Once clear sides are determined on the two games deciding the conference championships this Sunday, the job becomes deciding which one is the Top Pick and which one is the four rated game.
The Green Bay Packers over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the most obvious side this weekend, and it is reflected in a point spread rising. The Packers opened as a four point favorite, a line reduced to three points, which has now crept back to the home team at Lambeau Field favored by 3½ points.
This line move, taking a favorite down and then back up, historically favors the underdog. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers getting a spread that presumably was moved down by smart money and now pushed back up with public backing.
The edges for Tampa Bay pretty much end right there, while the data points to a Packers win featuring Aaron Rodgers leading a double-digit point spread triumph.
Can we have a top pick on the Packers with knowledge that they are firmly entrenched in a point spread trap?
Should they be a play at all?
The defending Super Bowl Champions are at home and meeting a Buffalo Bills franchise looking to advance to their fifth Super Bowl. The first four came in succession beginning in 1990 and all ended in defeat. The losing run started with a would-be winning field goal against the New York Giants kicked wide by Scott Norwood in Super Bowl XXV.
That missed opportunity was followed by Super Bowl defeats against the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, twice. That was the era of Jim Kelly, Thurmond Thomas , Bruce Smith and head coach Marv Levy.
Today, a trio of talent to get it done in Buffalo includes Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and head coach Sean McDermott.
Kansas City has not covered a point spread since November 1; ten weeks without a point spread win interrupted only by a point spread push in New Orleans. To wager on a team in the Chiefs mode as a bet-on favorite would have a near zero chance of winning if the public was on the home team at Arrowhead Stadium.
But they aren’t.
The public is on the road underdog Bills, which is an indicator that Buffalo could have a chink in the armour needed to win.
This is a classic matchup between two teams that show up in one's mind eye much differently than the research indicates. Anyone with a narrow or expansive exposure to the National Football League, would think it was a pretty good idea to have your money on Patrick Mahomes. Likely when you think of a Chiefs game you picture Mahomes throwing a touchdown pass more than anything else.
It is so much easier to picture Patrick Mahomes completing those scoring tosses than having the Bills coming up with the big defensive play that turns the game.
The first line in Las Vegas on this game had the Chiefs favored by a single point, a number that jumped two points in a hurry. Kansas City was quickly wagered up to three points.
Statistically, a move from one to three would favor the favorite, but in this case the reason for the drastic shift was tied to a single factor, the health of quarterback Mahomes. Knocked out of the Cleveland game with a concussion, his availability was not confirmed for the championship game before the first point spread was posted. Once it became clear that the young Chiefs signal caller was good to go, the line shifted to the Chiefs by a field goal.
Had Mahomes not been hurt at all, our data indicates the opening line on this game would have favored the Chiefs by 3½ points. This statistical find allows us to override the almost automatic move to the favorite on a two point shift out of the gate.
I am on the Packers and Bills this Sunday, but if any of them warrants a money recommendation as a Top Pick is open for additional information leading up to Sunday’s kickoff. If I haven’t said it recently, let me say it again now, I love this stuff.
Qoxhi Picks: Buffalo Bills (+3) over Kansas City Chiefs