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.
- Central Florida
- Teddy Covers
- October 1, 2016 - 12:00 PM
- Offered at:
- 5dimes @ 4 -110 Central Florida
1* Take Central Florida (#151)
UCF went 0-12 last year. 10 of their losses came by two touchdowns or more, as they should have – George O’Leary’s final season was a complete disaster. That included a late November 44-7 home loss at the hands of East Carolina. That was then, this is now.
New UCF Coach Scott Frost has made it very clear what he wants to install for the Golden Knights. The former Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator wants Central Florida to become “The Oregon of the East”. Frost found his starting QB two weeks ago when previous starter Justin Holman got hurt. In two games behind center, frosh McKenzie Milton; a dual threat dynamo against both Maryland and FIU.
Here’s Frost’s quote:
“One of the things that drew me to the job is I knew I could run a version of our offense that was practically identical to Oregon's because we can recruit that type of player here. I don't think you could run Oregon's offense at Wisconsin; I don't know if you would get enough guys that can run well enough to do it. In Orlando, Florida, there's fast guys in high schools in every direction in close proximity that are already running systems in high school that are similar to this and should want to play in it.”
When a formerly dismal team starts to play competitive football, then starts to win, it becomes contagious – these are ‘bet-on’ teams week after week, until the markets show that they’ve caught up. Considering that UCF has covered the spread (in regulation) by double digit margins in each of the last two weeks, I’m not convinced in the slightest that the markets have caught up with their improvement.
East Carolina has faced two solid offensive teams; NC State and Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack gained more than 200 yards on the ground AND through the air against East Carolina, and could have scored far more than the 30 points that they did. Last week, Virginia Tech hung 54 on this stop unit, another balanced attack, and the defense didn’t create a turnover. Expect East Carolina to have a tough time getting stops here; bad news for any favorite.
The Pirates are coming off back-2-back physical, demoralizing losses, and they’ve yet to beat a FBS team by more than a field goal this year. A program in transition following the shocking firing of Ruffin McNeill last December has no business laying more than a field goal to a ‘bet-on’ UCF squad on Saturday. Take Central Florida.
Teddy is hitting 73% in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season, picking up right where he left off during last year's epic 56-27 (67%) campaign! And Teddy is 21-8 (74%) with his last 29 in college, making big $$ for himself and his clients RIGHT NOW! Ride the hot hand & don’t miss a single ‘right side’ winner all weekend long!