Best conference championship betting trends: Mahomes, Purdy, Shanahan and more

The conference championship round of the NFL playoffs is finally here! The San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles will square off at 3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App this Sunday, while the Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Will Patrick Mahomes get his first win against Joe Burrow? Can Kyle Shanahan make his second Super Bowl in just six seasons as a head coach? Will Jalen Hurts lead the Eagles back to the big show for the first time since the 2017 season? With so many intriguing storylines in each game, this is a weekend that should be one to remember. 

Looking ahead, FOX Sports researched how teams have performed against the spread (ATS) and straight up (SU) in various situations in the conference championship round. We also looked into several team- and player-specific notes that should help give you a potential gambling edge this Sunday. Let’s dive into the best betting trends and notes that stuck out.

Mahomes a dog?

While this line has flipped several times since the divisional-round weekend, FOX Bet currently has the Chiefs as one-point underdogs against the Bengals despite the game taking place at Arrowhead Stadium. This marks the first time in Patrick Mahomes’ entire career that he is an underdog in the postseason. Much of the line movement has to do with the ankle injury the former MVP sustained against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it’s still a surprise nonetheless. Especially considering just how dominant the signal-caller has been since being drafted by Kansas City.

Below is an overview of how Mahomes has performed in various situations throughout his career, both against the spread (ATS) and straight up (SU):

  • Mahomes’ largest underdog spread was 4.5 points on the road in a Week 2 matchup vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018; Chiefs won 42-37
  • Mahomes is 7-1-1 ATS and 6-3 SU as a starter as an underdog in his career, with the Over hitting in six of those games
  • Mahomes has only been a home underdog just once, being 2.5-point underdogs vs. the Bills in Week 6 of this season; Kansas City did not cover and lost straight up (Under hit)
  • Mahomes is 24-24 ATS and 39-9 SU as a starter at home, with the Under hitting in 26 of those games (regular season and playoffs)
  • Mahomes is 6-4 ATS and 8-2 SU as a starter at home in the playoffs, with the Over hitting in six of those games
  • Mahomes has met Joe Burrow three times in his career, losing all three contests (including playoffs); the only other quarterback to hand Mahomes that many losses is Tom Brady, who did so in six games

Brock Purdy faces his biggest test against Eagles defense and crowd

Brock Purdy faces his biggest test against Eagles defense and crowd

Colin Cowherd predicts how Purdy will perform against a tough team and crowd.

Brock Purdy looks to make history 

While Mahomes has been dominating the headlines with his injury status, let’s not forget the incredible run Brock Purdy has been on since taking over for the 49ers as the full-time starter. 

Here is a quick summary of the records he can break with a win against the Eagles on Sunday:

  • Would be the first rookie quarterback to make the Super Bowl
  • Would break the record for most wins in a single postseason by a rookie quarterback
  • Would break the record for most career postseason wins by a quarterback drafted in the seventh round
  • Would be the first rookie quarterback to win a conference championship game

That last note is something to point out, as four other rookie quarterbacks before him couldn’t get it done in the conference title game, with Mark Sanchez (2009), Joe Flacco (2008), Ben Roethlisberger (2004) and Shaun King (1999) all losing in this situation. Those four combined for four passing touchdowns and a whopping nine interceptions. 

It’s worth mentioning that Purdy is 6-1 ATS (85.7%) and just one of just two rookie signal-callers to win each of his first seven starts since the 1970 merger (Roethlisberger won 13 straight in 2004). And, while this might come as a surprise, rookie quarterbacks went an astounding 23-9 ATS (71.9%) and 21-11 SU (65.6%) this season (including the playoffs).

Since taking over in Week 14, he leads the entire league in quarterback wins (seven), pass yards per attempt (9.0), passer rating (116.0) and ranks second in passing touchdowns in that span (14). San Francisco is also in the midst of a 12-game win streak, the second longest in franchise history. While history might not be on Purdy’s side, he could be the first rookie to get it done in the conference title game.

Kyle Shanahan is dominant ATS in the playoffs

FOX Bet currently has Purdy and the 49ers as 2.5-point underdogs on the road, but coach Kyle Shanahan’s elite coaching might be enough to get the job done. He is tied with Doug Pederson for the best cover rate of any coach all-time in the playoffs, with a minimum of five playoff games coached. Both of them are 7-1 ATS (87.5%), meaning Shanahan has a chance to move into sole possession of the top cover rate should they cover (or win) against the Eagles. He’s also 6-2 SU (75%) in the postseason, with his only losses coming in last year’s NFC title game and the Super Bowl in 2020. 

Including the playoffs, Shanahan is 29-20 ATS (59.1%) and 21-28 SU (42.9%) as an underdog in his head-coaching career.

No. 1 seeds struggle ATS, Overs hit

The top seed in the conference championship round has a strong history of winning no matter what time frame you consider. As seen below, when looking at intervals of 10 seasons, the lowest win percentage for the 1-seed in this round is 69.6% when going back to the 1990 season. If you go back to just the last 12 seasons (since 2010), the win rate jumps up to a whopping 75%. However, the 1-seed has barely covered the spread since the 2000 season, just eclipsing the 50% mark. 

From the data below, the strongest trend is how often the Over hits. In every 10-season interval, the Over dominates. Going back to the 1990 season, the Over has hit in 28 of 46 conference title games with just one push – a 62.2% hit rate.

  • Since 2010, the 1-seed is 9-7 ATS (56.3%) and 12-4 SU (75%) in the conference championship round, with the Over hitting in nine of those games (one push)
  • Since 2000, the 1-seed is 16-14 ATS (53.3%) and 22-8 SU (73.3%) in the conference championship round, with the Over hitting in 18 of those games (one push)
  • Since 1990, the 1-seed is 24-22 ATS (52.2%) and 32-14 SU (69.6%) in the conference championship round, with the Over hitting in 28 of those games (one push)
  • Since 1980, the 1-seed is 36-26 ATS (58.1%) 45-17 SU (72.6%) in the conference championship round; Over/Under data is only available for 53 of those games, Over hit in 31 of them (one push)

No. 3 seed historically struggles

While the Bengals might currently be favorites, history is not on their side as a 3-seed. In the Super Bowl era, the 3-seed is 7-9 ATS (43.8%) and 4-12 SU (25%) in the conference championship game. The only four teams to make it to the Super Bowl as a 3-seed are the 1979 Rams, the 1987 Washington team, the 2003 Carolina Panthers and the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. To be fair, the playoffs expanded to 10 teams in 1978 and to 12 in 1990, so to account for this, we examined how 3-seeds performed in the divisional round as well. The results were similar, as they went 26-35-2 ATS (42.6%) and 16-47 SU (25.4%) in the Super Bowl era.    

Looking at more recent time frames, 3-seeds have gone 5-2 ATS (71.4%) and 2-5 SU (28.6%) in the conference title game since 2000. The two teams that won in that span are mentioned above (2003 Panthers, 2006 Colts).

So are you ready to place some NFL conference championship bets? Head over to FOX Bet now for all your wagers! 

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