The NFL Conference Championship Games

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THE NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

WE TAKE A SNEAK PEEK AT WHAT'S AHEAD THIS SUNDAY PLUS IT'S OUR 10-YEAR NFC & AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HISTORY ...

THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

WE PREVIEW THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT MARQUEE MATCHUP AS N.C. STATE TRIES TO AVOID THE LETDOWN IN COLLEGE PARK

By Jim Hurley:

No matter how you slice it, we're gonna have a Super Bowl "first" this year as we've never had a SB that featured San Francisco vs. New England, or San Francisco vs. Baltimore, or Atlanta-New England or Atlanta-Baltimore - no Super Bowl "revenge games" as was the case a year ago when the New York Giants bopped the NE Patriots (again) 21-17 in a thriller in Indianapolis.

And when it comes to history it still boggles the mind that the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since the 2004 campaign, the Ravens have not won it all since their lone title back in 2000 and 49ers have not grabbed hold of the shiny Vince Lombardi Trophy since way, way back in the 1994 season - and we're still waiting for you, Falcons, to win all the proverbial marbles!

The bottom line to this Sunday's NFC Championship Game between San Francisco at Atlanta and the AFC Championship Game showdown between Baltimore at New England is that you simply don't know what names will ring out loud nationally come Monday morning ...

After all, who thought we'd all be spending a major chunk of time the past few days talking about guys like Baltimore' Jacoby Jones, Atlanta's Harry Douglas and/or New England's Shane Vereen? Not us!

Hey, here are the up-to-the-minute Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII (based on $100 per-play wagers) ...

New England +105
San Francisco +150
Atlanta +375
Baltimore +475

Now, here's a quickie peek at what's ahead with a reminder that we'll have the NFC Championship Game preview in the next Jim Sez followed by the AFC Championship Game preview and so don't miss out!

In the NFC Championship Game, it's ...
#2 SAN FRANCISCO (12-4-1) at #1 ATLANTA (14-3) - 3 p.m. ET, Fox
Gotta ask yourself the question as to whether or not the NFC's top-seeded Atlanta Falcons will be sick-and-tired of hearing about San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick by the time we get to Sunday's kickoff - no doubt the do-it-all Niners star who's fresh off a 263-yard passing and NFL QB-record 181 yards rushing performance in last Saturday night's 45-31 win/cover against Green Bay has been hogging all the early-week headlines and so that could really stoke this Falcons defense that's allowed more than 24 points just four times this whole season.

On the flip side, Atlanta's born-again RB Michael Turner (14 carries for 98 hard-charging yards last week in that 30-28 win against Seattle in NFL Divisional Playoff action) is hinting that he wants more carries against a San Francisco defense that ranks fourth in the NFL against the rush (94.2 yards per game yield).

THE LAST 10 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

SEASON WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2011 New York Giants + 2 SAN FRANCISCO 20-17 (ot)
2010 Green Bay - 3.5 CHICAGO 21-14
2009 NEW ORLEANS - 4 Minnesota 31-28 (ot)
2008 ARIZONA + 3.5 Philadelphia 32-25
2007 New York Giants + 8 GREEN BAY 23-20 (ot)
2006 CHICAGO - 2.5 New Orleans 39-14
2005 SEATTLE - 3.5 Carolina 34-14
2004 PHILADELPHIA - 5.5 Atlanta 27-10
2003 Carolina + 4 PHILADELPHIA 14-3
2002 Tampa Bay + 4 PHILADELPHIA 27-10

Okay, so NFC Championship Game Betting Favorites are just 4-6 ATS (against the spread) dating back the past 10 years and note that includes five outright upset winners including last year's game when the two-point road underdog New York Giants snagged a 20-17 overtime win in San Francisco.

Overall, NFC Championship Game Home Betting Favorites - as the Niners were a year ago - are a cumulative 3-5 versus the vig while Road Betting Favorites (as is the case with San Fran this weekend in Atlanta) are 1-1 spreadwise the past 10 years and that features Green Bay's 7-point win in Chicago two years ago and Philadelphia's road chalk loss in Arizona back in the 2008 campaign.

Keep in mind that three of the last five NFC Championship Games have been decided by 3 points apiece (see both overtime title game wins by the Giants and that OT winner by the Saints in '09) and strange-but-true the last five NFC Championship Games have been decided by 7 points or less after the previous five NFC Championship Games each was decided by twin-figure margins ... go figure!

Are we headed to yet another NFC Championship Game overtime affair - or are they "reserved" for the odds seasons as in 2007, '09 and 2011? Stay tuned!

