The New England Patriots will be making their sixth straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game this weekend as 5.5-point home favorites, and they’re also the Super Bowl 51 favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com and online prediction sites.
New England punched its ticket to the AFC title game with a 34-16 victory over the Houston Texans as a 16.5-point favorite over the weekend and has now posted straight-up victories in eight of its last nine playoff games at Gillette Stadium heading into Sunday’s matchup.
The Patriots have won and covered in their last five games when favored by double digits but have been a disappointment when pegged as narrow playoff betting chalk. The eight-time defending AFC East champions are winless straight-up and against the spread in their last three postseason outings while favored by fewer than six points, including a 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos as three-point road chalk in last year’s AFC Championship Game.
Following last week’s narrow 18-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs as 2.5-point road underdogs, the Pittsburgh Steelers visit New England bidding for the ninth Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
The Steelers ride a nine-game SU win streak that includes five road victories and have held opponents to 20 or fewer points on seven occasions. That has contributed to a solid 7-1-1 ATS record over that stretch.
However, Pittsburgh has struggled against the Patriots in recent years, going 3-10 SU and 3-9-1 ATS in 13 meetings since December 1998, including SU and ATS home losses in both the 2002 and 2005 AFC title games.
Over in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons will be gunning for their first Super Bowl berth since 1999 when they entertain the red-hot Green Bay Packers on Sunday as 4.5-point favorites.
The Falcons led the NFL during the regular season with 33.75 points per game and have tallied an average of 38 points over five straight SU wins including last weekend’s 36-20 pounding of the Seattle Seahawks as 6.5-point favorites.
However, Atlanta has enjoyed limited playoff success in recent years, going 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS over its past seven postseason outings, including outright losses in two NFC Championship Game appearances.
The Packers extended their stunning late-season turnaround with an eighth straight SU win last week, narrowly knocking off the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 as five-point road underdogs. Green Bay now has covered in five straight postseason outings and taken four of five SU from the Falcons, but it dropped a 33-32 decision as three-point underdogs in its visit to Atlanta in Week 8.
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