NFL Championship Round - Caveat Emptor
By Marc Lawrence
And then there were four.
NFL’s version of the ‘Final Four’ kicks off this Sunday in the Championship Games where surprises aplenty have certainly been the buzzword.
That’s confirmed by the fact that underdogs have managed to pull off upsets in 14 of 44 title games since the 1990 season, the most recent being the NY Giants win at San Francisco last season en route to capturing Super Bowl XLIV.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s worked and what hasn’t in the Championship Games, because when it comes to handicapping games at this stage of the season we can use every edge imaginable.
Note: all results are ATS (Against The Spread) and are since the 1990 season, unless noted otherwise.
While high scoring games are the norm in the NFL these days, teams arriving to the Championship Round off a high scoring effort in their last game tend to come back to earth harder than a sky diver with faulty chute.
Consider: nearly half of the 17 teams in this round who put 38 or more points on the scoreboard in a Divisional Round victory fell short of the Super Bowl, going 9-8 Straight-Up.
Worse, these teams are just 9-8 SU and 4-13 ATS, including 1-12 ATS when facing a foe that tallied less than 34 points in their previous game.
With Baltimore and New England canceling one another out, that puts San Francisco on warning this Sunday.
The linemakers have done a nice job overall during this round, with favorites checking in at 23-21 ATS, and home teams 20-24 ATS.
Home chalk of 9 or more or more points has struggled, though, posting a dismal 2-8 ATS mark.
In addition, teams who played in a Wild Card game are 11-13 SU and 14-10 ATS in title tilts, including 5-0 ATS when facing a foe who scored more than 35 points in the division round.
That’s music to the ears of Baltimore backers.
Points aplenty in this league of late have forced the linemakers to raise the Over/Under totals bar.
Its what happens when there have been 27 OVERS and 17 UNDERS in Championship Games.
Surprisingly, the higher the total them more OVERS there have been as games with a posted total set at 46 or more points going 9-3 OVER.
Been There Done That
Three of the four head coaches have had the luxury of coaching team in Championship Games – namely Bill Belichick and the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John.
Jim’s Ravens are 0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS, while John’s 49ers fell as 2-point home favorites last year.
New England’s Belichick brings a lofty 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS record with the Patriots in Championship Games into this week’s fray. The Hoodie has been favored by 7 or more points in two of those contests, losing the money both times – including last year’s 23-20 win-no-cover over the Ravens.
Enjoy the games and good luck as always.
- U (SD at WAS)
- April 24, 2014 - 7:05 PM
- Art Aronson
- Offered at:
- bookmaker @ Under 7.5 -110
1* Free Play “under” between Padres and Nationals.
INCREDIBLE NBA PLAYOFF DOMINATION: WOW! AAA Sports is *EN FUEGO*! He's coming off a 3-1 Wed card! He EASILY hit his NBA "GOW" on Bobcats! 4-1 NBA L2 days, 7-3 in Playoffs! He's 152-119 +$23,960 Y-T-D in the NBA! +$49,062 ALL SPORTS s/ Jan. 19TH! 25-13 (66%) +$8,757 2014 MLB Y-T-D! +20K NHL Y-T-D!
The last time these starters faced each other it resulted in a 2-1 game. Look for more of the same here. The visiting Padres will send Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35 ERA) to the hill. Stults gave up one run on four hits in six innings of work to earn a win over San Francisco at home in his last outing. Stults went eight innings while giving up just run in getting a win for his team the last time he faced the Nats. The home side will send Jordan Zimmerman (1-1, 3.92 ERA) to the bump to oppose Stults. Zimmerman is coming off a loss to the Cardinals where he gave up four runs (one earned) over seven innings on Saturday. Zimmerman has been outstanding against the Friars despite a 1-2 record, the righty has posted a sparkling 1.95 ERA over 32 innings pitched against San Diego for his career. Keep in mind the “under” is 11-2 in Padres games when they have faced teams with winning records this season. San Diego continues to struggle at the plate and that’s not about to change in facing a quality pitcher in Zimmerman. San Diego has scored four runs just once in its last nine games and gone 11 straight without reaching double digits in hits. The Padres have totaled 16 runs while batting .205 and striking out 56 times in their past seven games. Consider taking the “under.”