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Bet on NFL – Conference Championships: Rematch revisions
Both the NFC and AFC Championship games will be rematches from the regular season. However, none of the teams playing on Sunday will be fielding the exact same team they went with back in Week 2. Here’s a rundown of some of the noteworthy changes between Week 2 and this weekend that NFL betting fans will want to know about before placing their wagers.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots won’t look much different than they did back in September when they hammered San Diego 38-14 as a 3.5-point favorite. The only noteworthy difference appears to be in the backfield. When the season started New England split the rushing duties between Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris. Against San Diego, Morris rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown while Maroney tallied 77 yards on 15 carries. Most of the carries will end up in Maroney’s hands this Sunday, with Morris sidelined since Week 7 with a chest injury. Maroney has put up decent numbers in the last couple of weeks and with the Pats focusing more heavily on their lethal pass attack, the absence of Morris this time around likely won’t be felt.
San Diego’s changes on Sunday could have much more of an impact. With LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates all hurting and not even guaranteed to take the field, the Chargers’ offense could look very different this time around. In addition, since Week 2 the Chargers have added a dangerous receiver and found a defensive standout from within. Since being acquired from the Miami Dolphins, speedy wideout Chris Chambers has caught 44 passes for 743 yards with five touchdowns in 12 games. Meanwhile, former nickel safety Antonio Cromartie has blossomed into a standout shutdown cornerback for the Chargers, and he will draw the tough assignment of eliminating touchdown-maker Randy Moss from the Patriots’ attack on Sunday.
Over in the NFC, both the Packers and the Giants will have a number of noticeable differences from their Week 2 clash. The Packers’ main changes are on offense, where they were missing two of their biggest weapons back in Week 2 and still came away with a 35-13 win as a 2.5-point underdog on the NFL odds. In that victory the Packers were starting DeShawn Wynn in the backfield, while Ryan Grant was a third-string backup who hardly saw they field. Now Wynn is out for the season with a shoulder injury and Grant has run away with the starting RB job. The performance of Grant (who had three TDs last week against Seattle) gives the Green Bay offense a whole new dimension on the ground, especially when you consider they ranked last in the league in rushing before he took over. One other important piece that was missing for Green Bay back in Week 2 was wide receiver Greg Jennings. In 14 games since then, Favre and Jennings have hooked up for 14 touchdowns.
The Giants also made some backfield changes since Week 2. In their first matchup with the Packers, Derrick Ward got the start at RB while Brandon Jacobs was out with a knee injury. This time it will be Ward who’s sidelined and Jacobs will get the start. Also missing for the Giants in the rematch will be tight end Jeremy Shockey, who led the Giants in receiving yards back in Week 2. Also notable was that Giants QB Eli Manning played through a shoulder injury in that early-season blowout loss. Manning is healthy, confident and now gunning for a third straight playoff upset.
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