An exciting NFL Wild Card weekend was followed up with a highly predictable divisional playoff round that failed to have much end-game drama. The Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots all set the stage for two conference championship games that feature the four overall best teams in the league.
The Seahawks and 49ers split the regular-season series 1-1. When the Patriots and Broncos played at New England, the Broncos blew a 24-0 halftime lead en route to a 34-31 overtime defeat. Careless and uncharacteristic turnovers from both teams played a role in Denver jumping out to a big lead and New England making a big comeback.
Here are some NFL picks against the spread for the 2014 NFC and AFC Championship Game. Spread winners with (- or +) next to team name. Straight winners listed at end of each game. All lines from covers.com as of Jan. 15.
Team at Team (Winner:)
New England Patriots (+5.5) at Denver Broncos (Winner: Broncos), OVER-UNDER: 55.5
San Francisco 49ers (+3.5) at Seattle Seahawks (Winner: Seahawks), OVER-UNDER: 39
Some rather large lines for games that could easily go either way. It’s hard to see either of these teams getting blown out. I’d look at each game on a +7 to -7 line. Neither team should suffer anything greater than a seven-point loss. That leads me toward picking the teams with points.
It’s worth noting that in San Francisco’s last two trips to Seattle, Seattle has outscored them 71-16. Don’t expect that type of dominance against a 49ers team who’s coming off their eighth consecutive victory. The 49ers are in their third straight conference championship game. They’ll weather the storm, at least better than they have in their last two trips at the 12th Man.
Taking Tom Brady and 5.5 points? That seems too easy. Peyton Manning doesn’t have his greatest performances during the playoffs (although, the criticism he receives is overdone). Good teams have been able to keep Denver below 30 points. The San Diego Chargers have consistently played the Broncos tough; why not New England?
Who are you picking for the AFC Championship and NFC Championship Game? Give us your take in the comments, Twitter or Facebook.