In about two hours, the Conference Championship weekend kicks off with the Atlanta Falcons hosting the San Francisco 49ers. After the NFC Champion is crowned, the AFC Championship Game will kick off with the New England Patriots hosting the Baltimore Ravens.
Let’s start with the NFC. At the print of this article, the 49ers are a four point favorite at the Georgia Dome according to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The game originally opened at three, but has gone up a point to the current mark of four. The over-under on points is 48.5 points and this only moved up by a half-a-point.
The Falcons have the honor of being the biggest home underdog in a championship game since the playoffs expanded in 1978 and the biggest home underdog as a number one seed in that time. In other words, the Falcons are not getting much respect. It is a bit surprising considering the Falcons are relatively healthy entering this contest.
Here are some other ditties to keep in mind with this game. The 49ers are 5-1 off a win of 14 points or more (they defeated the Green Bay Packers 45-31 last week at Candlestick Park). The Falcons are 3-19 against the spread at home after a home win. So if both of these trends hold true, the 49ers look like they’re heading to New Orleans. With the confidence of the odds makers, gambling public and trends, the 49ers look like a good pick today and should cover the spread. Take the over as well. I think both teams should be able to score some points inside the dome.
49ers fans here’s one other thing to get excited about. If the 49ers do win today, the last two teams to win an NFC Championship on the road eventually became Super Bowl Champions (Packers in 2011 and New York Giants in 2012).
After the Halas Trophy is presented in Atlanta, the ball will be kicked in Foxboro. This game opened as a 10-point spread favoring the Patriots at home. Interestingly enough, heavy money has come in on the Ravens and lowered it to seven and-a-half according to the MGM Grand. The total is 51 points up from 50.5 points to open.
These two teams have played close games recently. In five of the last six contests, the games have been decided by six points or less (the exception was the Ravens Wild Card round win in 2010 at New England by a final score of 33-14). Earlier this season, the Ravens squeaked out a 31-30 win at home. But the Patriots are 4-2 in those games.
So that seems to tell you that the smart money goes on the Ravens today. While I am not suggesting a victory for the Ravens, but it seems like this game should be closer than the opening and current line suggests. Frankly, I think the Patriots will win, but I do not see this being a walk-in-the-park. I’d also recommend the under as both teams will keep things fairly conservative.