Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday. Finally.
After a story-rich season that provided surprise after surprise, the NFL finally reaches its marquee game. It’s taken 22 weeks to get here, but now the 75,000– I would say fans but let’s face it, the corporate numbers eliminates the use of that particular term – in attendance and the millions of TV viewers get the chance to hear Alicia Keys belt out the national anthem, Beyonce shake her rump at halftime whilst lip-syncing (possibly), and those $4 million commercials.
Oh and there’s also the small matter of the game between Baltimore and San Francisco.
Welcome to Super Bowl XLVII: the event, the spectacle, the game nobody can pick.
It’s been a long time since a Super Bowl winner was this hard to pick. Ordinarily, there’s a decisive advantage for one team. That team might not live up to that advantage, but there’s an advantage nonetheless. But this year…
Trying to separate the Niners (the team of the stats) and the Ravens (the team of destiny) has been a nightmare. Numbers (they never lie, you know?) favor San Francisco, but Baltimore has been on a crusade to upset everybody this postseason. Then there’s history. Three of the last five Super Bowls have gone to the underdog. It’s becoming common place to expect the unexpected.
So, who do you pick?
If you’ve waited this long to pick your side, fear not. You’re not the only one. For now, let’s see what Casino Review can conjure up for you.
Two weeks ago, the line opened with San Francisco as the favorite, with the spread at 5. The total opened at 49.
Sunday morning sees the spread at four with most bookies, although Bet Online has it at 3.5. The total is 47.5 with most online sites, although Bovada has it at 48.
Betting Straight Up
Statistically speaking, San Francisco (11-4-1, 2-0 postseason) has a slight advantage when it comes to the numbers.
Offensively, the Niners compiled more total yards this season, including a whopping 155.7 rushing yards per game (4th in the league). Towards the end of the season – the part where Colin Kaepernick took over quarterbacking duties – the Niners really started putting numbers up.
Baltimore (10-6, 3-0 postseason) was no offensive slouch though. The Ravens outranked the Niners in passing yards and points per game, although the one tenth of a point difference proved these sides would need a well-oiled crowbar to separate them.
These trends have continued during the postseason, although San Francisco has scored 6½ more than the Ravens.
Defensively, San Francisco was a juggernaut. The side limited teams to just 17.1 points per game, second to only Seattle in the regular season. It was the sort of defense we’ve come to expect of Baltimore, only this year’s Baltimore side was middle of the pack when it came to defense. Until this postseason.
Baltimore has allowed just 19 points per game in its three playoff games, while San Francisco has allowed 27.5. It appears that the feared Baltimore defense (and Ray Lewis) turned up at just the right time.
Historically speaking, San Francisco has been to five Super Bowls and won all five. That includes Super Bowl XXIV (Jan. 28, 1990), a game in which the Niners defeated Denver 55-10 at the Super Dome in New Orleans, making for the most lopsided in Super Bowl history.
Baltimore has made one Super Bowl appearance, defeating the New York Giants 34-7 at Super Bowl XXXV (Jan. 28, 2001). One team’s undefeated Super Bowl streak is coming to an end tonight.
Baltimore currently owns a three-game winning streak over San Francisco, with the average game score coming out at 19-6. Some would argue that Baltimore hasn’t faced the 49ers side currently on show, and in terms of the Kaepernick offense, that’s true, but remember: the Ravens took down the Niners last season (Nov. 24, 2011) 16-6. Add to that the fact that San Francisco has only beaten Baltimore once (Nov. 17, 1996; a team that included Steve Young and Jerry Rice) and you have an historical advantage for Baltimore.
Want the waters to get even murkier?
Consider that the NFC representative has the superior record (23-19 since 1970 merger) in the Super Bowl, has won three straight, and is 18-5 when beginning the game as favorite, you surely have to come down in favor of the Niners, right?
But then again, the underdog has won four of the last five Super Bowl games and eight of the last 11. Add to that, the AFC has gone 9-6 in the Super Bowl since snapping a 13-game losing streak in 1998 and things suddenly look to be favorable to Baltimore.
See what we mean by impossible to pick?
And all of this without considering those unfathomable anomalies: will Ray Lewis win a Super Bowl in his final season? Will Colin Kaepernick finish off a fairy tale story? Will an injury play a part? Which Harbaugh brother has the advantage? Or any number of other factors that could impact the game.
So your pick essentially becomes a tossup. Which brings us to…
Take: BALTIMORE – There’s just something about this team that draws you to it. Huge underdog wins against Denver and New England, as well as experience, gives the Ravens a slight edge. An almost indecipherable edge in all fairness, but this just seems like the Ravens’ year now. It certainly didn’t earlier in the year.
Betting Against the Spread
Picking Baltimore means we’re automatically taking the side to cover the spread. But if you still inching towards San Francisco, here’re the numbers you need to know.
San Francisco was 9-7-0 against the spread during the regular season. The Niners covered the spread in both playoff games also.
Baltimore recorded a 6-9-1 tally against the spread during the regular season, but the Ravens have gone on to cover the spread in all three postseason games, including two as the underdog.
Historically, the favorite is 26-18-0 against the spread. On only six occasions has the favorite won the game and failed to cover. The favorite is 5-3-1 ATS when the Super Bowl is played in New Orleans. Those are advantages that favor San Francisco, and well worth considering if you’re going to take the Niners straight up.
In this instance, we’re taking Baltimore to be the 14th underdog to cover and win outright.
Take: BALTIMORE – By default.
Betting the Total
The total is a really bitch to predict. Consider this; the total has gone over in 22 Super Bowls and under in 23. The more keen-eyed of you will realize that only equates to 45 of the 46 Super Bowl games. Well, there was no total in the first Super Bowl.
During the regular season, San Francisco was 10-6-0 in favor of the total going over. The total has also gone over in both games involving the 49ers this postseason. All told, San Francisco has seen the total go over 66.7 percent of the time.
Meanwhile, Baltimore was 8-7-1 in favor of the over during the regular season. This postseason has seen two Ravens games (vs. Indianapolis, at New England) go under, with one (at Denver) going over. All told, the Ravens have seen the total go over 47.4 percent of the time, the same as it has gone under.
Take: UNDER – Both teams may have favored the over this season but the two defenses take the field in New Orleans can shut a game down. The two previous playoff rounds have seen the total go over in all games, which suggests the under is about to rear its ugly head. There’s a historical presence here also: six of the nine Super Bowl games played in the Big Easy have seen the total go under. Meanwhile, six of the last eight Super Bowls have also seen the total go under. Smart bettors should be thinking knockdown, drag out affair, not offensive spectacle.
So there you have it. Now all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy the final football game of the season.