NFL Championship Game Odds—Why Packers and Chiefs Are Favorites To Reach Super Bowl LV

As the NFL playoffs move into their penultimate act, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers arrive at the Championship Weekend as the bookmakers' favorites to earn the right to represent the AFC and the NFC in Super Bowl LV next month.

The Packers opened as four-point favorites against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, but the line has since moved to 3.5.

The line, meanwhile, hasn't moved for the Chiefs, who enter the AFC Championship Game on Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills as three-point favorites.

On the face of it, there's nothing surprising about oddsmakers considering Kansas City and Green Bay as the likeliest teams to meet in Tampa Bay on February 7 for Super Bowl LV.

The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions, they finished the regular season with an NFL-best 14-2 record and will host a third consecutive AFC Championship Game becoming only the second team in NFL history to host three straight championship games. The first was the Philadelphia Eagles between 2002 and 2004 when, incidentally, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was in charge.

The Packers, meanwhile, won 13 games in the regular season for the second consecutive year, clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They will host an NFC Championship Game for the first time with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback.

The two-time MVP has played in four NFC Championship Games but all his appearances have come on the road, as he was Brett Favre's backup when Lambeau Field last staged the penultimate act of the NFL postseason in 2007.

Rodgers' near-faultless performances throughout the regular season have made him the clear favorite to secure the MVP crown. Patrick Mahomes, meanwhile, dazzled as he has done since becoming the Chiefs starter in 2018, but his presence against the Bills remains uncertain after he left the Divisional Round win against the Cleveland Browns with concussion.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers leaves the field following the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on January 16 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Rams 32-18. Stacy Revere/Getty

According to data from BetMGM, 56 percent of tickets—the number of total bets—and 63 percent of the handle—the total amount of money staked—in the AFC Championship Game has gone on the Chiefs, while the Packers have commanded 57 percent of the tickets and 54 percent of the handle respectively.

"We're seeing early action on both the Chiefs and Packers," said BetMGM sports trader Darren Darby.

"Customers are banking on Mahomes being available and we expect that the floodgates could open when/if he's officially announced as the starter. We're seeing support for the Buccaneers as well as some gamblers may have PTSD betting against Tom Brady, but the Packers remain a solid favorite."

Historically, home advantage has played a significant role in Conference Championship games. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, 50 Conference Championship games have been played in each of the two NFL conferences, with the home team winning on 35 occasions in the AFC and 33 times in the NFC.

More recently, with the exception of the 2018 season, home teams have won both championship games each year since 2013.

Dig a little deeper, however, and home comfort becomes rather more uncertain, if not downright elusive.

Aside from 2006, road teams won at least one conference championship game in each year between 2000 and 2007. Of those road wins, four went to AFC teams and two to NFC outfits.

The trend could be significant as it comes at the end of a regular season during which road teams won 128 games, a winning percentage of .500 and the highest amount of wins since the NFL's most-recent realignment in 2002.

One of those wins was Kansas City's 26-17 in Buffalo in Week 6 on Monday Night Football. The previous day, Green Bay's trip to Tampa ended in a 38-10 shellacking by the Bucs.

The .500 road win ratio has been replicated in the playoffs, which have seen five road wins—the expansion of the playoffs meant the Wild Card weekend featured two extra games.

By comparison, up until this season, road teams had won an average of 43.6 percent games in the regular season. Over the same period, the winning ratio for road teams exceeded 40 percent just once.

The coronavirus outbreak has meant teams have played in semi-deserted stadiums or behind closed doors altogether, wiping out home field advantage and forcing bookmakers to adjust their lines accordingly.

Odds on the Bills to win Super Bowl LV rose from 14-1 to 22-1 after their road record dropped to 3-2 following a loss in Arizona against the Cardinals in Week 10.

Similarly, the Bucs were 18-1—their longest odds all season—after losing their first two games on the road, but were shortened to a regular-season low 6-1 after winning a third consecutive road game as they trashed the Carolina Panthers 46-23 in Week 10.

On Sunday, however, both the Packers and the Chiefs will welcome a few thousand fans at Lambeau Field and Arrowhead Stadium.

"Throughout this unprecedented season, bookmakers have had to adapt their odds accordingly after a number of upsets recorded by away teams," a spokesperson for bettingexpert.com told Newsweek.

"We could see the same on Sunday, but considering the strength of the teams, the historical home advantage and the addition of a few thousand fans the Chiefs and Packers are going to be very hard to beat."

Green Bay is 8-1 at home in regular season and playoff games this year for a winning percentage of 88.9—the second-highest in the league behind Buffalo—and 6-3 against the spread,

Meanwhile Kansas City is 7-2 straight up at home but has covered in just three of those games—the NFL's second-worst record at home against the spread.