Upsets Not Common In NFL Conference Championships

The favorites disappointed during the NFL divisional playoffs as the point spread belonged to last weekend’s underdogs.

The favorites were only 1-3 against the spread, with just Seattle at -13.5 covering in its 31-17 win over Carolina.

At the opposite end was Denver at -9.5 being beaten outright 24-13 by Indianapolis.

Then with Green Bay and New England, both won outright, but neither of them covered.

The Patriots at -7 were winners 35-31 and the Packers -5.5 won 26-21.

Those types of games leave the favorite bettors upset and the underdog lovers, happy campers.

Now the betting focus moves to this weekend’s conference championships.

The NFC game has the Seahawks at -7.5 against Green Bay, while the AFC game has New England -7 over a surging Indianapolis.

Some bettors could give the two underdogs a shot with relatively large spreads thinking of last weekend’s games.

Green Bay has never been a 7 points or higher underdog in any career start for Aaron Rodgers. The Colts are 12-5-1 ATS during the season with a mark of 6-3 ATS on the road.

According to Bovada and betonline, both the Packers and Colts have enticing money line numbers at +270 and +250 respectively.

Upsets are not a common occurrence in the conference championships. According to topbet and sportsbook.com, since 1979 only six road dogs of 7 or more points have won their game outright during the conference championships.

The last time it happened was in 2012 when Baltimore defeated New England as an 8-point road dog.

Of those six road dogs since 1978 to win outright, four then went on to be Super Bowl champions the same season.

Both underdogs have not won during the conference championships since 2000. That year, Baltimore upset Oakland as a 6.5-point dog and the New York Giants upset Minnesota as a 1-point dog.

However, the past 15 seasons, the underdogs are a combined 16-13-1 ATS during the conference championships, with 11 of them winning outright.

In just 5 of those 15 seasons, did both underdogs cover.

Underdog bettors must think whether the favorites are vulnerable enough so the underdog can win.

New England looks to be shakier than Seattle. The Patriots allowed 428 yards to Baltimore. They gave up 31 points as well.

New England is resourceful, tough and skilled, and has won the past five straight head-to-head games versus Indianapolis.

Green Bay will have it tough against the Seahawks. Seattle is 7-0 SU and ATS in its past 7 games overall.

They look tougher to beat outright than New England does as the two favorites.

Florida State Could be Two TD Favorite in Every Game

It is just mid June and already the lines are heating up in NCAA football. This past week some Las Vegas odds makers and online bookmakers released their first 200 games to bet on for the 2014 NCAA football season.

Not every game being played was listed, but some of the biggest and best matchups were and that has drawn the interest of many who love to wager.

On the lists released that you can see on Bovada, topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline, the team that is most favored in Florida State.

What is truly impressive is the Seminoles shortest line is an amazing -14.5. That is right, they are favored in the eight games they are listed on and each one is by -14.5 or higher.

The Seminoles are also favored on an average of the 8 games by 20 points. Last season Oregon and Alabama were favored by an average of -22.5 points each game.

If that is the case when the season rolls around and the Seminoles really do have the distinction of being a favorite in each game by more than a pair of touchdowns, it would be the first time in 35 years that has happened.

A number of teams have been favored by more than two touchdowns in each game except one.

Nebraska was 11-0 in 1983, 1995 and 1997 while going 10-1 in 1996.

2009 Florida was 12-0

2005 Texas 11-0

1987 Oklahoma 10-0

2008 USC 11-1

However, no team has been favored by two touchdowns or more in every regular season game.

In other facts pulled from the 200 games list:

California is listed as the underdog in all of the six games they appear in on the list by an average of more than 21 points.

Last season California was an underdog in each of its games during the regular season, but by only an average of just over 13.4 points per game.

The Bears ended the season 1-11 straight up and 2-10 against the spread.

In 2009, only five short years ago, Cal was favored in its games by over 10 points per game and ended the season 8-4 SU.

