Conference Championship Picks: Sunday's Ultimate Betting Handbook

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 2:28 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 2:28 PM GMT

It’s the penultimate round of the NFL playoffs: the Conference Championships. Join us as we breakdown both games and serve up choice NFL picks SU, ATS and O/U.

Divisional Round Recap
On the heels of Sunday’s divisional round we finished with a 3-1 record on our SU picks, a perfect 4-0 record on our ATS picks and a 3-1 record for our OVER-UNDER picks. As a result, we improved to a 6-2-0 SU, 5-3-0 ATS and 4-4-0 O/U for the playoffs.

 

 

Patriots vs. Broncos
Defending champions New England Patriots descend on the Denver Broncos as the road favorites across the board, from straight up betting to spread betting where they’re receiving a field goal advantage at most sports betting shops. Do the bookies have it right?

The Patriots and Broncos collided in November at Mile High. At the time, Tom Brady was staring at a thinned out Patriots offensive line – No Amendola, No Edelman in sight. If that wasn’t tough enough, he also lost Gronkowski to injury late in the game.  But, the real dicey bit is the fact that the Broncos were without Peyton Manning and Tom Brady still lost in Denver. In a stunning 30-24 come-from-behind rally by the Broncos engineered by the unheralded Brock Osweiler.

Brady and the Patriots have a long history of struggling at Mile High. They’ve gone 2-6 SU in Denver, including 0-2 SU in the playoffs. In the 2013 AFC Championship game, their last playoff meeting, the Patriots lost 26-16 at Mile High. Clearly, those struggles continued even without Peyton Manning leading the Broncos this season. Is it the altitude that gives even a great quarterback such as Tom Brady so much trouble?

All time, Tom Brady is 11-5 SU against Peyton Manning, and, in the playoffs, their head-to-head stands at 2-2 SU with each winning at home. The former record does give Brady the significant edge in this matchup, billed around the nation as Brady vs. Manning XVII. Mile High does tip it in favor of Manning though where the Broncos are an incredible 17-3 against the Patriots in the last 20 meetings.

In the background are the compelling backstories of both quarterbacks: Tom Brady attempting to win two in a row for the second time in his career, not to mention a fifth Super Bowl, while Peyton Manning attempts to shake off the one-hit wonder moniker in what many NFL bettors, experts and analysts alike are calling his swansong season. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by those or swayed by sentimentality towards one or the other quarterback.

Patriots are exceedingly popular with the American public and you can bet that everybody and their mamma is betting on the Patriots. Popularity alone isn’t the impetus behind such NFL betting trends; fact is, Tom Brady is 22-8 in the postseason which gives him alone more playoff victories than 23 teams in the NFL, including the Broncos, and Sunday’s date with the Broncos marks his tenth trip to the AFC Championship game in 15 years as an NFL quarterback. That’s nothing to sniff at.

Since 2011, Brady has gone 5-2 against the Broncos. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are 5-1 in their last six meetings in Denver with the Patriots and a staggering 17-3 in the last 20 meetings in Denver. That being said, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to have all to do against the Patriots’ sharp offense and underrated defense. Inasmuch as everybody wants to see these two quarterbacks go at it one last time, it’s hard to see how the ailing Peyton Manning will be able to match Tom Brady pass for pass. The Patriots have vastly improved since their last loss at Mile High a few months ago and they’ll be much tougher to beat.

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SU NFL Picks: Patriots -150
ATS NFL Picks: Patriots -3 
O/U NFL Picks: OVER 44
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Cardinals vs. Panthers
On paper, this looks to be the closer of the two Championship games on Sunday. Both the Cardinals and Panthers rank high on the stats on both sides of the ball, making it a tough one to call for our NFL picks.

NFL Odds makers have gone with the Panthers as the home chalk in this game, trading at a field-goal advantage at most sportsbooks. That was the intention according to last week’s look ahead lines, and the Panthers did their part in taking apart a really good Seattle team in the divisional game en route to a 31-24 victory. The Cardinals, however, got a bit lucky in their win over the Packers. Things didn’t look too good when Aaron Rodgers threw a Hail Mary pass – his second in the season – to knot up the game 20-20 and send it into overtime. Then it could have gone either way and there were many that thought perhaps the Packers would get it done seeing as they had the momentum. But a boggled coin toss saw the Cardinals get the ball, after which they never looked back. A lightning quick drive in overtime served up the win for the Cardinals and gave Carson Palmer his first postseason accolades in his career.

On the merit of the divisional round, the Panthers strike a convincing pose while the Cardinals left much to be desired. The pressure is only going to be greater with the NFC title on the line. The Panthers showed they were up for the task and challenge while the Cardinals showed signs of being there for the taking.

Last season, the pair collided in the wildcard round with the Panthers pulling off the 27-16 win over the better ranked Cardinals. Of course, it wasn’t Carson Palmer at the helm but third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley.

Obviously, this is going to be a different matchup. Hopefully, a better one than we were subjected to last year. If the way the Panthers steamrolled the Seahawks were any indication, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals might be in trouble. Indeed, the closest thing to Cam Newton is Russell Wilson and the Cardinals struggled something huge in week 17’s horrendous loss to the Seahawks at home.

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SU NFL Picks: Panthers -153 
ATS NFL Picks: Panthers -3 
O/U NFL Picks: OVER 47
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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