ONLY four teams remain in the race for Super Bowl LI.
The divisional round last weekend resulted in two favourites (Atlanta and New England) progressing through to the conference championships this Sunday, whereas outsiders Green Bay and Pittsburgh overcame underdog status to keep their title dreams alive.
The Atlanta Falcons face off against the Green Bay Packers in the first game this Sunday, which will be a gun-slinging battle of outstanding quarterbacks.
Then the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will do battle with two of the most experienced quarterbacks in NFL. Both teams know what it takes to win the big games and the winner will most-likely head to Super Bowl 51 as the favourite.
There’s no better place to lock in your conference championship wager than 5dimes, which is offering great odds for both games this Sunday.
Falcons vs. Packers
3pm Sunday, January 22 at Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Against the spread record:
Falcons – 200
It’s hard to believe a team is better on the offensive side of the ball than the Green Bay Packers, but Atlanta has them covered in the stats department.
Aaron Rodgers has led the Packers to an outstanding season and they have scored an average of 36 points in their last two playoff games, but waiting in the wings are the Falcons which are flying high.
The Falcons haven’t scored less than 33 points in its last five games, which also included two games where they scored 41 and 42 points. It’s a deadly offense which is led by quarterback Matt “Ice” Ryan, who is certainly living up to his name this season.
Ryan has thrown for a record 4944 yards this season with 38 touchdowns and only seven intercepts. The Falcons average a total of 430.5 yards per game, which is almost 50 yards better per game than the Packers.
Atlanta also rank better defensively after only allowing totals of 13, 14 and 16 during their last five wins. Not usually known for their defense, Atlanta has stepped up to the plate and looked like a real Super Bowl contender.
The big question for Falcons bettors is whether the Falcons can play on the big stage. They don’t have a very good record in the playoffs and they’re coming up against Aaron Rodgers who raises his game when it matters.
Rodgers has thrown for 40 touchdowns this season and he has looked extraordinary in wins against the Giants and the Cowboys. Both teams weren’t able to keep up with Rodgers, who even without top wide receiver Jordy Nelson, threw for big yardage at will.
His ability to scramble out of the pocket and find open receivers is incredible and Falcons bettors could be left with a sickening feel in their stomachs when this is done.
Home ground advantage plays into the favour of the Falcons, which have been consistently good this season, but they’re only 4-5 as a favorite and the Packers have an air of destiny about them this season.
Five points for an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is too good to pass up.
Our tip: Packers +5 (-110) at 5dimes.
Patriots vs. Steelers
6.40pm Sunday, January 22, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro
Against the spread record:
The New England Patriots weren’t their vintage selves against the Houston Texans, but they were still able to win by 18 points and that should put fear into the Steelers.
Led by champion quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have lost only two games this season, but they both came at home which is why bookmakers are tentative with the current spread line.
Apart from those two losses, the Patriots have been unstoppable this season and Brady is leading the way up front. Brady has thrown for 28 touchdowns, after missing the first four games of the season, and he has thrown for only four intercepts, with two coming last week on tipped passes against Houston.
Adding to the Patriots offense is the return of LeGarrette Blount who has 299 carries for 12 touchdowns. LeGarrette is a key player for the Patriots as a running game allows Tom Brady more options in the passing game.
The Patriots are one of the toughest teams to beat in the playoffs and its recent success in the 2015 Super Bowl will give them all the confidence they need moving forward.
The Steelers bring a similar game plan with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. The Steelers will use a good mix of passing and running plays, but its key to winning this game will be the performance of Le’Veon Bell.
Bell had an outstanding game against the Chiefs and he continues to cause opposing defenses headaches. Bell has only seven touchdowns for the season, but he’s not a power running back. He uses his light feet to dance around defenses which could frustrate the Patriots.
Bettors know what to expect from both teams heading into this conference championship and it should make for great viewing. We can expect to see a tight game where the defense should rise to the occasion, but ultimately the home team should prevail.
We’re picking the Patriots to score a late clinching touchdown to win by 10 points.
Our tip: Patriots -6 at Bovada.lv