The Denver Broncos are the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they're +140 on the moneyline against the New England Patriots – and more people prefer the Pats for their NFL picks.
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NFL Pick: Denver +155
Best Line Offered: at Bovada
Chalk. It's what's for dinner. The New England Patriots are back in the Conference Championships for the fifth year in a row, and as we go to press, they're –155 favorites on the moneyline versus the Denver Broncos. Nothing unusual there. Oh, did we mention they're playing in Denver? The Broncos are the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they're the home dogs in the AFC title game.
Ridonkulous. But what else should we expect from the betting public? They've got a crush on Tom Brady and the Patriots, and every year at this time, they come out of the woodwork to put their hard-earned money on their heroes. This year's no different: Our consensus reports show 60 percent of bettors putting New England in their NFL picks for Sunday's matchup (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Here we go again.
Two Out of Four Ain't Good
As you can see, we're on the Orange Crush bandwagon for Sunday's game. Let's take a moment to review how the Patriots have fared in the Conference round in recent years:
2014: Colts 7, Patriots 45 (NE –300)
2013: Patriots 16, Broncos 26 (DEN +190)
2012: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 (BAL +290)
2011: Ravens 20, Patriots 23 (NE –310)
That's 2-2 straight up for the Patriots, and a loss of 3.8 betting units on the moneyline; New England was a –230 road fave against the Broncos and –350 at home versus the Ravens. We can thank the betting public for regularly inflating these prices and making our job a whole lot easier. The Pats don't always lose, but when they do, they leave a big steaming pile of hot chalk behind them.
Alas, the NFL odds haven't gone quite as bonkers as they did two years ago. And Peyton Manning is clearly not the same quarterback he was when he led Denver to Super Bowl XLVIII. But football is a team sport, and the advanced metrics say the Broncos are the better team in this matchup. The stat gurus at Football Outsiders give Denver a 58-percent chance of winning Sunday's game. Nate Silver and the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight have it at 59 percent for the Broncos.
There is one notable advantage for the Pats: They're playing on an extra day of rest after eliminating the Kansas City Chiefs in Saturday's Divisional Round game, while the Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. And we have to be wary about these percentages given how poorly Manning has played, even in comparison to Brock Osweiler. But New England will be without LB Jerod Mayo (shoulder), and with so many other Patriots at less than 100 percent, we have zero motivation to add more chalk to our diet.