By Phil Simon
The old guard in the National Football League considered the upstart American Football League a joke back in the 1960s when the leagues were direct competitors. The AFL gained traction as a viable entity during its decade-long run eventually forcing the NFL to consider a merger. The sides ironed out a deal to become one for the 1970 season with the AFL’s 10 holdovers joining three NFL clubs to form what we now know as the American Football Conference. So what does this history lesson have to do with betting on the AFC Championship? Well, not a lot except to say the teams turned out to be pretty good.
The American Football Conference
The old AFL took advantage of football’s popularity and enhanced it with an innovative approach to the game that can be seen even today. Needing to do and try different things to carve out its share of the market, the league was successful with an offensive approach that attracted fans and increased scoring. Who knows if the leagues would have survived separately, but together they formed a massive empire that still guts the sports world. The game that changed everything was Super Bowl III when the New York Jets beat Baltimore 16-7. It not only gave the AFL legitimacy, it showed people could make money wagering on the sport since the Jets were an 18-point underdog.
When the leagues merged, the 10 existing AFL franchises made up their own conference. Those teams were joined by Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the then-Baltimore Cots to even things out and form the AFC. There have been changes, additions and relocations in the 50 years since the merger, but the conference has remained static since the 2002 realignment.
Unlike the NFC, which has had a variety of teams win the conference title, the AFC has been dominated by two teams recently. The Chiefs unseated New England as the top dogs and returned to the Super Bowl for a second straight year after knocking off the Buffalo Bills 38-24 in the most recent AFC Championship. KC entered that game as a 3-point favorite on the closing line. When betting the AFC title game it helps to know that the home team has won 13 of the last 15 games. And while the betting markets open up substantially for the NFL playoffs, the AFC Championship isn’t anywhere close to what the Super Bowl has to offer.
Betting the AFC Championship
Much like the other conference and betting in general, it pays to have advanced knowledge of the teams involved. For some hardcore gamblers the AFC Championship is the way to go. We don’t get the number of proposition bets we see for the Super Bowl allowing gamers to focus strictly on the game. That should happen anyway, but the volume of props and the types of wagers can be overwhelming even to the seasoned bettor.
One sound betting strategy is to not bet with your heart. Throwing down on your favorite team just because you want them to win isn’t going to be profitable in the long run. Sure, you might catch a break and get a payout every now and then, but that is one way sportsbooks stay in business. After all, they are trying to win a few bucks of their own. Also, basing your wager on a regular season outcome isn’t helpful. It does make for a good broadcast, though.
This season’s AFC Championship was a rematch of a regular season game. The Week 6 confrontation saw Kansas City play a sparkling game to get the 26-17 win behind a ground game that produced nearly 250 yards. When playing a team for a second or even third time doesn’t leave too many secrets. Teams will self-scout and change game plans to keep their opponents guessing. And besides, each game is its own story with new headlines and heroes. You can glean some pertinent information from past hookups, but don’t base your wager solely on what happened on a Sunday afternoon in August to wager on the second biggest game of the year.
The Week 4 installment of Sunday Night Football looks to be a stinker on paper with the Kansas City Chiefs lined decided 9-point favorites over the New York Jets and the game total lined...