NFL conference championships betting guide: Props, odds, lines, more

ByMike Clay ESPN logo
Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The NFL's conference championships are Sunday, and the betting market is loaded with player props. That's why we're bringing you the NFL betting playbook, highlighting some of the top options for each of this weekend's pivotal playoff games.

My weekly betting playbook features several data points for both of this weekend's games, along with my analysis of a few notable lines I'm interested in betting, although this article is designed in a way that allows you to pick your own favorites.

Exclusively for ESPN+ members: If you'd like to see a list of around 100 props and my recommended plays for each, please click on this link.

Note: Odds by ESPN BET and correct as of time of publication.

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

Money line: Kansas City Chiefs (+170); Baltimore Ravens (-200)

Total: 44.5; Opened: 46.5

FPI favorite: Ravens by 4.6 (63.6% to win outright)

Clay's projected score:Ravens 26, Chiefs 20

  • Patrick Mahomes over 36.5 passing attempts (-110): I'm doubling down here, as I recommended this same play last week, and we took one of our only L's during the playoffs. The loss was a bit of a bad beat, as the Chiefs ran 47 offensive snaps, which was a season low by six plays (they had averaged 60.1 snaps per game in their prior 18 games). Kansas City still called a pass-first offense after operating the league's game-script-adjusted, pass-heaviest scheme during the regular season. Including last week's season-low 23, Mahomes is now averaging 36.7 passing attempts per game. That number jumps to 40.0 per game in Kansas City's six losses (38-plus in five of those six), which is notable, as the Chiefs are road underdogs. Mahomes has averaged 40.1 attempts per game in his four career games against Baltimore (37-plus in three out of the four, and all three of those were wins). The Ravens faced 37.1 passing attempts per game during the regular season (second most), with 10 out of 18 opponents reaching 37 attempts.
  • Roquan Smith over 2.5 assists (-135): Smith has played on 97% of Baltimore's defensive snaps during 17 active games this season. The every-down off-ball linebacker averaged 4.5 assists during those games, having reached three in 15 out of 17.
  • Justin Madubuike over 2.5 total tackles (-135) and over 0.5 assists (-230): Madubuike has been a mainstay for Baltimore at defensive tackle this season, having played on 66% of snaps during 18 games. The four-year vet is averaging 3.3 total and 1.1 assists per game. He's reached three total tackles in 12 games (including 11 of his last 14) and has at least one assist in 12 games (including six of his last seven).
  • Justin Reid under 2.5 assists (-190): Reid rarely leaves the field (he's played on 97% of the Chiefs' defensive snaps in 18 games this season) and yet he doesn't generate many assists. The standout safety is averaging 1.3 helpers per game and has reached three in only three of those 18 outings. One of the three exceptions came against the Bills last week, but note that Reid had season-high marks in snaps (75) and total tackles (11) in what was an unusually high-volume game for the defense.

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Money line: Detroit Lions (+260); San Francisco 49ers (-320)

Total: 50.5; Opened: 51.5

FPI favorite: 49ers by 8.5 (74.1% to win outright)

Clay's projected score:49ers 30, Lions 26

  • Brandon Aiyuk under 5.5 receptions (-165): This is Aiyuk's highest reception line of the season, which makes it a fairly easy fade. Aiyuk caught three passes against the Packers last week and is averaging 4.6 per game in 17 outings this season. He's reached six receptions only five times. Deebo Samuel could be sidelined, but note that in the three games Samuel was out or barely played during the regular season, Aiyuk's catch totals were 4, 5, 5 and 3. San Francisco's wideouts ranked 30th in targets as a group during the regular season.
  • David Montgomery over 1.5 receptions (+122): Montgomery caught three passes last week against the Buccaneers and has now managed at least two receptions in seven of his 16 games this season. He's run routes on 32% of Detroit's passing plays, though that usage has increased during the playoffs (40% against the Rams, 43% against Tampa Bay). The 49ers faced the third-most passing attempts and allowed the fifth-most RB receptions during the regular season. Including last week's win, San Francisco has allowed two-plus receptions to 26 RBs in 18 games.
  • Jameson Williams under 2.5 receptions (-120): Williams has had exactly two receptions in three straight games and has reached three catches only twice in his 20 career games. Despite seeing his snap share bump up to 63% since Week 11, Williams hasn't been targeted much (3.3 per game during the span) and has a total of just nine targets over his last three outings.
  • Nick Bosa over 2.5 total tackles (-180), over 0.5 assists (-210), under 0.5 sacks (+125): There is a bunch of value on Bosa this week. Excluding a Week 18 game in which he was on the field for only seven plays, Bosa has played on a healthy 80% of the 49ers' defensive snaps. He's averaging 3.2 total tackles (three-plus in 12 out of 17, including 11 of his past 13) and 1.1 assists (at least one in 12 outings) per game. Detroit has allowed 10.4 tackles per game to opposing edge rushers (seventh highest). Even at an ugly vig, the tackle overs are worth a look. The "under" on sacks at plus money is also enticing, as Bosa has 10.5 sacks on the season and has fallen short of one full sack in 10 out of 17 games, including three straight. Playing behind Detroit's terrific line, Jared Goff has had one of the league's lowest sack rates in both of the past two seasons. He's been sacked at a rate of 1.8 per game in 19 outings this season.
  • Arik Armstead over 0.5 assists (-190): Armstead has had at least one assist in nine out of 13 games this season (1.1 per game), including six straight (1.7 per game during the span). He missed a chunk of the regular season due to injury, but played on a generous 68% of snaps against Green Bay last week while registering two assists.
  • Alex Anzalone over 4.5 solos (-115): Anzalone rarely leaves the field, having played on 98% of Detroit's defensive snaps in 18 active games this season. He averaged 5.3 solos per game during those outings, hitting five in 12 of the games, including five-plus in four consecutive contests.

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