Oddsmaker Ken White, chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, predicts Super Bowl XLII will be a rerun of the NFL's 1997 Green Bay-New England mid-winter extravaganza, while Sin City bookmakers report the bulk of early wagering for this weekend's conference championships is split between a favorite and a dog.
Green Bay, a 60/1 long shot to win the Super Bowl when the 2007 regular season kicked off, is a touchdown pick over the surging wild card New York Giants in the NFC title game.
The Giants, winners of nine straight on the road, stunned Dallas 21-17 in one divisional matchup last weekend, while the Packers rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to crush Seattle 42-20 at snowy Lambeau Field in the other.
Unbeaten New England (17-0), a two touchdown pick, hosts San Diego in an affair between what White calls the two hottest teams in pro football in the AFC Championship.
The Pats ousted Jacksonville from the postseason 31-20 and the Chargers stunned 2007 Super Bowl champion Indianapolis 28-24.
Conference championships will be played in Green Bay and Foxboro on Sunday.
"We've already received a ton of money on the Packers," Hilton SuperBook supervisor Jeff Sherman said.
"The money's all been on the dog in the other game.
"We opened at 15 and we're now at 14."
Wynn and Harrah's both had the number at 14 1/2 Tuesday morning; Wynn also had Green Bay laying 7 1/2.
The Patriots are a huge 1/3 Hilton choice to win the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
The Packers are a 4/1 second pick, with the Chargers 10/1 and the Giants assuming the long shot's mantle at 12/1.
"Straight up I think the two favorites will win," White said, cautioning, however, that "anything's possible" in light of Sunday's upsets of the Cowboys and Colts.
The oddsmaker says New York's best chance is "just to keep doing what the Giants have been doing."
"They're playing well, playing good D, showing depth and winning on the road," White declared.
"They totally outplayed Dallas Sunday.
"They made adjustments and the Cowboys didn't."
White pronounced Eli Manning "a big-time quarterback" and says the fact Peyton's little brother has the Giants in the conference championship speaks for itself.
"He had a good, not great, year," White said.
"He's playing with confidence.
"He completed 56 percent of his passes playing in a home stadium where it's difficult to complete passes if it's windy.
"Eli has what it takes.
"It's generally thought that it takes four years for a player to develop into a solid NFL quarterback and he's there.
"It's going to be a tough game, but I'd lean to the Giants with the points."
Straight up is another matter, especially with well-seasoned veteran Brett Favre calling the shots for Green Bay.
"The Packers are home and they've got Favre," White said.
"Last weekend we saw (Ryan) Grant has also given them a running game."
He expects weather could be a factor in Green Bay.
"It's going to be extremely cold, something like 10 degrees, which will be tough on both teams," White said.
"I think 7 may be a little high."
LVSC sent the total out at 44 and it continues to drop.
Stores on Tuesday morning had the over/under at between 41 1/2 and 42 1/2.
"If it's not windy I think the total is going the wrong way," said White, who correctly took the OVER in Green Bay's victory over Seattle.
A straight up Chargers triumph over the Brady Bunch isn't out of the question either, White believes, despite the double-digit point-spread.
The Pats have struggled at times lately while failing to cover, including against the Jaguars last weekend.
"The Pats need to step it up a notch this weekend," he said.
White notes the pressure is on New England, which is seeking to go 18-0 en route to a Super Bowl title and unblemished 19-0 slate.
"This is going to be a pressure-packed game," he observed.
"The longer the Pats go without losing, the more the pressure builds. I think San Diego will keep it close."
If they are to beat New England, the oddsmaker points to several things the Chargers must do.
"First they need to run the football," he said.
"They need to control the line of scrimmage and they need to convert on third down."
White expects to see both running back LaDanian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers on the field Sunday, though both left the game versus Indy with injuries.
"They're listed as probable and I expect them to be fine," he said.
"I think (Coach) Norv Turner made the right decision in taking them both out last weekend rather than risk further injury.
"I can't imagine either player not being ready to play in this one."
New England nipped San Diego last season for the right to face Indianapolis in the AFC Championship.
The Pats-Chargers total was shipped at 50, but also steadily was dropping. Books had it between 47 1/2 and 48 1/2 on Tuesday.
"The pros say go UNDER," White said.
White doesn't expect weather to be as much of a factor in Foxboro as in Green Bay.
"The storms are due Friday and Saturday," he said. "It should be fine by Sunday.
"It'll be cold, in the 20s. but I don't think it will affect the scoring."