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2017 NFL Conference Championship Betting Predictions

Written by on January 17, 2017

What a spectacular NFL championship round we have this Sunday as the top three NFL MVP candidates are in action in Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady. And the fourth guy is no slouch, either: two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh. Before going any further, be sure to check out the latest Super Bowl 51 betting odds. Here are three things I expect in the NFL’s final four.

2017 NFL Conference Championship Betting Predictions

Kickers Could Determine Things

This teams look very even and each quarterback is great. Thus a kicker, who isn’t even a real football player, could decide both games. That might bode really well for Pittsburgh and Green Bay, the two road teams. For the Packers, Mason Crosby was super clutch in the 34-31 win over Dallas, becoming the first kicker to make a pair of field goals of 50 yards or longer in the final two minutes of a postseason game. He twice put the Packers ahead, the last time as time ran out. Crosby entered the day 0-of- 4 on potential game-tying or go-ahead kicks of 50 yards or longer in the fourth quarter or overtime. The first kick was a 56-yarder, the third-longest field goal in NFL postseason history, trailing a 58-yarder by Pete Stoyanovich for the 1990 Dolphins and a 57-yarder by Mike Nugent for the 2014 Bengals. The second was the 51-yard game winner, marking the first time that Crosby had made multiple 50-yard field goals in a game in his career. For Pittsburgh, Chris Boswell made an NFL-record six field goals in the Steelers’ 18-16 minor upset in Kansas City. Boswell now is 14 for 14 in four postseason games. He booted field goals of 22, 38, 36, 45 and two from 43 yards. His final one, a 43-yarder with 9:40 remaining in the game, ended up being the winning points after the Steelers stopped the Chiefs on a 2-point conversion with 2:43 left. The Steelers were going up against one of the top red-zone defenses in the NFL and could not score on four trips inside the 20.

Jordy Nelson Unlikely To Go For Pack

Green Bay’s top receiver during the regular season was Jordy Nelson, who led the NFL with 1 touchdown catches. He missed the Dallas game with broken ribs and it’s hard to see how Nelson could be ready for this game. Have you ever had broken ribs? Those don’t heal in just a few weeks. Thus that could mean a bigger role this week for Jeff Janis. He stepped up in the divisional-round game last year against Arizona, when the seldom-used receiver caught seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard Hail Mary to force overtime. The Packers lost Randall Cobb to a bruised lung early in the game against the Cardinals. The Packers already were without Davante Adams (knee) going into that game. Coach Mike McCarthy won’t make a decision on Nelson until later in the week. “Can’t tell you if Jordy is going to practice Wednesday,” McCarthy said Monday. “He did all the work in the workout today, so that’s a good sign.” Last week, Nelson gave fans glimmers of hope that he might be ready to go by saying he made progress during the week ahead of Green Bay’s divisional-round game against the Cowboys. He wasn’t quite ready, though.

Weather Shouldn’t Be Factor

Of course the Packers are facing the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, the last-ever NFL game there, so obviously no weather concerns. As for Foxboro, the current forecast is for temperatures in the high 20s on Sunday night with almost no chance for precipitation. As long as there’s no rain, sleet or snow, the offenses should be able to function just fine.