NFL Betting: Conference Championships Preview

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NFL Betting: Conference Championships Preview

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On Sunday, four teams will battle for a trip to the Super Bowl. Two teams enter on incredible winning streaks, while the other two have been consistent all season long. The Pittsburgh Steelers ride a nine-game winning streak into New England, and the Green Bay Packers ride an eight-game winning streak into Atlanta.

 

AFC Championship Game

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
Favourite: Patriots -6

This is the second meeting of the season between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. In Week 7, the Steelers lost 27-16 to the Patriots in Pittsburgh. QB Ben Roethlisberger missed the game, but his record against the Patriots is 3-5, so he might not be key to winning the Conference Championship game. Pressure will undoubtedly be on RB Le'Veon Bell, as the Steelers are 8-0 this season when he runs for 100 yards or more.

The Patriots were third against the run during the regular season and held Bell to 81 yards in their Week 7 win, but with Roethlisberger under centre, the Patriots won’t be able to stack the line in attempt to stop the Steelers' workhorse running back.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers have to get to QB Tom Brady, who was a little roughed up in the Divisional Round. The Steelers’ defense has been incredible of late, giving up an average of 16.5 points per game during their nine-game winning streak.

 

NFC Championship Game 

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Favourite: Falcons -4

The Packers needed more heroics from QB Aaron Rodgers in Dallas last week, but he wasn’t the only star of the show. Mason Crosby contributed to the 34-31 victory by making two 50-plus-yard field goals in the final two minutes of the game. As for the Falcons, they advanced to the NFC Championship Game by moving past the Seattle Seahawks in a more lopsided 36-20 win.

Sunday’s game between Green Bay and Atlanta has the quarterbacks squarely in the spotlight. Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers are the top two MVP favourites, with Ryan leading the way at –800 and Rodgers a +450 second-favourite. These two lit up the opposing defenses when the Falcons edged the Packers 33-32 in Atlanta in Week 8 of the regular season. Ryan passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns, while Rodgers passed for 246 yards and four touchdowns; the two combined for a total of 534 yards, seven touchdowns and no picks in the Georgia Dome, which is where the Conference Championship game is taking place.

The matchup has a massive 61.5-point total, which isn’t surprising. The Falcons were 28th against the pass during the regular season, and the Packers were 31st, so it should be a high-scoring affair.

Green Bay's Week 8 loss snapped their four-game winning streak over the Falcons. The Packers are now 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS in their last five meetings with the Falcons, including their last playoff meeting in 2011, when the Packers routed the Falcons 48-21 in Atlanta. The last two meetings had totals of 65 and 80 points, and in the confines of the Georgia Dome, it looks like we could be headed for another offensive firefight.

 

*Odds as of January 19, 2017