The Super Bowl is always the most bitter-sweet moment of the year for me. In one instance the Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year in professional football, of course. However, it also marks the last game of the in the NFL. Incidentally, this will be the last NFL article I write this season. Thank you for everyone that has taken the time read my articles every week. I hope all of you made some cash, and I wish all of you the best of luck with all of your Super Bowl wagers. To newcomers to The Sports Geek, I can only hope we start things off on the right page and I look forward to next season.
The 49ers and Ravens have both taken hard fought roads to make it to this point. Now that they’re finally here, neither is looking to be content with finishing second best. The 49ers knocked off the Packers and Falcons to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. The ‘Niners cruised past the Packers, 45-31, in a game that featured the ultra-talented Colin Kaepernick running rampant on the Packers. Kaepernick concluded the game with 181 yards on the ground, 263 through the air, and 4 touchdowns in total. Things weren’t so easy for Kaepernick the following week, scathing by the Falcons, 28-24. The 49ers defense was getting pushed around in the first half, but buckled down in the second, holding the Falcons to 0 points in the 2nd half.
The Ravens are the more surprising squad to be in the Super Bowl. They had to first beat the surging Indianapolis Colts, and then get by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. If it wasn’t for a Broncos’ safety brain lapse, the Ravens would presumably not be here. It took an 80-yard miracle from Joe Flacco to tie the game up and wrap it up in overtime. As big underdogs against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, it seemed even more improbable that the Ravens would make it to the big game. The Ravens didn’t care what the bookmakers thought if their chances, though, staging the massive upset in front of the Patriots’ faithful, 28-13.
The Ravens have gotten to this point thanks to the same thing that won it for them in 2000, defense. During the regular season, however, the defense looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were on life support, getting torched on a regular basis with no end in sight. The defense ranked 16th in the NFL, behind teams such as the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns, ouch. When Ray Lewis came back for the playoffs though, an energy shot went through the Ravens. They rallied around Lewis and produced big results. They held the Colts to 9 points and the vaunted Patriots’ offense to only 13 at home. The 35 points the Ravens surrendered against the Broncos is a little skewed, considering the Broncos got two special team touchdowns in the punt/kick return game.
The 49ers’ offense presents a different look from what they have seen in the past two weeks. A different look, but it isn’t one they haven’t seen before. They played against RG3 and the Redskins in week 14, losing 31-28. While they did give up plenty of points, I think it was a beneficial experience to get a look at a spread offense before heading into the Super Bowl. The Ravens have also been practicing against a scout team that featured former standout Oregon Duck Dennis Dixon. Dixon operated a high paced, option offense at Oregon, so this will give the Ravens’ defense some good looks as well. Nevertheless, with Kaepernick at the helm, the team has turned into an offensive juggernaut. It hasn’t just been a coming out party for Kaepernick, as receiver Michael Crabtree is emerging as a massive threat in the passing game. Crabtree finished the 2012/13 season with 1105 yards and 9 touchdowns, career highs. Add in the fact that running back Frank Gore rushed for 1214 yards, and it is easy to see why this is an offense that is no joke.
The Ravens are an offense that has that Jekyl and Hyde feel to it. It really was difficult this season to get a feel regarding what they were going to do that week. The postseason has been quite different, however. Uncharacteristically, it has been quarterback Joe Flacco that has taken control of the offense. Flacco has tossed 8 touchdowns with NO interceptions over the past three weeks, the kind of numbers that will probably earn him a big contract in the offseason. Flacco can cap that fat contract off with a win in Super Bowl XLVII. With the kind of weapons Flacco has though, this is what people have expected out of him for a long time. With Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin flanking each other on the outside and Ray Rice occupying the backfield, this is an offense with plenty of weapons that can do some damage.
Ravens vs. 49ers Spread and Betting Odds:
Baltimore Ravens +4 (-115)
@San Francisco 49ers -4 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Ravens vs. 49ers Pick:
Just a reminder, I am not picking a winner here, I am only making an over/under pick. If you want the article that showcases the potential winning side, click on the free picks section of the site. For those of you that are new to sports betting, a “total” or over/under bet simply means if you think the game will go over 47.5 points, take the over. Conversely, if you think it is going to go under 47.5, bet the under. I have seen some confused faces when I tell my friends I have an over or under in a game, so just clearing some things up for the rookies out there.
The last time the Harbaugh brothers met the game finished 16-6. Each knows one another inside and out, and are aware of the nuances the 49ers and Ravens possess. If you don’t think that they talk during the season and offseason about their teams you have something different coming. Consequently, I think with a 2 week break, both coaches will have their defenses well versed on their opposition. Another thing that stands out to me is how good the Ravens’ defense is following a bye week. 15 points this year against the Browns is actually the most points they have given up in five years after some rest. Under Harbaugh, they only allow 11 points per game off a bye week. Given the age of the Ravens’ defense, I think this bye is a HUGE advantage.
I am sick and tired of the Ray Lewis retirement/deer antler spray drama just as much as you are, but in the end, he provides the defense with a massive spark. Lewis and the rest of the Ravens’ defense are without a doubt going to leave it all on the field. They are going to be beaten and battered by the end of this, but I think they’ll be able to give themselves a pat on the back. Even when the Ravens were going through a huge slump in the regular season, they were still one of the best red zone defenses, and only allowed teams to score an average of 21 points per game.
While we have witnessed some offensive explosions from both sides this season, the Harbaugh brothers are both defensive minds. Give them two weeks to prepare for one another, and I think you’re going to see a tight, low scoring affair. I’m going to take the under 47.5 in a game that should start off with some nerves from both sides. If Flacco is unable to put together four straight impressive games, which is entirely possible, this could fly well under the posted total.
PICK = UNDER 47.5