The NFL is down to its version of the final four. The Kansas City Chiefs will battle the Buffalo Bills in the AFC, while future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers square off in the NFC for the right to play in Super Bowl LV.
Our sports betting team of Thomas Casale, Vikas Chokshi, Reed Wallach, and Lucy Burdge broke down the two games to come up with their best bets for the Championship Sunday.
Odds are as of Friday morning at sportsbook listed.
Casale: Leonard Fournette over 42.5 rushing yards (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Fournette has been a big part of the Buccaneers' offense in the playoffs, rushing for 156 yards on 36 carries. He's easily gone over this total (93, 63) in both of Tampa Bay's postseason wins. Now he faces a Green Bay run defense that ranked in the middle of the NFL in rushing yards allowed (112 YPG) during the regular season. The Rams' Cam Akers put up 90 yards and 5.0 YPC on them last week.
Fournette didn't play in the first meeting but Ronald Jones and Ke'Shawn Vaughn ran over the Packers' defense for 155 yards on 28 carries. Expect the Bucs to continue to ride Fournette to again exploit Green Bay's biggest weakness on defense.
The Packers have allowed 15 running backs to rush for over 42.5 yards this season. Fournette will make it 16.
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Chokshi: Buccaneers-Packers under 51.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
I’m passing on a side, but I do see value on the total in this situation. If Tampa Bay wants to win this game, they will need to do three things successfully: pressure Aaron Rodgers, run the football, and win time of possession.
While the Bucs have the G.O.A.T. in Tom Brady, their two-headed rushing attack of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette will be the key to victory. Last week, the two-headed monster combined for 125 yards on 30 carries in Tampa’s win against a New Orleans Saints defense that ranked No. 2 in Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA. The Packers’ 17th-ranked rush defense has been susceptible to getting gashed via opposing teams’ run games and gave up 90 yards on 18 carries (5 YPC) to Cam Akers last weekend.
Playoff games also tend to dip a little in scoring, especially with two teams who have seen each other during the regular season. The public is loving the over here, so there is a chance if you wait until closer to game-time, you’ll get 52. As always, make sure you shop around for the best line.
Wallach: Buccaneers +3.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
As expected, the market is tight this weekend, but I keep coming back to Tampa Bay in this one. Green Bay’s offense has been dominant this season, but the Buccaneers' defense will have success like it did in week 6, when it sacked Green Bay quarterbacks five times. While I can’t forecast another pick-six for the Bucs like they had in the 38-10 victory over the Packers, Rodgers is going to be under duress often in this one.
I also worry about this Green Bay defense getting stops against a locked in Tom Brady. The unit will be a breath of fresh air for the Bucs compared to their prior two playoff opponents in Washington and New Orleans. Green Bay is middle of the road in opponents passing success and 23rd at stopping the run, according to SharpFootballStats. Tampa is going to be able to move the ball and I see this game coming down to the final drive.
With the hook at +3.5, I’m on Tampa Bay. This offense can move the ball on Green Bay who has gotten off easy this postseason, facing an injured Jared Goff, who was still able to find success against them last week. Further, the Bucs’ defense will make Aaron Rodgers' life difficult in the pocket. Take the points with Tampa Bay.
Burdge: Buccaneers +3.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are underdogs but their bite is going to be as bad as their bark in this one. Brady has never been more motivated to get to a Super Bowl. No doubt he wants to show he can be as successful without the Patriots and Bill Belichick, and not even Aaron Rodgers is going to stand in his way. Speaking of Rodgers, he adds to the stakes of this because beating the Packer in a playoff game would be a sweet notch on Brady’s belt.
Bucs players like Mike Evans have been glowing about Brady and what a leader he is, so they are amped to play for him. Green Bay doesn’t stand a chance after all the quotes coming out of Tampa Bay this week (and from Belichick’s girlfriend, Linda Holliday’s, Instagram account).
Rodgers will come out swinging, but Brady and the Buccaneers will have the last laugh on Sunday and I’m going all in on the Bucs +3.