Super Bowl Sunday is practically a national holiday in the USA, but most football fans would agree that conference championship Sunday is the best day of NFL football each season. Here are some Bovada specials for the two title games.
Will either game go to overtime?
Yes is +700 and no at -1500. Obviously it would be fantastic if either game went into overtime, but it's just highly, highly unlikely and thus the prices here. Only one AFC Championship Game has: the Jan. 11, 1987, game between the Broncos and Browns in Cleveland. Fans will remember that game as "the Drive" when John Elway led Denver 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation. Denver won it on a Rich Karlis 33-yard field goal to the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI, where they lost to the Giants. There have been four NFC title games with an overtime, the last when the Giants upset the 49ers 20-17 in San Francisco in the 2011 season. That may as well be known as the Kyle Williams game as the 49ers receiver/return man had two crucial fumbles, including one on a punt return that set up New York's winning field goal in OT. The Giants would upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLV. New York hasn't been to the playoffs since.
NFL Free Pick: Obviously you have to go with no.
Which game will have the higher TV rating?
The NFC game is +150 and the AFC -200. This seems like a no-brainer. The NFC game starts at 3:40 ET, which is only 12:40 on the West Coast. The AFC game is in the coveted Sunday night prime-time slot with around a 7 p.m. start time from Foxboro. The Seahawks aren't yet a national draw but are getting there. The Packers certainly are. Tom Brady is the second-most popular player in the NFL, and the Patriots arguably the most popular franchise right now. Plus you have the entire Northeast market invested in that game. Indianapolis isn't a huge TV market but the allure of Andrew Luck also will bring viewers from around the country.
NFL Free Pick: AFC game.
Which market will have the highest TV rating?
Green Bay is even money on NFL odds, Seattle at +200, Boston at +300 and Indianapolis at +500. Have you ever been to Green Bay in the winter? There's nothing else to do but stay in and watch the Packers if you aren't at the game. That town is all about its football team. There's plenty to do in Seattle and Boston. Indianapolis probably still cares more about college basketball than the Colts.
NFL Free Pick: Green Bay.
Who will throw for the most yards Sunday?
Luck is the +125 favorite on NFL odds, with Brady at +200, Aaron Rodgers at +300 and Russell Wilson at +700. I nailed this one at +500 for Brady last week as he threw for a playoff career-high 367 yards against Baltimore. What was somewhat surprising was how New England totally abandoned the running game as Brady threw it 50 times and the Patriots ran it just 14 times for 13 yards. I doubt you see that ratio again. Brady goes against a Colts defense that was No. 12 vs. the pass in the regular season and 18th against the run. In the Patriots' 42-20 Week 11 win in Indy, Brady was 19 of 30 for 257 yards. The Patriots gashed the Colts for 246 rushing yards, thanks to 201 from unknown Jonas Gray, who has since re-disappeared into the shadows. Luck threw for 303 yards in that game. The Pats were No. 9 against the rush during the season and No. 17 against the pass. Indy is not a good running team at all so Luck may be the one throwing 50 times in this game, especially if the Pats get up big early.
NFL Free Pick: The winner of this prop will come from the AFC game, and I lean Luck.
Who will rush for the most yards Sunday?
Seattle's Marshawn Lynch is the -110 favorite at sportsbooks, followed by the Packers' Eddie Lacy (+120), Colts' Dan Herron (+700) and ... Seahawks QB Wilson (+800). No surprise Lynch is favored as he usually steps up his game in the playoffs and certainly no team will run the ball more than Seattle, which led the NFL in rushing. Might be tough going for Lacy against the No. 3 rush defense. Interesting there are no Patriots on here, probably because they really don't have a true featured back.
NFL Free Picks: Lynch, who had 110 yards in Week 1 against Green Bay. Lynch has an 'over/under' of 87.5 yards and I would go over at -135. I would also take him at -15.5 yards against Lacy (-115).