The NFL Conference Championships kick off on Sunday January 18. When the NFL reaches its own “final four,” it has an aura of magic surrounding it.
The NFL version is sure to have surprises when the Green Bay Packers visit the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts visit the New England Patriots.
Of the four head coaches, three have coached teams during a Championship Game – Mike McCarthy for the Packers, Pete Carroll for the Seahawks and Bill Belichick for the Patriots.
McCarthy and Carroll won their only conference title games with straight up and against the spread victories.
Belichick has a record of 5-3 straight up and 3-5 against the spread in his 8 previous conference championships, including 5 consecutive ATS losses in his past five. He is 0-5 ATS as well in conference title games after his team has scored 24 or more points the previous weekend in the divisional round.
Despite up-tempo, no huddle passing attacks increasing in popularity today in the NFL, any head coach will be the first to say that running the ball is key to success in this league, especially during the postseason.
It is no coincidence that since the 21-17 win by the New York Giants over New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 22 of the past 28 straight up winners in the playoffs rushed for 100 yards or more in their win.
In fact, the teams that have outrushed their opponents in conference title games are 22-12 SU as well as 22-11-1 ATS.
The six teams managing to rush for over 165 yards won as well as covered each of the six games.
While each of the four teams in this week’s title games average over 100 yards rushing per game for the season, just Seattle allows fewer than 100 yards rushing defensively.
Green Bay allows the most yards defensively on the ground at 121 per game.
Conference championship teams that are coming off a win on the road, this season that is Indianapolis, that was preceded with a win at home, are 8-4 straight up and 10-2 against the spread since 1998. Those figures included a record of 6-0 ATS as a dog of 4 points or more.
Ten of the past 15 championship games with a point total at 46 or higher, have cashed to the OVER.
New England is a perfect 10-0 SU over its past 10 games against opponents from the AFC South.
Seattle has a record of 5-0 SU as well as ATS in its past 5 games at home against
Andrew Luck the quarterback for the Colts is 5-1 straight up and ATS in games the Colts are underdogs in his career against opponents with a better than .750 winning percentage.