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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM

All four bye teams won at home last week in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. So, we have the #1 and #2 seeds in both conferences battling this week for the right to go to the Super Bowl. In other words, no Cinderella stories!

The Futures pricing reflects that, as this week’s 3-point favorites are “co-favorites” to win the league championship, while this week’s underdogs aren’t far behind them because they’re so talented. It just wouldn’t be much of a surprise whoever ultimately wins the big game.



New England +200

Carolina +200

Arizona +400

Denver +400

You’ll find some slight variation out in the marketplace. Those are composite odds from Nevada and offshore that capture the essence of the race. If you still haven’t placed any bets, but have a team in mind now…shop around to get the best return on your dollar.

We can deduce from those prices that a Carolina/New England Super Bowl would be near pick-em if it was being played this week…same as an Arizona/Denver Super Bowl. Futures prices tend to reflect current and projected moneyline prices. If New England was expected right now to be a big favorite over Carolina…they both wouldn’t be +200 to go the distance from a simultaneous starting point as 3-point favorites. Both the Patriots and Panthers are within arm’s reach of -160 this week to win outright, with the return on Denver and Arizona around +140.

(Therefore…if you really like New England to go the distance…and think they’ll be favored if they reach the Super Bowl…you should consider +200 now because it’s the best you’re going to see!)

Even though things seem pretty cut-and-dried right now with this foursome, there are still plenty of ways things could get interesting. Some notes from last week.

*I haven’t seen this publicized much anywhere…but all four of those teams were outgained in their victories last week! So, these aren’t truly “dominant” teams in terms of crushing the souls of their opponents. New England just happened to finish their drives better than Kansas City. Arizona was a big disappointment until overtime. Carolina was helped by horrible turf as they went for the jugular early (before losing the second half 24-0). Denver managed to avoid turnovers and eke out a victory despite losing yards-per-play 6.7 to 4.6. (The main reason New England is -3 in Denver this Sunday is that big stat loss for the Broncos last week…remember that’s the equivalent to New England being about -6 on a neutral field, or -9 at home!).

*All four of the defenses allowed more than 375 yards in regulation, which isn’t really championship caliber defense. They also only forced a combined 5 turnovers in four games. So, we had a lot of playing relatively soft in the middle of the field before clamping down in the red zone. That’s not guaranteed to work for any of them two weeks in a row, particularly with the caliber of quarterbacks they’ll be facing this week.

*The fact that almost all teaser possibilities covered last weekend tells you how competitive playoff football is right now. You probably heard that Las Vegas took a bath on two-team teasers in the Divisional Round. Games landed so close to the numbers that all eight teams covered their teaser spreads…and seven of the eight possible totals teasers did as well. If you used the Under in Seattle/Carolina (Under 48 off the original total of 42), that hurt you. ALL OTHER POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS WON! And, the most obvious “basic strategy” teaser of Arizona -1 or -1.5 and Seattle +8 or +8.5 snuck through in both games. All sharps and sharp mimics were on that combination.

It will be interesting to see how the games play out. Anything can happen when things are this competitive amongst very good but not necessarily great teams. I’ll have another NFL report up for you Friday afternoon to review sharp betting in both games through the week.

Between now and then, I’ll be talking about and picking basketball. You can purchase my top selections in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. A busy week in the baskets will help us build bankroll for Conference Championship weekend in the NFL.

Here’s a look at this week’s schedule…

Wednesday: College Basketball Futures Prices (and other hoop notes)

Thursday: NBA “Best and Worst” Pointspread Discussion

Friday: NFL Conference Championship “Sharps” Report

Thanks for reading our last NFL “Futures” report of the season. There will only be two teams left after this weekend! So, I’ll cover the pointspread, total and moneylines for the Super Bowl in one big report the Friday before kickoff. Hope you’ll join me for basketball now that football’s winding down. See you Wednesday.  


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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