The Jaguars pulled a shocker in Pittsburgh last week to make the AFC championship game for the first time since 1999. And they’re big underdogs again for Sunday’s battle against the playoff-tested Patriots in Foxboro (3:05 pm ET, CBS). How are we playing this one with our free NFL playoffs picks?
Most AFC championship game betting odds opened New England at right around -9, with a total of 47. As of mid-week most shops had dipped the Patriots to -8.5, and the total to 46.
AFC Championship Game Betting Match-Up
Jacksonville (12-6 SU, 10-8 ATS this season) opened these playoffs with that ugly 10-3 wild-card victory over Buffalo, then shocked most of the football betting world last week by upsetting the Steelers for the second time this season in Pittsburgh 45-42. The Jags, as seven-point dogs, pounced out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, allowed the Steelers to pull within seven points three different times from there, but added a late field goal for insurance and hung on for the unlikely win.
Jacksonville also cashed in getting upwards of +275 on the NFL betting moneyline.
The Jags racked up 378 yards on offense, which is a lot for them, and while the box score says the defense gave up 545 yards to Pittsburgh most of that came in semi-prevent mode, protecting that big early lead.
Jacksonville is now 3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS this season against teams that made the playoffs.
On the injury front Jags RB Leonard Fournette, who ran for 109 yards last week and scored three touchdowns, also re-hurt his ankle. Hopefully, for the sake of a good game, he’ll be good to go Sunday.
New England (14-3 SU, 12-5 ATS), meanwhile, reached its seventh straight AFC championship game by snuffing Tennessee last week 35-14. The Patriots spotted the Titans the first seven points of the game, then scored the next 35 and covered as 13-point favorites.
New England outgained Tennessee 438-267, outrushed the Titans 101-65 and won time-of-possession by a 33-27 split.
The Patriots are now 6-2 both SU and ATS against teams that made the playoffs.
These two teams met most recently back in September of 2015, a 51-17 New England victory. But obviously Jacksonville is a little better team now than it was that day.
The totals are split 9-9 in Jags games this season, which are averaging 44 points.
The unders are 9-8 in Patriots games, which are averaging 47 points.
Free AFC Championship Game Picks
The Jags are coming off a huge effort last week in Pittsburgh, and they’re also playing for the 12th week in a row. We expect a letdown. Meanwhile the Patriots looked a tad rusty early in last week’s game, coming off the bye of a week before, but they’ll almost undoubtedly come out much quicker Sunday. Also, nine of New England’s 14 victories this season have come by double-digits. We’re hoping for an entertaining game but we’re also giving the points with the Patriots.