Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 11:17 AM
NFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUNDAY IS HEADIN' YOUR WAY - WE GET YOU KEY NOTES ON ALL FOUR TEAMS ...
PLUS THE COLLEGE B-BALL REPORT CHECKS OUT DUKE AND KENTUCKY
Love all the little ditty factoids that come spilling out after we first learn the matchups in the AFC and NFC Championship Games:
This year we were reminded that New England is making its fifth straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game with this Sunday's tilt in Denver while this marks the first-ever home conference championship game for the NFC's Carolina Panthers. No kidding!
Also, we've been reminded that the aforementioned Broncos have not "won it all" since stringing together those back-to-back Super Bowl crowns in 1997-98 (they beat Green Bay and then Atlanta in those title tilts) while on the NFC side the Arizona Cardinals have been to just one Super Bowl in their lifetime - one of the great post-season rides of all time back in the 2008 season before getting beaten by Pittsburgh 27-23 in SB 43 in Tampa Bay.
Okay, so these little ditties are fun to munch on but what about the recent AFC and NFC Championship Game histories? Here's the past five years' worth of championship games (note the home teams are in CAPS below):
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES, 2010-14
|2014||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Indianapolis||45-7|
|2013||DENVER||- 5||New England||26-16|
|2012||Baltimore||+ 8||NEW ENGLAND||28-13|
|2011||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Baltimore||23-20|
|2010||PITTSBURGH||- 4||New York Jets||24-19|
Note that since the NFL merger prior to the 1970, the Pittsburgh Steelers have made the most appearances in AFC Championship Games with 15 (they're 8-7 straight-up in these affairs) while New England ranks second with 11 - the Pats are 8-3 SU in AFC Championship Games - while Denver ranks fourth behind the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (11) as Denver's 7-2 SU in these games the past 45 years.
Yes, New England's fifth consecutive appearance here in an AFC Championship Game matches what the Oakland Raiders (1973-77) accomplished and remember the silver-and-black squads won just one Super Bowl (1977) during this time ... is that a warning to the Patriots who won last year's Super Bowl versus Seattle but none other since 2004?
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES, 2010-14
|2014||SEATTLE||- 8.5||Green Bay||28-22 (ot)|
|2013||SEATTLE||- 4||San Fran||23-17|
|2012||San Fran||- 4||ATLANTA||28-24|
|2011||NY Giants||+ 2||SAN FRAN||20-17 (ot)|
|2010||Green Bay||- 3.5||CHICAGO||21-14|
Since 1970, the San Francisco 49ers (15) have made the most appearances in NFC Championships Games while registering a shaky 6-9 SU mark and - as a matter of fact - there are nine franchises that have made more appearances in the NFC Championship Games than both Carolina (1-2 in these title bashes) and Arizona (only the Cardinals' second-ever appearance in an NFC Championship Game).
Dig a little deeper and you'll find that four of the last eight NFC Championship Games have gone into overtime (the New York Giants in 2007 and New Orleans Saints in 2009 joined the other winners on our list above) ... so might we expect "bonus time" in this Sunday's game in Charlotte? Hmmm.
P.S., the Dallas Cowboys (8) sport the most victories in NFC Championship Game history while dating back to 1970.
Get Sunday's NFL Championship Game Sides & Totals Winners when you check with us after 10 a.m. ET game-day morning as we steer you straight to the winner's circle with the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots at the Denver Broncos along with the NFC Championship Game between the Arizona Cardinals at the Carolina Panthers plus pile up the profits all this week/weekend long with NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and pound the books today!
Here's some other quick-hitter pointspread notes on all four teams playing in this weekend's NFL Championship Games ...
AFC - NEW ENGLAND at DENVER
#1 DENVER (13-4) - The Broncos are just 3-5-1 ATS (against the spread) at home this year after having compiled a 16-11-1 spread log as hosts from the 2012-14 campaigns. Note that Denver, however, has covered all four of its games when in the underdog role this year with outright wins against Kansas City, Green Bay and New England (in OT). Overall, the Broncos are 13-10 ATS as pups the past five years.
#2 NEW ENGLAND (13-4) - The Patriots are a sour 3-5 versus the vig away this year and go back the past five seasons and you'll discover that New England's 20-23 ATS on the road since the start of the 2011 season ... ugh! Overall, New England is 8-6-2 ATS as betting favorites this season - the Pats' lone dog appearance was the 40-32 romp over 1/5-point fav Buffalo way back in Week 2 play - and so laying a price on the road will be nothing new for Bill Belichick's team that has been betting favorites some 40 times the past three years.
NFC - ARIZONA at CAROLINA
#1 CAROLINA (16-1) - The Panthers are a perky 6-2 against the odds as home betting favorites this 2015 season and that includes last week's 31-24 Wild Card win/cover against 2.5-point pup Seattle. Overall, the NFC South champs are 7-2 ATS as hosts this season and Carolina is a nifty 17-9-1 spreadwise at home since the start of the 2013 campaign. One final pointspread note ... Carolina is 12-5 ATS this year and that's the team's best single-season spread mark since they went 12-7 versus the vig back in 2005 (yes, the last time the Panthers made it to a conference championship game).
#2 ARIZONA (14-3) - The numbers don't lie and they say these Cardinals are an electric 6-2 against the prices on the road this year and so that makes the Redbirds 16-8-1 ATS away since the Bruce Arians Era began in 2013. Now that 'Zona is playing this title tilt in Carolina, gotta note the Cards are only in the dog role for the second time all year long - they won at 3-point favorite Seattle 39-32 back in Week 10 - and going back to the Arians "theme" here you'll note that Arizona is 15-7 ATS as point-grabbers these past three years (a .682 winning rate).
THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT
Did you taking a nice, long look at this week's Associated Press Top 25 rankings?
If you comb all the way down towards the bottom of the poll, there's #20 Duke - who could well be out of the rankings following Monday night's 64-62 to 11.5-point road underdog Syracuse - along with #23 Kentucky.
In other words, how the mighty have fallen! Here's some analyses on these "name" teams:
#20 DUKE (14-5, 3-3 ACC) - Let long-time head coach Mike Krzyzewski wave his arms in disgust all he wants as was the case late in that aforementioned loss to the 'Cuse the other night. The Blue Devils ain't what they used to be and we don't want to hear all the blabbering excuses as it concerns injured F Amile Jefferson who has played just nine games this year. Duke ranks a lowly 76th nationally in scoring defense and maybe the effort put forth in that loss to Syracuse - a strong defensive showing to be sure - can help the Dookies bounce back.
Up Next: Saturday at N.C. State
#23 KENTUCKY (13-4, 3-2 SEC) - There's been a whole lotta noise regarding the future of Wildcats' head coach John Calipari ... mark us down as saying "no" to him shuffling off to the Brooklyn Nets as GM/head coach for the next several years. The here-and-now problem for "Coach Cal" is his 'Cats run a bit deeper than recent editions but the overall talent at the top isn't as good as it's been nor as good as advertised though G Jamal Murray (team-leading 17.8 ppg) is already a star. Could be a year where Kentucky's ousted even before it gets to the Sweet 16?
Up Next: Thursday at Arkansas
NOTE: Catch our AFC Championship Game Preview and team charts in the next Jim Sez column.