Three points separate teams in AFC-NFC Championship

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Championship Sunday is set with the Patriots as 3-point favorites at Denver in the AFC and Carolina as a 3-point home favorite to Arizona in the NFC. This is what we all wanted, right? We get the top two playoff seeds from each conference squaring off with low spreads.

So who do the sportsbooks want to win that will generate the most action in Super Bowl 50?

“Action-wise, the event really sells itself and I don’t think it really matters who is in the game between the four teams,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay.

“I think the Broncos would be a more popular choice because a lot of people are tired of seeing the Patriots in there and most people would be happy with either Arizona or Carolina just because each is such a high-scoring team. But I think from our end…what we handle on the Super Bowl always coincides with how the economy is doing, and the past three years have all been very good.”

The past three Super Bowls have all seen higher handle than the previous record set in 2006 when Nevada handled $94.5 million for the Steelers’ 21-10 victory over the Seahawks. The next six Super Bowls during an economic crisis in Las Vegas all saw lower handle, but then in 2013 the Ravens and 49ers generated $98.9 million and in 2014 the all-time record was set at $119.4 million with the Seahawks blowing out Denver, 43-8. Last year the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seahawks generated $115.9 million in action.

Based on the past two seasons, there is a definite upswing in Super Bowl handle and we should be able to expect the same type of numbers. In-progress wagering has been huge in the recent elevation of overall handle, and placing wagers has never been more convenient than now with almost every book having some kind of mobile phone app.

Kornegay says the Westgate’s mobile phone app will debut to the public on Tuesday. Because of the massive daily menu the Westgate offers, just about anyone who is a regular bettor should have an account. No more excuses about not being able to drive to Paradise and Sahara. Between William Hill, CG Technology, the South Point, Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming, Aliante and now the Westgate, you should be able to get the best line possible for any game. And for this week’s games and then the Super Bowl, all that type of action by bettors from the comfort of their own house parties could help set another Super Bowl record in Nevada.

Now let’s talk about this week’s numbers because when I saw the Patriots -3 on the road, it kind of shocked me. I realize Julian Edelman is back and the Patriots looked like the same team Saturday against the Chiefs that started 10-0 in the regular season before closing out 2-4, but the Patriots rating increase from just one game is baffling. Denver was actually rated a point higher than the Patriots last week, but what -3 on the road is telling us is the Patriots are now 6 better on a neutral field than Denver.

While Denver had six dropped passes Sunday against the Steelers to kill a few drives, Peyton Manning looked okay in his return to the starting lineup even though he didn’t try to go deep – because he still can’t. The Broncos’ No. 1 ranked defense did its job in allowing only 16 points and the Broncos did nothing in the game to decrease its rating.

The Patriots gained up to 2 points with Edelman back and executing better on offense just because of him, but is it really a 7-point jump in the ratings? The Patriots were -5 against the Chiefs, saying they were 2-points better in the rating. Now they’re 6-points better than Denver? And Denver gave the Patriots its first loss of the season, 30-24, behind Brock Osweiler in a game the Patriots were only -2.5.

It looks off, but then again, so did Seattle getting +3 at Carolina and we saw how that turned out.

On the NFC side, I’ve got Arizona 1-point better than the Panthers on a neutral field so when adding 3-points for Carolina’s home field, I thought the line should be Carolina -2, which offers me the appearance of value by getting +3, the most key number in the NFL.

I’ll take both underdogs to win this weekend. Good luck in all your wagers this weekend and best of all, have a great time in Las Vegas. There’s no better place in the world to watch these big games than with hundreds of new friends all screaming at the giant TV screens for their bets to cash.

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. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].

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