Patriots, Panthers open faves as Conference Championship odds hit board


USA TODAY Sports

Well the NFL got the AFC Championship matchup it wanted as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will meet one more time.

But what is interesting about this matchup from a betting perspective, is the fact the No. 2 seeded Patriots have opened as 3-point road favorites against the No. 1 seeded Broncos. The total opened at 44.5. This is a case of Manning clearly being on the decline and Brady looking like the same old Brady.

Brady was his usual self this season, throwing for 4,770 yards, with 36 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, leading the Patriots to a 12-4 record straight up and 7-7-2 against the spread.

Meanwhile Manning, who made his first start since Nov. 15 after battling a foot injury in the second half of the year, passed for just 2,249 yards with nine touchdowns to 17 interceptions. The Broncos were 5-4 SU/ATS in Manning’s nine starts.

This will be the 17th time Brady and Manning will face off during their illustrious careers and the fourth time for the AFC Championship. Brady leads the all time matchup 11-5 SU and 8-6-2 ATS. The over/under record in their 16 meetings is 10-6 O/U.

Meanwhile in the NFC, the No. 1 seeded Carolina Panthers opened as 3-point home favorites against the No. 2 seeded Arizona Cardinals. The total opened at 47.

The Panthers, lead by sure-fire MVP Cam Newton, are the best bet remaining in the playoffs. They went 11-5 ATS in the regular season and followed that up by covering the 2.5 chalk in their Divisional matchup with Seattle. Carolina was also a great over bet this season, going 11-5-1 including playoffs.

The Cardinals, led by their own MVP candidate Carson Palmer, went 9-7 ATS this season, and while they managed a 26-20 OT over Green Bay they were unable to cover as 7-point home favorites. They are 9-8 O/U this season including playoffs.

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