2011 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships Betting Odds and Preview

Eddie AdamsContributor IJanuary 21, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 19:  Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets is tackled by Bryant McFadden #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game at Heinz Field on December 19, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

Many NFL betting junkies consider the Conference Championships to be their favorite day, as the top four teams battle it out for a berth to Super Bowl XLV. This Sunday’s NFL doubleheader should be no different; Vegas and online sports betting joints are expecting record number of bets coming in.

Why is that? Easy answer, any time you have teams with a large and loyal following, sportsbooks can expect bigger action. This year features just that. Even though the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are from smaller markets, their fanbases are as big and passionate as they come. Then you have the Chicago Bears and New York Jets; not only do they both have a long and storied history, but they come from two of the three biggest markets.

Online betting giant Sportsbook.com is already seeing more volume of bets on the Sunday’s Conference Championships compared to last year. And as usual, it appears as they will be rooting for the favorites in both games.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears, Sunday at 3:00 PM ET

After opening the Packers-Bears point spread at Green Bay -3 points, the oddsmakers quickly adjusted the number a half-point, due to one-sided Green Bay betting. Despite the point spread move, an overwhelming 76 percent of the cash is on the Packers (-3.5 points).

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It’s hard to blame the bettors for backing the Pack, considering they are coming off of two impressive playoff road wins. Two weeks ago, they went into the City of Brotherly Love and held Michael Vick and the explosive Eagles offense to just 16 points. Then last week they marched into Atlanta and thrashed the Falcons by 27 points.

However, the Bears are one of those teams that no one outside of the Windy City are giving credit. But all they keep doing is winning. They earned their first-round bye, yet people still expect them to lose.

This is the rubber match between these two NFC North rivals. In their first meeting way back in late September, Bears were victorious 20-17, despite being three-point underdogs. Then in the final week of the regular season, the Packers defense did their thing en route to a 10-3 Packers win.

Packers/Bears point spread bettors might find it interesting that the Packers are 13-6 against the spread (ATS) the last 19 times they visited the Bears.

Meanwhile, the Packers vs. Bears over-under is holding steady at 43.5 after opening at 44. The last six times the Packers and Bears went toe-to-toe, the Under covered each time.

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday at 6:30 PM ET

Sunday’s nightcap looks to be an all-out bloodbath. Sportsbook.com agrees, as they have the Jets-Steelers betting lines set at Steelers -3.5 points and the over-under at 39 points.

The Jets have fond memories from their last visit to Steel City. Back in Week 15, a Jets team in desperate need of a win defeated the Steelers 22-17, despite being six-point underdogs.

The Jets have been a good bet when playing against the AFC North recently. In their last seven games versus the AFC North the Jets are 6-1 ATS. This is also the time of year for Jets bettors. In their last seven January games, they are 6-1 ATS.

Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense has been up and down all year; however, they have been playing great recently, scoring at least 28 points in three out of their last four games. They will face one of the best defenses in the NFL, as the Steelers yield just 15.1 points per game.

It can’t be ignored that in the Steelers loss to the Jets, their defensive leader Troy Polamalu was out with a dinged Achilles' heel. No. 43 will be in the lineup Sunday.

Check back in a couple days for my NFL Conference Championship predictions and free picks and then be sure to go over to Sportsbook.com to make your plays.


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