NFL Conference Championship Sunday Betting Preview

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Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-7.5, 46.5)

The Seattle Seahawks opened defense of their Super Bowl championship by thrashing the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Now, the only thing standing between the Seahawks and a return trip to the Super Bowl is Green Bay, which pays a visit to No. 1 seed Seattle on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers, who were limited to only 255 total yards in the 20-point season-opening loss, must find a way to solve the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers dealing with a torn calf.  

While a hobbled Rodgers rallied Green Bay past the Dallas Cowboys 26-21 last weekend, Seattle rolled to its seventh consecutive victory win a 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks are surrendering an average of eight points during the winning streak and have permitted one fourth-quarter touchdown in that span. “We’re going to have to be efficient against them,” Rodgers said. “They’re a great defense, they’ve got Pro Bowlers all over the place and they’re well-coached.” 

TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, FOX.

LINE HISTORY: The initial line opened at Seattle -7, but quickly moved to -7.5 within 24 hours of being posted. The total opened at 47, but shifted to 46.5 as quickly as the spread.

INJURY REPORT: Packers – QB Aaron Rodgers (Prob-Calf), RB Eddie Lacy (Prob-Knee)  Seahawks – CB Byron Maxwell (Prob-Chest), C Max Unger (Prob-Ankle)

WEATHER FORECAST: A wet, windy day is in store for Seattle Sunday. Rain showers are expected through the entirity of the game, while winds are expected to be gusting between 13-16 mph.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Of course the big question everyone wants to know is how much has Rodgers healed from last week. With that kind of injury, I’d guess probably not much at all. He was immobile and the fact that he couldn’t follow through on some passes forced him to miss a few throws. I don’t know if the Packers had a chance to win at Seattle with a healthy Aaron Rodgers so it’s asking a lot for this upset.” – John Lester, senior lines manager for Bookmaker.eu.

CHEERLEADER WAR: Since the Packers don’t have cheerleaders, we decided to go with Aaron Rodgers’ main squeeze, Olivia Munn.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (13-4 SU, 12-4 ATS, 11-5 O/U): The left calf injury took away Rodgers’ mobility against Dallas, but he still threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, completing his final 10 passes and leading a pair of long touchdown drives in the comeback victory. Green Bay shied away from throwing at star cornerback Richard Sherman in Week 1 but it has ample weapons with the wideout tandem of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb – a combined for 189 catches and 25 touchdowns during the regular season – along with rookie Davante Adams, who had seven catches for 117 yards and a TD versus the Cowboys. Running back Eddie Lacy was limited in practice Thursday but has rushed for at least 97 yards in six of the last seven games, while Green Bay’s defense has held eight of the past nine opponents to 21 points or fewer.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (13-4 SU, 12-4 ATS, 8-8 O/U): Although Seattle gave up two TDs in a game last week for only the second time since mid-November, it is the first team to lead the league in fewest points (15.9) and yards per game (267.1) in back-to-back seasons since the Chicago Bears in 1985-86. “Guys are doing whatever it takes to win,” Sherman said. “Guys are playing for one another, they don’t care about stats. Championships are won in the playoffs.” Russell Wilson threw for 268 yards and three scores last week to improve to 25-2 at home (playoffs included) and has the luxury of handing off to Marshawn Lynch, who gashed the Packers for 110 yards and two TDs en route to his fourth straight 1,200-yard season. The “Legion of Boom” secondary made its presence felt last week with Kam Chancellor’s 90-yard interception return for a score.

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

*Packers are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
*Seahawks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 playoff games.
*Over is 8-3 in Packers last 11 vs. NFC.
*Under is 4-1 in Seahawks last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.

COVERS CONSENSUS: Per Covers Consensus, 63 percent of users are on Green Bay.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-6.5, 53.5)

Andrew Luck has guided the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons but the former No. 1 overall pick has one noticeable blotch on his resume – the inability to beat the New England Patriots. Luck will get a fourth crack at Tom Brady & Co. when the Colts travel to New England for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. The Patriots, bidding for their sixth Super Bowl in 14 seasons, have demolished the Colts by a combined 144-66 in the past three.

New England, which rolled to a 42-20 victory at Indianapolis on Nov. 16, made postseason history by erasing a pair of 14-point deficits in last week’s 35-31 victory over Baltimore to advance to their fourth consecutive conference title game. “The Patriots are a great, great team,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Hall of Fame coach. Hall of Fame quarterback. We all know how hard it is to win there.” Indy is coming off an upset victory at Denver, knocking off Peyton Manning and the Broncos 24-13.

TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS. 

LINE HISTORY: The initial posting had the Patriots -7, which is where is sat until Wednesday when it shifted to -6.5. The opening line of 53.5 has remained steady, with some books going down to 53.

INJURY REPORT: Colts – CB Vontae Davis (Prob-Knee), CB Greg Toler (Prob-Groin)  Patriots – CB Brandon Browner (Prob-Knee), RB Jonas Gray (Prob-Ankle), C Bryan Stork (Ques-Knee)

WEATHER FORECAST: Rain is expected to fall on Gillette Stadium throughout the game. Rainfall is predicted to amount to 25-35 mm starting early Sunday morning. Winds are expected to be mild, gusting to 5 mph.

WHAT BOOKS SAY:
“As I’ve said, I don’t think you can count the Colts out of this one now
that they have some semblance of a running game. I think they have the
most potent offense left in the dance. The defense is the variable. It’s
been playing over its head the last few weeks so is this the game it
comes back to earth? Bill Belichick seems to have Chuck Pagano’s number
recently but we’ve taken a lot of smart money on the underdog.” – John
Lester, senior lines manager for Bookmaker.eu.

CHEERLEADER WAR:

ABOUT THE COLTS (13-5 SU, 11-5 ATS, 9-7 O/U): Although Luck had his string of three straight 300-yard postseason games halted and tossed a pair of interceptions, but he also had a pair of touchdown passes and spread the ball around as Indianapolis held the ball for 34 minutes. Running back Daniel “Boom” Herron has rushed for a touchdown in each of the two postseason wins while hauling in 18 receptions. T.Y. Hilton was the leading receiver during the regular season with 1,345 yards and has 10 catches in the postseason while tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener each had eight touchdown receptions. Indianapolis’ defense limited Manning to 211 yards and has surrendered an average of 11 points in its last three games since a 42-7 blowout loss at Dallas on Dec. 21.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (13-4 SU, 12-14 ATS, 9-7 O/U): New England set an NFL record for fewest rushing yards (14) in a postseason victory, but the ground game has sparked the past two victories against the Colts. Rookie Jonas Gray rumbled for 201 yards and four touchdowns in Week 11 while LeGarrette Blount steamrolled Indy for 166 yards and four scores in a 43-22 playoff win last season, but Gray was inactive last week and Blount had three carries for one yard. With no running game for which to speak, Brady threw for 367 yards and three TDs while also rushing for a score and tight end Rob Gronkowski had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman had 92 catches during the regular season and Danny Amendola had a pair of TD catches, but the Patriots’ defense was burned for four scoring passes.   

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

*Patriots are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Conference Championships games.
*Under is 6-0 in Colts last 6 games overall.
*Underdog is 14-5-2 ATS in their last 21 meetings.
*Over is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings.

COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, action on this matchup is split down the middle at 50 percent.

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