With each of the previous seven NFC Championship Games decided by seven points or less, the Green Bay Packers would seem to be a good bet considering they are consensus 7.5-point underdogs visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
In fact, recent history in conference title games suggests the second-seeded Packers also have a great shot to upset the top-seeded Seahawks if they cover the spread.
That’s because underdogs between 5 and 8 points have covered nine of 18 conference championship games (50 percent) over the past 30 years and won straight-up eight times (44 percent) according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
All eight upsets by underdogs between 5 and 8 points have occurred since 1990, starting with the New York Giants edging the San Francisco 49ers 15-13 as 8-point underdogs in the 1991 NFC Championship Game. That was one of the three upsets taking place in the NFC Championship Game while the other five happened in the AFC Championship Game.
The top-seeded New England Patriots are 6.5-point favorites hosting the fourth-seeded Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, and they are 0-5 against the spread in their previous five conference title game appearances to go along with a 2-3 mark SU.
Ironically, the Patriots have been involved in the last four AFC Championship Games where an underdog of at least 5 points covered the spread, going 1-3 ATS.
New England was upset 28-13 by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens two years ago in the AFC Championship Game as an 8-point home favorite and also beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17 as an 8-point road underdog in 2002 en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
The Patriots defeated the Ravens 23-20 but did not cover as 7-point favorites in the 2012 AFC Championship Game and knocked off the San Diego Chargers 21-12 yet fell short of covering as 14-point chalk four years earlier.
The biggest underdog to win a conference title game over the past 30 years was the Atlanta Falcons, who upset the Minnesota Vikings 30-27 in the 1999 NFC Championship Game as 11.5-point road dogs. Five other teams have covered the spread as double-digit dogs in conference title games, but none of them pulled off the upset.