In the AFC Championship Game, it's ...
#4 BALTIMORE (12-6) at #2 NEW ENGLAND (13-4) - 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Put it this way: If the heavy-duty favorite Patriots play another "clean game" than the visiting Ravens probably don't stand much of a chance here:

Consider that in last week's 41-28 walk-in-the-park win by New England over Houston in an AFC Divisional Playoffs tilt, the Pats didn't commit a single turnover and that means 24 rushing attempts without a fumble and 40 QB Tom Brady passes without a single interception (and just one sack for nine yards).

On the other hand, Baltimore knows it is gonna need a few "chunk plays" to survive-and-advance here.

In last week's wild 38-35 overtime win at Denver in the other AFC Divisional Playoff tilt, the QB Joe Flacco-led offense had the following "chunk plays" ...

  • A Flacco-to-WR Torrey Smith 59-yard touchdown pass play in the first quarter
  • A Flacco-to-Smith 32-yard scoring strike late in the first half;
  • A 20-yard run by RB Ray Rice less than three minutes into the second half
  • A 32-yard run by Rice late in the third quarter
  • And, of course, the famed Flacco-to-Jones 70-yard rainbow TD pass that sent the game into overtime.

Baltimore likely needs another four or five "clunk plays" from the line of scrimmage to steal this one. Agree?

THE LAST 10 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

SEASON WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2011 NEW ENGLAND - 7 Baltimore 23-20
2010 PITTSBURGH - 4 New York Jets 24-19
2009 INDIANAPOLIS - 8 New York Jets 30-17
2008 PITTSBURGH - 6 Baltimore 23-14
2007 NEW ENGLAND - 14 San Diego 21-12
2006 INDIANAPOLIS - 3 New England 38-34
2005 Pittsburgh + 3 DENVER 34-17
2004 New England - 3 PITTSBURGH 41-27
2003 NEW ENGLAND - 3 Indianapolis 24-14
2002 OAKLAND - 8 Tennessee 41-24

Interesting to note that in the last 10 AFC Championship Games, the Betting Favorites have fared much better with a snazzy 7-3 ATS mark that includes last year's non-cover win by New England in that thrilling 23-20 triumph over Baltimore.

In fact, the Pats have failed to cover their last two title game appearances as Home Betting Favorites (see also 2007 season non-cover win against San Diego) and overall the Pats have failed to cover any of their last three AFC Championship Game appearances while dating back to that epic collapse in the 2006 game loss at Indianapolis.

Home Betting Favorites are a combined 6-3 versus the vig in the last 10 AFC Championship Games with the only road dog outright winners during this span occurring in the 2005 season when Pittsburgh snagged a 17-point win at 3-point home fav Denver. Last year's Ravens and the '07 San Diego Chargers are the only two AFC Championship Game road dogs to get the "cash" in these games.

One final note here: Half of the last 10 AFC Championship Games have been decided by double-digit margins and only three title games have been decided by fewer than 9 points ... just sayin'!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will bang out NFL Championship Game Side/Totals winners this Sunday as 49ers-Falcons and Ravens-Patriots battle it out plus we take you right thru Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, February 3rd -- plus get all the NBA and NCAA Basketball Winners each and every day too. So don't you get left out in the cold this wintertime! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays.

THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

WEDNESDAY'S TOP TILT

#14 N.C. STATE (14-2, 3-0 ACC) at MARYLAND (13-3, 1-2 ACC) - 7 p.m. ET, espn2
All eyes are on the N.C. State Wolfpack following that upset win against Duke last Saturday afternoon: Okay, so no sense in getting uber-crazy about State's 84-76 win against the previously unbeaten and #1-ranked Blue Devils - after all the Las Vegas line had the Dookies favored by a mere 2 ½ points in Raleigh - but still as you've likely noticed there are precious few teams that come off their Duke game and play well.

Letdown city here?

It could be for the Pack who enter tonight's action tied with Miami for top spot in the ACC (we know, it's early!) but with the league's best offense, one that's averaging a haughty 81.5 points per game. In the aforementioned win against Duke last weekend, forward C.J. Leslie (25 points) and F Richard Howell (16 points and 18 rebounds) were the main stat-sheet stuffers but how about the fact N.C. State drained 20-of-23 free throws and shot 51 percent from the floor (that's 30-of-59 made FGs).

If Maryland is gonna stop N.C. State's now-wicked 10-game SU (straight-up) winning streak here, than the Terrapins better perk it up on the offensive end after Miami held 'em to 18-of-57 FG shooting (that's 31.6 percent) in last Sunday night's 54-47 win by the 'Canes.

Note that Maryland's starting backcourt shot 3-of-16 from the floor in that ACC tilt - and that simply ain't gonna get it done here!

NOTE: There's NFL Championship Game coverage all week long right here at Jim Sez -- get our NFC Championship Game complete and in-depth preview next!

21
Nov

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