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NFC and AFC Championship Betting Picks, Stats and Trends Primer

The NFL’s version of the Final Four is here and these games are absolutely stacked. This season’s conference finals also present a serious challenge for bettors as clear cases can be made for any of the four teams to cover the spread or win straight up, while nailing down a totals pick isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.

One thing that is pretty clear-cut, however, is that home teams have dominated this round for five straight years, going 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS. Specific to the AFC, the favorite is 10-2 SU in the last 12 AFC title games, so this isn’t a round that produces a lot of upsets.

The home team is 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS in the last 10 conference finals games.

The lack of success for underdogs in this round shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Playing on the road in January can’t be easy, and the home team in most of these games will always be better on paper as evidenced by their higher seed.

But, like I often point out, the past doesn’t always predict the future and all heavily slanted trends eventually regress, so your best bet is to look at each game individually and make your bet based on how the teams match up ... Scratch that, your best bet is the bet you get right, but still give more consideration to the individual matchups than the trends.

Another great bet in life is to not consume any liquids late into the evening as this will interrupt a night of sleep when you need to wake up in the middle of the night to empty your bladder. You’ll win every time by following this rule.

On to the good stuff! 

Best Bets for the conference finals:

Based primarily on the content in this article, here’s my best bets for the NFC and AFC championship games using Bovada lines from Thursday, January 18:

Good luck this weekend (unless you’re betting the opposite of my picks)!

Conference Championship Round Stats and Trends:

Rams at Saints
  • The road team is 0-10 SU and 2-8 ATS in the last 10 conference finals games.
  • The Saints are 15-2 SU in their last 17 games at home.
  • The Saints are 9-0 SU in their last nine games at home vs teams with winning records.
  • Over their last six games, the Saints have been outscored 54-10 in the 1st quarter. The Rams ranked second in 1st Q points this season and are +0.5 on the 1st Q spread on Sunday.
  • Rams road games have an average combined score of 48.63, which is 15.15 points lower than at home.
  • The Saints have a league-high 80.56% red-zone TD scoring percentage at home. The Rams are at 55.26% on the road.
  • Over their last three games, the Rams have a league-best 58.33% red-zone TD conversion percentage.
  • Over their last three games, the Rams have held opponents to a league-best 18.75% third-down conversion percentage.
  • The total has gone UNDER in six of the Saints' last eight games. (Avg combined score: 41.13)
  • The Rams are 0-3 SU and ATS in their last three games on the road vs the Saints. (Avg losing margin: 18.67)
  • The total has gone OVER in five of the Rams' last six games on the road vs the Saints.
  • The weather is not expected to impact this game.
  • The Saints are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games after consecutive ATS losses.
  • The Rams are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games on the road.
  • The Rams are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog.
  • The Saints are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games in the playoffs as home favorites.
  • Sean Payton is 6-0 SU in home playoff games. The Saints are just 2-4 ATS in these games, though.
  • Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs vs the Rams in Week 9. Michael Thomas had 211 receiving yards with a TD and Alvin Kamara had 82 rushing yards and two TDs.
  • Jared Goff threw for 391 yards, three TDs and one INT vs the Saints in Week 9. Brandin Cooks had 114 yards and a TD, but Todd Gurley was held to just 68 rushing yards.
Patriots at Chiefs
  • The Chiefs are 8-1 SU in their last nine games as home favorites.
  • The Patriots are 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 11 of the Chiefs' last 14 games at home. (Avg combined score: 45.86)
  • The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Patriots' last 10 games. (Avg combined score: 43.7)
  • The Chiefs are allowing just 17.4 points in home games this season — tied for third-best in the NFL.
  • The Patriots averaged 12.2 fewer points on the road compared with at home, which is the second-biggest disparity in the NFL after the Raiders.
  • The Patriots are ranked 26th in net yards per play on the road. The Chiefs are first overall in net yards per play.
  • The Patriots rank 26th in red-zone TD scoring percentage on the road.
  • The Chiefs have a +14.8 point margin at home — second-best in the NFL.
  • The Patriots lost five games on the road in the regular season for the first time since 2009. All five losses came vs teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
  • The Chiefs have a +7.47 first-half point differential which is the second-best in the NFL to go along with a league-best 13-4 first-half ATS record.
  • Tom Brady’s second-highest passing yard total of the regular season came in the Patriots’ Week 6 43-40 win over the Chiefs. 
  • Tyreek Hill had 142 receiving yards and three TDs vs the Patriots in Week 6. Sony Michel rushed for 106 yards and two TDs in the game.
  • Patrick Mahomes was 11 years old the last time the Patriots won a road playoff game. His dad was also an MLB pitcher for 11 years.
  • The Patriots are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games vs the Chiefs.
  • The Chiefs allowed 33 or more points on five occasions this season.
  • The total has gone OVER in the Patriots' last four games vs the Chiefs. (Avg combined score: 63.5)
  • The Chiefs are 2-11 SU and ATS in their last 13 games in the playoffs.
  • The Patriots are 8-4 SU in the championship round during the Belichick era.
  • The road team is 0-10 SU and 2-8 ATS in the last 10 conference finals games.
  • The favorite is 10-2 SU in the last 12 AFC title games.
  • The Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since 2007. They’re 0-3 SU and ATS during this stretch.