Championship weekend is upon us in the NFL where three of the four elite teams from the regular season have advanced with the only casualty being the Denver Broncos who were upset by the Colts on Sunday night.
On the NFC side, the Westgate SuperBook opened Seattle as a 7-point home favorite over the Packers with a total set at 46.5 and within two hours, the spread had been pushed up to -7.5.
In the AFC Championship game, the Westgate opened the Patriots high as a 7.5-point favorite when everyone else in town started at -7, a number executive director Jay Kornegay believed was too low.
“I look at Denver being more bad Sunday than the Colts being good, and while the Colts caught the Broncos in a perfect situation, it’s going to be different next week. I’m a little surprised to see the number settling at -7, but we’ll try to hold at -7.5 for as long as we can.”
Within 30 minutes of talking with Kornegay Sunday night, the dam burst as Colts +7.5 money flooded the Westgate to put them in line with everyone else in Las Vegas at -7.
So what is it about the Colts that has respected money saying they can finally hang with the Patriots? In their last three meetings, the Patriots have won by an average of 26 points, including a 42-20 stomp as 3-point underdogs at Indianapolis on Nov. 16. That win by the Patriots was a week after pummeling the Broncos and had their rating skyrocket to being considered the class of the AFC.
The Colts haven’t been at their best against winning teams during the regular season – 0-4-1 ATS in their last six before the playoffs, but have now won back-to-back games against Cincinnati and on the road in Denver. Could it be their momentum is the key here?
We’ve seen teams from recent wild card rounds like the Steelers, Giants (twice), Packers and Ravens pick up some momentum by not having the bye week and gain confidence along the way.
Maybe the Colts can join that group, and it’s not like the Patriots have lived up to their lofty rating in their biggest games, going 3-11 ATS in their last 14 playoff games, including another non-cover Saturday against Baltimore.
This is a giant stage for Andrew Luck to show he’s ready to join the elite, and of the four quarterbacks playing on Sunday, he’s the only one that doesn’t have a Super Bowl win. For Tom Brady, it’s been a decade since he won his third Super Bowl.
They have been the bullies of the regular season, but opponents toughen up against them in the post season. The Packers have gone 7-2-1 ATS in their last nine against a team with a winning record and one of those losses came in a 36-16 beat down at Seattle to open the season.
The spread was only -4.5 in that game, and Seattle’s defense over the past seven games – allowing only 8 ppg – has shown they are even better than last year’s Super Bowl winning squad.
Seattle comes in on a roll having won seven straight (6-1 ATS) and have won and covered against Aaron Rodgers in their last three meetings.
The thing that is scary about supporting Green Bay this week is Rodgers’ ankle, which was obviously giving him some pain in Sunday’s win against Dallas.
The Packers were fortunate to win that game, and Rodgers played at his best when he was needed, but that may not have been the case if the game was on the road.
At home this regular season, the Packers won all eight games by a 39-20 average score. On the road, however, Green Bay went 3-5 ATS with a 23-21 average score, including all four of their losses.
The Packers’ Dec. 14 defeat at Buffalo should be troubling for those leaning toward taking the points just because they played one of the best defenses in football on the road and couldn’t muster any offense. They were flying high at the time, but they’ve looked sluggish in three wins since.
Now they’re facing the NFL’s No. 1 defense that is getting better each week and plays at their best at home (37-16-2 ATS last 55 Seattle home games). And oh yeah, a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line where Seattle can solidify itself as a true dynasty.
There was an early part of the season where the Seattle Super Bowl hangover was real and they looked to be on the ropes of not even making the playoffs, but that time has long past. They have jelled and are ready to fly again with a common goal.
With Dallas out of the playoffs, there may be no stopping Seattle the rest of the way. Updated Westgate Super Bowl odds have Seattle 5/4 favorites followed by New England (8/5), Green Bay (5/1) and Indianapolis (8/1).
NFC: Seahawks (-7) 31-13 (UNDER 47)
AFC: Patriots (-7) 38-21 (OVER 54)
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].