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Total Talk - Championships

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Divisional Playoff Recap

The Wild Card round offered up four clear-cut 'under' winners and last week's Divisional Playoffs produced four easy 'over' tickets. For the most part, all eight of the postseason outcomes were never in doubt except for the Seattle-Atlanta matchup last Sunday. Even though the Falcons led 20-0 at the break, the Seahawks left a handful of points off the board in the first-half. Total players chasing the 'over' saw a second-half number of 23 and that winning ticket cashed early in the fourth quarter.

Championship History

Even though both championship games went 'under' last year, the trend has been leaning to the 'over' in the conference title games. The AFC Championship has seen the 'over' go 7-3 the past 10 seasons, while the NFC Championship has produced a 6-4 mark to the 'over.' 

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP OVER-UNDER HISTORY (2002-2012)
Year Result Total
2011-2012 New England 23 vs. Baltimore 20 49, UNDER
2010-2011 Pittsburgh 24 vs. N.Y. Jets 19 38, OVER
2009-2010 Indianapolis 30 vs. N.Y. Jets 17 40, OVER
2008-2009 Pittsburgh 23 vs. Baltimore 14 35, OVER
2007-2008 New England 21 vs. San Diego 12 48, UNDER
2006-2007 Indianapolis 38 vs. New England 34 47, OVER
2005-2006 Pittsburgh 34 @ Denver 17 41, OVER
2004-2005 New England 41 @ Pittsburgh 27 35, OVER
2003-2004 New England 24 vs. Indianapolis 14 43, UNDER
2002-2003 Oakland 41 vs. Tennessee 24 47, OVER
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP OVER-UNDER HISTORY (2002-2012)
Year Result Total
2011-2012 New York 20 @ San Francisco 17 42, UNDER
2010-2011 Green Bay 21 @ Chicago 14 42, UNDER
2009-2010 New Orleans 31 vs. Minnesota 28 54, OVER
2008-2009 Arizona 32 vs. Philadelphia 25 47, OVER
2007-2008 N.Y. Giants 23 @ Green Bay 20 41, OVER
2006-2007 Chicago 34 vs. New Orleans 14 42.5, OVER
2005-2006 Seattle 34 vs. Carolina 14 43.5, OVER
2004-2005 Philadelphia 27 vs. Atlanta 10 37.5, UNDER
2003-2004 Carolina 14 @ Philadelphia 3 36.5, UNDER
2002-2003 Tampa Bay 27 @ Philadelphia 10 34, OVER

 
NFC Championship – San Francisco at Atlanta (FOX, 3:00 p.m.)

Oddsmakers at CRIS sent out an opener of 47 and it was quickly pushed to 48. Las Vegas outfits, LVH and William Hill, both opened at 48 and moved to 49.

Similar to last week’s total between San Francisco and Green Bay, something has to give. The 49ers have watched the ‘over’ cash in five straight and eight of their last nine games. Meanwhile, the Falcons have seen the ‘under’ go 7-2 at the Georgia Dome this season.

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San Francisco’s offense has been on a serious roll behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Since the second-year product from Nevada took over the starting duties for the 49ers, the team has scored 27 or more points in six of his eight starts. A lot of people compare Kaepernick to Carolina’s signal caller Cam Newton, which is fair when you measure up their size and speed. Against the Falcons this season, Newton helped the Panthers offense rack up 404 and 475 yards, which translated into 28 and 30 points in their two encounters.

One thing you might want to note is Kaepernick’s hype has overshadowed the 49ers’ defense, which has been very suspect lately. They’ve allowed 520, 346 and 352 yards in three of their last four games, which were the three highest totals of the season. To no surprise, the defense only mustered up three sacks in those games and they allowed 34, 42 and 31 points. Unlike last season, it’s fair to say the 49ers offense is ahead of their defense.

If you believe both teams can get to 24 points, then the ‘over’ is the easy winner. Atlanta has averaged 25.1 points per game at home and the 49ers have scored 31 and 41 in their two road non-divisional games with Kaepernick. We mention the division angle because San Francisco was stifled to exactly 13 points on the road against the Rams and Seahawks.

Lastly, we should mention that both Atlanta’s head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan won their first playoff games last week. Ryan takes a lot of heat, deservingly too. However in the four playoff games under Smith, the Falcons have allowed 30, 48, 24 and 28 points. Something tells me a defensive coordinator will be let go if the 49ers light up the scoreboard on Sunday.

AFC Championship – Baltimore at New England (CBS, 6:30 p.m.)
 
This number opened at 51 and has held steady all week long. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the total dip come Sunday based on the weather. The latest reports are expecting temperatures in the thirties and wind gusts between 15 to 25 miles per hour.

The Ravens have posted 24 and 38 points in their first two playoff games while giving up a combined 44 points, 35 coming to the Broncos last week. However, two of Denver’s scores came from its special teams unit.

Keeping New England close to that number won’t be easy considering its averaging 34.8 points per game. Outside of an 18-point anomaly to Arizona in Week 2, the Pats have posted 28-plus points at home and it’s busted the 30-point barrier six times in the other eight contests. In last week’s playoff win over Houston, the Patriots put up 41 against the Texans, which helped the ‘over’ improve to 12-5 on the season and 7-2 at home.

Baltimore has leaned to the ‘over’ (10-8) as well this season and if you take out its six divisional games, the ‘over’ has gone 8-4 (67%) for the Ravens.

These teams have met six times in the previous six seasons, which includes two playoff encounters, most recently last year’s AFC Championship. New England beat Baltimore 23-20 and that game stayed ‘under’ the closing number of 50 albeit very luckily. Five of the nine scores in that game were field goals and all five of the kicks were less than 40 yards. We also had dropped touchdowns and the potential of overtime with another missed field goal as well. For some unknown reason, the Ravens defense has been able to let QB Tom Brady and company move the ball at will but they concede field goals instead of touchdowns.

Earlier this season in Week 3, Baltimore avenged the loss in last year’s title game by beating New England 31-30 at home in a game that had back-and-forth action. The Patriots scored six times but had to settle for three field goals, two coming inside the 40-yard line. The 61 combined points was the most put up by both teams during the aforementioned six-game span.   

If you bet totals on a regular basis in football, you understand that the difference between winning and losing an ‘over’ or ‘under’ is the ratio of touchdowns to field goals. Last week, we saw 35 touchdowns and 10 field goals posted in the Divisional Playoffs. Are you surprised the ‘over’ went 4-0? Not at all. At the same time, you shouldn't be shocked that the ‘under’ went 4-0 in the Wild Card round when you realize there were 15 field goals and only 13 touchdowns?

Fearless Predictions

We split last week and dropped 10 cents ($10). On the season, we're ahead $580. Since we only have three games left in the season, let's go with one Best Bet and one Team Total wager. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end - Good Luck!

Best Total: Over Atlanta-San Francisco 48 1/2
 
Best Team Total: Over 22 Atlanta

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com

  
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