Las Vegas Sun

June 14, 2024

Conference championship sweats: Eight bets to add to your NFL card

Snow Burrow

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) calls an audible at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter of an NFL division round football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

There were almost surely no two contending teams I was higher on coming into the season than the Chiefs and the Eagles. Kansas City vs. Philadelphia was my Super Bowl pick and I built futures positions accordingly.

There were also certainly no two contending teams I was lower on coming into the season the Bengals and 49ers. I shorted both Cincinnati and San Francisco in almost every futures portfolio.

From a personal standpoint, it’s unbelievable that these are the final four times and fitting given the razor-thin edges of the NFL.

If the two home teams win tomorrow, I’ll feel like a genius and reap major rewards. If the two road teams win tomorrow, I’ll feel like a fool and be left in ruin.

That’s overstating the situation, of course, but not entirely. My whole betting season and therefore, the season of both Talking Points and Sunday Sweats, has built up to this moment.

Let’s rise to the occasion and try to follow last week’s lead where the column banked a nice profit.

Read on for this week’s Sunday Sweats with eight bets in six different categories with individual records attached. Plays placed outside the pick’em, will be tracked and linked in the records at the bottom of the page.

Tasty Total (10-12, -$475): Bengals at Chiefs over 47.5 (South Point)

Click to enlarge photo

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.

$220 to win $200

I’m already all-in on Patrick Mahomes not being as limited as the betting market implies. I think he’ll be around 75% while, to make the Chiefs a virtual pick’em on their home field against the Bengals, the line implies somewhere closer to 50%. If Mahomes is anywhere close to his normal self, the total should be impacted every bit as much, if not more than, the side. During the Bengals’ much-hailed three-game win streak against the Chiefs over the last two years, every total has been in the 50s — and every game has reached at least 51. It’s going to be colder this time around but that shouldn’t stifle scoring as far as the line implies. I’d set this total at 49.5, meaning 47.5 still holds more than enough value for a bet.

Two-Team (Or Three-Team) Teaser (10-10, -$10): San Francisco 49ers +8.5 & Cincinnati Bengals +7.5 at -120 (Caesars/William Hill)

$240 to win $200

Seeing both conference championship games land within the Stanford-Wong teaser zone — going through the 3 and 7 on a six-pointer — is like a lunar eclipse. It doesn’t happen very often. It feels like an obligation to try to take advantage in the final football teaser of the year. I actually locked the Chiefs +7.5 in with the 49ers +8.5 earlier in the week and, obviously, prefer that pairing. But it’s a moot point because it’s no longer available. Maybe everything that’s been working for the Bengals during a 10-game win streak comes crashing down, and the Chiefs do beat them by more than a touchdown. I might find that scenario more likely than most, but not likely enough to deter taking a teaser with a positive expected value.  

Moneyline Parlay (8-11, $629.57): Kansas City Chiefs & Arizona Wildcats at +131 (Circa Sports)

$200 to win $261.84

Let’s shoot for the middle here, hoping the Chiefs win a close game to cash both the teaser and moneyline parlay. Circa has the best price on Kansas City to win outright at -123, which feels a little short. Money has come in against Arizona in its game at Washington this morning, on the other hand, but it’s hard to see the uber-talented, high-flying Wildcats losing to the Huskies. Circa’s moneyline price of -365 on Arizona is actually a better bet mathematically than laying the 8.5 points. I’ve routinely gambled to get out of an early-season hole in this category, but prefer to play it relatively safe this time around and play only a two-teamer.

Player Prop (20-23, -$416): Jalen Hurts over 47.5 rushing yards at -110 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Click to enlarge photo

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia.

$165 to win $150

Granted it’s probably not smart to have one random game from earlier in the season in my mind, but I can’t shake the memory of the Raiders’ Jarrett Stidham running wild on the 49ers’ defense in his first career start. Stidham had only 34 rushing yards on seven carries after he toned down the scrambling in the second half, presumably at the request of coach Josh McDaniels at halftime, but it was still eye-opening. The 49ers’ scheme is susceptible to giving up yards on the ground to quarterbacks. And if Stidham can crack it, what can the much faster and craftier Hurts do? Hurts’ rushing total opened as low as 44.5 and has steadily gone up but remains worth taking as long as it’s below 50 yards.

Player Prop (20-23, -$416): Joe Burrow to throw an interception at +110 (BetMGM)

$150 to win $165

The Bengals’ third-year quarterback is being talked about like he’s an amalgam of Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning this week. He’s deserving of a lot of the praise, but it’s gone a bit overboard. Now could be the time to sell-high in certain prop markets, like this one. Burrow hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games, but it’s taken a little bit of good fortune. He had at least one interception in three straight contests before that. Kansas City may not have a great secondary but it’s got one with more than enough playmakers who at times look like ballhawks. The Chiefs have at least one interception in four straight games and five of their last six. Burrow’s perfection should be cracked at Arrowhead.  

