The NFL conference championships will determine the Super Bowl 50 participants this weekend and give bettors potentially the final Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady matchup -- with the Broncos set as 3-point home underdogs on the early lines for the AFC Championship Game.
Denver faced New England on November 29, winning 30-24 as a 2.5-point home underdog in that contest. And it wasn't even Manning at quarterback for the Broncos in that game, with Brock Osweiler filling in and throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown on the day. Brady threw for 280 yards with three touchdowns for the Patriots in that losing cause.
The Broncos are coming off a 23-16 home win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon, with Manning returning to the starting role for the team while throwing for just 222 yards with no touchdown strikes. C.J. Anderson ran for 72 yards and a score in the game.
The Patriots managed to both win and cover against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, grabbing the 27-20 victory as a 6-point home favorite on the betting lines. Tom Brady threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns in that win, with Rob Gronkowski catching both TD strikes.
Over in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers will face the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs for the second year in a row, with those teams meeting in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The Panthers are listed as early 3-point home favorites for the contest at the sportsbooks.
Carolina hosted Arizona on Wild Card Weekend last season, rolling to a 27-16 win in that game as 5.5-point betting favorites according to the OddsShark NFL Database. Before that, the Panthers and the Cardinals hadn't faced each other since October 2013, when Arizona won 22-6 as a 3-point home underdog.
The Panthers are coming off a 31-24 home win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, building up a big lead and then holding on to cover the 2.5-point spread at the sportsbooks. That was the sixth OVER result in the past eight Panthers games for totals bettors, with Cam Newton passing for 161 yards and a touchdown and Jonathan Stewart running for two scores.
The Cardinals got past the Green Bay Packers 26-20 at home in overtime in their Divisional Round contest on Saturday, just failing to cover the 7-point spread in that game; Arizona has turned in six UNDER results in their past seven games. Carson Palmer passed for 349 yards and three touchdowns in the extra-time victory over the Packers on the weekend.
NFL Conference Championships betting lines
Arizona at Carolina -3
New England at Denver +3