NFL Championship Round Betting News and Notes

NFL Championship Round Betting News and Notes

Championship Outlook
VegasInsider.com

AFC Championship – New England at Denver

Opening Line: Broncos -6½, 55

Denver Home Record: 8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS
New England Road Record: 4-4 SU, 6-2 ATS

Head-to-Head: The Patriots rallied from a 24-0 deficit in Week 12 to defeat the Broncos 34-31 in a SNF matchup. New England closed as a one-point home underdog and the combined 65 points, 41 coming in the second-half, jumped ‘over’ the closing total of 54.  Including this win, the Patriots have won and covered the last four matchups against the Broncos. Quarterback Tom Brady is 10-4 versus Peyton Manning all-time, 2-1 in the playoffs. They’ve met twice in the conference championship, with Brady winning in 2003 and Manning winning in 2006.

AFC Championship Notes

Under head coach Bill Belichick, New England has played in eight AFC Championship games, three of them played on the road.

The Patriots have gone 6-2 in those contests and that includes a 2-1 record on the road. The ‘under’ has produced a 5-3 mark.

Denver hasn’t been to the AFC Championship since the 2005-06 playoffs and it was doubled-up at Pittsburgh, 34-17.

Baltimore defeated New England 28-13 in last year’s AFC title game on the road. Prior to that outcome, the home team has won the six previous conference championships.

NFC Championship – San Francisco at Seattle

Opening Line: Seahawks -3½, 41½

Seattle Home Record: 8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS
San Francisco Road Record: 8-2 SU, 7-1-2 ATS

Head-to-Head: San Francisco and Seattle have split their last four meetings with the home team winning each contest. During this span, the Seahawks have covered all four games, winning by 29 and 26 points at home while only losing by a combined nine points in the road setbacks. The ‘under’ is on a 3-1 run in this series.

NFC Championship Notes

The 49ers will be playing in their straight NFC Championship, producing a 1-1 record the last two years. San Francisco defeated Atlanta 28-24 on the road in last year’s title game but lost to the N.Y. Giants in overtime (20-17) in the 2011-12 playoffs.

The Seahawks have only played in the NFC Championship once and they captured a 34-14 victory at home over Carolina in the 2005-06 title game.

The road team has won the last three NFC Championships.

The last six NFC title games have been decided by seven points or less.

Future Chalk

In early September, the LVH SuperBook had the Super Bowl future odds on this year’s remaining teams:

Denver 4/1
Seattle 5/1
San Francisco 7/1
New England 10/1

The only other teams to be in that were close to the above contenders were Green Bay (8/1) and Houston (10/1).

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Title Game Breakdowns
By Mike Rose
VegasInsider.com

There are only four teams left standing in the fight for the Lombardi Trophy, and today at VegasInsider.com, we're breaking down the two games remaining with some great trends to remember for each of the games.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Opening Line: Seattle -3.5 (40)

The Seahawks and the 49ers split the first two games of the season, and the home team has won four straight and nine out of 10 in this series. Seattle has covered three straight games, including beating the number by a hook in a 19-17 loss at Candlestick Park in Week 14. This isn't a series for the faint of heart. These two teams are going to run the ball and run it a ton, and the team which can handle its business at the line of scrimmage the best is the one that will ultimately end up winning this game.

San Francisco has gone 10-1 ATS in its last 11 road games against teams that possess winning home records, and it is 8-1 ATS in its last nine road games overall. The team is 37-18-1 ATS over the course of the last almost three complete seasons, and it is 6-3 ATS in its last nine playoff games. The Seahawks have covered four straight home games against teams with winning road records, and the team is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 games against teams with winning records overall. The Seahawks have covered seven of their last 10 against NFC West teams and six of their last eight games overall.

The 'under' is 7-3 in San Fran's last 10 games overall and it's 5-1 the L/6 times the Niners hit the playoff road. The 'under' has also cashed in six straight Seattle games, but the Seahawks have played to high scorers in six of their L/8 postseason games.

New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

Opening Line: Denver -6.5 (54.5)

The Patriots were down 24-0 to the Broncos when these two teams met at Gillette Stadium back in Week 12, but they came storming back to win 34-31 in overtime behind the greatness known as Tom Brady.

This is the fourth meeting between Brady and Peyton Manning in the playoffs in their illustrious careers. The home team has gone 3-0 SU and ATS in the previous three outings, and the team that won that do-or-die match-up also went on to win the Super Bowl.

This edition of the Patriots though, are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 playoff games and 1-5 ATS in their last six played on the road. These Broncos are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall, though one of those defeats did come at the hands of this exact Patriots squad on the road. New England has failed to cover four straight conference title games as well.

The 'over' is 39-17 in New England's last 56 games against AFC foes, and it is 50-23 in its last 73 played games (68.5%). The 'over' is also 7-2 in the Pats' last nine playoff games. Denver though, has played four straight games 'under' the 'total' over the course of the last month, but the 'over' is 24-6 in the team's last 30 games against teams with winning records.

