LAS VEGAS – Underdogs have thoroughly dominated this NFL postseason, which will come to the surprise of a lot of people considering that the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, will meet in Super Bowl 52.
But that’s exactly what has happened as the underdogs covered in both conference championship games on Sunday with the Patriots beating the Jaguars 24-20 (but failing to cover as 7.5-point home favorites) while the Eagles routed the Vikings 38-7 (as 3-point home underdogs). That improved dogs to 8-1-1 ATS this postseason, obviously bolstered by the Eagles’ back-to-back upset wins despite having the NFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage.
The lone favorite to cover in this year’s playoffs was the Patriots in their 35-14 win over the Titans as 14-point home favorites in last week’s divisional round. The push was against my ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Line of Vikings -5 in their 29-24 “Minnesota Miracle” win last week over the Saints. Note: there were some chalk bettors who bet the Vikes -4 or -4.5 earlier that week and cashed, though you’re more likely to see people grading against the Saints 5.5 line that was available on gameday and saying underdogs are actually 9-1 ATS, but I’ll stick with my grading).
As for Sunday’s action, the Patriots drew first blood with a field goal on their opening possession, but the Jaguars took control with two second-quarter TDs to take a 14-3 before the Patriots cut it to 14-10 by halftime. The Jaguars still won as 4.5-point, first-half underdogs for their backers as it went over the first-half total of 22.5 points.
The Patriots were installed as 6.5-point, second-half faves with an over/under of 23.5, but it was the Jaguars who added two Josh Lambo field goals in the third quarter to go up 20-10. However, in a comeback that everyone watching felt was inevitable, the Patriots rallied with Tom Brady throwing two fourth-quarter TD passes to Danny Amendola for the 24-20 victory (but falling short as 7.5-point favorites and also staying under the betting total of 45.5).
The Patriots did win the second half, 14-6, to cover the second-half spread of -6.5 as it stayed under 23.5.
In the second game, the favorite again drew first blood with the Vikings marching 75 yards in nine plays in 4:46 to take a 7-0 lead on Case Keenum’s 25-yard TD pass to Kyle Rudolph. It looked like the Vikings were riding the momentum from their "Minnesota Miracle" victory last week, but then the Eagles got on the board with a 50-yard INT return by Patrick Robinson and took the lead on LeGarrette Blount’s 11-yard TD run on the way to a 24-7 halftime lead. The Eagles were 1.5-point, first-half underdogs and it went over the first-half total of 19 points. First-half dogs went 2-0 ATS on the day and improved to 5-4-1 ATS so far in the playoffs while first-half overs were 2-0 to improve to 6-4.
The Vikings were installed as 6-point, second-half faves with an over/under of 20.5 points, but the Vikings never scored again and the Eagles won the second half 14-0 as it stayed under. Second-half faves/dogs went 1-1 ATS on Sunday and are now 4-4 ATS in the playoffs (two games not included as Panthers-Saints and Saints-Vikings both closed with their second-half lines at pick ‘em) while unders were 2-0 to improve to 6-4.
The Eagles’ 38-7 win also went over the game total of 39 points to put over/unders back at .500 at 5-5.