Conference championship game opening lines: Early moves in the AFC

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Three of the top-four rated teams went down during a furiously chaotic divisional round. Maybe it was the best playoff weekend ever, maybe not, but it definitely wasn't a great time for favorites, with the Chiefs the only one to survive.

Does that mean those teams shouldn't have been favored? Of course not. However, as we pointed out last week, either the Bengals and 49ers weren't getting enough credit, or the Titans and Packers were getting too much.

Meanwhile, both Sunday games were lined like the coin-flip contests they ended up being, even if they took drastically different routes to get there. If you took the plus-money on both, you at least won a couple of dollars during the drama.

With four teams left, we'll look at the opening lines through the lens of the ratings that have guided our best bets, which have been nearly perfect so far this postseason.

TEAM RATING HFA
Chiefs 76 1.9
Rams 68 1.4
49ers 66 1
Bengals 59 1.4

Bengals @ Chiefs (-7, 54.5)

Any sportsbook that opened Sunday night with Kansas City at -6.5 made a mistake. That's not to say it wasn't the appropriate number - it actually was based on the cumulative closing lines of previous games this season. However, it was a mistake because the appetite among bettors for the Chiefs following their incredible win was always going to be high.

Games like Sunday night's contest will reinstitute the Kansas City tax we've seen come into the marketplace for much of the last three seasons. Sure enough, we find ourselves facing a decision on a flat seven.

As for the total, it moved in a big way. The Bengals don't have the same defense built to stop the Chiefs like the Bills were supposed to. So, when the total opened at 50.5, it was quickly bet up to 53. And it's only ticked up since, reaching the same area that the Bills-Chiefs matchup closed at.

49ers @ Rams (-3.5, 46)

The ratings above suggest the Rams should be 2.5-point favorites. On the one hand, the assumption is that San Francisco is running on fumes at this point. On the other hand, the Rams' home-field advantage isn't as valuable in this matchup as it would be in a standard game in Los Angeles.

A Week 18 win by the 49ers in a contest they closed +3.5 suggests we'll see this number drop and close at +3. Whether that ends up being the case or not, we're seeing a -120 price tag to take San Francisco with the hook.

The total has been less eventful than its AFC counterpart. The Jan. 9 matchup saw the total close at 46.5, meaning oddsmakers have set virtually the same number for the spread and total, and both have held firm in early week betting.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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Conference championship game opening lines: Early moves in the AFC
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