NFL Conference Championships: Opening Lines And Early Betting Value

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Monday, January 16, 2017 2:39 PM GMT

The Wild-Card Weekend of NFL action was full of blowouts. But, wow, did Sunday's Divisional Round of action more than make up for that. We have a fantastic final four remaining this Sunday. Here's a look at the opening lines on SBR Forum's top sportsbooks.

Green Bay Packers At Atlanta Falcons (-4, 60)

I've been watching football intently for a few decades. Not sure I've seen a more difficult and clutch throw than what Aaron Rodgers hit tight end Jared Cook on during the waning seconds of Green Bay's 34-31 win in Dallas. It looked like overtime was on tap with the Packers and Cowboys tied at 31 and Green Bay facing third-and-20 from its own 32 with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Rodgers rolled left away from the rush and threw a laser to Cook, who made a spectacular catch right on the sideline at the Dallas 33 with three seconds left. Mason Crosby then made NFL history by winning it from 51 yards out. Crosby became the first kicker to make two field goals 50 yards or longer in the final two minutes of a postseason game. He had originally put the Packers ahead 31-28 on a 56-yarder, the third-longest field goal in NFL postseason history. Crosby had entered the game 0-of-4 on potential game-tying or go-ahead kicks of 50 yards or longer in the fourth quarter or overtime. He has now made an NFL-record 23 consecutive postseason field goals. Big injury question for this game is whether Packers No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson can play after missing the Dallas game with broken ribs. I've had broken ribs a couple of times. If Nelson is able to play tackle football two weeks after suffering them, he's a lot tougher than I am.

Atlanta has the advantage of an extra day of recovery as it beat visiting Seattle 36-20 on Saturday. Likely NFL MVP Matt Ryan won just his second career playoff game and was terrific against one of the league's top defenses, hitting 36 of 37 for 338 yards and three touchdowns. If there's one major weakness on the Packers, it's their injury-ravaged secondary. So Ryan could have another big day in what will be the final NFL game ever in the Georgia Dome. Check out that big total. It was as high as 61, making it the highest total in a playoff game since 1986 and the second-highest in any game, behind only a 2000 matchup between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers (62). The Falcons hosted the Packers in Week 8 and won 33-32 as 3-point favorites on NFL odds with a total of 51. Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu on the game-winning 11-yard TD with 31 seconds left. He threw for 288 yards and three scores, while Rodgers had 246 yards and four TDs.

NFL Early Picks: Packers +4 & 'Over'

Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Pittsburgh Steelers At New England Patriots (-6, 50)

How good is this quarterback matchup? New England's Tom Brady of course is looking to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings, while Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger looks for his third title. We are thus assured that the AFC Super Bowl representative will feature a team that includes Big Ben, Brady or Peyton Manning for the 13th time in the past 14 years. Baltimore's Joe Flacco is the only outsider as he led the Ravens to the Super Bowl title four seasons ago. Since 2001, the Patriots and Steelers have combined to win nine AFC titles. As good as Roethlisberger is, whether the Steelers pull the upset likely will depend on Le'Veon Bell. He followed up his 167-yard, two-TD effort in the divisional round win over Miami with 30 carries for 170 yards in Sunday night's 18-16 win in Kansas City. Frankly, that game shouldn't have been that close, but the Steelers had to settle for Chris Boswell's NFL playoff record six field goals. The Steelers became the first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore. Not too often you win a playoff game when the opposing team has two TDs and you have none. Boswell's six field goals accounted for 227 yards, the same number of yards gained by the Chiefs' offense.

The Patriots will have had nearly a day-and-a-half more of rest (once you factor in travel as well) considering they played Saturday afternoon and the Steelers' game was moved from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night due to weather in K.C. New England didn't look all that sharp in a 34-16 win over Houston but did manage to cover the huge 16-point spread. Houston was down just four in the third quarter and still within eight with 13 minutes left in the game. Dion Lewis was the offensive star for the Patriots with three touchdowns: one rushing, one receiving and one on a kickoff return. Brady threw for 287 yards and two scores but only completed 18 of 38 and had two picks. It's the Patriots' record sixth straight trip to the AFC title game. In his career at home vs. the Steelers, Brady is 4-0 with 15 TDs and no picks. New England also won at Pittsburgh 27-16 as a 7.5-point favorite in Week 7, but Roethlisberger was out with a knee injury. The Pats still had Rob Gronkowski then and he caught four passes for 93 yards and a TD. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 127 yards and two scores.

NFL Early Picks: Patriots -6 & 'Under'

Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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