Defenses to Step Up Sunday and Keep NFL Totals Under the Number

Jaguars Patriots AFC Final

Doug Upstone

Thursday, January 18, 2018 8:24 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 8:24 PM UTC

The AFC and NFC Championship Games will determine the participants for Super Bowl LII. More than selecting winners with Sunday's NFL picks, however, what's the best route to cashing in on the totals?

Sunday NFL: Conference Championship Games

Should you bet the over or under in Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games? Before you decide on your NFL picks, hear me out. I have gone 34-19-1 (64.1 percent) making selections on totals this season based on the NFL odds board. Here are one handicapper's thoughts.

AFC: Defenses Keep Scoring Down

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Free NFL Pick: Under 46Best Line Offered: BetOnline

The Jacksonville defense was exposed for 42 points last week. Look for them to make a number of adjustments so they are not lit up by Tom Brady and New England. Though I fully expect the Patriots to score an ample amount of points, the Jaguars defense will be far more challenging than Tennessee's was. New England will move the ball but drives will stall, and the Jacksonville defense will sell out to force Brady to get rid of the ball quicker than he wants. Expect the Patriots to reach 27 or 28 points. As for Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, look for him to play somewhere between how he has played the last two games -- which is between here and Saturn.

Here is how I see New England's defense playing. Subtract the first four games when they allowed an average of 32 points; these are not the same stop troops today. Next, take away matchups with offensively challenged teams such as the Bills and Jets. That leaves nine other games against offenses at least similar to Jacksonville's in terms of scoring potential. In those contests, the Patriots surrendered 15.5 ppg. Add that to 27 or 28 and I'll bet the under with my NFL picks.

NFC: Quarterbacks and Defenses Limit Points

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Free NFL Pick: Under 39Best Line Offered: BetOnline

With Minnesota's Case Keenum and Philadelphia's Nick Foles starting at quarterback, these teams have a lot of similarities. Both have strong defenses that can limit what the opposition prefers to do, thus generating a number of three-and-outs. Against either club, the opposing quarterback has to be exceptional to score a larger number of points. I'm not sure these two signal callers are capable of greatness throughout four quarters.

In breaking down this contest, three scores come to mind: 16-13, 17-13 and 20-17. All three would qualify as unders. Of course, a sloppy turnover or two could adjust scoring, but to assume that happens for quick points is not always wise. With my NFL picks, I'll back the under in the NFC title game.

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