All of the favorites took care of business in the divisional round of the 2014 NFL playoffs. Only two covered the point spread, but all of them won and advanced.
In the first round, three of the underdogs covered and moved on. Below are picks against the spread for the AFC and NFC Championship games.
New England Patriots (+4.5) at Denver Broncos
In the regular season, the Patriots were 8-8 against the spread, despite getting 12 wins straight-up. Their biggest problem came on the road, where they covered just two point spreads, a mark that tied them for second-worst in the league. Denver went 10-6 against the spread and 5-3 at home. They didn’t cover against the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round.
If history is set to repeat itself, getting 4.5 points is a gift for the Patriots. Tom Brady has owned Peyton Manning, even beating his rival this season when Denver had the best record in football. At Mile High, however, the Broncos have a distinct advantage. With players like Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, Denver has more dangerous weapons on the offensive end. Brady is an all-time great, but against this Broncos team, he won’t have enough to get the job done.
Prediction ATS: Denver
San Francisco 49ers (+3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Including the playoffs, no team has a better record against the spread than the 49ers this year. In 18 games, they’ve gone 12-5-1. San Francisco has been especially good on the road, with a record of 8-1-1. During the regular season, Seattle led the league with 11 wins against the betting line.
The 49ers haven’t been hurt by playing on the road in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but visiting Green Bay and Carolina doesn’t compare to Seattle. The Seahawks not only beat San Francisco in their one meeting at CenturyLink Field, but it wasn’t even close, with the 49ers getting blown out by 26 points. San Francisco is playing as well as anybody, and giving them more than three points could be a mistake. However, playing at home with the league’s best defense and against a team that they have dominated before, the Seahawks are the smart pick.
Prediction ATS: Seattle