Sportsbooks see 49ers as the best team entering NFL conference title games

Sportsbooks see 49ers as the best team entering NFL conference title games

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day pulled off one of their most impressive victories this season, going on the road to rout the San Francisco 49ers 33-19.

It was a stunning victory and statement.

Except …

Oddsmakers still believe the 49ers are the best of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs.

The 49ers, who host the Detroit Lions on Sunday in the NFC championship game, are a plus-140 favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook, to win it all. San Francisco would be favored over either team that comes out of the AFC title game — Baltimore (1 1/2 points) or Kansas City (three points).

Other books have similar lines.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold passes during an NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. The 49ers are scheduled to play the Detroit Lions, Sunday in the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

“You have the Raven win in San Francisco and beat them pretty good,” said Adam Pullen, assistant trading director for Caesars Sportsbook. “But we’ve always said we think the Niners are a little better.”

BetMGM lead sports trader Christian Cipollini said the regular-season outcome did affect the line because the 49ers otherwise would be more heavily favored in a hypothetical matchup. San Francisco was a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2-point favorite in that first meeting.

“The fact this is down to 1 1/2 speaks a little more of how the Ravens have looked as of late,” Cipollini said. “They’ve kind of been steamrolling teams since they beat the 49ers. The 49ers are still obviously a very good team. They’ve looked a little more vulnerable as of late. … But on paper, the 49ers do have the best team in the league.”

THE DEEBO WATCH

No position affects the point spread in football more than quarterback, but 49ers do-it-all Deebo Samuel has many oddsmakers and bettors playing close attention to reports about his shoulder injury.

“I really want to know what Deebo Samuel’s status is here because I think he changes a lot for the 49ers,” said Bruce Marshall, handicapper for The Gold Sheet. “I don’t want to say he’s the most valuable guy because it’s (Christian) McCaffrey, (Brock) Purdy. Without them, they’d really be in trouble. But of the receivers, I maintain Deebo over (Brandon) Aiyuk and (tight end) (George) Kittle.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel runs during an NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. The 49ers are scheduled to play the Detroit Lions, Sunday in the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

“He really makes the defenses cover the width of the field, and he’s like a Swiss pocket knife. They use him out of the backfield. He distorts the defenses and they have to account for him at all times. No matter who they put in there … they lose a little something without him.”

Pullen espoused a different view. He said the Niners probably would remain around 7-point favorites at Caesars with or without Samuel.

“They’re a team built, I think, to win in his absence,” Pullen said. “That’s nothing against Deebo. He’s a great player. But maybe this is higher if Deebo is at full strength. Maybe you’re looking at a 7 1/2, but in my opinion, it’s been negligible, his status and how it’s affected the line.”

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) talks with wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) and wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in Owings Mills, Md. The Ravens face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

HEAVY MONEY IN MICHIGAN

BetMGM’s location in Detroit has taken lots of Lions money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the sportsbook will be cheering for the 49ers.

“We took instantly some Lions action, so I imagine that’s a lot of players that just won their bet on the Lions a week before and just rolled it right over,” Cipollini said. “I’m curious as to what is going to happen to us as we get to game day and the majority of our bets are coming in because we have a sportsbook app in Michigan, but we don’t have one obviously in California because it’s not legal there. So from the hometown fan side, we’re only going to be getting Michigan bets.

“Most people outside of Michigan I think are going to end up taking the 49ers. I’m just really not sure how diehard those Lions fans are, if they’re going to have us rooting for the Lions or 49ers.”

WINNING HISTORY

Kansas City’s offense took a noticeable step back this season, but operated at a high level in beating the Buffalo Bills 27-24 on Sunday. The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls in the past four seasons, which could make someone pause before betting against them.

“It’s sort of a case by case how I weigh the past, and it doesn’t always work, either,” Marshall said. “In this case, I sort of defer to KC’s experience a little, the fact they’ve been here. This is a much different challenge for Baltimore than Houston was (34-10 victory). Kansas City wins these things tight. Let’s see what Baltimore can do if they’re not just bullying everybody.”



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