The Arizona Wildcats have the largest overall swing between being a dog and a favorite of any of the teams listed. The Wildcats are favored by 23.5 points over UNLV August 29. By contrast, the Wildcats are 25-point underdogs in early October versus Oregon. That swing is 48.5 points or almost 7 touchdowns.

As late August approaches, the odds will fluctuate prior to the start of the regular season. Now injuries are the only thing that could create problems for teams moving forward until the start of the regular season.

Memphis Laying Just 4 at Home, Cincinnati Laying 3 on the Road

A full lineup of college basketball is on tap for Saturday, but two interesting games match the No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats visiting the SMU Mustangs and the No 23 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs visiting the No. 24 ranked Memphis Tigers.

Cincinnati is 21-2 SU and 9-8-1 ATS this season. The Bearcats have won 15 straight games but will be facing a tough SMU team that is 17-5 SU and 14-5 ATS.

Cincinnati has covered just two of its last seven games played, while SMU has covered 9 of its past 10.

The Bearcats defeated the Mustangs 76-67 on New Year’s Day and covered the spread of 7.5 points.

Cincinnati had all it could do to win its last game. The Bearcats held off Connecticut 63-58 at home with forward Sean Kilpatrick strengthening his case as player of the year in the American Athletic Conference.

Kilpatrick scored 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. He hit two free throws to clinch the win with only 4 seconds left on the clock.

SMU has won 12 straight home games and looks to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. On Thursday, the Mustangs defeated Temple by the score of 75-52.

SMU has not beaten a team in the Top 10 since 1987.

The UNDER has cashed in 10 of the past 14 SMU games. Cincinnati has a record of 3-11 ATS over its past 14 games on the road. The Mustangs are 6-0 against the number in their past six games at home.

Pick: SMU(-3) less the points

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are 21-3 SU and 11-10-1 ATS and will be going for their eighth consecutive win. The Bulldogs are underdogs on Bovada and betonline by +4 points in their game against Memphis.

The Tigers are 17-5 straight up and 12-7 against the number. The teams played for six straight seasons, ending in 2011, with Memphis going 5-1 SU in the six games.

Memphis is led by Austin Nichols, its freshman forward, who had 18 points in the Tigers rout of Rutgers, earlier in the week.

The UNDER has gone 5-0 in the last five games overall for Gonzaga. Gonzaga has a record of 18-6-2 ATS over its past 26 games after a loss ATS.

Topbet and sportsbook.com show that the underdog has a 5-0 ATS record over the past five games played head to head between the two schools.

The UNDER has cashed in 12 of the past 17 games Memphis had played.

This is the first time Gonzaga has faced a ranked opponent all season. It is also the first time Gonzaga is the underdog this season. However, the small -4 spread does not indicate the overall superiority of Memphis and the huge advantage playing on its home court.

Pick: Memphis (-4) less the points

Wagering Slows as Bettors Await Super Bowl Weather Report

The NFL has set up a contingency plan if Super Bowl XLVIII were to be faced with a foul-weather crisis in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which in February is not far from the realm of possibilities.

Just this past weekend, over a foot of snow was dumped on the ground in the area. However, that amount of snow would not be sufficient for NFL officials to change the date of the game.

If a snowstorm were to cripple New York City, its airports and surrounding area, which includes East Rutherford, then the NFL is set to change the game’s date to February 1, February 3 and even later if needed.

If the game were moved to another venue, it would be rough for the estimated 80,000 fans that will pack the stands on February 2 for the 6:30 pm kickoff.

When it comes to wagering, some bettors are not sure if the game were moved, if their wagers on Bovada, sportsbook.com, topbet or betonline would remain valid.

Often times, language accompanies bets that specifies that the particular even must take place at a specific location on a specific date.

For most sports books the only thing that will make the bet invalid is a change of venue geographically speaking.

That means if the game were moved to Philadelphia wagers would remain valid since it was in the same geographical zone, but if the game were to be played in South Florida, then the wagers would become invalid.

Regardless, if something like that were to happen, the best thing would be for each bettor to contact the sportsbook that is handling their wager and ask them directly.

