NFL Line Watch Conference Championships

By: Art Aronson | Monday, January 15, 2018

Each week during the pro football season, AAA Sports looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.

Game to bet

Jacksonville at New England (-9.5) -- Saturday

Not many lines fall in the 8- to 9-point range like this one, as books issuing immediate lines seem to be compromising between the 7-point range which would have certainly have brought down heavy New England money, and a 10-point line which would have certainly drawn money from the other direction. So books decided to open somewhere in the middle, and early action came down moderately on Jacksonville. Can the Jags win one of the most unlikely betting Daily Doubles in recent history, knocking off the Steelers in Pittsburgh and then covering, if not winning outright, in Foxboro six days later? Or will Jacksonville be in happy-to-be here mode when their plane touches down in nearby Providence? And what are their plans for Tom Brady? Can they pressure him with four rushers, as they did to Ben Roethlisberger this past Sunday? If they can’t get to Brady, do they have any chance of an upset? And what of Blake Bortles, who will be playing the biggest game of his life for the third straight week? Will he eventually crack against the defending champions and revert to the Bortles who completed barely 50 percent of his passes in the wild card game against Buffalo? As for the Patriots, this much is certain: That ESPN story which laid bare alleged palace intrigue in Foxboro has had absolutely zero effect on the team’s on-field performance.

Total to watch

Minnesota at Philadelphia (38)

Total numbers in the 30s are becoming unicorns in a league which has continually bent the rules to protect quarterbacks and receivers, but here we are at 38 – and one of these teams is headed to the Super Bowl. That Carson Wentz will not be calling signals for the Eagles probably means a 6-point line reduction. Who knows what to think in this one? Two weeks ago Jacksonville and Buffalo combined for 13 points (the posted line was a modest 39.5). On Sunday J-Ville and Pittsburgh went off for 87, obliterating the 40.5 line by halftime. The Vikings game against New Orleans went over after a wild 29-point fourth quarter, and the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the normal high-scoring Falcons never had a chance of covering the 40.5 total. In eight playoff games so far this season, under players have a slight 5-3 advantage. Probably comes down to this: How much confidence do you have in backup QBs Nick Foles and Cace Keenum. Wager accordingly.

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