How is Sharp Money Affecting Conference Championship Lines?

All four favorites in the NFL divisional round emerged victorious, with three of the four also covering the spread. Based on preseason Super Bowl Odds, the 49ers, Broncos, Seahawks, and Patriots were considered the top four teams to win it all this year. While New England and Denver have made it with legendary Hall of Fame quarterbacks and mediocre defenses, Seattle and San Francisco boast young, mobile QB’s and elite defenses.  

Team
Odds on 9/3/13
Odds on 1/13/14
Denver +600 +200
San Francisco +600 +300
Seattle +850 +190
New England +1000 +450

NEW ENGLAND AT DENVER (updated 1/16/14 at 9 pm ET)

Pinnacle Open: DEN -7 (+102), O/U 54.5

Pinnacle Current: DEN -5.5, O/U 55 (o-108)

The Patriots are generally a publicly-bet team but their impressive win over Indy last week coupled with a comeback victory in the regular season over Denver has bettors feeling extra confident with New England getting points. Seventy-four percent of early spread bets were on the Patriots, dropping the line at Pinnacle from +7 to +4.5. Denver appeared to be cruising to an easy win last week over San Diego until a late surge gave the Chargers a late, backdoor cover, potentially casting doubt about backing the Broncos.

However, after this line was also bet down to -4.5 at CRIS (another market-setting sportsbook), Denver buyback hit the market, pushing the spread back up to its current number of -6 at CRIS and -5.5 at Pinnacle while also triggering a Smart Money Play Tuesday night on the Broncos.

The chart below summarizes the line movement this week at CRIS for the AFC Championship Game:

Patriots-Broncos-Line-Chart

 

Since Peyton Manning joined the Broncos, they’ve failed to cover against the Patriots in both games and lost outright in New England in back-to-back years. Manning is just 4-10 SU against New England in his career and 5-7-2 ATS, but the public love for the Patriots may be good for Peyton and the Broncos. Utilizing our Bet Labs data analysis software we’ve discovered that since 2003, Manning has gone 15-6 ATS when getting less than 50% of spread bets.

 

SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE (Updated 1/16/14 at 9 pm ET)

Pinnacle Open: SEA -3.5, O/U 40.5

Pinnacle Current: SEA -3.5 (-107), O/U 38.5 (o-109)

The majority of bets have also been on the road underdog in the NFC, with seventy percent of bettors currently riding San Francisco to keep on rolling. However, we’ve noticed the line is unchanged at Pinnacle (+3.5) while there’s some reverse-line movement at CRIS (+3 to +3.5). This is a key indicator that some of the bigger bets have come in on Seattle, or books like their current position on the Seahawks.

It’s a bit surprising to see the public heavy on San Francisco again as they’ve failed to cover the spread in the last four meetings against Seattle. Even though the 49ers may be the hottest team in the NFL, the Seahawks have owned them lately, covering by an average of 12.6 points over the last two seasons. Seattle also received less than 50% of spread bets in each one of those meetings, and this week’s NFC Championship Game is no different.  This seems to bode well for the Seahawks as Russell Wilson, like Manning, has an impressive record ATS when receiving less than 50% of bets, going 11-3 in such games in his brief career, including 6-1 at home.

EARLY SUPER BOWL LINES

Bovada: NFC -2.5 (-120) vs. AFC, O/U 48.5

William Hill:  Den PK vs. SF, O/U 47.5  |  SF -2 vs. NE, O/U 47.5  |  DEN -1 vs. SEA, O/U 47.5  |  SEA -1.5 vs. NE, O/U 47

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