Top Last-Minute NFC & AFC Championship Selections

Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots game

Jay Pryce

Saturday, January 21, 2017 8:54 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 8:54 PM GMT

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offer plenty of betting value with the points in their NFC Championship tilt. The Steelers and Patriots are also expected to put up a lot of points. Expect each team to deliver, eclipsing the game total.
 

Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers vowed to run-the-table after a 4-6 start to the season, and so far, he has delivered. Winners of eight straight, the 2-time NFL MVP has thrown 21 touchdowns, run for another, and tossed 1 interception on 195 of 283 passes in this stretch. Winner and MVP of Super Bowl XLV, he knows what it takes to get there as evident in the 34-31 last-second win at Dallas in the divisional round. He gave us the Game of the Year last weekend and will offer up similar against the high-flying Falcons.

To beat the Falcons, you have to outscore them; simple as that. They led the NFL with 33.8 points per game in the regular season, putting up the seventh most points by a team in league history. At the Georgia Dome, Atlanta scored 28 points or more in every game outside of a 31-24 defeat to the Buccaneers in the season opener; no chance on slowing them down. The 60.5 over-under is the second-highest total ever offered in an NFL game as evidence.

Atlanta’s struggles this season have come against teams entering a matchup with a hot offense like the Packers. The defense can’t stop teams from scoring touchdowns. It allowed opponents to find the end zone on 71 percent of trips inside the 20-yard line (31st in the NFL). Outside of the loss against the Bucs in Week 1, the Falcons other three defeats on the season occurred in six games against foes averaging 23 points or more in their last six contest when entering the matchup. They went 1-5 ATS in these games; 5-0 versus those scoring less. The Pack arrives at this meeting averaging 34.8 points per game in their last six, the most of any opponent.

 

Free NFL Pick: Packers +5.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots

New England has done little wrong all season, but playing the spread in this matchup is risky business. The Steelers are on a 9-game win streak and tick many boxes in some advanced metrics that suggest they are Super Bowl bound. Still, they face the toughest single-game challenge in the NFL: beating Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium. In the last decade, the Pats are 74-9 straight up (49-33-1 ATS) at home with the 4-time Super Bowl winner under center. For this last-minute pick, we’ll stick to the total to uncover value.

Let’s use the same hot-offense trend applicable to the second half of the season we employed with the Packers-Falcons matchup to the AFC Championship game. Like Atlanta, the Pats defense is most vulnerable against teams scoring more than the NFL average over the last six games. Since Week 7, they allowed 21.8 points per game in five to those averaging 23 points or more, while holding those putting up less to 11.0 per contest. The OVER is 4-1 to the former; 1-5 with the latter.

The Patriots averaged 31.7 points per game at home this year with Tom Brady under center—nearly the same number they post every year. The Steelers are ripe to put up 20-plus points and will match New England stride for stride. There’s little room for error, but expect the game to go OVER by the slightest of margins.  

 

Free NFL Pick: Over 50Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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