ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Welcome to the best day of the football calendar: Conference Championship Sunday.
It’s a day that Bills supporters haven’t gotten the chance to truly experience as a fan since 1993. But I have.
I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Always have been, always will. I grew up in the Buffalo area. But my dad, a lover of the blonde bomber— Terry Bradshaw, passed down his Steelers fandom to me.
As a terribly spoiled rotten sports fan, he took me to the 2005 AFC Championship Game just one day before my 9th birthday. Like I said, very spoiled.
There are a few things I remember vividly about that day and that game. First of all, it was terribly, terribly cold. The wind chill was somewhere between -1 and -11 depending on the source. It was brutally frigid.
Second, Tom Brady absolutely destroyed the Steelers. Bundled up in layers upon layers, my chilly little eyes watched big play over big play for the Patriots. They won 41-27 in a game that was not nearly as close as the score indicated. I guess I do have some things in common with Bills fans.
But the other thing I clearly recall is watching the NFC Championship Game. It’s a strange feeling. You’re intensely watching the game. After all, this could be the team you play in the Super Bowl. But you don’t want your mind to get too far ahead. Everyone is huddled around in the concourse area, watching with a nervous energy. Talking about the game you’re about to witness. Predicting how you think it’s going to play out. Hoping that your team will come out on top. It’s like fandom purgatory, but before your potential death. Pretty sure I had a cheesesteak for dinner. Fitting with a Philadelphia win.
Whether this is your sixth Championship Game, your first, or somewhere in between— savor it. Sports are funny. You never know when another one will come up again. I guess I really don’t have to tell Bills fans that.
Now let’s try and make some money on this beautiful day of football. Last week, a 4-2 record finally brought us back to .500 on the season. Woo! It was also another good week for Bills Bets, as a 3-2 mark raised my total to 18-10-1 on the season.
While there’s only two games to bet on, there’s still plenty of chances to turn a profit. As always, these lines are the consensus lines on the Action Network at time of publication.
Time for the penultimate picks…
Bills (+3.5) at Chiefs
The Patrick Mahomes injury (or lack thereof) has raised this line to -3.5 after sitting at -3 for most of the week. I love it.
I was on the fence only getting a field goal, but sign me up with the hook.
The Chiefs went 1-7 against the spread in the second half of the season. They really played below their potential. They finished 7-9 against the spread in the regular season and would be just the second team this century to win the Super Bowl with a losing ATS record on the season.
The Bills are almost polar opposites, going 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 weeks.
Josh Allen may not be Patrick Mahomes just yet, but he’s 8-2-2 ATS as a road underdog in his career. The Bills have the better roster, they’re playing better, so give me the 3.5 points. And the win. Bills 24, Chiefs 21.
Stefon Diggs over 94.5 receiving yards
There are few things more certain life right now than Stefon Diggs.
He has at least six receptions in his last 15 games, tied for the NFL record. Even in a down week for the offense, he had 106 yards, more than half the team’s receiving total. He’s averaging over 130 yards per game in his last five full games.
The Chiefs’ secondary isn’t terrible, but it’s not nearly as good as Baltimore’s. This line should be up to at least 100, so I’m confident taking the over.
Travis Kelce to score a TD (-125)
Everything’s trending up for the All-Pro tight end.
He caught two touchdowns in the regular season version of this matchup back in Week 6. He’s scored in each of his last five games. Kelce also has six touchdowns in his last five playoff games.
The Bills did well against Mark Andrews last week, but their track record against quality tight ends is shaky at best. 8-130-1 for Mike Gesicki. 11-106-1 for Darren Waller and Jason Witten. 5-40-2 for Jonnu Smith. 7-67-0 for Hunter Henry. 8-68-1 for Noah Fant. A combined 14-136-1 for the Colts’ tight ends.
You know it’s going to happen, so you might as well profit on it.
Bills/Chiefs under 44.5 yards for longest touchdown
Both of these teams can put up points in a hurry. The under/over, which I’m staying away from this week, is 54.5. But despite their high-scoring natures, they rarely score from long distance.
The Bills’ first-team offense has just two touchdowns of 45 yards or longer this season. The Chiefs’ offense has only three such touchdowns. They’re just not really big play teams.
In Week 6, the Bills played two deep safeties almost the entire game and let the Chiefs run. They’ve already said they won’t have the same plan, but expect to see shades of it.
You also don’t really have to fear a defensive or special teams touchdown ruining this bet. The Bills were one of three teams to not give up a defensive or special teams touchdown this season. The Chiefs only allowed one. They both will hold on to the football in this one.
Packers (-3.5) vs. Buccaneers
This line is much too low. Aaron Rodgers should definitely have more than one Super Bowl appearance to his name and things seem to be aligning for his second.
The Packers have been on a roll lately, winning their last seven games by at least eight points.
I wasn’t really impressed by the Bucs against the Saints. I don’t think the Saints were as good as advertised this year. They gave the ball away to the Bucs four times yet only lost by ten points.
Aaron Rodgers at home is always a good idea, which is why he’ll be hoisting up the George Halas Trophy when things are all said and done.
Aaron Rodgers under 13.5 rushing yards
One of the reasons why the Packers have been so successful this year is because Rodgers has been keeping things on schedule and not improvising as much.
He only ran 38 times this year, his fewest ever in a non-injury shortened season. For some comparison, in 2015 and 16 he ran the ball 58 and 67, respectively. He also doesn’t need to run as much because he has one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Rodgers has hit 14 rushing yards just three times all season. And don’t forget that his QB kneels at the end of the game could slide him under this number.
Rob Gronkowski under 2.5 receptions
Gronk came back out of retirement to be a fantastic offensive tackle for his good friend Tom Brady.
His numbers have increased slightly since September, but not by much. He has just one catch in the playoffs so far. He’s been held under three catches in five of his last six games and eight of his last ten.
Antonio Brown’s absence could give him more targets, but those will go to the other wideouts in my mind.
Season overall record: 56-56-6
Bills Bets: 18-10-1
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