2017 NFL Conference Championship Over/Under Picks
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (60)That’s the highest total of any playoff game this century, but if the first meeting between the teams is any indication, go over. In Week 8 in Atlanta, the Falcons won 33-32. Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining. With Julio Jones shut down in the second half, Ryan turned to Sanu to bail out Atlanta. He caught five passes for 50 yards on the final possession. Ryan was 28 of 35 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers had thrown his fourth touchdown pass to put the Packers ahead with 3:58 remaining. Since Ryan entered the league in 2008, he’s put up awfully similar numbers to Rodgers. The only major difference is Rodgers’ two MVPs.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn says his team will be diligent about getting off the field on defensive personnel changes so as not to be caught by Rodgers for a penalty. Rodgers has gotten officials to flag opponents for 12 men on the field a league-high eight times this season. The Packers have forced 21 such penalties over the last two seasons, 11 more than anyone else. In this past Sunday’s divisional playoff showdown in Dallas, Rodgers drew such a penalty against the Cowboys on a third-and- 5 play from his own 30 in the first quarter. It eventually led to the Packers’ first touchdown.
Rodgers and the Packers have won eight in a row, including two in the playoffs. Ryan, the MVP front-runner, and the Falcons have won five in a row. During the Falcons’ streak, Ryan has completed 115 of 157 passes for 1,469 yards with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. During the Packers’ streak, Rodgers has completed 195 of 283 passes for 2,385 yards with 21 touchdowns and one interception.
The over is 9-0 in Atlanta’s past nine at home and 6-0 in Green Bay’s past six overall so you have to lean over here.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (50.5)The Steelers are on a nine-game winning streak and have hit their stride defensively, with an offense led by the usual suspects of Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Steelers have scored an average of 25.9 points since Week 11. New England’s defense, meanwhile, may not wow you with star power, but it led the NFL in the regular season in scoring (15.6 points per game allowed).
It will be New England’s 11th appearance in the AFC Championship Game in the 16 seasons of the Tom Brady Era, and the team will be trying to reach the Super Bowl for the seventh time in that span. Brady’s 11th appearance in a title game will break the tie with Gene Upshaw and George Blanda for the most all-time at any position. If the Patriots reach the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick will tie Landry and Don Shula for most playoff games ever coached in (36). The Steelers, who have won two Super Bowls with Roethlisberger, are hoping to make an appearance in the game for the fourth time in 12 seasons.
In the divisional round win over the Chiefs, Roethlisberger completed nearly 65 percent of his passes but failed to orchestrate a touchdown drive and completed only one pass in the red zone. Bell has 337 rushing yards through two career playoff games, 52 yards clear of the next-most in NFL history. Only Terrell Davis has had more rushing yards through two games of any postseason (366 in 1998).
Meanwhile, Brady has at least two TD passes and no interceptions in each of his last six regular-season games against the Steelers. That is the longest streak of its kind against any team in NFL history. In the divisional round win over Houston, Brady finished with a completion percentage below 50 but had his most completions of 15-plus air yards in a playoff game in a decade.
It will be chilly in Foxboro on Sunday night. The under is 20-7 in Pittsburgh’s past 27 on the road and it’s 5-1 in New England’s past six AFC title games. So lean under here.