Could Sunday's conference title games end up with the closest combined lines in modern NFL history?
As of Wednesday at BetMGM, the San Francisco 49ers are 2.5-point underdogs at the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals are 1-point road favorites at the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals briefly ticked up to 2.5-point favorites on Tuesday after opening as underdogs, but the line went back a point in Kansas City’s favor Tuesday night and has bounced between 1.5 points and a point throughout the day Wednesday.
The close lines track with the Super Bowl odds for each team. The Bengals and Eagles are currently the co-favorites at +240 while the Chiefs are at +300 and the 49ers are at +350.
If the combined lines hold at 3.5 points, Sunday’s games will have the lowest combined spreads ever for a set of title games dating back to the 1970 season. The previous low is four points in January of 1983 when the Dallas Cowboys closed as 2-point favorites at Washington while the Miami Dolphins were 2-point favorites at home against the New York Jets. Both Washington and the Dolphins won to advance to a Super Bowl where Washington was victorious.
And even if Sunday’s spreads move up to 4.5 points combined, the games will still be the second-closest ahead of kickoff. In January of 1998, the spreads for the two conference championships were at five points total. Both the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos were 2.5-point favorites and covered the spread. The title games after the 1980 season also had a combined spread of five points. The Eagles were 1-point underdogs at home to the Dallas Cowboys while the Oakland Raiders were 4-point underdogs at the San Diego Chargers.
As you can imagine, it’s extremely rare for both games to have lines of a field goal or less. If the lines for both games each stay at fewer than three points, it’ll be just the seventh time in the past 52 seasons that each game is within a field goal ahead of kickoff.
Here are the previous six times when that’s happened including in January of 2019 when the Saints and Chiefs were each 3-point favorites at home and lost.
Los Angeles Rams (+3) 26, New Orleans Saints 23
New England Patriots (+3) 37, Kansas City Chiefs 31
Carolina Panthers (-3) 49, Arizona Cardinals 15
Denver Broncos (+3) 20, New England Patriots 18
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) 23, San Francisco 49ers 10
Denver Broncos (-2.5) 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Dallas Cowboys (-3) 38, San Francisco 49ers 21
Buffalo Bills (-3) 30, Kansas City Chiefs 13
Washington (+2) 31, Dallas Cowboys 17
Miami Dolphins (-2) 14, New York Jets 0
Washington (-3) 26, Dallas Cowboys 3
Miami Dolphins (-2.5) 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 17