The big guns are coming out for Sunday’s AFC title game. It’s Tom Brady and the New England Patriots versus Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. What do the NFL odds say?
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 12 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
The Divisional Round was great for the chalkeaters – if you bet the moneyline, that is. The San Diego Chargers engineered another one of their patented late-quarter comebacks Sunday night, but they came up short this time, as the Denver Broncos (–8 at home) advanced to the AFC Championship Game with a 24-17 victory. The total of 55 points was never threatened. Yet another big victory for anyone who parlayed the underdogs and the UNDER.
The Broncos will host the New England Patriots, the only team who made me look silly this week. They eviscerated the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 to cash in as 7-point favorites and blow out the posted total of 51 points. Too bad, but if you love football, you’ll love seeing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning duke it out this Sunday (3:00 p.m. ET, CBS) at Mile High Stadium. Denver has opened as a 6-point favorite on the NFL betting lines with a total of 54.5.
Ah, Me Public
Right off the bat, I’m thinking Broncos and the UNDER. New England (13-4 SU, 9-8 ATS) has repeatedly gone deep into the playoffs with Brady behind center and head coach Bill Belichick pulling the strings, but in their last seven Final Four games, the Patriots are 0-7 ATS. The football betting public traditionally overbets its beloved Pats – and the OVER along with them.
We’re already seeing it happen. Our NFL consensus reports show 67 percent of bettors lining up behind New England, driving the spread down to +5.5, and another 63 percent on the OVER. Did I say +5.5? Even as I type this, I’m looking at our NFL odds board and I see several online sportsbooks moving to Patriots +5 (Special update: Make that Patriots +4.5). Still waiting for those betting updates from Vegas; I’ll let you know later in the week if the super-early action was on New England or Denver.
Sunny One So True
The Broncos (14-3 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) have been getting plenty of love themselves with Manning at the reins, and we don’t normally see the Patriots cast in the underdog role, so I don’t want to get too ahead of myself with the contrarian betting. Not with the NFL spreads, that is. The UNDER is a different matter, although as we go to press, Sunday’s weather forecast calls for generally sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50s. Where’s Old Man Winter when you need him?
Heaven forbid we should actually have to look at the football teams themselves. All right: Football Outsiders had Denver ranked No. 2 in overall efficiency (No. 1 offense, No. 15 defense, No. 21 special teams) at the end of the regular season, three spots ahead of New England (No. 4 offense, No. 21 defense, No. 2 special teams). In Week 12, the Broncos took a 21-0 lead into the dressing room before Brady and the Pats stormed back to win 34-31 in overtime, cashing in as a 1-point home chalk and going OVER 54 points. Hmmm.
This isn’t going to be an easy one, is it? I’m still making the Broncos and the OVER my early NFL picks, but I wouldn’t auto-bet this matchup the same way I might the Niners-Seahawks game over there in the NFC. Let’s get some more information about the betting patterns, the Divisional Round injury fallout, and the weather reports before committing to anything. And may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Take the Broncos –4.5 (–105) at 5DimesTake UNDER 55.5 at The Greek