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.

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