Vikings, Patriots Betting Favorites for NFL Conference Championships

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Bettors will have to decide how much stock to put in the home-team streak in the NFL’s conference championship games.

The visiting team is 0-8 straight-up in the last eight conference championship games, as well as 0-5 against the spread in the last five. Overall the visiting teams are 6-9 SU in the NFC Championship Game over the last 15 years and 3-12 SU in the AFC Championship Game.

The Minnesota Vikings are listed as three-point road favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 39-point total in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Vikings are 14-3 SU and 11-6 ATS on the year, which includes being 9-3 ATS over their last 12 games as QB Case Keenum has taken over as their leader. Keenum will need a turnover-free game. The Vikings, who are 5-2 SU and ATS as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points since November 2015, face a challenge offensively against the Eagles’ No. 4-ranked defense and DT Fletcher Cox in a January football environment.

However, their pass protection has been strong all season and typically it doesn’t take too many steamboats for one receiver among WR Stefon Diggs, WR Adam Thielen, TE Kyle Rudolph or RB Jerick McKinnon to get open.

The Eagles, also 14-3 SU and 11-6, are underdogs by dint of having scored fewer than 20 points in three consecutive games with backup QB Nick Foles. With the divisional road win against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as a playoff underdog.

The Eagles’ hopes probably rest on C Jason Kelce and the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage against Minnesota’s front four and DT Linval Joseph. Foles’ best receiver, WR Alshon Jeffery, has typically had success against Minnesota, but will face a top cover corner, Xavier Rhodes. Vikings SS Andrew Sendejo (head) is expected to play.

The total has gone under in eight of the Vikings’ last nine games on the road in January, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone under in six of the Eagles’ last seven games in January.

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are 8.5-point favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 46-point total in the AFC Championship Game earlier on Sunday.

The Jaguars, 12-6 SU and 10-8 ATS, will be trying to defy a trend where visiting teams are 3-10 SU and 5-8 ATS in the playoffs against New England since the 2009 postseason. Getting traction in the rushing phase, where RB Leonard Fournette is facing a run defense that gave up 4.7 yards a pop (second-worst) during the regular season, will be paramount, since few teams ever successfully play catch-up against New England.

Jacksonville won’t be counting on QB Blake Bortles to have a 300-yard day, but just make high-percentage throws and convert the manageable third downs.

The Patriots are 14-3 SU and 12-5 ATS, but coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady are facing a Jaguars defense that was No. 2 overall and first against the pass by a fair margin. New England, which is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 games, relies on crossing and seam routes to generate chances for the likes of TE Rob Gronkowski, but Jacksonville is very fluid in its coverage thanks to SS Barry Church, CB A.J. Bouye, CB Jalen Ramsey and OLB Myles Jack.

The teams that have conquered New England in the playoffs have usually had a Cadillac pass rush – think 2015 Denver Broncos – and Jacksonville has that, as its regular-season tally of 55 sacks attests.

The Jaguars, however, were 26th during the regular season in opponents’ yards per carry and New England could pivot to a run-heavy offense to soften up defenders for the pass. If the Patriots use that tack and it works, it could lead to them continuing their trend of being 2-6 ATS in their last eight AFC Championship Game appearances. It could also increase the likelihood of the total finishing under.

The total has gone under in five of the Jaguars’ last seven games on the road against teams with winning records. The total has gone under in six of the Patriots’ last seven games in the conference championship round.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Pederson remembers coaching start before Super Bowl

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Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t forgotten where his journey began: High school.

Following his playing career with the Dolphins, Packers, Browns and Eagles, Pederson bypassed professional coaching jobs. Instead, he joined Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, L.A., and quickly added an NFL-caliber playbook to the second-year program.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

This is where he learned that he loved to coach the game. He embraced his role at the school, where he would help in the cafeteria and line the field before games. “I just enjoyed that part of it,” he says. Ten seasons later, he will coach on the biggest stage in the world.

Super Bowl LII Prop Bets

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Oddsmakers have Super Bowl LII covered from every angle, and that includes the halftime show. There is all manner of betting speculation around Justin Timberlake being the featured halftime show performer, 14 years after the infamous “Nipplegate” incident with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XVIII.

With the game in Minneapolis, hometown of Prince, it seems obvious that JT will cover a song by the Twin Cities’ favorite son, which pays out at -140 on the Super Bowl LII props at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total on Janet Jackson references is 1.5, with the over at even money; it’s hard to think Al Michaels could resist one mention.

The Philadelphia Eagles, with Nick Foles, are the first team in 27 years to reach the Super Bowl after losing their starting quarterback in December. It’s -150 on injured Carson Wentz being mentioned more than 3.5 times.

But oddsmakers also clearly expect the announcers to build a storyline around the New England Patriots, as it’s -130 for separate props on whether owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick will be mentioned or shown on-screen before their Eagles counterparts, Jeff Lurie and Doug Pederson respectively. Belichick is -125 to wear a blue shirt at kickoff time, since he wore that color during New England’s past two Super Bowl shows.

More than half of Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks and Tom Brady is a -110 favorite while Nick Foles comes back at +350. It would probably take something on order of a three-touchdown day to wrest the honor from the winning QB, so both the Patriots’ Dion Lewis (+1800) and Eagles’ Jay Ajayi (+1800) are worthy darkhorse picks.

History is not on the side of Rob Gronkowski (+900) since a tight end has never been the game MVP, but Gronk does offer immense value at +400 to score the first Patriots touchdown.

It is +300 on any quarterback passing for 400 or more yards. The strength of the Eagles defense and the run-pass balance of Philadelphia’s offense makes that result look far-fetched.

There was no Gatorade bath for Belichick after Super Bowl LI, which the Patriots won in overtime, but he was doused with orange Gatorade after Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It is +225 that the liquid poured on the winning coach will be either green, lime or yellow, with +250 for orange, +275 for red and +275 for clear/water.

Clear and orange have been the result four times apiece in the last 15 occurrences and red has not come up. Purple (+1000) has also been used four of the last 15 times and it would be ironic if it happens again, since that is the color of the host Vikings.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.