All signs point to Favre

On the brink of retirement in recent years, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is one win from returning to the Super Bowl. Almost everything is set up in Favre’s favor, too.

The Packers are playing at a high level in all phases of the game, and they are at Lambeau Field, where temperatures will be hovering just above zero at game time Sunday.

If the NFL front office scripted games, a Super Bowl matching Green Bay and the undefeated New England Patriots would be right around the corner.

Based on early wagering patterns, that’s what bettors expect to see.

The Packers are 7-point favorites over the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game, and Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kor-negay said about 70 percent of the tickets written as of Friday were on Green Bay.

“I don’t think you’re going to prevent the inevitable, and that’s the overflow of Packers money,” Kornegay said. “The early money is coming in on the favorites, and the average Joe hasn’t even bet these games yet. I know what they’re going to bet.”

In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots are 14-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers. Kornegay said that number probably is going up.

Favre is a fan favorite, and the Super Bowl would be more dramatic with him in it, but football games don’t always have fairy-tale endings.

Sentiment aside, handicapper Joseph D’Amico said the Packers are his best bet of the weekend. But he recommends looking for a 7-point line or buying the half-point if the spread is 71/2.

The Giants, on the road for a third consecutive week, are weakened by key injuries, and quarterback Eli Manning remains a question mark in big-game situations.

“The weather calls for single-digit temperatures, and that benefits the Packers,” D’Amico ( said. “I will take the more consistent home team. Green Bay is healthier and hungrier. Manning has yet to prove himself. Favre keeps overcoming any obstacles that stand in his way. He keeps his cool in hectic situations and instills in his team determination and perseverance.”

The Packers, 14-3 straight up and a league-best 13-3-1 against the spread this season, own a 15-2 all-time record in home playoff games.

In Week 2, Green Bay went to New York and blew out the Giants 35-13, after the Packers trailed 10-7 at halftime. The Giants have been almost unbeatable on the road, however, winning nine in a row.

Manning is on a rare roll, completing 70 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and one interception in his past three games.

“That’s a big difference considering he turned the ball over 26 times in the first 15 games,” D’Amico said. “But Manning is very erratic and never has been in a game of this magnitude.”

The Giants lost tight end Jeremy Shockey to injury, and a bad ankle limits wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

“The Packers defense will play New York’s receivers very physical,” D’Amico said. “Green Bay has a deep front seven, quick linebackers who can handle man coverage and tough cornerbacks.”

D’Amico, this season’s winner of the Review-Journal NFL Challenge with a 47-36-2 record against the spread, said the Packers have a definitive edge because Favre is more reliable than Manning and has more playmakers surrounding him.

Green Bay running back Ryan Grant can help neutralize the pass rush by New York defensive linemen Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

Several Las Vegas sports books moved the line to 71/2 on Friday. The total opened at 44 and has dropped to 40.

“I really don’t think you’ll see the Giants money until we get to 8 or 81/2,” Kornegay said. “All the reports of real cold weather is the reason we’re seeing so much money under the total in both games.”

The Hilton has posted 20 proposition wagers on each conference championship game. The Packers’ Grant is the 5-1 favorite to score the first touchdown in the NFC title game.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at or (702) 387-2907.

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