Panthers, Pats favoured on Championship Sunday

Brady regained the top spot from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was the bestselling player for two straight sales quarters. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The New England Patriots will be gunning for a record ninth Super Bowl berth when they travel to Denver on Sunday to battle the Broncos in this year’s AFC Championship Game as 3.5-point betting favourites at sportsbooks monitored by

The Patriots punched their ticket to a fifth-straight AFC title game appearance last weekend, topping the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 for just their third win in their past seven games, both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS).

The club’s recent slide began with a 30-24 loss in Denver in late November, and follows a 13-game SU win streak, including a dominating playoff performance last season that culminated in their first Super Bowl championship in a decade.

Of greatest concern to bettors is the recent 1-3 SU road record that New England takes into Sunday’s Patriots vs. Broncos betting matchup at Sports Authority Field. In addition to their recent loss at Denver, the Patriots came up short in their final two regular-season contests, falling at the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

The Broncos ride a three-game SU win streak into their date with New England, but have been a major betting disappointment since early in the season, going 4-7-3 ATS in their past 14 games, and have scored 20 or fewer points in four of their last eight, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

However, Denver has had the Patriots’ number in recent home meetings, going 5-1 SU and ATS in their past six, including a 26-16 victory as 4.5-point chalk in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.

In the other NFL betting matchup on Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will be looking for a second playoff victory over Arizona in as many years when they take on the Cardinals as 3.5-point home favourites.

The Panthers exceeded expectations this season by posting an NFL-best 15-1 SU record, followed by a 31-24 win over Seattle in last week’s Divisional Playoff matchup.

Carolina has been dominant in the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium, winning 12 straight SU, including a 27-16 win over the Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend last season, and had easily covered in each of its past five home dates.

The Cardinals kick off their post-season in search of their first-ever Super Bowl crown. They last won an NFL championship in 1947.

Winners of 13 games SU this season to claim their first NFC West title in six years, Arizona last reached the NFC Championship Game in 2009 with a 33-13 win over the Panthers, but are a dismal 3-8 SU and ATS in their last 11 games against Carolina.

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