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Odds and Ends

Best Bets: AFC Championship

by Covers.com
Updated On: January 16, 2020, 8:52 pm ET

If the odds have anything to say, it would seem the Titans’ red-hot roll comes to a close in the AFC Championship Game at Kansas City this Sunday.

However, bettors aren’t bailing on Tennessee just yet, at least not when it comes to the pointspread for the AFC title game. The Titans opened as touchdown underdogs at Arrowhead Stadium and after a move to +7.5, recent action on Tennessee has taken this spread back to +7.

We dig deep into the NFL playoff odds for Titans at Chiefs – not only giving our best bets for the side and total but serving up picks and predictions on everything in the AFC Championship: from quick-paying plays to team and player props. 

TENNESSEE TITANS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-7, 52.5)

QUICK HITTER

Outside of the 21-point hole Kansas City dug for itself versus Houston in the Divisional Round, first quarters have been somewhat uneventful for the Chiefs in recent games. 

Before last Sunday’s playoff matchup, K.C. games had posted first-quarter scoring totals of three, seven, six, and 10 in the previous four outings. 

The Titans’ games have produced a little more excitement in the opening 15 minutes, with scoring totals of seven, 10, 14, 14, and zero in their last five contests. 

Tennessee is going to be extra careful not to get sucked into a shootout with the Chiefs, and that run-heavy playbook will methodically march in the opening frame Sunday. On the other side, Kansas City could be a little more cautious after its first-quarter miscues versus the Texans and knows it can’t play from behind against the Titans. 

PREDICTION: First quarter Under 10 points

 

FIRST HALF BET

If that 28-point explosion against the Texans didn’t put you on notice, the Chiefs are not suprisingly the top second-quarter offense in the NFL. 

On the year, Kansas City has averaged more than 12 points per second frame and has outscored its opponents by an average score of 13.6 to 2.7 during its current seven-game winning streak. Even if you take out that one-sided Divisional Round result, K.C. still holds an average margin of 8.5 points in those final six regular season wins.

The last time Kansas City was outworked in the second quarter was against these very same Titans in Week 10, with Tennessee besting the Chiefs 13-3 before the halftime break. 

However, the Titans have been less-than-dominant in second quarters ever since, getting outscored by an average tally of 5.2 to 7.5 in the past eight games. They rank fourth-lowest in second-quarter points per game on the year (5.1) and face a Chiefs Defense that stiffened before the break, allowing only 4.1 points per second frame this season. 

PREDICTION: Second quarter spread – Kansas City -3

 

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Any discussion as to who the top tight end in the NFL is was put to bed after Travis Kelce’s performance in the AFC Divisional Round. The Chiefs TE reeled in 10 of 12 passes for 134 yards receiving and three touchdowns, fueling the comeback win over Houston.

Kelce will surely be the focal point of the Tennessee defense in the AFC Championship, but it’s a defense that was roughed up by opposing tight ends this season. The Titans ranked fourth worst in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to TEs including 10 touchdowns. 

Tennessee was able to limit Baltimore Pro Bowl TE Mark Andrews to four receptions for 39 yards in the Divisional Round, but Andrews was playing through a painful high ankle sprain and was listed as questionable heading into last weekend.

Kelce is dealing with his own injuries – like most players are at this point in the season – and has been limited in practices, which is more of a precaution than a reason for alarm. He had 75 yards and a touchdown in the Week 10 matchup at Tennessee and will find pay dirt again this weekend.**video

PREDICTION: Travis Kelce TD anytime -115

 

OVER/UNDER BET 

Falling behind and getting away from the run isn’t an option for Tennessee, if it wants to follow the same blueprint laid out in wins over New England and Baltimore. The Titans need the luxury of being up (or close on the scoreboard) and playing without panic to lean hard into the ground game and wear down the Kansas City defense. 

Tennessee has broken the backs of its opponents with two scoops of Derrick Henry in the second half, with the running back picking up almost 65 percent of his total rushing gains in the final 30 minutes of action. Henry rushed for 188 total yards and two scores in that Week 10 matchup with K.C., picking up 143 of those gains in the final two quarters.

The Titans have won all but one of their past nine second halves (lost 28-14 in second half to New Orleans) going back to the win over Kansas City in Week 10 and are outscoring foes by an average of 19.8 to 10.4 in that span – over nine points per second half. 

Those figures include coming back from a 29-20 fourth-quarter deficit against the Chiefs in November. Kansas City's defense has had issues closing out games this year, specifically at home where it allows 10.7 second-half points (including 7.3 in fourth quarters). That’s helped build a 6-3 Over/Under record inside Arrowhead.

While the first half may be slower going, the final two frames have the potential for fireworks, pushing this final score Over the number.

PREDICTION: OVER 52.5

 

SPREAD BET

Don’t get too caught up in Kansas City’s poor first-quarter performance in the Divisional Round. Outside of the blown coverage on the opening score from Houston, Kansas City allowed those other two TDs on somewhat “freak” plays and struggled with dropped passes in the early going.

The version of the Chiefs you should concern yourself with, and the one that will give the Titans fits, is the one that scored 51 points in final three quarters of that game. Kansas City overcame and adjusted but also didn’t let up, and that relentlessness will be needed against Tennessee.

Patrick Mahomes was back in MVP form in the Divisional Round – far from the hobbled QB the Titans faced back in Week 10. That contest was Mahomes’ first game back after missing the previous two outings with a scary knee injury suffered in Week 7. He was cautious and far less mobile, failing to run for a single yard in that loss to the Titans (but still passing for 446 yards through the air on 72 percent completions with three TDs). 

Mahomes has been very spry since, scrambling for an average of almost 23 yards per game on the ground in the final six games of the regular season and amassing 53 yards rushing in the win over Houston last weekend.

That mobility and some solid work from the Kansas City offensive line has kept Mahomes clean for the most part during this seven-game run. The QB has been sacked only seven times since Week 11 with zero sacks taken in each of the past two games.

An upright Mahomes is a dangerous Mahomes. We like him to come through for K.C. and pointspread bettors Sunday.

PREDICTION: Kansas City -7

 

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