If you don’t mind being the person at the sports bar who’s cheering for a timeout to be called, this article is for you. This article is also for you if you just like making bets where you have an edge. Sunday’s conference championship games provide us with exactly that. The game prop “Which team will call the first timeout?” is juiced at -115 for both sides on BetMGM, but the data points to a clear favorite to win in each matchup. Here they are:
Over the last three seasons, Zac Taylor’s Bengals have called the first timeout in 53.1% of games, compared to 30.6% for Andy Reid, who likes to save his for a rainy day or maybe to regift at Christmas. Kansas City called the first timeout at a 23.5% clip this season, and in 33.3% of their home games, while Cincinnati made a “T” with their hands first in 70.6% of total contests and 77.8% of the time when they were on the road. Nine of the 12 timeouts the Bengals called first this season were before the two-minute warning, meaning they’re not just calling them in order to stop the clock towards the end of the half. In fact, four of those 12 timeouts were taken in the first quarter. Joe Burrow and the Bengals will be trying to get off plays in an environment more hostile than 4chan, making it even more likely that they’ll be the first to call a timeout. As an added bonus, Taylor throws challenge flags at a much higher rate than Reid and has only won a third of his disputes, so we could get a Bengals timeout as a result of a failed challenge.
Los Angeles Rams to call the first timeout (-115)
Sean McVay calls more timeouts at home than an exasperated parent. Since 2019, his Rams have been the first to signal for a timeout in 73.9% of home games. Kyle Shanahan’s Niners are first to pull the trigger in 48% of road contests over that span, and in just 33.3% of away games this season. McVay has called the first timeout in his last eight outings, including both playoff wins. San Francisco gives a lot of different looks on offense and their fans travel harder than a rich televangelist. That combination of exotic packages and noisy diehards could lead to the Rams taking yet another early timeout.
[Data set for timeouts: regular season games from 2019-2021]
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference.