Look between the lines: Handicapping Championship Sunday
James Hernandez has more than 15 years in the sports handicapping industry and will contribute weekly for FOXSports.com as our betting expert. Have comments or questions? Make sure to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the NFL season, I attempt to guide you to the winner's circle more often than not. I consider a combination of statistical trends, my own personal player ranking system, and meticulous attention to various wagering techniques that allow me to analyze and formulate a plan of attack each week.
Each week I will post my favorite plays in order of preference, best on top and so on. All right, let's get into it:
Not since Ali vs. Frazier or Magic vs. Bird have two athletes enjoyed such sustained excellence at the top of their respective professions. With a combined six regular season MVPs, three Super Bowl MVPs, 28 playoff wins, 12 conference championship games and seven Super Bowl appearances, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning feature two of the most decorated resumes in the history of sports.
Although this matchup has been somewhat one-sided with Brady emerging victorious in 10 of the 14 games, they have one win apiece in two AFC title games. It's easy to talk about the two quarterbacks, but it is Pats vs. Broncos and both teams feature plenty of other talented playmakers that will be heard from before it's all said and done.
Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones have turned into two of the best pass rushers in football. And with a the luxury of a quality secondary, expect the Bill Belichick to unleash blitz packages more exotic then the Cayman Islands to confuse and pressure Peyton.
With all due respect to John Fox, when the chips are down and the moment is this enormous, there is no other coach I believe in more than Belichick. In a game that will define legacies and make careers, take the points to be safe. But don't surprised if Brady and Belichick win their sixth AFC title game together and get one step closer to ring No. 4.
San Francisco has yet to solve the enigma of the 12th Man, but luckily for them the Hawks are not clicking offensively. QB Russell Wilson has struggled with his accuracy lately and the injury concerns among his receiving corps do little to indicate that they can turn it around against a very solid San Francisco secondary.
Colin Kaepernick and Wilson will sell the tickets, but this grudge match will be dictated by the two best defenses in the NFL.
With two teams this evenly matched, it is impossible to pass up getting a key number like 3.5 when you are backing a team that has been as hot as the 49ers.
San Francisco has won eight straight games against teams with winning home records and 8-1 against the spread in their last nine road games overall.
Take the hotter team and the points in what is sure to be one of the most epic NFC title games in recent memory.