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AFC Championship Betting Free Pick – Brady vs. Manning XVII

Posted by Matthew Forrester on 1/23/2016 12:47:47 PM

Forget Super Bowl 50. The real story here is Brady-v-Manning XVII in AFC Championship betting.

Where the hell do you start with this one. Manning vs. Brady? Peyton ending his career? Gronkowski’s knees and T.J. Ward’s desire to obliterate them? Is there a Kubiak-Belichik angle we can expose here?

One of the stone cold truths about being a handicapper is that you have to ignore historical influences as much as you can and shield yourself from buying too much in to the narrative of a game. There are some fun trends that might sway your final opinion after it’s pretty much set, but the best tactic when handling this game is to tunnel in on the realities of each team in the context of this season.

The real question is whether or not Denver can actually score enough points here to make things interesting. Manning accumulated 222 passing yards on 21-of-37 passes. The bad news is that he didn’t score any touchdowns. The good news is that he didn’t throw any picks.

Part of it is that his throws were fine, but his receivers simply couldn’t catch passes. Everyone seems prepared to blame Thomas and Sanders, but there’s still no zip on the ball when Peyton Manning throws and that change in pace makes it more difficult to catch a football than most casual fans understand. It was at least a positive to see Peyton play well but that’s the underscoring reason as to why the Broncos stumbled in the passing game last week.

If you believe the trends of recent meetings, then the home team might still be an interesting play in AFC Championship betting. New England happens to be 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings, but they’re 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games when playing at Mile High. The home team is also 6-0 ATS when the Broncos play the Patriots.

New England Patriots (13-3) vs. Denver Broncos (13-4)

Sunday, January 24th --- 3:05pm EST

AFC Championship Betting Line: NE -3.0 (44.5)

One of my favorite things about this matchup is that Denver has already started playing mind games by calling out their AFC Championship betting matchup opponents. The defense has been calling Brady everything from a crybaby to…well…words I can’t type here.

Do you know who else Denver did this against? Nobody. The Colts never did it in this rivalry. Neither has Denver. Not leading up to a game. You only pull that trump card out when you’re scared going in to a matchup, or pissed off coming out of one.

And Denver has every reason to be nervous. Keep in mind that Pittsburgh nearly beat the Broncos despite having an injured quarterback, their fourth string running-back, no top-receiver and a battered defense. New England has some injury concerns, but nothing on the level of what Pittsburgh was dealing with.

New England’s backers should be warned that their trends are hairy here. They’re just 1-4-2 ATS in their last 6 games when playing a team with a winning record, 1-5 ATS when playing on the road and 1-5 ATS in AFC Championship betting. But the trends don’t favor the Broncos that much either with a 1-4-1 ATS record in their last 6 playoff home games. Most gamblers have been steering clear of Denver all season for good reason.

People tend to overthink matchups like these because of their gravity. Maybe you’re overthinking the meeting this team had in the regular season, where Denver knocked Gronkowski out of the game midway and won 30-24. Remember that Brady didn’t have Edelman in that matchup either, and still tore off 280 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Again, this game comes down to the idea of Denver putting up points. This is one of the worst offenses graded on a performance scale. They’ve only touched the 30-point ceiling twice this season – in Week 2 against Kansas and in overtime against New England in Week 12. This isn’t a team that routinely scores in the high-20’s, and they’ll need to with Brady coming to town with a complete arsenal. With most of Denver’s scoring coming from kicking, the UNDER is a safer bet even if the OVER is more fun.

This is a comfortable amount of points to lay with New England, especially with Brady playing at a special peak. Remember, this isn’t just Brady against Manning, or Brady grinding against the best defense in the NFL. This is those guys going up against the greatest quarterback of this generation.

AFC Championship Betting Free Pick – New England -3.0 (UNDER)

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