Road Wins A Split Decision For Book On Championship Weekend
How rare was it that the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens won on the road in their respective Conference Championship games on Sunday? It was just the third time both road teams won away title games in the same season since the 1970 merger and first such occurrence since 1997.
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The 49ers were rare road favorites but they failed to cover the 4.5 points in a 28-24 come-from-behind victory at NFC top-seeded Atlanta. San Francisco winning after a 17-0 deficit marked the third-biggest postseason road comeback in NFL playoff history and the biggest ever in the NFC Championship game. The franchise had lost its previous five road playoff games since winning the 1988 NFC title game in Chicago.
The Falcons, meanwhile, were first NFC No. 1 seed to lose in the Conference Championship game since the 2003 Eagles. Ironically, Atlanta also was the first home team that plays in a dome to lose a Conference Championship game since the Falcons went to Minnesota and upset the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC title game following the 1998 season. That remains the only Super Bowl appearance for the Falcons. With Atlanta QB Matt Ryan separating his shoulder late in Sunday's loss, he may not have been able to play in this year's Super Bowl regardless. Ryan did win the weekend in terms of passing yards with a franchise-record 396, which paid out at +250 (second-favorite).
Atlanta barely covering was a big win for the book as the Falcons took only slightly more than 41% of the action on the spread. There was a slight lean on the moneyline on San Francisco at -200, but with the short odds it still was a solid result for the book. Bettors cashed in on the total with more than 70% leaning over 48.5 points. It was the sixth-consecutive NFC Championship game decided by seven points or fewer, the longest streak in NFL history on either the NFC or AFC side.
The book's top player prop result of championship weekend was 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick under 62.5 rushing yards. In the Divisional Round win over Green Bay, Kaepernick rushed for an NFL quarterback-record 181 yards along with two touchdowns. The Falcons' game plan was to force the second-year QB to beat them with his arm. Kaepernick rushed just two times for 21 yards against Atlanta. It would prove to be the second-biggest player prop win of the entire NFL season for the book, trailing only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson under 132.5 rushing yards in Week 17 at Green Bay. Bettors leaned extremely heavy on the under there and Peterson rushed for 199 in just missing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.
The two top player prop results of the weekend for bettors also were on 49ers: Kaepernick's longest rush over 18.5 yards and running back Frank Gore over 80.5 rushing yards. Kaepernick had one designed running play all game and it went for minus-two yards, but he did have a scramble for 23 yards. That would prove to be the book's top player prop loss of the entire NFL season. Gore had 90 yards rushing on 21 carries.
In the AFC title game, the Ravens got payback for last year's near-miss with a 28-13 shocker in New England. How unbelievable was that? The Patriots led 13-7 at halftime and had been 67-0 under Tom Brady when leading at the half in Foxboro. The Baltimore defense held the NFL's top scoring offense without a point in the second half and picked Brady off two times for the second-straight season in the championship game.
Baltimore went off as a 10-point underdog and was a huge win for bettors with more than 61% of the lean on the Ravens. Players won even bigger on the moneyline with nearly 55% taking Baltimore at +260. The book did salvage a win on the total with only 28% taking the under 51 points. No doubt the windy conditions played a role in that.
The top player prop result from that game for bettors was on Brady over 305.5 passing yards. He threw for 320 yards and passed Brett Favre for the most overall passing yards in the postseason in NFL history with 5,949. The book won on Brady under 2.5 touchdown passes and Ravens running back Ray Rice under 77.5 rushing yards. Rice finished with 48 yards and was the 2/1 favorite to have the most rushing yards of any player on Sunday. Gore won that at 11/4 (second-favorite). Atlanta's Julio Jones led all players with 182 receiving yards, which paid out at 11/2.
The 49ers have opened as four-point favorites with the total at 47.5 for Super Bowl XLVII on February 3 in New Orleans in the battle of Harbaugh brothers.
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