NFL betting: Early money is on the Bengals and Niners

A week after favorites covered in five of six games, underdogs went 3-1 in the divisional round, with all three dogs winning straight up on the road. Whether it’s recency bias, sharp handicapping, or a deep affinity for Al Pacino, the early money at BetMGM is betting on another dog day afternoon in the conference championships.

Niners’ Kyle Shanahan seeking 7th consecutive win vs. Sean McVay’s Rams

The San Francisco 49ers have been underdogs in all three rounds of the NFL playoffs. After beating the Cowboys and Packers as 3.5 and 5.5-point dogs, they’re getting 3.5 points from the Los Angeles Rams. Only 49% of early bettors have taken the Niners to cover the spread, but 63% of the money is on them. If McVay taps into his photographic memory, he’ll remember that he’s lost his last six games against Shanahan and the 49ers, most recently blowing a 17-0 lead in Week 18 to lose 27-24 in overtime, granting a playoff berth to San Francisco. Sixty-six percent of moneyline tickets and 64% of the handle are counting on the Niners (+155) to make it seven wins in a row versus the Rams, who attempted to keep their home stadium from being overrun by San Francisco fans by allowing only Los Angeles residents to purchase tickets.

New stripes and a glass slipper for the Bengals

These aren’t your parents’ Cincinnati Bungles. Cincy secured its first road playoff win in franchise history by beating the Tennessee Titans 19-16 on Evan McPherson‘s last-second field goal. McPherson is a perfect 8-8 on field goals and 3-3 on PATs, scoring 27 of the Bengals‘ 45 postseason points. If they’re going to keep it close against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, though, they’ll probably need more than a peppering of three-point scores. Early bettors believe in Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who are 7.5-point underdogs in Kansas City. Sixty-six percent of spread and 72% of moneyline tickets are riding on Cincinnati (+280). The Bengals downed the Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17, but Tom Brady‘s 2018 Patriots are the only NFL team to ever beat Mahomes twice in the same season. Eighty-three percent of the handle for the point total is on the over, which opened at 50.5 and has climbed a full field goal to 53.5.

Quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17. (Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports)Quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17. (Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports)
Quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31 in Week 17. (Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports)

Stats provided by Pro Football Reference.