NFL Championship round betting first look: Immediate underdog value

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers opened the season with 6-1 odds to win the NFC. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As soon as games wrap up on a Sunday, sportsbooks have to react quickly and set their early lines for the following week. They aren't the only ones: This season, we're running ESPN's Football Power Index immediately upon conclusion of the night's games so we can compare our numbers with those from Caesars Sportsbook.

That early comparison, before the market has fully materialized, is probably our best chance to find a line that's a little off. And it gives us a chance to potentially get ahead of line movement.

Our point of comparison is FPI's implied line. FPI's standard game predictions are means that don't account for the intricacies of football's scoring -- like 3 and 7 being key numbers -- but our implied line represents a median prediction given an understanding of the scoring environment. That's a long way of saying this is a better apples-to-apples comparison for betting.

Because we're trying to jump on early lines immediately after games, I think the best way for us to measure success is through closing line value. More than anything, we're looking for movement in the right direction. So I'm keeping a running tally -- for both games and futures -- in this spot each week.

Now, let's dive into conference championship weekend!

Closing line value record (W-L-T): 22-15-16

All lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (-7, 53.5)

FPI Implied Line: Chiefs -6

I'll be honest, I thought FPI was going to be on the other side here. So much so that I wrote it up as soon as the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills, a whole screed about the vast difference between these two offenses. How Joe Burrow's high yardage total against the Titans masked a below-average performance once all his sacks were factored in. How the Chiefs were the most efficient offense in football despite a down year from Patrick Mahomes.

And then our numbers came in...