The difference between the Las Vegas wiseguys and the average Joe bettor is often attention to detail. And when it comes to games as big as the NFC and AFC Championships, there are plenty of details.
If you’re sizing up the NFL betting odds this weekend, here are three factors and free handicapping selections you’ll want to pay attention to – beyond what you’ll watch, listen, and read about in the mainstream media.
The odds for both conference championship games are dancing around key numbers in football betting. In the AFC Championship, we have the Patriots and Jaguars posting a spread of -9, and in the NFC title game the spread for Vikings at Eagles is around a field goal.
Why are those so important? With the way scoring is structured in football, we often see the same margins of victory emerge, and getting the best spread around those numbers can be the difference between winning and losing your wager.
With the AFC Championship, the Patriots are 9-point home favorites – climbing as high as -9.5 at some books. Much like any NFL Sunday, 95 percent of the overall handle comes in during the final 48 hours before kickoff, and the bulk of that cash is from public players. And the public loves the Pats. This spread could climb to -10 before kickoff and anyone waiting to bet the underdog may want to wait it out as long as they can to get the best number on Jacksonville.
In the NFC, the spread is jumping back and forth between Vikings -3 and -3.5. Sharp money was split on this line earlier in the week and the public may sway toward Minnesota following its miraculous win over New Orleans in the Divisional Round. If you’re siding with the Eagles, +3.5 may be the best spread you’re going to get on this game.
We’re still a few days out from really getting a good grasp on the forecast in Foxborough and Philadelphia – the host spots for Sunday’s two conference title games. However, the extended forecast can give a glimpse into game-time conditions and possibly an edge when sizing up the totals for the championship games.
The weather for Gillette Stadium is expected to be chilly come Sunday, with temperatures dipping below freezing as the sun goes down. That means the climate could drastically change in the second half of the 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff. Wind is not expected to be a factor but it will be interesting to see how the teams react when the air cools off.
In Philadelphia, the early forecast is calling for similar conditions with temperatures below freezing at Lincoln Financial Field. There is a slight chance of rain later in the evening Sunday, and with this game kicking off at 6:40 p.m. ET, the teams may avoid any wet weather. Bettors will want to monitor the skies in Philly as game day gets closer.
News wires lit up Wednesday when Tom Brady’s name found its way to the injury report. Brady jammed his throwing hand in practice and while X-Ray’s returned negative, bettors will want to keep a close ear to practice reports this week and how his hand will react to the cold weather Sunday.
The Vikings are hoping for the best when it comes to starting safety Andrew Sendejo, who suffered a concussion on a controversial block against the Saints. Sendejo had an interception in that win over New Orleans and has recorded two picks with 56 tackles for Minnesota this year. He was having an extremely good game in the Divisional Round before getting injured.
The Jaguars are aiming to have free safety Tashaun Gipson ready to roll Sunday, despite requiring a walking boot following a foot injury in the win over Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round. Gipson is a huge contributor to the Jaguars pass defense, recording four interceptions and 53 tackles this season.