Breaking Down the NFL Conference Championship Teams

Nila Amerova

Thursday, January 16, 2014 7:24 PM GMT

We are down to the NFL Conference championships, four teams left in the pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy. Which team will reign supreme when all is said and done? Join us as we break down the NFL odds and deliver our verdict.

Arguably, the Divisional round went to plan with the NFL betting favourites coming through on their odds to reach their respective Conference finals, setting up a blockbuster showdown between the best  teams of the NFL 2013-2014 season. NFL and AFC Sunday couldn’t have been better had we scripted it ourselves. So without further ado, here’s a look at the NFL odds on this impeccable quartet and our choice NFL picks for your consideration. May the best team win!

Seattle Seahawks +175

Analysis: The Seattle Seahawks are the sportsbook favourites to win Super Bowl XLVIII, but only just marginally favoured over the Denver Broncos at +200 at Bet365. Clinching top seed and home advantage in the NFL Conference plays a part in their fancied odds. That and the fact they’ve dominated the San Francisco 49ers 71-16 in their past two meetings at CenturyLink Field adds weight to their claim as the top favourites, and has most NFL fans and experts alike predicting Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl at the expense of last year’s finalists 49ers somewhat easily. Theirs is the path of least resistance, so they say. But are the Seahawks being slightly overrated at the expense of underrated 49ers, a side that is coming to full strength at just the right time. When it matters most?

Another aspect to their overarching +175 NFL odds to win the Lombardi Trophy is their top-ranked defense, which gave up 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game. It would seem bookies are subscribing to the mantra: defense wins games.

Denver Broncos +200

Top favourite in the race for MVP this season, Peyton Manning (listed at +250 NFL odds to win the accolade), has enjoyed a standout season, one of the best in the history of the sport. His stats (5,477 yards, 55 TDs, 10 INTs) are just part of the whole Broncos story –a team that boasts a top offense (1st passing, 10th rushing) averaging 37.9 points and 457.3 yards per game, as well as a good defense, 15th in the league (21st passing, 9th rushing).  

The weight of these stats practically tips the scale in Broncos favour no matter the matchup, even in the face of their biggest AFC rivals New England Patriots and a worthy opponent in Tom Brady. But stats don’t win games. And a great season is not always a precursor to a Super Bowl victory. Case-and-point: Baltimore Ravens were last year’s huge underdogs to win it all. But didn’t they turn the NFL odds in their favour.

Peyton Manning and Co. are the deserved favourites in the AFC but they can’t take anything for granted. Keep in mind, Tom Brady and Patriots beat the Broncos in a sensational affair earlier this season, erasing a 24-point deficit to edge the Broncos in victory.

San Francisco 49ers +350

Colin Kaepernick is back in the NFC Championship game, his second straight appearance in as many seasons. Last year, Kaepernick (a wide-eyed rookie then) shocked NFL betting markets, when he led the 49ers to a record comeback in the NFC Championship game, overcoming a 17-point deficit to defeat Atlanta Falcons 28-24 and lift San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1995. This year, Kaepernick faces an even tougher ask against Seattle, a clash that will feature possibly the best and most heated NFC rivalry in today’s game. The pair split their meetings this season, with both teams winning at home. But unlike San Fran’s 19-17 victory in Week 14, Seattle disembowelled 49ers 29-3 in Week 2 NFL betting. And largely down to that result at CenturyLink Field odds makers back the Seahawks over 49ers wholeheartedly.

It is true that the Seattle Seahawks are tough to beat at home. CenturyLink Field is notorious for being both intimidating and deafening to the opposition. But NFL bettors need to consider a few things and they are a) the lopsided defeat is five months old, coming at a time when the 49ers were not at full strength and, as such, should be taken into context; and b) Crabtree is back. At the end of the day, it’s not about what happened in the past but what will happen in the future. Two completely different perspectives, the latter suggesting that San Francisco shouldn’t be underestimated.

New England Patriots +500

The New England Patriots are this season’s Super Bowl underdogs, but as far as underdogs go, you can’t get a more quality side in this category than the Patriots. Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and Patriots are a dangerous lot, even if sportsbooks are tipping them at +500 NFL odds to win the Lombardy Trophy. Their comeback from behind win over the Broncos earlier this season underscores that notion. Granted, injuries are plaguing the Patriots severely and those setbacks probably affected their NFL market evaluation. But Brady is the kind of quarterback that can extract the best out of any team, even a watered down team such as the Patriots appear to be right now. Beware of this underdog in these last few rounds of NFL betting.

Championship Predictions: Broncos over Patriots; 49ers over Seahawks

Super Bowl Predictions: Broncos over 49ers