NFL Odds: Reasons Each Team Is Too Risky To Bet On Championship Sunday

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 4:14 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 4:14 PM UTC

The four QBs playing on conference championship Sunday have combined for seven Super Bowl titles and four MVP Awards (soon five). You can make an argument for each team to win the Super Bowl, but here are reasons to worry for each this Sunday.

Green Bay Packers At Atlanta Falcons (-5)

Why Not Packers: I want to say it's because the team will be without No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson again due to broken ribs -- he should be ready for the Super Bowl if the Packers win Sunday. But since Nelson went down, Aaron Rodgers has completed 49 of 73 throws (67.1 percent) for 686 yards, six TDs and one INT for a passer rating of 118.9. In the six-plus quarters since, Green Bay has 72 points. The main reason for concern for Packers backers is the defense. If rookie Dak Prescott in his first-ever postseason game can threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns, what can Matt Ryan and the NFL's top offense do against that unit? The Green Bay secondary is totally banged up and only the New Orleans Saints gave up more passing yards in 2016. No. 1 strong safety Morgan Burnett (quad) left vs. Dallas and did not return. Quinten Rollins, one of the Pack's most important cornerbacks, suffered a concussion during the regular-season finale and hasn't played since.

Why Not Falcons: Ryan is having the best season of his career and is going to win his first NFL MVP Award when that's announced on Super Bowl weekend. However, are Ryan's playoff troubles gone? He looked great last week in the fairly easy win over Seattle, but now both of Ryan's postseason wins have come against the Seahawks. Against everyone else, he's 0-4. Also keep in mind that Ryan's top receiver, Julio Jones, aggravated a toe injury last week. Atlanta is probably in trouble if it doesn't get constant pressure on Rodgers. In last week's win, one of the Falcons' best pass-rushers, end Adrian Clayborn (4.5 sacks in 13 regular-season games), tore his biceps and is done for the season. He was a rare veteran on that defense as the Falcons' starting lineup usually includes four rookies and three second-year players. Will the moment -- and Rodgers -- be too big for them?

Pittsburgh Steelers At New England Patriots (-6)

Why Not Steelers: Will the Antonio Brown Facebook Live mess be a distraction? The last thing Coach Mike Tomlin and players need to be asked about this week is Brown's stupidity in the locker room following the win over the Chiefs. Mainly, the biggest reason Steelers fans should be worried here is that Tom Brady is 4-0 at home in his career against the Steelers with 15 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Tomlin is just 2-5 against the Patriots, who have taken the past three meetings overall with victories in the regular season in 2013, 2015 and 2016. I touched on Ben Roethlisberger's home/road splits heading into Kansas City, but it's worth looking at again after Big Ben couldn't get his team a single touchdown. Roethlisberger completes 70.9 percent of his passes at home this season for an average of 301.7 yards along with 22 TDs and seven picks. On the road, including last week, he connects on 59.9 percent for an average of 236.4 yards with nine TDs and nine picks. In his last eight playoff games overall, he has thrown seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Why Not Patriots: Will this be the game they finally miss Rob Gronkowski? The Steelers are likely the only AFC team with the offensive firepower to match New England, and Pittsburgh actually has the better skill-position talent with Le'Veon Bell and Brown. Now the Patriots have a new guy to worry about in tight end Jesse James, who had five catches for 83 yards last week against K.C. With fellow tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) likely out again, James should be heavily featured in the middle of the field again. Really, though, this is all about Bell. He has rushed for a stellar 337 yards in the two playoff games and accounted for 45 percent of the Steelers’ yards from scrimmage these playoffs, highest of any player in the last five postseasons. Bell has gained 308 of his 337 yards on the Steelers' 11 scoring drives. On the 10 non-scoring drives, Bell averages only 2.4 yards per carry. The Patriots were No. 3 against the run in the regular season. The Houston Texans had a very solid 105 yards on 23 rushes last week and they don't have a quarterback to scare the defense and open up the field like the Steelers do.

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