One is a rematch. The other has a couple of familiar teams who have rarely met in the postseason. But the NFL’s conference championship games do have a common theme: They’re expected to be very close games according to the odds.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals will meet in the AFC championship game for the second straight season; last year, the Bengals won in overtime, and this season, Caesars Sportsbook lists the game as a pick ’em.
In the NFC championship game, the Philadelphia Eagles are 2½-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers, who held off the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday evening to advance to the NFC title game for the second consecutive season.
The Eagles were listed as 1½-point favorites on the opening betting line at Caesars, but the line shifted up to Eagles -2 within the first hour of it posting and sits at Eagles -2½ as of Monday afternoon.
The game’s over/under is set at 45½.
It’s the 49ers’ record 18th appearance in the NFC championship and the Eagles’ eighth, though they’ve never played each other in the game. In fact, the teams have only met in the playoffs once, a 14-0 San Francisco victory at home in the wild-card round in 1996.
Last year, the 49ers lost to the Los Angeles Rams 20-17 in the NFC title game.
Meanwhile, the Bengals and Chiefs will play for the AFC crown for the second straight season. Last year, the Bengals won 27-24 in overtime as 7-point underdogs. This time, they opened as 3-point favorites at Caesars, but that number steadily dropped and now sits as a pick ’em on Monday afternoon.
On the money line, the teams are also evenly matched, with Kansas City and Cincinnati both listed at -110. The game’s over/under is at 47.
The matchup was set when Joe Burrow and the Bengals throttled the Buffalo Bills 27-10 on Sunday and the Chiefs held off the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 on Saturday despite a high ankle sprain suffered by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes says he’ll play in the AFC championship but likely will be limited, which may explain why the Chiefs aren’t favored at home.
It’s the Chiefs’ fifth consecutive appearance in the AFC title game, all of them played at home in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are 2-2 in the previous four games, losing to the Patriots and Bengals and beating the Titans and Bills.
In last year’s game, the Bengals won after falling behind 21-3. It’s the first AFC title game rematch since the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Houston Oilers in two straight games after the 1978 and 1979 seasons, both at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
These teams faced off in the regular season, with the Bengals beating the Chiefs by that same 27-24 score on Dec. 4 in Cincinnati. Kansas City was a 2½-point favorite in that game.
The winners of the conference championships will face off in Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
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