NFL Conference Championship Betting Previews
Packers-Seahawks, Colts-Patriots in Conference Round
And then there were four. The Divisional Round of the 2014-2015 NFL playoffs is behind us, and almost like clockwork, the home favorites went 3-1 SU and 1-3 ATS to fall to 18-30 ATS since 2003. Only one home chalk made it to next Sunday’s Conference Round while covering the spread, and that was the defending Super Bowl champions. Here’s an early look at what should be two tremendous football games. As always, check Bovada Sports for the latest NFL odds.
Green Bay at Seattle (3:00 PM ET, FOX)
The Seahawks (13-4 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) had the biggest spread of the Divisional home teams at –13 (–105), but they also had the easiest matchup against the Carolina Panthers, and the ‘Hawks prevailed 31-17. The Packers (13-4 SU, 9-7-1 ATS), on the other hand, couldn’t cover the 6-point spread (–115) in a 26-21 victory.
The biggest takeaway from these two games is regarding Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was clearly limited last Sunday by a partially torn left calf, although the runaway MVP favorite managed to finish with 316 yards and three touchdown passes; two of those happened in the last 17 minutes to secure the victory. Running back Eddie Lacy added 101 yards on 19 carries to keep the Packers in the game.
Coming from behind to beat the Cowboys is one thing; they had the worst-rated defense of any of the eight remaining divisional teams. But if Rodgers doesn’t heal up quickly, he could find himself in big trouble against the top-ranked Seahawks defense. Even when Rodgers was healthy during the season-opener, Seattle won 36-16 as a 4.5-point home favorite. The spread will be a little bigger this time around, but the challenges for Green Bay remain.
Indianapolis at New England (6:30 PM ET, CBS)
Indianapolis was the only underdog to make it out of the Divisional Round alive. That being said, the Colts (12-5 SU, 11-5-1 ATS) looked very much like Super Bowl contenders in their 24-13 win over the Denver Broncos, cashing in as 9-point puppies. As for the Patriots (13-4 SU, 9-8 ATS), they needed some trickery in the form of a Julian Edelman touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to beat the Baltimore Ravens 35-31 – not quite enough to cover the 7-point spread (–115).
It might be a good idea to fade the Patriots again come Sunday. They’re 0-8 ATS in their last eight games in either the Conference Round or the Super Bowl. Otherwise, this is an intriguing matchup on paper, featuring two quality coaches, Bill Belichick and Chuck Pagano. The Colts didn’t get much running done versus the Broncos’ quality defense, but Ravens running back Justin Forsett managed 129 yards against the somewhat-porous Patriots, thus paying out at 10/1 on the NFL props market Weekend Specials for most rushing yards in the Divisional Round. A little more of that from Dan Herron could be enough to put Indianapolis back in the Super Bowl.
Conference Championship Player Props
Did you have Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett in your Weekend Specials for the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs? Forsett paid off at 10/1 after rushing for 129 yards against the New England Patriots, the most of any running back that weekend. With that in mind, let’s look forward to this Sunday’s Conference Round games and see what’s available on the NFL props market as we go to press.
Who will record the most passing yards?
The favorite among the four remaining starters is Andrew Luck (+125) of the Indianapolis Colts. He’ll be matched up against the New England Patriots, who counter with Tom Brady (+200). Of these two quarterbacks, Luck had the most passing yards during the regular season at 4,761, which was third in the NFL, and Brady was 10th at 4,109 yards. Neither team has an elite pass defense, but it’s expected to rain over Gillette Stadium on Sunday, and Patriots center Bryan Stork will likely miss this game (6:40 PM ET, CBS) with a knee injury.
Rain is also in the forecast for Sunday’s matchup (3:05 PM ET, FOX) between the Seattle Seahawks and the visiting Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers (+300) is limited by a calf injury, and he’ll be facing one of the very best pass defenses in the league, if not the best. There should be some value with Russell Wilson (+700) facing the Packers, who are in the same boat as the Colts and Patriots when it comes to pass defense. But Luck would certainly be the safer pick.
Who will record the most rushing yards?
We’ve got four players to choose from in this category, as well, yet none are from the Patriots. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is the favorite at –110, and he’ll have to compete for yards with Wilson (+800). With rain expected in Seattle, Lynch should get plenty of touches against Green Bay’s porous rush defense. Packers running back Eddie Lacy (+120) only managed 34 yards on 12 carries when these two teams met in the season opener, and Colts running back Dan Herron (+700) has yet to put up big numbers this year in relief of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw.
Who will record the most receiving yards?
Once again, this should be the most difficult of these three NFL props – simply because there are many more players to choose from. This week’s favorite is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski at 3/1, and even if it rains, he should do well against Indianapolis. The Colts’ defense ranks No. 27 in the league against tight ends, according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders. However, New England’s offense will be compromised by the loss of its starting center, so the value might once again be with the Seahawks. Jermaine Kearse had the most receiving yards (129) of anyone in the Divisional Round, but he wasn’t on the odds list. He is this week, at a tasty 15/1.