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.
- Ben Burns
- February 9, 2016 - 8:30 PM
- Offered at:
- sbgglobal @ -1.5 -110 Dallas
WHITE HOT Ben Burns followed up a PERFECT 5-0 Sunday by delivering a PERFECT 3-0 SWEEP w/ his basketball on Monday. Burns is a PERFECT 5-0 in the NBA the past four days, going a BLISTERING 8-1-1 his L10 basketball overall. When Ben gets in this type of zone, he makes it look EASIER THAN SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL. BANK on more of the same Tuesday!
The Jazz come in on a roll, having won six straight. That winning streak has led to a low line here, which I feel is providing value with the home team. A closer look at the Jazz's winning streak shows that they've been fortunate to play some weak and/or struggling teams and that five of those six games came at home. The one road game was at Phoenix against a depleted Suns team. The Jazz are still just 8-15 away from Salt Lake City and I expect them to have their hands full this evening.
The Mavs got back on track last time out, winning at Memphis. (Arguably a more impressive feat than any of Utah's recent wins.) They've had two days off since then and they don't play again until after the All Star Break. They should be fresh and focused on the task at hand. The Jazz, on the other hand, play at New Orleans tomorrow.
While the Jazz are 8-15 on the road, the Mavs are 15-10 at home. Dallas outscores teams here. Utah gets outscored on the road. Note that the Mavs are 3-1 SU/ATS as home favorites of three or fewer points while the Jazz are just 1-4 ATS as road underdogs of three or less.
The Mavs, 7-1 ATS against teams from the Northwest Division, have dominated the Jazz here for years. Indeed, they're 22-2 as a host in this series, a perfect 10-0 the last 10. That streak will eventually come to an end. I just don't see it happening tonight. Consider Dallas.