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Championship Cheat Sheet

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NFC Championship (FOX, 3:00 p.m.)
San Francisco (12-4-1 SU, 9-7 ATS) at Atlanta (14-3 SU, 9-7-1 ATS)

Quick Hitters

-- San Francisco advanced to the NFC Championship by dominating Green Bay 45-31 in the Divisional Playoffs.

-- The 49ers went 5-3 both SU and ATS on the road this season. Two of the three losses came against playoff teams in Minnesota (13-24) and Seattle (13-42). The team scored exactly 13 points in all three of the setbacks.

-- San Francisco went 2-0 both SU and ATS when playing in the Eastern Time Zone, with victories coming against the N.Y. Jets (34-0) and New England (41-34).

-- Total players have watched the ‘over’ cash in six straight and nine of the last 10 games for San Francisco, which includes Saturday’s outcome against the Packers.

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Atlanta earned its trip to the NFC Championship by stopping Seattle 30-28 from the Georgia Dome in the Divisional Playoffs. The victory improved the Falcons’ home record to 8-1 on the season. The only loss occurred in Week 17 against Tampa Bay (17-22), which was a meaningless game.

-- As underdogs this season, the Falcons have gone 2-0 both SU and ATS. The two wins came on the road against the Chargers (27-3) and Eagles (30-17).

-- -- Even though Sunday’s shootout with Seattle saw the ‘over’ cash, the ‘under’ owns a 7-2 record at home for Atlanta this season.

Opening Line Moves

Las Vegas:  The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (LVH) opened San Francisco as a three-point road favorite and the number already moved up to 3 ½ points. William Hill, another major outfit in the desert, has San Francisco at 3 (-125). The LVH opened the ‘over/under’ at 48 and the number was quickly moved to 48 ½.

Offshore: Two of the major shops, Pinnacle and CRIS, both sent San Francisco out as a three-point road favorite. CRIS has held steady while Pinnacle has already tagged 20 cents (Bet $120 to win $100) on the 49ers at -3. Both of these betting outfits are holding a total of 47 ½ points.

NFC Championship Trends

-- San Francisco lost 20-17 to the N.Y. Giants in last year’s conference championship. Overall the franchise has played in 13 NFC title games and they’ve gone 5-8 with four of those wins coming in the Bay Area. On the road, they've gone 1-3 in NFC title games.

-- Atlanta has played in two NFC Championships and it’s been an underdog in both. Michael Vick and the Falcons came up short at the Eagles (10-27) in 2004-05 but the “Dirty Birds” pulled off a big upset in the 1998-99 season by stopping Minnesota 30-27 on the road.

-- In the last 10 years, the road and home teams have gone 5-5. Against the spread, the underdog has gone 6-4. There were only two home ‘dogs during this span and they went 1-1. The ‘over/under’ is 5-5 in the previous 10 NFC title games.

AFC Championship (CBS, 6:30 p.m.)
Baltimore (11-6 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) at New England (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS)

Quick Hitters


-- Baltimore earned a spot in the AFC Championship by defeating Denver 38-35 in overtime as nine-point road underdogs in the Divisional Playoffs.

-- Including the win over the Broncos, the Ravens went 5-4 SU and 4-5-1 ATS on the road this season. The ‘under’ went 5-3-1 away from home.

-- For the second straight time this season, New England blasted Houston (41-28) at home in the Divisional Playoffs en route to its AFC Championship bid.

-- The Patriots have gone 7-2 at home this season with both losses coming to NFC West squads in Arizona (18-20) and San Francisco (34-41).

-- New England’s four losses this season have come by a combined 11 points. One of those setbacks came in Week 3 at Baltimore. The Patriots were leading by nine points (30-21) late in the fourth quarter before the Ravens rallied with 10 unanswered points and the 31-30 home win. Baltimore closed as a 2 ½-point home favorite in that affair.

-- Including the shootout win over the Texans, the Patriots have seen the ‘over’ go 12-5 on the season and 7-2 at home.

Opening Line Moves

Las Vegas: Even though the game wasn’t final, the LVH opened New England as a 10-point home favorite. William Hill opened the Patriots as 9 ½-point favorites. The two books both opened with an ‘over/under’ of 51.

Offshore: The Greek opened with 9 ½ (EVEN) while 5Dimes posted New England -10 (+110). The totals were similar as the Vegas outfits, but The Greek opened 50 ½ and has held steady.

AFC Championship Trends

--
New England stopped Baltimore 23-20 in last year’s AFC Championship from Foxborough but failed to cover as seven-point favorites.

-- Baltimore has played in three AFC Championships and produced a 1-2 record, including the aforementioned loss to the Patriots. All three of the games were played outside of Maryland and the only win came in the 2000-01 season when the Ravens beat Oakland, 16-3.

-- New England owns a 7-1 record in AFC Championships and it could be 8-0 if it didn’t blow a big lead to Peyton Manning and the Colts (34-38) in the 2006-07 title game at the RCA Dome. Head coach Bill Belichick is responsible for a 5-1 record for the franchise.

-- The host has won six straight and eight of the last 10 AFC title games. The favorite has gone 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 AFC Championships. The ‘over’ has produced a 7-3 mark during this span.

  
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Nelson: NFC South Preview
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