Sev here. Back with another AnteUp Advice column for these stellar AFC and NFC Championship games. Tap in for some important information before putting in your picks this weekend. Let’s take a look at the match ups, review some history, and identify some trends that will help us make the right picks to win some money this weekend.
NFC Championship: Rams @ Saints.
The top dogs of the NFC come face to face as the LA Rams head to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints. These two have met previously in New Orleans this season in Week 9 which ended up a victory for the Saints, 45-35.
There are several variables that will affect this game compared to the Week 9 contest and make this pick a bit more complex. The Rams are now phasing CJ Anderson (quite effectively) into the run game, keeping Todd Gurley on fresh legs late in the game. The Rams also will have Aqib Talib back on the field – a major addition considering Mike Thomas scorched the Rams secondary for over 200 yards in Week 9.
On the opposite side of the field, we are going to see what I think will be the biggest deciding factor in this game. The Saints are going to have to play without Sheldon Rankins on the interior D-line.
Trends and Picks
This match up is going to be an interesting bet for both sides. The Saints are currently sitting as home favorites by 3.5 points – with the over/under for the game set at 57 points. Vegas knows that things could get hot in the Superdome, and it is important to note that the home team has covered the spread in 7 out of the last 8 meetings between these teams and Drew Brees is 6-0 at home. History favors the home team as the right pick.
However, as much as we love history and trends here on the AnteUp columns, we love making money more. With that being said, I‘m advising you to take the LA Rams +3.5. With the loss of Rankins, the Rams dual threat rush attack, and Talib back to pick up the slack on Mike Thomas, expect LA to keep it close and cover the points. Oh, and pick the over while you’re at it, by the way.
Final Score: Rams 34, Saints 31
AFC Championship: Patriots @ Chiefs.
The game of the weekend in my opinion will be the AFC Championship Game where the New England Patriots will be traveling to a chilly Arrowhead stadium to face the 1-seed Kansas City Chiefs.
What we know about this game comes from these teams’ previous contest this season – where the Patriots came out on top 43-40. But this week, the Patriots will be playing in KC, where the expected temperature could be below freezing. Vegas currently has the Chiefs as 3-pt favorite on Sunday, and the total for points has been dropping all week, currently at 54.4.
Stats and Picks
History and trends are fairly split concerning these two teams in this game. Andy Reid is 2-2 vs Patriots as the Chiefs HC, but in the playoffs overall Reid is 0-2 against Bill Belichick. It should also be noted that the Patriots are hardly as bad a road team as they are made out to be – going 17-8 against the spread in their last 25.
What makes this game so hard to pick is Patrick Mahomes. He is undoubtedly going to be the biggest factor in this contest. Can he overcome the weather and continue to lead the dynamic Chiefs offense? I think so. But on that same note it would be foolish to bet against Belichick and Brady against a Chiefs team that is a miserable 1-6 against the spread at home.
Deep down, it hurts me to say this. I am from Kansas City and will be vehemently rooting for my boys to lay the smack down on TB12. But I promised to lead you, my readers, into the promised land. And that is why I am telling you to pick the New England Patriots +3 and the UNDER. I simply cannot pick against Brady and Belichick in a big game, and I think Vegas is onto something with their total point slide.
Final Score: Patriots 27, Chiefs 24
Go forth my friends. May luck be your lady this weekend.