Denver is just 2-7 against the spread over its last nine playoff games, while New England is 3-9 ATS over its last 12 postseason contests. The Patriots and Broncos clash in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday afternoon in Denver.
AFC Championship Game point spread: The Broncos opened as 6.5-point favorites, but early betting forced the number down to -4.5 at most shops monitored by Odds Shark; the total was 54.5. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 37.4-32.7 Broncos
Why the Patriots can cover the spread
New England just knocked off Indianapolis in a divisional-round game 43-22, covering as touchdown favorites. The Patriots out-rushed the Colts 234-69, held the ball for 35 minutes and picked off Indy QB Andrew Luck four times.
Of course, QB Tom Brady gets most of the ink, but thanks in large part to RB LeGarrette Blount, who's run for 355 yards over the last two games, New England has out-rushed its last four opponents. In the NFL this season, teams that out-ground their opponents have covered the spread 62 percent of the time.
Also, the Patriots beat Denver a month and a half ago in Foxboro 34-31 in overtime, rallying from a 24-0 halftime deficit for the victory. Finally, Coach Belichick is 11-6 against Manning, 10-4 with Brady at the controls.
The Patriots are 5-1 SU and ATS in six recent meetings with the Broncos and they ride a profitable 7-2 ATS streak as an underdog into this matchup.
Why the Broncos can cover the spread
Denver just defeated San Diego in an AFC divisional-round game 24-17, grinding out a 17-0 lead, then hanging on from there. The Broncos out-rushed the Chargers 133-65 and held the ball for 35 minutes, only giving up the cover as eight-point favorites on a late Bolts field goal.
Like with Brady in New England, Manning and the passing game get most of the media attention. But Denver can bang the ball, too, with Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
On the season, the Broncos out-rushed foes by 16 yards per game, and as mentioned above, that's a good sign when it comes to covering spreads. Also, the Denver defense has held opponents to a total of 44 points over the last three games, just six points in first halves.
The Broncos, who are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 games overall, lost to the Patriots back in November, but they should have won that game. They dominated the first half, grabbing a 24-0 lead, and ended up rushing for 280 yards.
When these teams have met in the playoffs, the home team has won and covered all three times.
The Odds Shark prediction computer is calling for a Denver victory but a New England cover in a game that plays OVER its total. Belichick and Brady may have the better numbers against Manning, but for most of their rivalry the Patriots have simply been the better team.
At the moment, that's not the case, especially now that the Broncos have CB Champ Bailey back. Denver should have beaten New England the first time around back in November.
Now they get the Patriots at Mile High. Give the points and go with Denver to continue the home-team-cover angle.
- The past four meetings played OVER the total
- Patriots are 5-1 SU and ATS past six vs. Broncos
- Patriots are 2-7 ATS past nine road games
- Patriots are 7-2 ATS past nine games as underdogs
- Broncos have played four straight UNDERs
- Denver is 8-3 ATS past 11 games overall