Last Sunday when the line came out there was a surge of betting on the upcoming Super Bowl like never before. Bettors flipped the line from favoring Seattle to favoring Denver within minutes of the first posting.

However, since then the betting has quieted down with many bettors still undecided and reviewing all of the numbers, trends and possibilities from the wind speed on game day to the sickness of players leading up to the big day.

Most sportsbooks would be hit hard with a Denver and OVER, said one odds maker from Bovada. Many sportsbooks such as topbet have Denver -140/+120 on their money line, with the Broncos at -2.5 on the spread. The total points have been up and down all this first week between 47 and 48.

One big question that has bettors holding off is if the line will move up to -3 for Denver. Some odds makers believe the line will be bet up to -3, which will attract sharp money to take Seattle and the points.

Betting will pick up to full steam by midweek next week as the weather forecast becomes clearer.

Five Previous Super Bowls Have Featured Top Offense vs Top Defense

For all those bettors out there wondering how to go on the Super Bowl, review the history of the Super Bowl. This is a matchup of the league’s top offense against the league’s top defense.

In the 47 previous Super Bowls that has happened on five occasions. The theory is that offense sells the tickets, while the defense wins the championships. The question is will that hold true for Super Bowl 48.

The Denver Broncos have the league’s best offense. The team averaged 37.9 points a game, an NFL record. Seattle has the best defense against scoring allowing only 14.4 points a game.

According to stats found on the Internet, this will be the sixth time in Super Bowl history that the league’s top scoring offense faces the league’s top scoring defense.

With the Super Bowl line only being published for just over two days, the Broncos currently are the favorite by 2.5 points on most betting sites including sportsbook.com, Bovada, topbet and betonline. The total points on the same sites are currently sitting at 48.

If history is any indication in the five previous times the top offense faced the top defense, then Seattle should be favored. The team that had the top defense in those five previous Super Bowls that faced the top offense was 4-1 straight up.

The team with the top defense was 3-0 ATS as the favorite and 1-1 ATS as the underdog.

Three of the five Super Bowls featuring the top offense and top defense have cashed to the OVER in point total. In Super Bowl I no posted total was given.

Here are a few more stats to take into consideration from the five previous Super Bowls featuring the league’s top defense and top offense.

Super Bowl 1

Green Bay defeated Kansas City 35-10. The Packers defense sacked Len Dawson the Chiefs quarterback four times and an interception by Willie Wood put the game on ice. Green Bay owned the top defense that season giving up 11.6 points a game, while the Chiefs averaged 32 points scoring per game.

In Super Bowl 13, The Pittsburgh Steelers owned the league’s best defense and the Dallas Cowboys the best offense. Pittsburgh defeated Dallas 35-31.

The Steelers built an insurmountable lead of 18 points and the famed “Steel Curtain” held Dallas down the stretch. The Steelers covered a 3.5-point spread.

In Super Bowl 19, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers owned the best defense and the Dolphins the best offense. The 49ers owned the time of possession with a ground game and kept the Dolphins offense off the field. Dan Marino was sacked on four occasions and intercepted on two, in the game by the 49ers defense.

In Super Bowl 24, the 49ers defeated the Broncos 55-10. San Francisco owned the league’s best offense and it showed. Joe Montana threw for five touchdowns and San Francisco led by 24 point at the half.

The fifth and final Super Bowl similar to this year’s matchup was Super Bowl 25 in which the New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19. New York owned the best defense, while Buffalo had Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed on the league’s best offense. The game ended on a missed field goal by Buffalo.

The bottom line is that the defense has come out on top more times than not when the top offense faces the top defense in the Super Bowl.

NFC Conference Championship: Seattle Laying 3.5 at Home

The NFC Championship Game will be played on Sunday night in the Pacific Northwest where the Seattle Seahawks will host the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

The two teams have split their regular games with each winning on their home field. The two teams know one another very well.

Seattle won the NFC West by one game over San Francisco and had the best record in the NFC. This rubber match will determine which team represents the NFC in the Super Bowl on February 2.

