Betting On the AFC Championship Game Legally

Because of the UIGEA, PASPA and Federal Wire Act sports betting laws, football bettors living in the United States have to go offshore. The good news is, there are some really top class operations which are certified to legally provide football betting options for USA residents and visitors. And come January every year, the National Football League's AFC Championship gives you one of the last annual NFL betting opportunities. The winner goes on to the Super Bowl. The loser goes home. And true to NFL playoff football, the hits are hard, and the big play makers do what they do best. Accordingly, over the years a few AFC Title Games were so memorable that they received their own nicknames. Let's take a look at The Drive and The Fumble, and see how you can use those contests to bet more intelligently on future AFC Championship ballgames.

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AFC Championship History - "The Fumble"

The scene - January 17, 1988, AFC Championship Game, Mile High Stadium. The setting - The Cleveland Browns are down 31 - 38 to the Broncos with just over a minute left in the AFC Championship Game.

Cleveland is deep in Denver territory, and it looks like they are about to tie up the ball game. Unfortunately, Broncos cornerback Jeremiah Castille strips the ball from Browns running back Earnest Byner. "The Fumble" is on the turf. Castille falls on the ball, and Denver takes an intentional safety to preserve a last-second 38 - 33 victory. It has been quietly and not so quietly stated over the years that Earnest Byner intentionally dropped the ball, to cover a huge bet in the game and some massive gambling losses. The gambling lesson here? Betting on NFL games, whether preseason, regular season or playoff contests, is as unpredictable as it is exciting.

Poor Cleveland, Here We Go Again - "The Drive"

The scene - January 11, 1987, AFC Championship Game, Cleveland Stadium. The setting - The Cleveland Browns are winning 20 - 13, with John Elway and the Broncos on their own 2 yard line with just minutes to go in the game.

Oh yeah, Elway is facing a -5 wind chill temperature, and the Dog Pound is in rare form. Looks like Cleveland is headed to the Super Bowl, right?! Not so fast, sports fan. All that the future Hall of Fame quarterback then does is drive his team 98 yards in 15 plays, sending the game into overtime with a 5 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marc Jackson. "The Drive" cemented John Elway's position as one of the top quarterbacks in the game, and the Broncos go on to win in overtime 23 - 20. What people don't always remember is that Cleveland got the ball first in the extra quarter. But they had to punt, Elway drove the Broncos 60 yards, and Rich Karlis kicked a game-winning 33 yard field goal. The gambling lesson? When Cleveland and Denver meet up in the AFC Championship tilt, take the over. In 1987, 1988 and 1990, that AFC Title matchup went over the Las Vegas total.

AFC Betting Trends

Bear in mind when you read this that we are just now entering the 2014 NFL regular season. But all over the web you can find annually updated trends and stats which will help you bet on the NFL playoffs. That is what we are going to take a look at here. If you want to bet the AFC championship game, take these trends and statistics into account. From 2000 to 2014, the title game played between the NFL's top two American Football Conference teams has gone over the Las Vegas total 5 out of 7 times in odd-numbered years. In that same time frame, 8 of the 14 AFC Championship victors were the favorite, and also covered against the spread (ATS). And from the 1998 to 2014 AFC Championship contests, when the favorite covered the spread, the total went over the Las Vegas number 7 out of 9 times.

Use Live In-Game Bets to Hedge Your AFC Championship Wager

Remember the "good old days"? They really were not so good in one regard, because you could only place bets before the start of an NFL game. Let's use the 2005 - 2006 AFC Championship Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos as an example. Entering the game Denver was a 3 point favorite. The Broncos looked very strong going into the contest as the AFC West Division winner. Pittsburgh limped in as a wild-card. So you decide to take Denver -3 for $100, and you jump online and get your bet down before the game. It doesn't take long for you to realize that the Steelers are the better team, and they lead Denver 24 - 3 at the half. Back in 2006, that was pretty much all she wrote for your wager. But the top rated Internet sportsbooks that support US players now offer "live" betting. That means you are offered spread, money line and totals betting opportunities while the game is still being played. Flash back to that 2006 scenario, and you could have placed a second quarter or halftime wager on the Steelers to hedge your pregame Broncos bet. The relatively new live in-game betting option gives smart NFL bettors more options, and a great way to hedge what appears to be a losing wager.