After several days of erratic line movement at sportsbooks, the point spread on the AFC Championship Game had settled Friday morning with the Kansas City Chiefs listed as consensus 1.5-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kansas City went from favorite to underdog and back to favorite during the week, with each update on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ injured ankle triggering rushes of money on either team at sportsbooks. Mahomes, who was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain suffered during Saturday’s divisional win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been listed as a full participant in practice this week.
“I feel like I can still do a lot of things, but we’ll see as we get closer and closer,” Mahomes said Thursday. “We’ll see during the game. You can’t fully do exactly what it’s going to be like in those moments in the game. All I can do is prepare myself the best way possible, and then when we get in the game, you hope adrenaline takes over and you can make those throws when you need to.”
The Bengals, who opened as high as a 3-point underdog, attracted the bulk of the action early in the week. The SuperBook said it only took two bets on the Chiefs in the first couple of hours after posting the line Sunday, causing the Bengals to quickly become the betting favorite.
Cincinnati got to as high as a 3-point favorite, albeit briefly, Tuesday at Caesars Sportsbook in Nevada. Caesars moved the Bengals to -3 for approximately five minutes Tuesday afternoon before quickly dropping them back to -2.5.
Max Meyer, editorial content writer for Caesars Sportsbook, told CBS Sports that the move to Bengals -3 was “just to test the waters.”
“The waters were certainly tested, because a lot of sharp action [on the Chiefs] came at +3,” Meyer told the network.
Chris Andrews, a veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker and sportsbook director at the South Point casino, said he also saw increased interest in the Chiefs from bettors Tuesday.
“I remember saying [Tuesday] that there had to be some sort of report that [Mahomes] looks pretty good,” Andrews told ESPN on Thursday. “Yesterday, they showed that film clip and he seemed to be walking fine, and the floodgates opened after that.”
The point spread has stuck primarily around -1 and -2 with either team being favored for much of the week. Over the past five seasons, including playoffs, 9% of games have ended with a margin of victory of less than three, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Chiefs have been favored in 14 consecutive playoff games, the longest such streak in the Super Bowl era.
In the NFC Championship Game, the Philadelphia Eagles were a growing 2.5-point favorite over the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.
“We might get two [Eagles] -3,” Andrews said. “I think there’s a decent chance of that, but I also think if we get to 3, the 49ers guys will jump in right away.”