The total for Green Bay and Atlanta in the NFC Conference Championship is the highest ever for an NFL playoff game
The second round of the NFL playoffs helped ‘pick up’ its weaker Round 1 counterpart, producing four solid combatants for the 2016-17 NFL Conference Championships.
Favorites in the Conference Finals have a 20-8 straight-up record since league realignment in 2002, covering the spread at a rate of 57-percent (16-12). The average line according to Sports Database was -5.2 and that falls right inline with this year’s two pointspreads.
New England is the larger fave, sitting at -5.5 over Pittsburgh after opening at -6. Meanwhile the Falcons have inched their way to -5 points after dropping to -4 from an opener of -4.5 over Green Bay.
As sports bettors spend the next five days handicapping the two Conference Championship matchups, we’ll be chipping in with tweets and articles covering trends, playoff systems and of course, predictions. Here are some early notes on each game.
Green Bay at Atlanta
Line: Falcons -5
The Packers built an early lead against the Cowboys but once Dallas woke up, this turned into a battle of the heavyweights. Green Bay was up 21-13 at the half and outscored Dallas 7-0 in the third. The Cowboys battled to a 31-31 draw with a brilliant fourth quarter but left Aaron Rodgers too much time on his final possession. After a 36-yard completion to TE Jared Cook, kicker Mason Crosby drove the final nail with a 51-yard field goal.
The win extends Green Bay’s hot streak to eight-straight (7-1 ATS) and they have led by at least 14 points in every one of those games. The Pack is outscoring opponents 32.1 to 19.5 during that run and each of these metrics are pointing towards a high scoring game. Well aware of the situation, bookmakers have posted what appears to be the highest ever Over/Under odds on a playoff game.
All five NFL playoff games since the 2011 Super Bowl that closed with a total of 54 or more finished under the total. Four of them were under by double-digits. But somehow, this one feels different. Atlanta led the league in scoring and just put up 36 points against Seattle. The Falcons have scored 33 points or more in five-straight and the Packers defense is even worse than, well, Atlanta’s.
The Falcons did play a nice defensive game against Seattle but the Hawks O-Line is miles behind Green Bay’s. Russell Wilson and the special teams were a boost for the Seahawks but none of it compares to the Discount Double-check. Especially the way he’s playing right now.
Playoff road dogs that have turned the ball over less than 1.0 time per game in their past eight are 4-24 SU, going 11-17 ATS. Getting +5 points or more, they improve to 6-6 ATS and if the team has won at least four-straight, they have played “Over” five of six times. Green Bay has given up just two turnovers in the past eight games and they are a prolific offense with no secondary. Atlanta has home field, can score on anyone and their D is suspect. Perhaps 60 points is too low for this total.
Pittsburgh at New England
Line: Patriots -5.5
For Tom Brady and the Patriots, laying more than -13 points like they did against Houston is no big deal. In fact, the 34-16 win on Saturday was Brady’s sixth consecutive when laying more than -13 and his average margin of victory is 23 points per game. The oddity of this week’s matchup is the fact that Brady is ONLY laying -5.5 points immediately following the oversized cover. It’s a first for Tom Terrific, at least on home field.
Brady’s home record the week after laying -13.5 or more is 8-0 SU and 4-4 ATS. The average line was -13.6 and his average margin of victory was 17 points. The caveat is that in the one playoff game vs. Baltimore in 2012, the Pats (-7) only won 23-20.
The Steelers lost 27-16 to New England earlier this year with Roethlisberger (knee) on the sidelines and Pittsburgh’s road record when playing with same season revenge off a win is 8-1 ATS. When getting points, Pittsburgh is 31-16 ATS on the road seeking revenge and that includes a 3-0 ATS record in the playoffs. Big Ben is 15-7-1 ATS the past four years vs. high win-percentage teams including three-straight wins over the Giants, Dolphins and Chiefs.