After the action-packed NFL divisional round where all the favorites dispatched their respective counterparts, we are now staring at only four teams remaining in contention for the NFL’s Holy Grail, the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Up next are the conference championships that would finally determine who among the Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, and Seahawks will punch tickets to MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2.
In the AFC, the Broncos made it past the divisional round by staving off San Diego while the Patriots pummeled Indianapolis to set up a huge match-up between two generational QBs in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Brady have two more Super Bowl rings than Manning but it figures that the latter may just be a title behind once this season concludes – at least that’s what online sportsbook TopBet is suggesting by putting the Broncos as +200 chalks to win Super Bowl XLVII compared to the Patriots’ odds of +500.
In their upcoming tussle in the conference championship, Denver is likewise tagged as the favorite to win on Sunday. The Broncos are currently 4.5-point home favorites and are looking to return the favor to the Patriots. Recall that in Week 12, New England dealt the Broncos a gut-wrenching 34-31 overtime loss as 2-point chalks.
The Patriots are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as underdogs by six points or less. As for the Broncos, they are among the hardest to beat at home as reflected by their 8-1 SU record in their last nine games at Mile High City.
If the AFC conference championship game pits two accomplished quarterbacks against each other, the NFC title game, meanwhile, boasts a match-up of two young QBs in the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
This is not the first time the two teams fought this season. Back in Week 2, Seattle rudely welcomed the 49ers by administering a 29-3 blowout of its visitors. But quelling any forecasts that the Seahawks are going to duplicate that feat on Sunday is the apparent fact that San Francisco appears to be a much more improved team than the one they beat last September.
An improved San Francisco or not, the NFL betting odds still favor the Seahawks, who will play Sunday as 3-point favorites. Judging by Marshawn Lynch’s monstrous performance against the Saints, the 49ers 4th ranked rushing defense (95.9 yards allowed per game) will have its hands full. Conversely, Seattle’s NFL best passing defense (172.0 passing yards per game allowed) will play a pivotal role, especially that 49ers star Michael Crabtree, who wasn’t in that Week 2 match, is back in San Francisco’s fold to add a highly needed luster to his team’s passing game.
Seattle is near unbeatable at home with a 9-1 SU record in its last 10 games in CenturyLink Field while San Francisco will enter Sunday’s game on a five-game road game winning streak and went 4-0-1 ATS in that stretch.
Although the Broncos and Seahawks are the poised to make it to the Super Bowl XLVIII, the possibility that any of the Patriots and the 49ers, or even both, could sneak right past the two favorites.