Betting the Championship Round

This is it. The final NFL weekend in which more than one game will be played is upon us.

Championship weekend is here!

With the exception of the New York Jets’ win over the San Diego Chargers, the Divisional round games went pretty much as expected. The Saints, Colts and Vikings all came off the bye week in a big way, winning at home and covering the spread.

In addition, the only game of the four played last weekend in which the total went OVER was the Saints-Vikings matchup. An interesting note from that showdown is that it featured the highest Over/Under total in playoff history (57 points).

And the game still went over!

With two more games kicking off in two days, let’s get down to business and preview Sunday’s Championship matchups.

ATS: Against the Spread
SU: Straight Up

Sunday, January 24, 2010
3:00pm eastern

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

NEW YORK JETS (11-7, 7-3 road) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (15-2, 8-1 home)

Opening Line: Colts -7 41
Current Line: Colts -8 39

Where the money is going: 61% of the people are betting on the Colts and laying the points.

Recent Hot Trends

1. The Jets are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
2. The Jets are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games.
3. The Jets are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
4. The Jets are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. AFC.
5. The UNDER is 4-0 in the Jets’ last 4 games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0.
6. The Colts are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
7. The Colts are 4-0-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
8. The Colts are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 playoff games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
9. The Colts are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite.
10. The OVER is 4-1 in the Colts’ last 5 games overall.

The Matchup: Business as usual for Peyton Manning and company last weekend as the Colts got back to work with a solid 20-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Manning and the offense looked sound, but the team speed on defense was the most important aspect you should take away from this matchup. Ravens running back Ray Rice was limited to just 13 carries as Indy forced Baltimore to play from behind and take to the air in the second half. You can knock Manning’s career postseason record all you want, but the guy is now 5-3 at home during the playoffs with 17 touchdown passes and a QB Rating of 99.4. Take away the Week 16 game in which the Colts rested their starters and you’ll notice that Indy has covered their last three games at Lucas Oil Field.

And then there’s Rex Ryan’s Jets. The Gang Green has been on a roll as of late, winning seven of their last eight games while covering seven of those matchups in the process. The Jets played the Chargers perfectly last Sunday by not allowing quarterback Philip Rivers to make any big plays down the field. In addition, rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez protected the football and the running game and defense wore down the Bolts, allowing New York to win it late. What’s even better is that Sanchez has just five turnovers in his last eight games. Not great, but certainly good enough to keep the Jets in it to win it.

The Jets are red-hot right now as they are 8-2 ATS in their last ten games as an underdog and are 4-1 ATS in their last five playoff games as an underdog. Meanwhile, the Colts are 8-2 ATS in their last ten games following an ATS win. When the Colts and Jets play each other, the home team is 7-3-2 ATS in their last 12 meetings.

Keep in mind: The Jets are 11-3 SU when they score 16 or more points. The Colts are 2-5 ATS when they score 20 or fewer points.

Line movement: The Colts-Jets line opened up at Colts -7 and moved to Colts -7.5 within two minutes, meaning there was some very fast money on Indy. Four days later (Thursday), the line moved to Colts -8, meaning the cash is still coming in on Indy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010
6:40pm eastern

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-4, 4-4 road) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-3, 7-2 home)

Opening Line: Saints -4 53
Current Line: Saints -3.5 53

Where the money is going: 54% of the people are betting on the Saints and laying the points.

Recent Hot Trends

1. The Vikings are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf.
2. The Vikings are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
3. The Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff road games.
4. The Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
5. The UNDER is 5-0-1 in the Vikings’ last 6 playoff games.
6. The Saints are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
7. The Saints are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
8. The Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
9. The Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in January.
10. The UNDER is 4-1 in the Saints’ last 5 games overall.

The Matchup: Forget everything you thought you knew about the Saints during their end-of-the-season three-game losing streak, because all of that was put to bed with a 45-14 thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals last Saturday. New Orleans was playing banged-up down the stretch and had nothing to play for once home-field advantage was locked-up. It’s amazing what a couple of weeks of rest can do for a football team. With the emergence of running back Reggie Bush, the “Who Dats” have another serious weapon the opposing defense needs to account for. Bush rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on just five carries, caught four passes for 24 yards and ran a punt back for an 83-yard touchdown last Saturday against Arizona.

After losing three of their final five games to finish the regular season, the Vikings exorcised their own demons last Sunday with a 34-3 butt-kicking of the red-hot Dallas Cowboys. Minnesota went 9-0 at home this year and is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games on fieldturf. However, the Vikings went 4-4 on the road (where they will be playing on Sunday) in 2009 and were 4-4 ATS on the road as well. Playing on the road means defensive ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards-who combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles last week against the Cowboys-won’t have the luxury of a noisy crowd to give them an advantage getting off the ball and into the opposing backfield.

The Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff road games and are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games. Meanwhile, the Saints are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a SU win of more than 14 points.

Keep in mind: Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has not played a road playoff game since the 2003 season when the Packers visited Philadelphia and lost to the Eagles 20-17.

Line movement: The Saints-Vikings line opened up at Saints -4 and moved to Saints -4.5 within 45 minutes, meaning the early money was on New Orleans. Since that time, the betting has favored the Vikings as the line has dropped to Saints -3.5.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Upcoming Games

Aug 5th, 8:00 PM

Dallas +1 -110

Pittsburgh -1 -110

@

Aug 12th, 7:30 PM

Washington -2 -110

New England +2 -110

@

Aug 12th, 7:30 PM

Pittsburgh +1 -110

Philadelphia -1 -110

@