by Joe Fortenbaugh
January 14, 02014
There have been eight conference championship games played since January of 2010. In those eight matchups, the team that emerged victorious on a Saturday during the divisional round has gone 7-1 straight-up and 5-3 against the spread.
Yes, that’s clearly a small sample size, but it’s a trend that points to both Seattle and New England emerging from this weekend’s fire to earn a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.
2014 PLAYOFFS (ATS)
Home teams: 3-5
Home dogs: 2-1
Home favorites: 1-4
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New England Patriots (13-4, 4-4 road) at Denver Broncos (14-3, 8-1 home)
When: Sunday, 3:00pm ET
Open: Denver -6.5/55
Current: Denver -4.5/55.5
Weather: High of 58 degrees, low of 35 degrees, 0% chance of precipitation, winds out of the west at nine miles per hour.
Analysis: Sunday afternoon will mark the 15th time that quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have gone head-to-head with one another during their illustrious careers. Through 14 previous encounters, Brady is 10-4 straight-up against Manning and 8-5-1 against the spread. Sunday becomes the fourth time these two future Hall of Famers will meet during the postseason, with Brady holding a 2-1 edge both straight-up and against the spread.
Brady and Belichick have had plenty of success against Peyton Manning over the last decade.
As to the subsets that relate directly to this matchup, Manning is 2-3 both SU and ATS vs. Brady when playing at home, and 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS vs. Brady as a favorite. In addition, these 14 historic clashes have produced an average total score of 54.6 points per game, with eight of 14 showdowns resulting in 55 or more total points being scored.
Over the last five years, these two signal-callers have met four times, producing a 2-2 straight-up split, but a 3-1 ATS edge in favor of Brady.
However, contrary to popular belief, Brady and Manning won’t be the only two football players taking the field come Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Broncos, one key player who won’t be suiting up is defensive back Chris Harris, who was lost with a torn ACL last Sunday against San Diego. Per ESPN, opposing quarterbacks produced a Total QBR of just 43.6 during the regular season when Harris was on the field, but that number rose significantly to 93 when Harris was on the sidelines. To further illustrate this point, note that the Chargers scored all 17 of their points last weekend once Harris exited the game and was replaced by 34-year-old Quentin Jammer.
This point spread hit the board Sunday evening with Denver as a 6.5-point favorite, but the early money jumped all over the Patriots, forcing an adjustment down to 4.5, despite the fact that New England is just 1-5 ATS over their last six road contests and 0-5 ATS over their last five games played on grass.
However, it’s also worth noting that five of the last six meetings between Brady and Manning have been decided by four or fewer points.
Trends: New England is 3-9 ATS over its last 12 playoff games, while Denver is 1-4 ATS over its last five playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers (14-4, 8-2 road) at Seattle Seahawks (14-3, 8-1 home)
When: Sunday, 6:30pm ET
Open: Seattle -3.5/41.5
Current: Seattle -3.5 (even)/39.5
Weather: High of 50 degrees, low of 38 degrees, 20% chance of precipitation, winds out of the south/southeast at six miles per hour.
Analysis: Winners of eight straight (5-3 ATS), the red-hot San Francisco 49ers look to earn a return trip to the Super Bowl Sunday in Seattle, a place they’ve emerged victorious just once over their last five visits. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has stepped under center at CenturyLink Field twice during his three-year career, getting blown out both times by a combined score of 71-16 while producing a QB rating of just 47.1 (1 TD, 4 INTs).
Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense have struggled to move the ball over the last five weeks.
Seattle’s defense has been lights out at home in 2013, permitting an average of just 13.8 points per game while amassing 22 turnovers and 20 sacks through nine outings. But quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense are what should concern bettors entering Sunday, as the Seahawks have producing an average of just 265.8 total yards and 20.0 points per game over their last five outings. Wilson has been the big question mark since mid-December, throwing only four touchdown passes with three interceptions in his last five starts.
San Francisco is 8-1 ATS over their last nine road games and 10-1 ATS over their last 11 road contests against teams with a winning home record. But you can throw those trends out the window when it comes to CenturyLink Field, as the Niners are just 1-4 ATS over their last five trips to Seattle and 0-4 ATS over their last four contests against the Seahawks home or away. In addition, take note that the favorite is 5-2 ATS over the last seven meetings between these two organizations.
Depending on the sports book, this game opened last weekend at either Seattle -3 or -3.5, but most of those -3s didn’t last long. It’s widely acknowledged in betting circles that the Seahawks’ home field advantage is worth more than three points, so the early bettors who were lucky enough to find that number pounced on it immediately. However, those in Vegas still looking to back Seattle at -3 or less can visit any book operated by Stations or William Hill, as both shops are still offering Seattle -3 at heavy juice (-120 and -125, respectively).
Trends: The home team is 7-3 ATS over the last ten meetings between these two franchises.
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