We are down to the final four teams, with this weekend’s winners heading to the Super Bowl. One week after three of the four home teams lost outright, all four home teams (and the top two seeds in each conference) were able to win outright this past weekend.
Those results set up a pair of high-profile matchups, including the latest chapter in the epic Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady rivalry in the early game when New England visits Denver. The online sportsbooks list the visiting Patriots as a solid three-point favorite, which appears to be somewhat of a trap line. The early action (which is usually the sharp action), has come in big on the visiting Patriots.
These teams met once in the regular season, also in Denver, with the Broncos handing New England their first loss of the season in late November. Peyton Manning did not play in that game, and the Broncos were able to overcome a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime and eventually win on a 48-yard rushing touchdown.
The 30-24 final score of that overtime game sailed over the 43-point total, however only 21 points combined were scored through the first three quarters of that game. The online sportsbooks have upped the over/under since that first meeting, with Sunday’s game listed at 44.5 points.
Over in the NFC, Carolina looks to remain perfect at home and are listed as three-point home chalk over the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is a formidable opponent, and has the type of passing offense that has given the Panthers defense fits in the second half of the season. Panthers are 8-0 straight up and 6-2 against the spread at home this season, but Arizona has also been very good on the road going 7-1 straight up and 6-2 ATS.
Both Arizona and Carolina have very good defenses, but have played more Overs than Unders this season. That trend is especially true when Carolina is at home (5-2-1 Over) and when Arizona is on the road (5-3 Over). The online sportsbooks have accounted for this, releasing the Over/Under on this game at a relatively high 47.5 points. The pointspread and total suggest the online sportsbooks are looking for a final score of roughly 25-22, so that would be a good starting point for novice football bettors on where to begin handicapping the game.
Tensions are always high at this point of the playoffs, but the bickering between New England and Denver seems more prominent than usual. Both teams are full of experienced players and don’t need any extra motivation with so much riding on the outcome.
Don’t forget to get your Super Bowl Squares this weekend and enjoy the games – we’ll check in next week with our Super Bowl betting preview.