Championship Weekend Betting News: Mahomes, Edwards-Helaire Ready
Today is a huge day in the NFL, as conference championship weekend is here.
First up this afternoon’s NFC Championship Game, as Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers take on Tom Brady and the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers. History is on the line for the Bucs, who would be the first team to play in their home stadium for that season’s Super Bowl.
This evening, the AFC Championship Game takes place, and it could be a real shootout. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC’s #1 seed, take on the second-seeded Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are after a repeat, while the Bills aim for their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1993 season.
Today is one of the biggest NFL betting days of the year, and there are a few notable headlines to consider ahead of the day’s action.
Championship Weekend Betting News: Mahomes Clears Concussion Protocol
By far, the biggest storyline heading into championship weekend was the status of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes went down with a suspected concussion in the third quarter of last Sunday’s divisional-round win over Cleveland. As a result, his availability for the AFC Championship Game was under threat.
Optimism built that Mahomes would clear concussion protocol, as he passed through the necessary steps and was able to participate in practice throughout the week. On Friday, the good news came through for the champs that Mahomes passed the league’s concussion protocol and would be able to return.
While backup Chad Henne filled in admirably against the Browns, even he is unlikely to mind that he won’t have to be called upon. Mahomes is arguably the best player in the game, and he gives the Chiefs an advantage just by stepping on the field.
Championship Weekend Betting News: Edwards-Helaire Set to Return
The news that Mahomes will be able to go is the biggest boost for the Chiefs and their offense, but they will be further boosted by the likely return of rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Edwards-Helaire suffered ankle and hip injuries in Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints and has not played since. However, he is expected to be active against the Bills. How much he will be able to contribute remains to be seen, but his return is valuable.
The Chiefs’ bread, butter, and jam is their aerial attack, without a doubt. But Edwards-Helaire’s versatility on both fronts makes him a big asset in the backfield. Even with Edwards-Helaire back, Darrel Williams, who ran for 78 yards on 13 carries against Cleveland, should still get touches. That is both out of merit and because Le’Veon Bell is likely out with a knee injury.
Championship Weekend Betting News: A Brrr-y Cold Day in Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers will be playing in his first home NFC Championship Game today, and he will do so on a chilly evening in Green Bay. According to the weather forecast, temperatures could drop below 20 degrees tonight. Snow has blanketed the area this weekend, but it is not expected to be coming down during the game.
Tom Brady is no stranger to snow or cold weather, so his performance is unlikely to be impacted. That said, the winter Wisconsin weather is the reason why it was so valuable for the Packers to get the NFC’s #1 seed. Will it be a factor?
Updated Championship Weekend Betting Odds
Odds via Fanduel as of Sunday, January 24 (11:00 am ET)
NFC Championship Game: #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs #1 Green Bay Packers (3:05 pm ET, FOX)
- Spread: Buccaneers +3 (-102), Packers -3 (-120)
- Total: OVER 53 (-110), UNDER 53 (-110)
- Moneyline: Buccaneers +144, Packers -172
AFC Championship Game: #2 Buffalo Bills vs #1 Kansas City Chiefs (6:40 pm ET/5:40 pm CT, CBS)
- Spread: Bills +3 (-106), Chiefs -3 (-114)
- Total: OVER 54.5 (-114), UNDER 54.5 (-106)
- Moneyline: Bills +140, Chiefs -166