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Conference Champions at Stake
By Jim Feist
Freeplay.com

This is it, the final weekend of games before the Super Bowl. The last month we’ve been hearing about playoff seedings, bye weeks and home field advantage. Are all those things really important? Historically it has been during the second round of the playoffs. Teams with the bye have home field advantage and two weeks to prepare, both of which are usually important edges this time of year.

However, during the conference championship games that kick off this weekend, history shows us that the two remaining teams in each conference are often on fairly equal footing, both straight up and against the spread. You might think the team with the home field has a big edge, but that’s not usually the case this deep into the season.

A year ago the underdogs went 1-0-1 ATS in the title games, with the 49ers winning 28-24 at Atlanta as 4-point chalk and the Ravens beating the Patriots on the road, 28-13. Two years ago both underdogs covered in squeakers, with the underdog Giants beating the 49ers in OT (20-17) and the 7-point underdog Ravens nearly winning at New England, blowing a late field goal in a 23-20 defeat.

The last five years six of ten home teams (Colts, Saints, Cardinals, Pats, Steelers twice) won but went 4-5-1 ATS. Notice that since 1992, the home team has won just 22 of 42 NFL title games straight up (0-2 last year), and the visiting team is 23-18-1 against the spread. Going 23-18-1 straight up is a slight edge for the home teams, though far from dominant than many might expect to find in the second-biggest game of the season.

Within those statistics remember that there have been plenty of road underdogs that not only got the money, but won the game and advanced to the Super Bowl, including the Ravens and Giants the last two years, both going on to win the Super Bowl. Six years ago both road teams covered. The Patriots topped San Diego, 21-12, but failed to cover, while the +7 underdog road Giants won at Green Bay, 23-20. Seven years ago Pittsburgh was a road dog at Denver, but clobbered the Broncos 34-17.

In 1995, San Diego was a 9½-point dog at Pittsburgh, but pulled the upset 17-13. In 1999 Atlanta was an 11-point dog at 16-1 Minnesota, yet won 30-27 in overtime, while Tennessee flattened big home favorite Jacksonville, 33-14, in 2000. Nine years ago the Patriots were a double-digit dog at Pittsburgh but won 24-17, and seven seasons ago the upstart Panthers rained on the Eagles’ parade in a 14-3 NFC Championship game upset in a somewhat frustrated city of brotherly love.

Coming into this weekend, the dogs are 17-8-1 against the spread the last 13 years in the NFL title games. The NFC has seen the dog go 10-3-1 ATS the last 14 years, including the last four seasons with the Giants, the Packers covering at New Orleans and the Cardinals were a home do to the Eagles. Philadelphia’s trouncing of the Falcons in 2005, 27-10, ended a six-year run by underdogs covering in the NFC championship tilt.

Certainly you can’t discount home field advantage, something the Patriots used in consecutive years to beat up the indoor Colts, 24-14 and 20-3 in the Foxboro cold, with the Colts turning the trick at home in 2007. However, there is generally greater balance between teams simply because at this point in the season, the remaining four teams are very strong and often evenly matched. In mid-January, you rarely find a team that has glaring weaknesses, for example, ranking at the bottom of the NFL in some offensive or defensive category. And home field didn’t help the Pats in last year’s AFC title game.

It’s difficult for teams with major weaknesses to make the playoffs in the first place, and if they do make it, opposing coaches will attack those weak spots to their own advantage. The cream rises, which is what competition is all about. You also know that teams will be playing at a high level of intensity, as there is so much at stake — the winners go to the Super Bowl, the losers go home and sulk about what might have been. After such a long season, teams that have come this close to the Holy Grail are going to give everything they have for four full quarters.

Slicing the history another way, we find that the favorites are 25-14-1 straight up in NFL championship games but 19-20-1 against the spread the last 20 years. The total is 23-17 “over” during that time (3-1 under the last two Januarys). Oddly, there have been more blowouts by the underdog than the favorite. The NY Giants rolled 41-0 in 2001 over Minnesota as a 2-point home dog. In January of 2000, Tennessee ripped the Jaguars 33-14 as a 7-point road dog, and last year the underdog Ravens won by 15.

Several big favorites have struggled, as well. Still, before you jump on the live dogs, remember that the favorites had a nice run of their own from 1993-97 going 8-2 against the spread in the NFL title games. This is why looking at trends and angles must be approached with great caution. The current trend: the favorites are on a very mild 6-5-1- ATS run in Conference Championship games.

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Championship Angles
By Marc Lawrence
VegasInsider.com

NFL Championship Games... Buyer Beware

And then there were four.

NFL’s version of the ‘Final Four’ kicks off this Sunday in the Championship Games where surprises aplenty have certainly been the buzzword.

That’s confirmed by the fact that underdogs have managed to pull off upsets in 15 of 46 title games since the 1990 season, the most recent being the Baltimore Ravens victory over New England at Foxboro last year, and the New York Giants win at San Francisco two years ago, with both teams going on to capture the coveted Super Bowl.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s worked and what hasn’t in the Championship Games, because when it comes to handicapping games at this stage of the season we can certainly use every edge imaginable.

All results are ATS (Against The Spread) and are since the 1990 season, unless noted otherwise.

What A Rush

Running the football is tantamount to success in the NFL.  Especially in the playoffs.