Seattle was hoping that the return of Percy Harvin last week would help them put life in their stagnant offense. However, Harvin caught just 3 passes before leaving with a concussion. Harvin will miss Sunday’s game versus the 49ers.

Seattle’s offense has not scored over 26 points in any of their past five games. Over that period, quarterback Russell Wilson has passed for 200 yards only once. The team’s running game is fourth in the league.

Defensively, the Seahawks are No. 1 overall in the NFL and it is their defense that dictates outcomes of games for the team.

San Francisco hopes to have cornerback Carlos Rogers back after missing the first two games of the postseason. However, the 49ers defense had fared well nevertheless giving up just a combined 30 points against the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in their two playoff games to date.

The 49ers defense was No. 3 this season in the league, but could be playing better than any time at the moment. Since the third week of the season, the 49ers defense has give up over 20 points just once.

Offensively the 49ers have improved of late. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not play well during the first part of this season, but over the past five games including the postseason, has played very well.

However, versus Seattle Kaepernick struggled completing fewer than 50% of his passes and averaging only 151 yards through the air in the two games.

The line currently on Bovada is Seattle -3.5, but on other sites such as topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com is between -3 and -3.5. If Seattle were playing on a neutral site, the game would be a tossup. Home field advantage at CenturyLink field is worth the 3.5 points.

The point total is set low at 39.5. The two teams have exceptional defenses and between the two allowed only 31 points a game throughout the season.

Seattle failed to cover last week at home versus New Orleans, but covered in 11 of 16 games during the regular season.

San Francisco was 10-5-1 ATS this season. On the road, the 49ers are 8-1-1 ATS during the regular season and two playoff games. However, their only loss against the spread this season was their 29-3 loss to Seattle on the road.

Prediction

The teams are as evenly matched as two teams can be, especially on defense. I like the 49ers with the 3.5 points.

Bettors Clean House Thanks to San Francisco

Being a bookmaker was not fun at the end of the San Francisco game on Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers. Each week of the playoffs book making sites like Bovada, know one game has to come through to give them a profit for the weekend.

This past weekend with the divisional playoff games, that game was the 49ers and Panthers, as San Francisco was laying just 2.5 on most books.

One reason much of the support from the public went in favor of a road team was the other three divisional playoff games were at -7 or higher for the favorites. Adding to that was that San Francisco also entered the game riding a seven game winning streak and had played better away from home at 7-1-1 ATS than at Candlestick.

Therefore, when the final whistle blew on a 23-10 win for San Francisco sites like topbet, betonline and others nearly fainted due to the number of payouts, which gave the public a huge victory in the second week of the postseason.

Most odds makers took sharp money early on Carolina, but the public’s combinations of teasers and parlays were too high to be offset by the sharp money. Many parlay and teaser bets had one common denominator spelled N-I-N-E-R-S.

Once again, teasers were the big headline for the books this past weekend, just as they were a week ago when the sides finished 7-1.

Things started bad right from the beginning and never got better. On Saturday, the UNDER cashed out between Seattle and New Orleans even though the total had been cut from 48.5 to 43.5 due to wind and rain in Seattle.

For the books, relief came when New England routed the Colts 43-22 as many had put money behind the Colts driving the number down to -7 from -9 by kickoff.

Saturday for most sports books in the NFL was a good day thanks to New England. However, as good as the New England win was for the books on Saturday it was short lived due to teasers and parlays that followed with San Francisco.

With the public hitting parlays and teasers right and left with the 49ers, the small win on Saturday was eaten alive on Sunday.

The books are thankful that the Broncos nor the OVER came through late on Sunday, as that would have been their worst nightmare with three to eight-team parlays ready to cash if that had taken place.

Now the sports books will limp into the Conference Championships on Sunday with the hope of a big win that will carry them over to the final game, the Super Bowl on February 2.

NFL Divisional Playoffs Odds and Ends

The NFL postseason continues this weekend with a slate of four games that should keep each football fanatics glued to the television for a good part of Saturday and Sunday.

