USA Today Sports

NFL Opening Line Report: Championship Game odds

NFL fans, bettors, sportsbooks, bar owners, television executives, and ole’ Roger Goodell have to be happy with the way the NFL playoffs have trickled down.

In the NFC Championship, the Seahawks and 49ers put on the gloves for Round 3 of their divisional grudge match, with exciting young quarterbacks pacing both sides. And in the AFC title game, we get one more chapter – perhaps the final one - in the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning debate. It’s a perfect Sunday blend of old and new.

We talk to Peter Korner, founder of Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, to get the story behind the odds for NFL Championship Sunday and where he expects those lines to move before kickoff:

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (-4.5, 54.5)

It didn’t take long for the betting public to voice its opinion on the AFC Championship, cutting the spread as much as 1.5 points. Early action on the Patriots from sharps and the public dropped Denver from its opening perch of -6.

Korner says Denver’s unimpressive showing versus the Chargers in the Divisional Round is driving this movement but admits that he thinks Broncos -6 is the right number and believes the betting market will come back on the home team and return this spread close its opener. 

Another factor playing into this movement - one that will be puffed up by the media all week heading into Sunday’s showdown - is the Brady vs. Manning angle and the fact that Brady has gotten the better of his counterpart in recent years, including a come-from-behind win over Denver in Week 12. Brady is 10-4 SU and 7-5-2 ATS in head-to-head matchups with Manning.

“It’s the main underlying current heading into this game,” Korner says of the classic QB rivalry. “'Brady versus Manning' hasn’t been a big success for Manning and I think people see this and it plays into this initial action.”

As for the total for the AFC Championship, Korner’s group of oddsmakers sent out 55 points and most books are dealing something similar, with some markets moving up with action on the Over. The Patriots and Broncos played Over the 54-point total in Week 12.

“We use that (Week 12) game as a guide,” says Korner. “I think the fact that Denver didn’t show much punch Sunday and New England definitely doesn’t have the same offensive punch we’re used to, there could be interest in the Under. But we want to have a high total on this.”

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5, 39.5)

You’d be hard pressed to find two NFL teams that know each other better than the Niners and Seahawks. These NFC West rivals seemed destined to meet in the conference championship, and Korner and his crew had this spread pegged at Seahawks -3.5 – which is what most books are dealing Monday.

“Seattle is still the team to beat, despite how well San Francisco is playing right now,” says Korner. “San Francisco is gathering steam and will be a big play up north (Northern Nevada, due to close proximity to Bay Area), but Seattle is like the heavyweight champ and until they’re knocked out they won’t be treated differently otherwise. The 49ers can win this one and it won’t surprise me, but I have no problem with this going up Seattle -4. I’d rather be too high on favorites than too low on dogs.”

The Seahawks and 49ers split their two regular season meetings with the home team winning both games. However, Seattle covered as a 2.5-point underdog in San Francisco, losing 19-17 in Week 14 after thumping the 49ers 29-3 as a 3-point home favorite in Week 2.

Both games played Under totals of 43.5 and 41 points, prompting this Sunday’s number to come down from its opening of 40 to 39.5 points. Seattle and San Francisco each stayed Under the total in their Divisional Round matchups this weekend.

“There is a lot of firepower on both of these teams, and I don’t mind seeing money coming in on the Under earlier in the week,” says Korner. “It’s really depends on the weather. If it’s good, (the total will) go up. If it’s bad, it’ll go down. As long as there is an influence on the Under. You don’t want to get stuck with the favorite and the Over in these games.”

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Posted by tomnolan
11 months ago

niners and pats are the two teams that are peaking. I will ride them into the super bowl. broncos did not impress me sunday and the seahawks are declining offensively.
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Posted by Spitdudes
11 months ago

Headline should read: Retired players such as Tedy Bruchi,ROdney Harrison,Ty Law,Willie McGinist,Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel had gotten the best of Manning. Now they are an also ran. The AFC is a sad mess with one team that COULD beat the NFC might. Denver wins.
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Posted by 37fendog
11 months ago

so much about making it to the super bowl, and winning, is peaking at the right time - those two clubs are clearly san fran & NE - the niners face a tough task winning in seattle - i love the pats chances as underdogs to make it to the meadowlands & win
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Posted by betipickem
11 months ago

Fact is The Pats and niners can win on the road in a big game such a this Sunday. Peyton hasn't won on the road in the playoffs his whole career I don't think. Maybe one!! But if niners play the broncos in SB. Im definitely backing the niners. If the Pats play the hawks than im definitely backing the Pats. Brady has been winning on the road for years. Preperation is the key. The Broncos will have to play a nearly perfect game to beat the pats on sunday. Pats - 31 Den - 30
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Posted by Eagle-Eye
11 months ago

The best thing about Covers.com is that you get a very good look at exactly how the public is thinking... not sure what that mentality is? Read JohnnyJets post, and notice that he almost immediately got 6 thumbs up... this is Joe Public's thinking right now... (1) Denver shouldn't be favored over New Englahd... (2) Seattle isn't a Super Bowl team... Both of those sentiments are very wrong!
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Posted by rogercw
11 months ago

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Posted by rogercw
11 months ago

my local jackoff has pats 4 to 1 .to win superbowl...ill put small on it.gonna be great weekend for n.f.l goodell must be creamin
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Posted by weston555
11 months ago

JohnnyJet, I think the Pats are solid too but how do you figure Seattle can't hold their own? Maybe the best defense in the league, and yes they are much better at home than on the road but that doesn't mean they aren't impressive on the road compared to the rest of the league. They were 5-2 in the reg season on the road and that included a 6 point loss to Indy (which they actually controlled the game for a bit) and a loss by TWO points to rival San Fran. Would anybody be favored in San Fran??? No!! And forget Brady being "comfortable" in the Meadowlands. Seattle/San Fran will have the same confidence there. They've got solid defenses and playoff games in cold weather seem to favor the defense.....and I don't think New England is a bad road team but if you consider Seattle bad on the road, how about New England....they were .500
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Posted by JohnnyJet0023
11 months ago

Seeing Brady and The Hood pop up at 6 to 1 to win the Super Bowl. The way I see it, that is 6 to 1 to win vs Denver, because Seattle is nothing close to a Super Bowl caliber team away from Seattle, and Belichek will dial up something special for Kapernick. Add to that, the fact that the Meadowlands will be somewhat of a home game for New England in proximity and familiarity and I like my odds. Good value.
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Top Response

Posted by JohnnyJet0023
11 months ago

"Seeing Brady and The Hood pop up at 6 to 1 to win the Super Bowl. The way I see it, that is 6 to 1 to win vs Denver, because Seattle is nothing close to a Super Bowl caliber team away from Seattle, and Belichek will dial up something special for Kap..."