NFL Betting: Championship Game Value Picks

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 18, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

If you want the Sides & Totals on both NFL Championship Games, they are right here as first the NFC and then the AFC each determine their Super Bowl representative on Sunday.

Well, we are down to the Final Four in the NFL with the NFC Championship Game between the 49ers and Falcons and the AFC Championship Game between the Ravens and Patriots each set to talk place on Sunday, and these could be the two most heavily bet individual sporting events to date in North America this season, that is until the Super Bowl in two weeks. And we are right here with your NFL picks on the Sides & Totals on both Championship Games.

There was a lot made of all the young quarterbacks in these playoffs, but San Francisco rookie Colin Kaepernick is the only young signal-caller to make it to this point, and he did it by besting Super Bowl veteran Aaron Rodgers while having one of the greatest individual performances by any quarterback in any game in history. He is opposed by Matt Ryan, who posted his first playoff victory in four tries vs. Seattle.

The NFL did not get its wish of a Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning matchup in the AFC. Brady did his part, but he will instead be opposed by Joe Flacco, who has his team in the playoffs for the fifth time in his five NFL seasons and who already tied a record last week by recording his fifth career road playoff win.

Let us now turn to the two championship games as we look at the Sides & Totals of each game, where we have a little bit of everything with one favorite, one underdog, one ‘over’ and one ‘under’. As has become our norm, all NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.

Sunday, January 19th – 3:00pm ET
San Francisco 49ers -3½ (-110) over Atlanta Falcons: The 49ers probably had the most impressive performance of these playoffs when they dismantled the Green Bay Packers 45-31 last week in what was actually a bigger blowout given that Green Bay scored in the waning seconds. Kaepernick made history by rushing for the most yards by a quarterback in any NFL game at any time of year as he rushed for 181 yards on 16 carries for a whopping 11.3 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. And do not forget about his 263 passing yards and two passing touchdowns either, giving him a sensational 444 yards of total offense while accounting for four touchdowns. And then there was also Frank Gore with his 119 rushing yards and Michael Crabtree and his 119 receiving yards on nine catches with two touchdowns, In the end, San Francisco piled up 579 total yards and it all started with the outstanding play of the physical offensive line. That unit now figures to have its way again with a rather smallish Atlanta defensive line that got pushed around while the Seattle Seahawks moved the ball virtually at will during the second half last week. So how is that Atlanta defense going to contain the 49ers’ offense? Frankly we have no idea, which is why we like the Niners quite a bit here. Sure the Falcons held Marshawn Lynch to 46 rushing yards on 16 carries, but we highly doubt that they can repeat that vs. a much better offensive line, especially with not knowing who to key on when Kaepernick expertly runs the read option.

San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons ‘over’ 48 (-106): We have established that San Francisco might score at will again in this game, and normally that would be enough to bet the ‘over’ considering that it is now 8-1 since in all 49er games since Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith at quarterback. However, 48 is a rather bloated number, so will Atlanta help contribute to the point total? We vote “yes”, but we are not sure if the Falcons will add to the total by scoring themselves or by leading directly to more scoring by the Niners! You see, last week’s Atlanta game was actually on its way to an ‘under’ until Seattle had three scoring drives in the fourth quarter because the Falcons ran the ball possibly better than they have all year, totaling 167 rushing yards on 26 carries, and they were winning Time of Possession handily until the final stanza. Well, do not look for an instant replay from Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers vs. a San Francisco defense that ranked third against the run during the season while allowing 3.8 yards per carry. That means that if the Falcons are to win this game, it will be by doing what they do best, with that being Ryan throwing the ball to his great receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and to tight end Tony Gonzalez. That is all well and good except that the 49ers also ranked fifth in the NFL in passing defense while yielding just 5.7 yards per attempt, so all of those balls in the air should lead to points for one team or the other.


Sunday, January 19th – 6:30pm ET
Baltimore Ravens +8 (-107) over New England Patriots: This is a regular season rematch of a game the Ravens won 31-30 in Baltimore back in September when the replacement officials were still refereeing the games. If the Ravens had their druthers, they would like to avoid another shootout vs. Tom Brady with so much at stake. Granted Baltimore beat Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos in a shootout 38-35 in overtime last week, but there is speculation that Manning had some numbness in his throwing hand, which may have led to the Broncos taking a knee at the end of regulation and to his interception in overtime. The Ravens would much prefer to keep Brady on the sideline for as much as possible, which should mean heavy doses of Ray Rice here in an attempt to shorten the game. Yes, New England ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing defense this season while allowing only 3.9 yards per carry, but remember that the Denver defense finished fourth against the run while yielding just 3.6 yards per rush, and that did not stop Rice from rushing for 131 yards last week. Look for Baltimore to establish the run early, and while that should free up Flacco to pass well like he did while throwing for 331 yards in Denver, look for a heaver reliance in Rice as the Ravens put more of an emphasis on ball control. Besides, the Patriots are almost unbelievably 0-6 ATS in their last six championship games or Super Bowls, mostly vs. more physical teams that New England cannot out-finesse like during the regular season.

Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots ‘under’ 51 (-103): If you were paying attention, you probably caught on that the Baltimore expected ball control game plan is very conducive to an ‘under’, especially when a posted total hits 51 like this one does, but could the Patriots spoil the Ravens’ game plan and also ruin ‘under’ players’ days with their quick strike offense? Well, remember that besides this being a regular season rematch, this is also a rematch of the AFC Championship Game last season when New England only won 23-20 with the game staying easily ‘under’, as the Baltimore defense made Brady look very ordinary while completing just 22-of-36 passes for 239 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes. So why was he so successful during the regular season meeting this year? Well, Terrell Suggs was still out for that game and the Ravens were unable to apply any pressure on the quarterback. Now, Suggs and Ray Lewis are both playing at the same time, and the Baltimore pass rush has improved even more as rush linebacker Paul Kruger has developed into one of the better rush backers in the league. Brady does not like to get hit and if the trio of Lewis, Suggs and Kruger get to him enough times, we may see the same Brady that we saw in the AFC Championship Game last season. Of course, having a nice cushion with this posted total being as high as it is helps also helps the cause of the ‘under’.


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