NFL Playoff Report No. 3We're down to the NFL's equivalent of the Final Four, as the AFC and NFC conference championship games will be held for the right to advance to the Super Bowl. The public is backing the 49ers and the Ravens, which we'll look at in more detail a bit later.
Our NFL Power Ratings have the 49ers favored by three at Atlanta and have the Patriots favored by 15, making them a 5* play.
Conference Championship TrendsNext, we'll look at some trends that have developed in the conference championship games.
Since the 1985 season, home underdogs are just 1-6 straight up and 1-6 ATS over that span. Totals in those games are 2-5.
Overall, favorites have been decent bets, going 32-22 (59.3%), with favorites of 6 to 9.5 points going 10-6 against the spread.
Totals have shown a slight tendency to go over, as they are 29-24-1 (54.7%). Totals between 45 and 49.5 are 14-10, or 58.3% to the over, while totals above 50 went 6-4.
One trend that favors New England is Baltimore's 30-point effort last time out, as playoff underdogs off a straight up win while scoring over 30 points have been just 7-17 against the spread in their next game.
But that is somewhat nullified by the fact that teams scoring more than 40 points in the postseason are a dismal 3-20 against the number in their next game.
Atlanta is 4-0 straight up against the 49ers and 2-2 against the spread over the past 10 years, with three of the four games being decided by four points or less.
New England is 6-1 straight up and 3-4 against the spread over the same time span, including a 31-30 win earlier this season. Before that, the Patriots won the past two meetings by identical 23-20 scores, including last year as 7.5-point favorites in this very same game.
San Francisco at AtlantaThe 49ers have climbed to 4-point favorites in the game and the total is holding somewhat steady at 48. The 49ers were certainly more impressive than the Falcons in advancing to the conference championship game, which is one reason they are medium-sized favorites, with a second-year quarterback, on the road. It will definitely be a bit different than playing in front of the home fans, as the Atlanta fans should be loud and raucous for the game.
You can argue all you want that the Falcons are lucky to still be playing, but they did beat what was one of the hottest teams in the NFL a week ago.
The key to this game is which 49ers road team will we see? The one that lost 42-13 at Seattle or 16-13 at St. Louis down the stretch, or the one that went to England and came away with a 41-34 victory?
It is interesting to note the perceptions people have of the two teams and how they differ from reality. While the Falcons are thought of as being an offense team, both the49ers and Falcons averaged 26 points. Defensively, the 49ers allowed 18 points a game, while Atlanta was close behind, allowing just 19, but you don't hear much about the Falcons' stop unit.
A lot of people like the 49ers in this one, but I have a feeling the game will be closer than many think. If forced to choose, would go against the grain with Atlanta.