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Betting Against the Spread: NFL Conference Championship Games Picks and Odds


We are now down to arguably four of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and four teams that are capable of winning the Super Bowl. Vegas gets a whole lot sharper, the later we get in the postseason so sometimes player or team props might be the way to go.

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Green Bay Packers (12-6) at Atlanta Falcons (12-5), 3:05 p.m.  ET (Sun.)

The first thing that stands out with this contest is the total that is around 61. We don't see a number that high that often when it comes to NFL games in general, but it might be about right. You've got a mediocre Atlanta defense and a Green Bay defense that is extremely banged up. Aaron Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the league right now and he'll look to play better than he did when these teams played each other in October. Atlanta won 33-32 holding Rodgers and the Packers to 223 yards through the air. Neither team had a turnover as both have continued to exhibit good ball security. Both squads have banged-up WRs with Jordy Nelson likely not playing due to broken ribs while Julio Jones could be limited because of a nagging toe injury. Atlanta has covered just 10 of its last 24 home games while the Packers are 16-12 ATS on the road the last three seasons. To me, there are two thoughts dominating this game. Do you want to play against Rodgers who can do no wrong or an Atlanta offense that is averaging more than 35 points per game at home? The Falcons are getting early money. If it gets to 6, then I think I'm on the Packers. SELECTION: Atlanta 35-30

NFL Power Rankings: Falcons

Pittsburgh Steelers (13-5) at New England Patriots (15-2), 6:40 p.m. ET (Sun.)

These two teams also played back in October, a 27-16 New England win in Pittsburgh, although you can throw a lot of it out considering Landry Jones was at quarterback for the Steelers because Ben Roethlisberger was injured.  The Patriots did not look very good last week and still won 34-16 against Houston. The offense had three turnovers and the defense allowed Brock Osweiler to move the ball a little. Pittsburgh's offense wasn't great either in the win in Kansas City considering all of the scoring came via six field goals. The Steelers do have one less day to prepare, but I don't think that's much of a factor in this one. Both of these defenses don't get enough credit for what they can do. Pittsburgh has held six of its last eight opponents to 20 points or fewer while New England has done so in seven of its last eight. The ironic thing is that as I type that, I still think this could be a shootout. We know that Big Ben has had his issues on the road so that will come into play. New England is 18-7 against the spread the last three years at home while Pittsburgh is 12-6 ATS over that span against teams with a winning record. SELECTION: New England 28-17

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.