Futures Finding (13-11, $1,860): Texas Longhorns to win 2024 College Football Playoff at 30-to-1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

$100 to win $3,000

Now is the time to find the best value on the biggest college football betting markets before they start getting bashed into place, so let’s lock in one bet in each of the two biggest categories. Talent metrics again rate Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State above everyone else, but Texas is next and aren’t too far behind. It’s difficult to back the Longhorns for all the failed “Texas is back!” proclamations over the last decade and a half, but this team is set up to be a juggernaut next year. They’re projected to be favored in every Big 12 game and get an early-season showcase spot at Alabama where a loss wouldn't even harm their long-term prospects too much. Don’t forget Texas arguably deserved to knock off Alabama in a 20-19 battle this season where starting quarterback Quinn Ewers got hurt early. This year, they’ll have Ewers in addition to another mega-prospect quarterback in Arch Manning. It might not be the most exciting bet to make, but Texas should be significantly lower than 30-to-1 and currently represents the best deal available.    

Futures Finding (13-11, $1,860): Tanner Mordecai to win Heisman Trophy at 200-to-1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

$30 to win $6,000

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo turned a redshirt freshman, Drake Maye, into a Heisman candidate this season at North Carolina. What’s to say he can’t do the same with a seasoned veteran at his new spot in Wisconsin? The senior Mordecai will finish a career that started at Oklahoma before crossing over to SMU at Wisconsin with Longo, and the potential is immense. It’s a lot better than this inflated 200-to-1 price tag represents. Longo’s system is quarterback-friendly, and Mordecai has all the physical ability to be one of the better passers in the nation. The top of next year’s Heisman boards look fairly accurate, but there are some bargains further down. None bigger than Mordecai.  

Non-football Play (14-9, $1,022): Kansas +125 moneyline at Kentucky (Circa Sports)

Click to enlarge photo

North Carolina spoiled Mike Krzyzewski's fairytale ending with a gritty performance in an unforgettable rivalry game. Kansas went on a 3-point shooting spree to take down a fellow blue blood, putting coach Bill Self in position to win the second title he's waited so long for.

$160 to win $200

College basketball is about to take the mantle from the NFL for the biggest draw to sports books, so using this category on a clash between the two winningest programs in college basketball history feels right. The Jayhawks hold a six-win lead over the Wildcats — 2,373 all-time victories to 2,367 —  and have a good chance to increase it today. They’re currently in a rut with three straight losses but a situation like that is typically when coach Bill Self gets the most out of his teams. Self should give the Jayhawks a strategic edge over Kentucky’s John Calipairi. The Wildcats deserve to be favored, but I make the line -1 instead of the current -2.5. If the number got back to 3, it would be better to take the underdog on the point spread, but for now, it’s a smarter approach to go for the higher payout to win outright.   

Sunday Sweats year to date: 71-80, $2,610.57

Weekend betting column year to date: 141-163-1, $6,404.35

Weekend betting column all-time: 483-493-5, $13,250.08

Previous pending future wagers: Vegas Golden Knights at 15-to-1 to win the 2023 Stanley Cup ($200 to win $3,000); Patrick Mahomes 10-to-1 to win NFL MVP ($200 to win $2,000); Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC 14-to-1 ($100 to win $1,400); Nick Bosa to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year at 7-to-1 ($250 to win $1,750); Giannis Antetokounmpo to win NBA MVP at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Northwest Division at +150 ($200 to win $300); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Western Conference at 15-to-1 ($100 to win $1,500); Minnesota Timberwolves to win NBA Finals at 33-to-1 ($75 to win $2,475); New Orleans Pelicans to win Southwest Division at +350 ($200 to win $700); New Orleans Pelicans to win Western Conference at 24-to-1 ($50 to win $1,200); New Orleans Pelicans to win NBA Finals at 55-to-1 ($50 to win $2,750); Golden State Warriors under 53 wins ($220 to win $200); Los Angeles Clippers under 52.5 wins ($220 to win $200); Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Chicago Blackhawks to have lowest regular season point total at 6-to-1 ($200 to win $1,200);Micah Parsons to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year at -110 ($275 to win $250); Luka Doncic to win NBA MVP at 4-to-1 ($450 to win $1,800); Boston Celtics to win Atlantic Division at -220 ($660 to win $300)

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy