NFL Playoffs: Patriots best bet to win it all

By: Joe Freda | Monday, January 3, 2011
Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick’s Patriots are 2/1 at Bodog to win Super Bowl XLV.

The New England Patriots could face some familiar foes in their path to reach Super Bowl XLV, while enjoying home-field advantage in each matchup.  Bill Belichick’s crew clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a 14-2 record and will scout their opposition with a first-round bye this weekend.

New England won all eight of its home contests during the regular season, cashing with a 4-3-1 spread mark.  The ‘over’ collected at 7-1 in that stretch, with the Patriots putting up a sizable 34 PPG.

October’s visit from the Baltimore Ravens saw the sole ‘under’ ticket cash, with New England winning, 23-20, in overtime as a three-point favorite.  The close battle’s combined 43 points barely stayed south of its 45 ½-point ‘total.’

Baltimore is one of three teams who could travel to Gillette Stadium for the Patriots’ first playoff matchup, slated to take place Jan. 16.  The Ravens are joined in that trio by the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets.

New England has not had any meetings this year with Kansas City, but has faced the Jets twice in AFC East Division battles.  The Patriots were defeated as three-point favorites in September’s road duel against New York, 28-14, but avenged the loss in last month’s home rematch, 45-3, as four-point ‘chalk.’

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts are possible contenders to meet New England in the AFC Championship game, scheduled for Jan. 23.  Both foes lost contests against the Patriots during the regular season, and would have a marquee rematch circled for revenge.

New England won, 39-26, as a 4 ½-point road dog in its Nov. 14 trip to Pittsburgh.  The rivals united for 49 points in the fourth quarter, easily lifting the matchup ‘over’ its ‘total’ of 44 ½.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished the duel with 350 passing yards, tossing three touchdowns and rushing for one more.

The following Sunday’s league slate saw the Patriots return home for a 31-28 triumph as four-point favorites against Indianapolis.  New England’s defense allowed 396 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who led his offense to the end zone in all four of its trips inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line.

Sports books list New England as a minus 115 choice to win the AFC Championship, with Pittsburgh (3/1) and Baltimore (8/1) following Brady and Co. on futures odds boards.  Last year’s champion Indianapolis stands at 9/1 odds for lifting the Lamar Hunt trophy again, while New York (15/1) and Kansas City (19/1) are the cluster’s darkest horses.

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