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Conference finalists offer several numbers to consider

What’s in a number? The Cliffs Notes approach to Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship games features telling numbers.

The New England Patriots have garnered the lion’s share of publicity for a perfect season and, from the oddsmakers’ perspective, unimaginable power ratings. The wagering line is the great equalizer.

After a dominant start to the season, New England has gone 2-7 against the spread in its past nine games. Not to be outdone, the other three participants have compiled impressive statistics.

The New York Giants’ ability to perform at a high level in hostile environments is to be applauded. After losing their season opener at Dallas, the Giants have run the table on the road. They have won nine consecutive games away from home and covered the spread in eight of them. The only game they failed to cover was the quirky one against Miami on a horrible playing surface in London.

In their last four road wins, the Giants obliterated the spread by double digits.

San Diego’s turnaround from a sleepwalking start has been impressive yet unspectacular. Most of the Chargers’ victories have been workmanlike efforts. They have won and covered eight weeks in a row and have covered the spread in 12 of their past 14 games.

The emergence of running back Ryan Grant in early November took the Green Bay Packers offense to another plateau. Balance has been achieved. Brett Favre threw in excess of 40 passes in four of Green Bay’s first six games. Following the promotion of Grant, Favre has thrown more than 40 passes in only two of Green Bay’s past 11 games.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants oddsmaker Mike Seba notes interesting conference championship game trends.

“The last four double-digit favorites have gone 0-4 against the spread and 1-6 the last seven times there has been such a prohibitive favorite,” Seba said. “No conference championship game has gone under the total since 2003, and the over is 9-2-1 the past six years. Yet both games Sunday are being bet toward the under.”

The sides for both games have settled on the original send-out number, with the consensus showing New England minus-14 over San Diego and Green Bay minus-71/2 over New York.

The totals have dropped, thanks in large part to weather concerns. The AFC game is sitting on 46, and the frigid Wisconsin forecast has dipped the NFC game to 40.

LVSC oddsmaker Kenny White pointed out before Seattle’s visit to Green Bay last week that the heating coils under Lambeau Field often produce slippery conditions, which can be a huge disadvantage for the defense. The Giants equipment manager could prove to be valuable in this game if he comes up with the proper footwear for the visitors.

LVSC odds director Tony Sinisi, a longtime Giants fan, refrained from using revenge to impact the line for the NFC Championship Game. He’s still bitter that Vince Lombardi defeated the Allie Sherman-led Giants in back-to-back NFL title games in 1961 and 1962. What exactly is the statute of limitations for a revenge game anyway?

The moronic note for the AFC Championship Game comes courtesy of loudmouthed Chargers defensive end and resident box of rocks Igor Olshansky, who said this week: “New England who? They’re worried more than we are.”

That type of stupidity didn’t work out too well for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ visit to Foxborough, Mass., late in the regular season, when no-name defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory.

The Patriots latch on to anything said or done against them and raise their game to another level. A scary thought indeed.

Brian Blessing, project manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, can be reached at bblessing@lvsc.com. Listen to LVSC oddsmakers on Sportsbook Radio, weekdays at 4 p.m. on KENO-AM (1460).

 

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