Conference Championship NFL Betting Picks: Against the Spread

Jan 22, 2021
Conference Championship NFL Betting Picks: Against the Spread

Divisional Round Recap: I couldn’t hit water if I fell off a boat. Worst run I’ve had in three NFL seasons. There’s not much else to say, outside of apologizing if you’ve followed me based on my track record in previous NFL seasons. I am sorry.

With zero chance of finishing the NFL season in the green at 4for4, I’ve decided to run with my best play on Sunday. While I have thoughts on Bills-Chiefs, I’m most confident in the NFC matchup between the Bucs and Packers. Thus, I took a much deeper dive into that matchup than I normally do in my ATS picks column. Whether the pick cashes or not, I hope you enjoy the read.

311 Tampa Bay Bucs at 312 Green Bay Packers

  • Spread: Packers -3.5
  • O/U: 51.5
  • Time: 3:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, January 24, 2021

We can talk about Tom Brady, the incredible season he had at age 44, and his legacy until we’re blue in the face. That said, in my opinion, the NFC Championship Game will be decided by the matchup between Aaron Rodgers and the Buccaneers defense.

When these two teams met in Week 6 of the regular season, Rodgers posted a 12.0 Total QBR, his worst in any start in which he threw at least 15 passes. He completed just 46% of his throws, which was the third-lowest completion percentage of his career and he finished the game with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown (more on that in a moment).

Considering he threw a career-high 48 touchdown passes (tied for fifth-most in NFL history) with only five interceptions (the fewest in a season for a QB with 40 touchdown passes), most will chalk up Rodgers’s performance that day at Raymond James Stadium as one bad game among an otherwise sensational season. That’s totally rational.

The problem is that this isn’t a seven-game series like in basketball, baseball or hockey. In a one-and-done format like the NFL playoffs, it doesn’t matter what a player has accomplished over the course of 16 games. One bad matchup can ruin an entire year for a team.

Rodgers only had one bad game this season, which came in that Week 6 matchup versus the Bucs. That said, there was a common theme in the Packers’ three losses this season and it had to do with the type of coverage Rodgers faced.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bucs played zone coverage on 61% of Rodgers’s dropbacks in Week 6. In the Packers’ loss to the Colts in November, Indy played zone on 72% of Rodgers’s dropbacks, and in Green Bay’s surprising home defeat versus Minnesota earlier that same month, the Vikings played zone on 65% of his dropbacks.

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