Early odds for the NFL Conference Championship weekend with betting trends and tips to get your head in the game!
The finale from Sunday’s fist fight in Minneapolis has set the bar nice and high for this year’s Conference Championship matchups. Minnesota’s incentive for another home date in February is a powerful driving force, but so is the contempt that Philly must be feeling as the home underdog for a second-straight week.
In the AFC, New England is home for yet another Conference Championship. Yawn.
Seriously, is it even worth looking at the Patriots’ regular season stats, or should we only consider their playoff numbers from the past 15 years? This postseason success we are witnessing each year with Tom Brady has more sequels than Star Wars!
As I started my initial dig through playoff systems and stats, the idea of just amalgamating each of Brady’s Super Bowl winning years into one statistical formula seriously crossed my mind. According to the first set of data, here is what we can expect on Sunday:
1. Brady throws for 240 passing yards before eventually handing the reins to his backup.
2. The Patriots rush for 120 passing yards but no one running back tops 70 yards.
3. New England’s top receivers each get a minimum of one red zone target.
4. Scores at half-time make it look like the dog has a chance. By the end of the third quarter, dog bettors are now left clinging to the hopes of a backdoor cover.
5. In the end, New England wins 28-10.
This is just one version of a story we have all seen a dozen times before. I’ll have a prediction for this game later in the week but for now, feel free to use it as a general guideline. Check @PickSixtySports for all playoff picks. We are 5-2 through the first two rounds.
NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP DASHBOARD
The dogs are catching early action in each of these matchups. With New England, it’s unlikely the line gets lower than -8 and more likely it hits double-digits by kickoff. Minnesota is getting an emotional boost from bettors that want to see them home for Super Bowl 52 but the opening Conference Championship line of -3.5 is gone. We are also seeing an early lean to the over in each game.
JACKSONVILLE AT NEW ENGLAND
The box score from New England’s win over Tennessee is pretty typical — for a Pro Bowl. 337 passing yards, three TDs, zero picks and zero sacks. The Pats had 31 first downs and 20 of them came via the pass. Red zone was five for five and time of possession 32:56 minutes.
Recent history for the first of those five metrics paints a similar picture for playoff home faves. Which is, the high probability of a straight up win (71%) but just a 44-percent chance of covering.
Possession tells a different story, though. Also consider that Jacksonville is coming off a hard fought playoff road win in a game that many thought they had no chance of winning. The Jags only had 28:50 time of possession in Pittsburgh, too, with two sacks. In this situation our home fave is 72-percent likely to win straight up and 50-percent likely to cover. Average margin of victory was only six points and the three times New England was “live,” they went 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS. All three games went over the total and the “Over” hit rate for all teams in this profile is 73-percent.
Jacksonville needs its run game to excel. The O-Line was good this year, ranking fifth in pass protection and 13th in run blocking. But again, we have to consider the situation. These Pats had eight sacks against Tennessee and if New England builds a lead, you’re putting a lot of pressure on a QB that wasn’t even drafted in 90-percent of fantasy football leagues this year.
MINNESOTA AT PHILADELPHIA
The Rodney Dangerfield of quarterbacks tossed his third 300-plus passing yard game of the season during last week’s win over the Saints. It was also the seventh time in 2017 that Keenum surpassed the 250-yard marker. To put that in perspective, Keenum had only thrown for more than 250 yards in a game eight times before joining the Vikings.
Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph each had a good game but nothing that would really stand out before Diggs’ 61-yard TD grab. RB Latavius Murray averaged just 2.6 yards on 19 carries. Call it blue collar, call it workmanlike if you want, but one thing you can’t call it is the typical makeup of 3.5-point playoff road fave.
Eagles QB Nick Foles connected with eight different targets in his win over Atlanta. Each of these teams had good possession numbers (over 32 minutes) and each was proficient on third down. The fact that Minnesota held New Orleans to 2-for-9 conversions on third down is impressive. Equally impressive is the fact that Philly is averaging 130 RYPG this season.
One concern I have with the Eagles is that in the past three weeks they have not once registered more than 100 rushing yards. Only six playoff teams have fit this profile in the past 20 years and none made it past the second round. Overall, they are 1-5 SU, 2-3-1 ATS and 4-2 O/U. On average, they were outscored 27-21 and outrushed 85-82.
Philly has shown great creativity on offense this season but Carson Wentz was the one executing those plans. If Foles struggles early vs. Mike Zimmer’s top ranked D, home field might not be enough.