Insider’s Vegas NFL wiseguy provides ATS picks for both championship games
Updated: January 16, 2014, 12:16 PM ET
Dave Tuley | ESPN Insider
LAS VEGAS — Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games are what everyone has been waiting for, from TV network executives to advertising agencies to bookmakers to pro football fans in general.
With the Denver Broncos hosting the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks hosting the San Francisco 49ers, the top two teams in each conference (forget the seedings as the 49ers were only the NFC’s fifth seed due to being in the same division as the Seahawks) facing off for the right to go to the Super Bowl guarantees not only high TV ratings but also a high betting handle.
Bookmakers, who already report increased betting numbers through the first two rounds of the playoffs, are chomping at the bit for these two games this weekend and are just as eagerly anticipating a popular Super Bowl matchup that the legal bookies here in Vegas are expecting will break last year’s record handle of $98 million.
After favorites and underdogs split 2-2 against the spread last weekend, ‘dogs are still leading at 5-2-1 ATS. I took a step back last weekend as I went 1-2 ATS (unfortunately, I couldn’t pull the trigger on the Saints against the Seahawks, though I would have been on the wrong side most of that game). Still, I can’t complain about being 3-2-1 ATS so far in the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at Sunday’s two games in terms of how the public and wiseguys view the matchups, along with my take on both games from an ATS perspective.
Last week: 1-2 ATS | Playoffs to date: 3-2-1 ATS | Regular season: 55-62-3 (47 percent) ATS
Note: Public Consensus Pick percentages from ESPN Insider’s PickCenter as of Thursday morning.
Matchup: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Spread: Broncos minus-5.5
Public consensus pick: 74 percent picked Patriots
Public perception: Both of these teams are extremely popular with the public, but PickCenter has the public all over the underdog Patriots and that’s consistent with other bet-tracking sites. There are a lot of reasons: Tom Brady is 10-4 SU and 8-5-1 ATS against Peyton Manning, while Brady also boasts the better playoff record at 18-7 to Manning’s 10-11 mark (and three Super Bowl rings to Manning’s one). There is also the fact that the Patriots beat the Broncos 34-31 back in Week 12 and showed another dimension running the ball last week in their 43-22 win over the Colts.
To see the rest of Dave Tuley’s ATS picks for Sunday’s championship playoff games, plus to gain access to all of Insider’s NFL and gambling content, you must be an ESPN Insider.
Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website, ViewFromVegas.com.