Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NFL Conference Championship Games Betting Trends

By Bruce Marshall

As we enter conference championship weekend, there are a few specific trends that merit review. "Intermediate/high" favorites (those laying between 7-9.5 points) are 15-4 vs. the number in conference championships since 1970. Included in those ranks were last year's Colts, a 30-17 winner over the Jets. Double-digit favorites, however, are only 4-8 vs. the line.

Home teams are unbeaten straight up in conference title games the past two years and have won better than two-thirds of the time since the merger (54 of 80). Conference title "totals" have also trended "over" (7-1) the last four seasons.

We also must again reference the many lopsided conference title scores from the past and should offer caution to handicappers whose initial instincts are often to side with a high quality team in what is a rare underdog role.

Although we have been treated to some compelling conference title games in recent years, final margins have still historically drifted into double digits in this round, including last year's aforementioned AFC finale.

Remember, almost half of the conference title games since the 1970 merger (38 of 80) have been decided by 14 points or more, with nearly two-thirds (53 of 80) being decided by double digits.

Following is a list of point-spread breakdowns and results of AFC & NFC Championships since 1970.

Favorites/Underdogs (one pick 'em)... 43-34-2
Favorites straight up... 52-27
Favored by 1-3 points... 12-9
Favored by 3.5-6.5 points... 12-13-2
Favored by 7-9.5 points... 15-4
Favored by 10 or more... 4-8

Home teams straight up... 54-26
Home teams vs. spread... 45-33-2
Home favorites vs. spread... 37-26-2
Home underdogs vs. spread... 8-6
Home pick'em vs. spread... 0-1

Overs/unders (since 1986)... 28-20

1-3 points... 10
4-6 points... 10
7-10 points... 11
11-13 points... 11
14 or more... 38

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