Both New York and Minnesota are road underdogs in the Conference Championships on Sunday, yet each in their own way has proven to be a valuable play for the sports bettor. The last time two top seeds made it to the Super Bowl was the season of 1993. Since that time, on seven different occasions a matchup of the best from the NFC and AFC could have happened and not once did this occur. Betting on No.1 leaves a nasty mark at 5-9 against the spread, with seven outright losers, six from the AFC. This means bettors at Sportsbook.com could be in for a healthy return on investment in back one or both of the underdogs.
Confident New York rolling
The Jets are the bigger underdog at 7.5-points at Sportsbook.com and are +280 on the money line. Indianapolis has nobody to blame but itself for ending up with this opponent. The Colts pulled many of their top players against the Jets in Week 16 and New York stormed to a 26-6 second half, providing the momentum they needed to start winning. Make no mistake, Coach Rex Ryan has this team believing they are every bit as good as the 85’ Bears and ‘00 Ravens, both defensive-oriented teams that won Super Bowls.
In analyzing the rosters of the two teams, take away Peyton Manning; a case could be made the Jets have a better starting roster. The Colts offensive line is merely average with Indy have no running game to speak of, saved by Manning’s ability to get rid the ball. No doubt Manning has the skill to pick apart any defense, but this is a unique Jets D, who creates relentless pressure from every angle imaginable and whose job this week is to make Manning miserable, leading to bad throws and possible picks.
The Jets are going to run the ball with Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, as the duo, behind a talented offensive line, averages 4.5 yards per carry on 38 attempts per contest. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has played smartly in recent weeks and his confidence has been growing, and he has been making better throws especially once the second half arrives.
NFL playoff football has evolved into getting hot at the right time. The Flyboys have won and covered seven of eight and aren’t worried about playing a third straight game on the road, the Giants and Steelers have won Super Bowls in the last four years doing so.
Strong defensive teams allowing 14-18 points per game, against teams that allow 18 to 23 points per contest, after allowing 17 points or less in three straight times, are 44-18 on the money line.
Minnesota is Favre-ulous
It was a little shocking to see New Orleans as four-point favorites over Minnesota, since the Vikings appear to have a decidedly better defense. That said, the Vikings have not been nearly as good away from the Metrodome this season, with a .500 record SU and ATS and haven’t won or covered a road game since Nov. 1 in Green Bay (0-3).
It would be foolish to dismiss Minnesota since this team is right where many thought they would be dating back to the middle of October. Brett Favre has been amazing.
While New Orleans has offensive weapons all over the field, the Minnesota crew is hardly second-rate. Receivers like Sidney Rice are explosive and rookie Percy Harvin is a ticking time bomb that could detonate at any time. The Vikings offensive line and Adrian Peterson have seen a number of different defensive schemes, all designed to stop A.P.; nonetheless they have to be encouraged with the Saints permitting 4.6 yards per carry.
The strength of Minny’s defense is not in the secondary, however, if the Vikings defensive line plays the same as they did against Dallas, it won’t matter again. Minnesota has four legitimate run stoppers and pass rushers on every play. The affects of defensive pressure have been on display in eight playoff games and if they can shake up Drew Brees, the possibilities start to open up.
This is the moment Favre yearned for and no doubt wants retribution for the NFC title game failure while with Green Bay two years ago. Teams that average 7.3 or more yards per pass attempt, against average passing defense (5.9-6.7 YPPA), after gaining eight or more passing yards an attempt in two straight games, are 37-12 on the money line the last five seasons. At +160, the Vikes are worth serious consideration.
Head over to Sportsbook.com to get in on the Conference Championship wagering. Be sure to place your bets on Friday at a discount with -105 Juice.