NFL Conference Championships Betting

Authored by: Benjamin Eckstein

The New England Patriots are heavy home favorites on the NFL betting lines for the second week in a row, but they'll be short a top offensive weapon on Sunday night as they meet the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm again in the team's 41-28 home victory over the Houston Texans in the Divisional Playoffs over the weekend, putting him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. New England persevered without Gronkowski, however, easily covering the 9.5-point spread at the books in that victory.

And for Sunday night the Patriots have opened as 10-point home favorites on the NFL betting lines at 5Dimes against a Ravens team that they beat 23-20 in last year's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. New England was a 7-point favorite that day.

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However, Baltimore managed to beat New England 31-30 as a 2.5-point home favorite back on September 23, in a game in which Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes and Ray Rice rushed for 101 yards and a score. Tom Brady was held to a single TD strike for New England in that loss, while Wes Welker had eight catches for 142 yards.

Baltimore is coming off a 38-35 overtime victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in which they were listed as a 9-point road underdog on the NFL betting lines. Flacco had three TD passes in that win, while Rice rushed for 131 yards and a score.

The 5Dimes total for Sunday's Patriots/Ravens game opened at 51 points, and all four of the games in the playoffs' second round turned out to be OVER results for bettors.

In the NFC Championship Game on Sunday it's San Francisco at Atlanta, with the Niners opening as 3-point road favorites at 5Dimes (with the total at 48 points) for the contest. San Francisco was a 3-point home favorite against Green Bay over the weekend and had no trouble in that game, winning 45-31 as Colin Kaepernick threw for 263 yards and two scores while rushing for 181 yards and another pair of touchdowns.

The Falcons cruised to a 20-0 halftime lead on the Seahawks over the weekend but found themselves trailing 28-27 with 30 seconds left in that contest before Matt Bryant booted a 49-yard field goal to give them the win. Atlanta was pegged as a 2.5-point home favorite on the NFL odds for that matchup and just failed to cover the spread.

San Francisco and Atlanta will be meeting for the first time since October 2010, when the Falcons beat the Niners 16-14 as a 7-point home favorite; the 49ers last beat the Falcons way back in October 2001. Kickoff for Sunday's game is set for 3:00pm ET on Sunday afternoon, with the Ravens then taking on the Patriots in a 6:30pm ET contest.