NFL Championship Games Odds Movement & Top Betting Trends

Doug Upstone

Friday, January 16, 2015 5:43 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 5:43 PM UTC

We are down to the final four of the National Football League and for all NFL football handicappers creating sports picks, it is either put up or shut-up time with just two contests.

For this article, we will dissect how the oddsmakers at the sportsbooks could come to a conclusion of the NFL odds, check out the line moves on the side and total and list some of the hot trends to consider.


NFL - Green Bay vs. Seattle 3:05 ET  FOX
Upon the completion of the Green Bay win over Dallas, Seattle opened as a touchdown favorite and within the hour the Seahawks were up to -7.5, where they have stayed all week. This makes complete sense on a couple levels for this NFC championship conflict. Depending on anyone’s power ranking model to manufacture betting odds, Seattle is a 3.5 to 4 point home favorite to begin with. Next you have to factor in the Packers scoring just 21 points per game on the road this season and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who at best will at 75 percent and whose mobility will be at less than 20 percent, this should amount to one point for the home team. Because Green Bay is not going to defeat Seattle scoring less than 21 points, they will need to reach 24 or higher and if they do, they should at least cover.

The Seahawks should be able to run the ball on Green Bay’s defensive front. This group lacks much beef which tends to show up in the second half of games, which is when Marshawn Lynch usually goes into beast-mode. I would give Seattle with QB Russell Wilson running and scrambling ability 1.5 to 2-point edge.

However, if center Max Unger cannot go, the Seahawks running game would be expected to drop close to 20 percent, which from a handicapping perspective is worth close to a quarter point. This places us at seven points and everyone will be listening for reports on Rodgers and Under this week.

With the line steady, we find Green Bay in the low 50’s in percentage of wagers placed for NFL Picks for this contest. The opening total of 47 fell a half point on Monday and remained at that location and the betting action is nearly dead even on the Over/Under.

Football bettors typically are not afraid to play money line underdogs and the Packers are seeing 63 percent of the tickets written for them in this category.

Green Bay is 1-8 ATS as an underdog the last two seasons.
Seattle is 8-0 ATS after two straight wins by 10 or more points the last two seasons.
Coach Mike McCarthy is 13-3 OVER in road games versus teams averaging seven or more passing yards per attempt.
Coach Pete Carroll is 11-2 OVER at home versus teams averaging 350 or more yards a game in his NFL career.

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NFL - Indianapolis vs. New England 6:40 ET  CBS
On Sunday night after the Colts big upset of Denver, Indianapolis was made a seven-point underdog and as the week progressed, they were lowered to +6.5 at most sportsbooks. After posting a 2-4 and 3-3 ATS record against other playoff teams this season, it is evident the Colts have found that magical something that breeds unity and confidence and have handled both Cincinnati and Denver with ease.

New England is an automatic four-point home favorite by oddsmakers, however, after that; it’s not as easy to build the Patriots case.

New England scores 29.9 points a game compared to Indianapolis at 28.2, but the visitor averages 39 more yards per game.

On defense, coach Chuck Pagano’s club allowed 1.6 more points a contest, but conceded about 14 fewer yards. The take-away from thesenumbers is when you think in terms of yards per point and in both areas’, New England was more effective in maximizing yards into points and halting the opposition better than the Colts on defense. This is worth a point for the Pats.

A natural inclination would be to say Bill Belichick is worth at least one point against the spread in the matchup of coaches, as he and his staff proved in making RB Shane Vereen an ineligible receiver against Baltimore despite his position. Nonetheless, Pagano has a red-hot squad that believes they should be in the Super Bowl and as we have seen the last decade, a hot coach and a lower-seeded team can win it all. (No. 4 Baltimore 2012, No. 4 N.Y. Giants 2011, No. 6 Green Bay 2010, No. 5 N.Y. Giants 2007 and No. 6 Pittsburgh 2005) Thus, I’ll say the coaching difference is down to a half-point in the Patriots favor.

That places New England at -5.5 IMO and presently the betting action is essentially divided down the middle on side action. After quietly staying at 53.5 all week, there is upward movement on the total to 54, which is predominantly being found at Nevada wagering outlets. Just over 60 percent are backing the OVER.

Football bettors have more faith in the Packers on the money line compared to the Colts, who are running at 55 percent.

New England is 9-1 ATS versus teams averaging 375 or more yards a game the last three seasons.
Indianapolis is 17-5 ATS after playing their last game on the road the last three seasons.
New England is 10-0 OVER at home when the total is 49.5 or higher the last three seasons.
Indianapolis is 9-1 UNDER after a double digit upset win as an underdog of six or more points.

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