NFL Conference Championship Preview: RADIO.COM Sports Analytics and Prop Bets

Jordan Cohn
January 18, 2020 - 11:01 am

Recent history shows that Sunday’s games could be particularly tough to bet on.

Of the 38 NFL conference championships that have been played since the year 2000, Vegas has projected 32 of them to be decided by one score or less (using a spread of +/- 7.5 or lower as an indicator). In 17 of those games, the winners covered the spread. In 15, they did not.

In other words, both outcomes are highly realistic and Vegas is very sharp. And those are exactly the lines that we’re dealing with heading into this weekend according to Vegas Insider, where they have the 49ers as 7.5-point favorites over the Packers and the Chiefs as 7-point favorites over the Titans.

Using a wealth of resources, including data from our RADIO.COM Sports quantitative consultant Arian Modarres and input from the hosts of “You Better You Bet,” this guide is here to help you win money through a high-stakes NFL weekend.

RADIO.COM Sports Analytics: Matchup Previews

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, January 19 | 3:05 pm ET

RADIO.COM Sports Spread: -7

RADIO.COM Sports Total: 49

Arian’s data indicates that the game will be slightly lower scoring than what Vegas is predicting (52), but he is in total agreement with the spread.

Key Stat: An Unstoppable Force...

How the Kansas City Chiefs' offense measures up in 2019.

The first “unstoppable force” that may come to mind in this game is Derrick Henry. After all, he has posted three-straight games of 170 or more rushing yards. It’s the second-time he’s done that in the past two seasons, and only two other running backs (Adrian Peterson and Jay Ajayi) have done that in the last decade. But, as the graph shows, Kansas City’s offense puts up a ton of points. A Mahomes-led offense has only scored under 23 points once the entire season -- a 19-13 loss to the Colts -- and he just exploded for a five-touchdown performance in a miraculous comeback victory against the Texans. Tennessee is at their best when they get ahead early, as they can lean on their backfield bull to run down the clock in addition to the opposing defense. But no lead is safe against Kansas City: just ask Bill O’Brien.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers<br /><br />

Sunday, January 19 | 6:40 pm ET

RADIO.COM Sports Spread: -7

RADIO.COM Sports Total: 44

Arian’s data moves the line a tad in the direction of the Packers and lessens the total by a few points (Vegas has it at 46.5).

Key Stat: … and an Immovable Object

A deeper look into the San Francisco 49ers defense in 2019.

You can never count out Aaron Rodgers. But the 49ers may consider him drastically less frightening after holding him to a career-low eight points earlier in the season. Aaron Jones was stuffed for only 38 rushing yards and Davante Adams mustered up 43 yards. As the graph shows, there is some vulnerability on the ground, and Jones will need to exploit this weakness if the Packers want to gain an edge: after all, they are undefeated when Jones gets over 15 carries, and Jones averages 122.2 yards in such contests. Though Aaron Rodgers will certainly be in the spotlight, his backfield companion may be the more important Aaron in this one.

Prop Bets with “You Better You Bet” Experts

The RADIO.COM Sports Original “You Better You Bet” has you covered for some of the best prop options available for this Sunday. Here’s just a pair of them… listen to the full episode for the rest!

Be sure to tune into Sunday’s live show, hosted by Nick Kostos, Joe Ostrowski and Danny Parkins, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm ET across select Entercom stations.

Ken Barkley: Patrick Mahomes, Over 303.5 passing yards

“The Baltimore game is a mirage… I don’t trust Tennessee’s pass defense whatsoever in this game. The way this doesn’t win is Kansas City gets 21 points off turnovers, they settle for a couple long field goals… they win by so much based on short fields that he doesn’t have the opportunity to throw for a lot of yards. To me that’s the only way this bet loses. I just think consistently driving the ball, no three-and-outs, not a lot of punting, play selection… that all kind of lends itself to -- at least from a yardage standpoint -- Mahomes having a big game.”

Eli Hershkovich: Derrick Henry, Over 110.5 rushing yards

“Just because a number is inflated, it doesn’t mean you automatically say ‘under’... he’s averaging nearly six yards per rush attempt in the playoffs, and Chiefs rushing defense is bottom four in the NFL, the worst among playoff teams in opponents’ rushing yards per attempt. I expect him to have a massive day on the ground… that’s the way the Titans offense operates, they’re going to run the ball no matter what the score, no matter what the deficit.”

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