NFL Conference Championships Betting: Key Stats and Wagering Trends
by Dave Schwab - 1/15/2014
There are just three games left in the NFL this season, and the first two are this Sunday in the conference championships to determine which two teams will meet in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 3. Football is a game of matchups, so the following is a closer look at a few of the key stats and betting trends that have the best shot at having a major impact on the outcome of each of these two battles. All NFL betting odds have been provided by BetOnline.
Sunday, Jan 19
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos (3 p.m. CBS)
Pointspread: Denver -5.5
Total Line: 55
Most of the betting public is focusing on the matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in this contest, and for good reason. These two future Hall of Famers have staged some epic battles against one another over the years. And while Brady has gotten the better of things, each quarterback has the ability to make big plays when their team needs them the most.
The bigger matchup this Sunday could be New England’s running game against the Broncos’ defense. The Patriots’ ground game has been one of the best in the league with an average of 129.1 rushing yards a game. However, last Saturday night against Indianapolis in the divisional playoffs it ran wild for 234 yards. LaGarrette Blount did most of the damage with 166 yards and four touchdowns on 24 attempts. Denver’s rush defense finished the regular season ranked eighth in the league by allowing 101.6 yards a game.
In the first meeting this season between the Patriots and the Broncos, the running game was not a major factor after New England fell behind 24-0 at the half before staging an incredible comeback in a 34-31 overtime win. As an interesting side note in that game, Denver running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards and one score on 37 carries.
Past betting trends are definitely in New England’s favor with a 5-1 record both straight up and against the spread in the last six meetings. The total has gone “over” in the last four games. The Patriots, in general, have not been a good play in the postseason with a 3-9 record ATS in their last 12 playoff games, but something has to give considering that Denver has covered in just one of its last five playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (6:30 p.m. FOX)
Pointspread: Seattle -7.5
Total Line: 39
If home is where the heart is in this NFC West showdown, the Seattle might as well start packing for New Jersey. The home team in this division rivalry has won nine of the last 10 meetings SU, including both of this year’s games in the regular season. The Seahawks drew first blood in Week 2 with a 29-3 beatdown as three-point home favorites. The 49ers evened the score with a 19-17 victory in Week 14 as 2.5-point favorites at home.
While it might appear to be a tall task for San Francisco to steal a win at CenturyLink Field this Sunday night to buck this recent trend, momentum and current form are definitely in its favor. The 49ers are riding an eight-game SU winning streak dating back to late November. While they did have to squeeze-out a last second victory over Green Bay in the wild-card round, this team looked dominant in every phase of the game last Sunday against Carolina.
The key matchup in this game will be San Francisco’s run defense against Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. The 49ers had one of the top defensive units in the league this season, and it was ranked fourth in rushing yards allowed (95.9). Lynch finished the regular season ranked sixth in total rushing yards with 1,257 on 301 attempts. His calling card has been in the postseason with three 130-yard plus performances. Last Saturday against the Saints, he rumbled for 140 yards and two touchdowns while averaging five yards a carry.
Not only has the home team dominated this series on the field, but they have been profitable to wager on with a 7-3 record ATS in the last 10 meetings. The total stayed “under” in both games this season, and it has stayed under in four of the last five meetings overall. The total has stayed under in five of San Francisco’s last six playoff games on the road, but it has gone “over” in six of Seattle’s last eight postseason games overall.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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