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Craven's Corner: Backing Green Bay, Buffalo in the NFL conference championships

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will square off against another future NFL Hall of Famer, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, in Sunday's NFC championship game.

Craven's Corner went 2-2 in the NFL divisional round last weekend, cashing in on a lopsided victory by the Packers and a win by the Buccaneers. We were on the road to 3-1 before Patrick Mahomes was forced out of the game against the Browns. Buffalo made us look like fools with an easy win over the Ravens. 

We're taking a swing at the conference championship games this week with an overall record of 74-52-4. We’re 39-31-4 betting on the NFL.

Packers -3 vs. Buccaneers: I’m 35 years old, so I can comfortably say that my football brain is around 30. Since 1990, no two quarterbacks have dominated the NFL landscape quite like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. I’d say that they are the best two quarterbacks of my generation because guys such as Joe Montana, Dan Marino and John Elway were midway through their careers before my memories formed. That’s true for most people under the age of 40. This game is a big deal. 

The Corner rarely bets against Brady in the playoffs. Loyal readers know that I try to bet based on steadfast rules. Brady in the playoffs. Fade the public when contemplating a bet on the Cowboys. Buy the half-point. Never trust Philip Rivers. But every rule is meant to be broken in the name of money. We’re taking the Packers to cover three points because at this stage of their careers, Rodgers is the better quarterback. 

Buccaneers vs. Packers over 51: Rodgers and Brady need to combine for seven touchdowns and a field goal for the over to cash. That feels doable if these two future Hall of Fame players give us a classic duel. These teams scored 48 points in the regular-season meeting, and that was with Green Bay contributing just 10 points to the cause. Expect Green Bay’s offense to respond with a big game, and it's hard to imagine that Brady won’t match that performance. 

Bills +3 over Chiefs: A fully healthy Mahomes is the only thing that makes me nervous about taking the Bills. Buffalo is an emerging force in the AFC. Josh Allen is a future MVP. But the Chiefs are still the best team in the NFL until proven otherwise. Mahomes was forced out of the win over Cleveland with what looked like a concussion even though Kansas City is classifying it as a neck injury. The Bills enter the game without major injuries and with a ton of momentum. 

Bills vs. Chiefs over 53½: Betting on the under is lame, so we’re rooting for a high point total in both conference championships. This game could get high scoring early, so we’ll take the route that offers less anxiety and hope that an Allen vs. Mahomes battle lights up the scoreboard. Weather is a concern, so watch the report and lean toward the under if a blizzard becomes likely. 

How to bet

A quick refresher: Betting looks difficult, but it’s easy to grasp. A negative number denotes the favorite. The number after the negative represents how much money you’d need to bet to win $100. So, a -265 favorite would require a $265 bet to win you $100. Conversely, a positive number is the underdog. The number following the positive represents how much money you’d make on a $100 bet. So, a +265 bet means $100 earns you $265.

As for point spreads, the team with the negative number is a favorite. For example, Oklahoma was a -2½ point favorite over Texas in October. The Sooners needed to win by at least 3 points to cash. Texas needed to lose by 2½ points or fewer.

We’re using BetMGM.com as our general sports book. Remember that lines fluctuate based on bets and are subject to change before kickoff.