starter.
For this reason, I was shocked when the line opened at 2.5 since, in my mind, Mahomes had a 50-50 shot of suiting up for the AFC Championship game. Since then, the line moved to 3, but it is back at 2.5 with some sportsbooks.
That completely changed my strategy. If the Bills had been 6-point underdogs, as I expected, I was going to put my money on them. But with such a small point spread, I believe the value lies on Kansas City.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe Buffalo has enough talent to beat the Chiefs, even with Mahomes on the field. However, the Chiefs’ QB holds a 25-1 record since November 2019. That cannot be ignored.
K.C. players also have more playoff experience. I wouldn’t mind betting Buffalo +6, but I don’t think putting money on Buffalo +3 is a good idea, let alone +2.5.
Still, there are quite a few things going Buffalo’s way. First, they post a 7-1-2 record against the spread (ATS) as road underdogs. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as favorites (including 0-4 as home favorites).
Also, don’t forget the famous revenge factor. Back in Week 6, Kansas City topped Buffalo 26-to-17, thanks to 245 rushing yards. The Bills simply couldn’t stop the running game. They have improved since then (as shown last week against the Ravens!), but that is still concerning.
So, my final decision is to stay away from this game from a betting perspective due to conflicting arguments. However, if I was forced to bet, I would go with the Chiefs -3. At the time of writing, Sports Interaction has the Chiefs -2.5 at -112 odds, which is pretty tempting.
Lean: Chiefs -3
CRUSHING SUPER BOWL PROPOSITION BETS!!!
Do you remember last year’s “Crushing Super Bowl Proposition Bets Project”, where I flew to Vegas a few days before the big game, so that I could place bigger bets and shop for the best lines? I had posted a series of seven videos where I detailed my adventure and showed you my betting tickets.
Just to refresh your mind, I ended up making 11 bets; four of them were favorites, while seven were underdogs. In other words, my expected record on those plays was 4-7. Things played out almost perfectly as I finished with a 9-2 record, while racking up $8,330 USD in net profit.
Some of you have already emailed me to ask whether I was going to do it again this year. That was the plan without a doubt, but COVID-19 will prevent me from making the trip, unfortunately. Do I really want to spend 3-4 days in Vegas without my girlfriend and kids, and then having to isolate myself for 14 more days without seeing them? Sports betting is a passion to me, but my family is important too.
That being said, in terms of proposition bets, the Super Bowl is like Christmas to me. There are so many things you can wager on that sportsbooks cannot keep odds that are accurate on each bet all the time.
Every year, there are TONS of weak lines that can be exploited. It’s pretty common that when the kickoff of the Super Bowl comes, all of my online sportsbook accounts are empty because I have wagered all of it on numerous proposition bets. And to be honest, I don’t remember a Super Bowl where I ended up with losses on those bets.
Even though I won’t be headed to Vegas, I will still be keeping track of the lines from many online sportsbooks on all prop bets. I always use an Excel spreadsheet where I enter the lines from 10-20 bookies, which allows me to estimate accurately fair odds. It is then easy to spot lines that are out of whack, and therefore exploitable. Those are the lines that we want to hammer.
I will find plenty of bargains for sure again this year. I will share a few of them via YouTube videos (maybe 3-5), while also offering the option of subscribing to a package where you receive ALL proposition bets that offer amazing value, as soon as I find them. I cannot promise a specific number of value wagers, but it should be at least 15-20. If you’re interested, you can sign up now by following this link.
Have fun this weekend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)