GREEN BAY BY 6 OVER TAMPA BAY
PACKERS -4 / 51.5 SUNDAY-JAN 24 3:05 PM ET – FOX TV
There is a first time for everything, even for Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, who has never played in an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. He’ll check that off his list today. In fact, Rodgers’ 190 career starts in the regular season are the most by any starting quarterback to make his fi rst conference championship start at home. To get here the Packers had to mow down the Rams’ top-ranked scoring defense (18.1) last week.
So let’s try and clear the air here. Our well-oiled machine reminds us that home teams in NFL Championship Round games are 55-25 SU and 45-34-1 ATS since the 1980 season, including 32-12 SU and 29-15 ATS as a favorite of fewer than 8 points. NFL playoff home teams who lost in title round last season are 44-7 SU and 34-15- 2 ATS, including 22-3 ATS versus foes coming off a double-digit win.
In addition, NFL favorites with same-season loss revenge in the title game are 8-3 ATS, including 7-1 ATS when favored by fewer than 8 points. The Bucs held Green Bay to a season-low 201 yards in their 38-10 win as 2-point home dogs in October. Tampa enters after having avenged their worst loss of the season (and worst of Bruce Arians’ and Tom Brady’s careers) last week, thus getting back up to that same emotional level for this game should prove difficult.
And lest we forget, Brady is 25-5 SU and 21-9 ATS in his career when coming off a SU underdog win (5-0 SUATS as a dog of 3 or fewer points in this game), including 14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS versus winning foes (is your head spinning yet?). Then again, visiting teams in championship games, coming off an away win are just 12-28 SU and 16-24 ATS, including 4-14 SU and 5-13 off back-to-back roadies. While we could continue going back and forth on angles and situations, the bottom line is it’s Rodgers’ turn to exact his share of revenge today.
Buffalo over KANSAS CITY by 4
OPENING LINES: CHIEFS -1 / 50.5 SUNDAY-JAN 24 6:40 PM ET – CBS TV
Rest assured, the defending champion Chiefs bring plenty of armory into this battle. That is, of course, provided all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes clears concussion protocol and returns for this contest. For openers, No. 1 seeds in championship games off a SU win-no-cover loss are 9-4 SU and 8-4-1 ATS, including 8-1 SU and 7-1-1 ATS if they scored more than 20 points in their last game. And there is Andy Reid, who brings a stodgy 21-12 SU and 23-10 ATS record versus AFC East opponents into this contest.
The Bills don’t fi gure to back down here, though, not behind a unit that is 10-7 SU and 11-5-1 ATS the past two seasons as a dog of 6 or fewer points. On cue, Josh Allen enters with a 107.2 QB Rating, just one notch below Patrick Mahomes’ 108.2, and his sterling 13-8 SU and 13-6-2 ATS career record on the NFL highway – including 8-3 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in games in which the Bills bring a greater than .666 record into the game, and 4-0-1 ATS a dog inside that. And it doesn’t hurt knowing that Buffalo is 4-0 SU in its last four AFC Conference title games.
And then there is a potential sharpness issue surrounding Mahomes who, should he return, has played only 2.5 quarters of action since 2021 has rolled around. We simply cannot back a team laying points at this stage of the season that has not beaten the spread since November 1st, going 0-8-1 ATS since then. Not when defending Super Bowl champions are only 7-11 SU and 8-10 ATS in the postseason against greater than .750 foes, including 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS against opponents coming off three consecutive wins.
With Buffalo 6-2 SU against fellow playoff squads this season, Bills head coach Sean McDermott 8-1 ATS as a non-division dog against winning foes, and same season non-division revengers 15-8 ATS in conference title games since 1998, we’ll back destiny’s child here.