The numbers, facts and figures of the four games are a great deal to digest for many interested in wagering on this four NFL games, but hopefully after reading this, things might be a bit clearer, but that is not a promise.

Seattle has a recent good record of covering the spread during the postseason. Since 2005, Seattle is 7-4 ATS during the playoffs. During that period, the Seahawks are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS when playing at home. If the historical numbers are not enough, Seattle this season on Bovada was 10-5 ATS as a favorite, which they are once again this week.

New Orleans is an ally to players who like the UNDER, in what has become commonplace albeit a little strange. Of the 17 games the Saints have played this season, 11 have cashed on the UNDER on topbet and betonline. New Orleans shut down the up-tempo offense of Philadelphia last Saturday as the Saints held onto the ball close to 35 minutes, with over 50% of their plays on the ground offensively. Doing the same against Seattle would not surprise anyone. However, Seattle’s defense is far superior to Philadelphia.

New England has a record of 6-2 ATS at home this season with wins versus New Orleans and Denver. However, New England has not done the best as a favorite as they are just 6-6 ATS when laying points.

Additionally, New England had close calls when favored by large numbers. The Patriots beat Buffalo by 2 points when favored by 10; they beat the Jets by 3 points when favored by 11; and Cleveland by one point when favored by 10.

Indianapolis is 11-7 ATS over the two seasons that Andrew Luck has been their quarterback. This season along, the Colts were 5-2 ATS as an underdog. Indy is also 2-0 SU and ATS when a dog by over a touchdown, but struggled last season in that role at 0-3 SU and ATS.

This season, as they are this weekend, the Broncos are laying over a touchdown in their game versus San Diego. During the regular season as a favorite by 7.5 points or higher, Denver was 7-4 ATS and an impressive 10-1 SU.

Over their past seven games, San Diego is 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS, with three wins outright as an underdog against tough AFC opponents in Cincinnati, Denver and Kansas City. The Chargers defense has given up just 20 points once over its past six games.

The 49ers will put huge air miles on their frequent flyers accounts if they hope to reach the Super Bowl. Their game this week in Carolina is their third straight game on the round and the fourth in the past five weeks. Can you say jet lag?

Carolina’s point total for their game against San Francisco is 42, the two played to a 10-9 Panthers win the when they met during the regular season. The possibility of high scoring is still there with two strong offenses, but the game should have a lot of three and outs.

An Early Look at Some Lines for Week 17 in the NFL

Foles
Foles
Nick Foles now has the upper hand with Tony Romo out for the game.

Here’s an early look at some key games for the final week of the National Football League season. Green Bay and Chicago currently have no line listed, thus that omission.

Baltimore (+6) at Cincinnati – The Bengals may have locked up the AFC North but they may still have something to play for against rival Baltimore. Should the Bengals win and the Colts lose, the Bengals would then host either the Ravens, Chargers, Dolphins or Steelers. Should the Bengals lose and the Colts win, then they would host Kansas City.

In other words, it could all come down to what match-up Marvin Lewis and his staff prefer. This will determine how long he keeps his starters in the game. Both the Colts and Bengals play 1pm games so there will be lots of scoreboard watching by both teams.

Luck
How long will the Colts let Andrew Luck play on Sunday in preparation for the playoffs?

Jacksonville (+11) at Indianapolis – Right now, the Colts know they will be playing on opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs with New England and Denver securing the one and two seeds. With that thought in mind, how will Head Coach Chuck Pagano proceed in terms of resting his starters? I don’t expect to see Andrew Luck much more than a half and the same will be said for other key players on both sides of the ball.

Jacksonville has made tremendous strides in the second half of the season and will be a thorn in the side of Indianapolis whether the starters play or not. I really like Jacksonville getting those 11 points on Sunday.

NY Jets (+7) at Miami – Miami needs a win and then help from Baltimore and/or San Diego. A loss eliminates them regardless of what else happens around the league. The Jets have played decently the last couple of weeks and they have to be wondering if this isn’t the last time Rex Ryan will be on the sidelines as their head coach.

