The AFC Championship betting trends that matter are dismal on both sides of the game line this weekend. New England was once again an uneven play in the book, going just 8-8 ATS on the year while Denver was a bit of a force thanks to a blistering start. The Broncos went 10-5-1 ATS during Manning’s finest campaign to date. Can they add another cover to that record? I’m not so sure. Let’s get to the five most important AFC Championship betting trends effecting this weekend’s matchup.
New England is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Road Games
There’s a strong argument that the Patriots don’t travel well. They’re not only 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games, they’re went just 4-4 SU in away games all season. That’s right – all of their losses this year were when they were away from Gillette Stadium. Even more concerning? Two of those losses were against Cincinnati and Carolina and the other two were against the Jets and Dolphins, two semi-fringe playoff teams. The other four victories were against Buffalo, Atlanta, Baltimore and Houston who were all dreadful this entire season. Some people just need one metric to really push their opinion one way or the other, and many are leaning on the fact that New England doesn’t play well against good teams in their own building. It’s an AFC Championship betting trend worth keeping in mind. You’re hesitating on the Patriots now, aren’t you? Admit it.
New England is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 AFC Championship Games
Uh oh. I’m not intentionally trying to pile on the Patriots here. As they say, numbers don’t lie. The Patriots lost to Baltimore last season 28-13 in the AFC Championship game and beat Baltimore the year before but didn’t cover. In 2007, they also defeated San Diego 21-12 but were massive favorites because they were undefeated and an unstoppable juggernaut with Randy Moss. The year before that, they lost to – gulp – Peyton Manning and the Colts 38-34 in an absolute thriller as +3.5 road dogs. New England is traditionally a pretty wonky bet as it is because they have a huge public factor and people always expect them to win. But at 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS in this particular game of the year, they’re not on solid ground.
Denver Broncos are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Playoff Games
I told you I wasn’t piling on the Patriots! The Broncos as a franchise are a terrible team to bet on in the playoffs. They failed to cover as -8.0 home favorites last weekend, lost outright as -9.5 favorites against Baltimore last year and shocked the universe the year before with Tebow by beating Pittsburgh as +7.5 dogs before getting walloped by the Patriots 45-10. To get to the fifth game you have to stretch all the way back to the 2005 season where they lost in the conference championship against Pittsburgh 17-34 as -3.0 favorites in a game that featured Jake Plummer at quarterback.
Even with Peyton Manning at the helm, the Broncos are not a lock as a betting team and the franchise’s sordid playoff history shouldn’t encourage you to bet on Denver blindly. Manning is a seemingly perennial disaster in the post season, and Denver as a club doesn’t perform well in the post season. This is definitely an AFC Championship betting trend you have to hang your hat in, at least partially.
Denver is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Home Games Against Good Road Teams
The actual AFC Championship betting trend is “against winning road teams”, and since the Patriots went an even 4-4 SU away from home this year, it’s hard to grade them completely one way or the other. The truth is that despite their regular season struggles, New England was also plagued by serious injuries all the way through. Denver was less than convincing against a patchwork San Diego Chargers team that wasn’t nearly as forceful as these Patriots. Despite going 5-2-1 ATS at home this season, you simply can not trust Denver all the way. They’re still averaging just +2.6 points against 2013 AFC playoff teams this season, and lost to the Patriots outright earlier in the year. People say that Denver has this terrific home field advantage, but I don’t see why.
Tom Brady is 10-4 SU Against Peyton Manning
This might be the most important metric. Granted, most of the games between the Patriots and Manning have included the Colts, but let me know if this sounds familiar: a great passing attack, an above-average run game that doesn’t necessarily strike fear in to the hearts of their opponent and a suspect defense. That’s how I’d describe every Colts team that Peyton Manning played with and that’s exactly how I qualify the Denver Broncos.
This being said, Manning is coming off a career year which is saying a boat load when you consider that he’s a four-time MVP. Manning’s unreal year was highlighted by breaching the 5,000 yard and 50 touchdown barriers. Nobody – including Marino, Brees and Brady – has ever done that before. Marino was the closest in 1984, falling just shy of the plateau with 48 scores in his best season as a pro statistically.
Manning versus the Patriots is a half-empty/half-full argument: Manning is either far superior to any version of himself over the last decade and a half, or the Patriots simply have his number. No matter how much you weigh each AFC Championship betting trend, Manning’s inability to get over the hump against the Patriots historically has to make you worried about Denver this weekend.