It’s no coincidence that since the Giants 21-17 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI that 18 of the last 20 straight-up playoff winners have rushed the ball for 100 or more yards, including all eight winners this season.

Teams who have managed to gain 110 or more rushing yards in a championship game have gone 19-9 SU and 20-8 ATS, including 9-1 ATS as underdogs of 4 or more points.

While all four of this week’s combatants average more than 100 rushing yards per game on the season, only Denver and San Francisco surrender less than 100 running yards per contest.

The Patriots allow the most yards on the ground, 130 YPG.

Situationally Speaking

The oddsmakers have done a nice job overall during this round, with favorites checking in at 26-22 ATS, and home teams 22-26 ATS.

Teams off a road win (San Francisco) are 15-11 ATS, while teams off a win-no-cover are 12-8 ATS, including 8-3 ATS when riding a pair of wins.

That’s music to the ears of Denver and Seattle backers.

Gravity Alert

While high-scoring games are the norm in the NFL these days, teams arriving to the championship round off a high scoring effort in their last game tend to come back to earth harder than a sky diver with a defective chute.

Consider: Half of the 34 teams in this round who put 34 or more points on the scoreboard in a divisional round victory fell short of the Super Bowl, going 17-17 SU and 12-22 ATS.

Worse, if these same teams are taking on an .800 or greater foe they fall to 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS in title games.

That puts New England on hard ground this Sunday.

Been There Done That

Three of the four head coaches have had the luxury of coaching team in Championship Games – namely Bill Belichick, Jon Fox and Jim Harbaugh.

New England’s Belichick brings a 5-2 SU and 3-4 ATS record (0-4 ATS last four) with the Patriots in Championship Games into this week’s fray. Furthermore, the Hoodie is 0-4 ATS in title games after scoring 24 or more points his previous playoff contest.
 
Meanwhile, Fox has made two championship game appearances with Carolina, splitting out 1-1 SU and ATS – both as an underdog.

San Francisco returns to the championship game for the third-straight year under Jim Harbaugh.  The Niners are 1-1 SU and 0-1-1 ATS in these games under his lead.

Seattle’s Pete Carroll is a championship game virgin.

Over There

Points aplenty in this league of late have forced the linemakers to raise the Over/Under totals bar.

Its what happens when there have been 29 OVERS and 19 UNDERS and 1 PUSH in Championship Games.

Surprisingly, the higher the total them more OVERS there have been as games with a posted total set at 46 or more points going 10-5 OVER.

Stat of the Week

The last No. 1 seed from the NFC to win a Super Bowl game was the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

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Great Match-Ups – Big Differences
By Razor Sharp Sports
Freeplays.com

Championship Weekend is here and even though I would love to see this Saturday be the date for College Football Championship Game to go along with the 2 NFL Conference Championship Gmaes on Sunday, that is a whole different story. Even though we won’t have 3 great games this weekend we should definitely have 2 great ones. In the AFC we have the Patriots and the Broncos and in the NFL it is the 49ers and the Seahawks. Combined these 4 teams have a overall record of 45-14 this season in the regular season and playoffs. They are the 4 best records in the NFL, though the 49ers are not the #2 in the NFC because they play in the same division as Seattle, they still tied for he 2nd best record in the NFC with the Panthers. They proved they deserved it with their road win over Carolina last week. So we have combined regular season records in the Championships of 25-7 in both games this week, but there are plenty of differences. Lets take a look at them.

The biggest difference you have to look at is as easy as Night and Day, or should I just say Offense and Defense. The AFC puts the record breaking offense of the Denver Broncos who lead the NFL is scoring at 37.9 points per game against the 3rd highest scoring offense in the New England Patriots at 27.8. Then the NFC has 2 incredible defenses. The #1 scoring defense in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks have allowed 14.4 points per game takes on #3 in scoring defense in the league, the San Francisco 49ers (17.0 pts/game). It is so different that we have 16½ points different in the Over/Unders for these 2 games.

Then how about the Quarterback Comparision. We have two of the new up-coming stars battling and in the other match-up 2 of the best bs of all-time with possibly the best rivalry ever! The NFC we have Colin Kaepernick versus Russell Wilson. Kaepernick is in his 3rd season, though he only became the Niners starter half way thru last season. Wilson is in his 2nd season. He has been the starter for the Seahawks since he was drafted last year. These 2 young guns have mets as starters 3 times. Combined they have 5 years experience, they have played in 1 Super Bowl (Kaepernick last year) with no wins of the top prize yet, & have been selected to 2 Pro-Bowls (Wilson this year and last). Then we have the AFC match-up between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. This will be the 15th meeting all-time between these two future Hall-of-Famers. They will be making their 4th Playoff collision. Between the 2 of them they have 30 NFL season, 7 Super Bowl appearances with 4 victories & 23 Pro Bowls. Though they are very different, they all bring excitement and explosiveness to their teams.

I know there are are plenty of other differences, but no matter what we are going to see 2 outstanding games with 4 incredible field leaders. Though the AFC looks like a shootout and the NFC a knockdown drag-out battle, you never know. In games like this you never know what might happen.

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