That issue aside, the Jets and Dolphins always seem to play great games whether in Miami or in New York. I love the Jets getting the touchdown here.

Cleveland (+7) at Pittsburgh – The Steelers offense is fresh from a 31 point output at Lambeau Field in Green Bay (they had a pick six in winning 38-31). Cleveland enters the finale against the their rival off of a bad loss against the Jets and seem to be playing out the string now.

The Steelers must win and then get help from Miami, Baltimore and San Diego. All three must lose in order for Pittsburgh to even have a shot at the postseason. Despite the poor season, Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger has had a monster season and will look to continue it against the Browns. He has only lost once to them in his career.

I like the Steelers to cover in this game.

Buffalo (+9) at New England – The Bills pulled off a bit of a shocker in beating Miami on Sunday. They had Thad Lewis at QB and were missing several other key players while Miami was playing for a playoff spot. Buffalo doesn’t exactly do well at New England in recent years and that’s a big reason for the big line.

The Pats are coming off a total dismantling of Baltimore in Maryland on Sunday. They are continuing to prove that they can do things without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. As of right now, I think this is a line where you go with New England. A great start could put pressure on Denver to win in order to claim home-field advantage. Both teams play at 425pm Eastern.

Philadelphia (-7) at Dallas – The line moved from Philly +4 to the current line almost immediately after the news that Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo was done for the season. Head Coach Jason Garrett still claims Romo is ‘day-to-day’ but mainstream thought is that Kyle Orton will be under center for Dallas.

Patriots vs Ravens: Pats Poor Road Team Against the Spread

Just two weeks remain in the NFL regular season and a number of teams are either fighting for a division championship or a wildcard spot in the postseason.

Two of those teams meet today in Baltimore when the Baltimore Ravens host the New England Patriots in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game from last season that was won by the Ravens 28-13.

Baltimore, which is 8-6 SU and 7-7 ATS, has won four straight games. The Ravens control their own destiny in the battle for the AFC North. If Baltimore can win today versus New England and next week against Cincinnati, they will win the division.

New England, which is 10-4 SU and 6-8 ATS, needs to win today or have Miami lose one of their two remaining games to win the AFC East title. New England is also battling with Denver for the No. 1 seed for the conference. However, the Patriots, like the Ravens have yet to secure a playoff berth.

These two teams have met six times prior to this game over the past four seasons. Last season, the Ravens defeated the Patriots during the regular season and in the AFC Championship.

Currently Bovada has the line with Baltimore favored by 2 points, with the point total resting on 45. However, on topbet the line opened with Baltimore -1.5 and a total of 43. Check those two sites and others such as betonline and sportsbook.com prior to kickoff for the latest in point spreads, point totals and the all-important weather.

The Ravens have a record of 3-2-1 ATS versus New England in their last six meetings head to head. All three of Baltimore’s wins ATS versus New England, have come during the playoffs, while Baltimore is 0-2-1 ATS during the regular since 2009 against the Patriots.

New England on the other hand is only 1-6 ATS playing on the road this season, while the Ravens are 4-3 ATS playing at home.

In the 14 games Baltimore has played to date this season, just five have finished OVER.

New England is 0-3 ATS in their past three games overall.

New England’s Tom Brady knows the Baltimore defense well. He will take what they give him and at times go over the top to stretch the defensive secondary.

With numerous injuries to receivers and tight ends, Brady has two main targets in this game, wide outs Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. Shane Vereen at running back has turned into a popular target for Brady out of the backfield.

Baltimore’s defensive front is tough, but their secondary has been suspect at times this season. However, they played well versus Detroit on Monday night holding Calvin Johnson the All-Pro wide receiver in check.

Baltimore’s offense is deep now that Dennis Pitta has returned as the tight end. Joe Flacco has Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith at wide out and Pitta at tight end, which will create havoc for the secondary of New England.

Some odds makers believe the line is inflated in Baltimore’s favor and that New England should be favored at -1. Regardless, check Bovada and other reputable sites such as topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline for the latest lines prior to the 4:25 p.m. kickoff of this game.

Pick: New England 28-24