Baltimore has been an Extremely Popular Super Bowl Bet

Pretty much everybody doubted the Baltimore Ravens’ ability to make Super Bowl XLVII – let alone get past the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. However, things have completely changed since people are not only believing in Baltimore now, but also betting on them at sportsbooks.

According to the Los Angeles Times, two-thirds of sports bettors have wagered on the Ravens to beat the point spread. Because of this, the original line of +5 has now fallen to +3 1/2. In a year where NFL playoff favorites have went 8-2 in covering the spread, Baltimore represents the two favorites’ losses.

That said, it’s no wonder why the Ravens are drawing such heavy action. R.J. Bell of discussed this with the LA Times by saying, This is kind of a surprise – 65% of the bets so far have been on the underdog Ravens. That’s very unusual in the NFL.”

While people may be wagering on the underdog, San Francisco is still expected to take home the Lombardi Trophy on February 3rd. But this game certainly won’t be a blowout…at least in our opinion. That said, you can check out our take on the 2013 Super Bowl as well as a final score prediction below.

San Francisco Team Strengths – We’ll start with the first and most obvious factor here: Colin Kaepernick. The second year QB has ignited the 49ers since taking over the starting job. Despite being just a second year player, he’s been especially good in the playoffs after throwing for 496 yards and three TD’s, while adding another 202 yards and two TD’s on the ground. He’s also been sacked just once in the last five games, which should prove difficult for a Ravens pass rush that’s fallen off from greatness.

Another big plus for 49ers is their rushing attack, which features Kaepernick and Frank Gore, who’s rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns in two playoff games. Considering how Baltimore is giving up 128.3 RYPG during the postseason, we can expect to see San Francisco rush for plenty of first downs.

San Francisco also sports a pretty solid pass rush, led by Aldon Smith and his 19.5 sacks. Expect Ahmad Brooks (6.5 sacks) to apply some pressure in this contest too. One more big strength that the Niners have is their offensive line, which should give Kaepernick plenty of time to throw in his first Super Bowl.

Baltimore Team Strengths – Much of the offensive focus right now is on quarterback Joe Flacco, and deservedly so. Following a solid campaign in which he threw for 3,817 yards, 22 TD’s and 10 INT’s, Flacco has stepped it up a notch in the playoffs. In three postseason outings, the Delaware product has accumulated 853 passing yards, 8 TD’s and no interceptions.

Running back Ray Rice figures to play a huge role in Super Bowl XLVII. He’s a true dual threat as evidenced by the 1,143 rushing yards and 61 catches he had in the regular season. Rice will by far be the toughest dual threat RB that San Francisco has faced this year. When he checks out of the game, the 49ers won’t get much of a break because the backup, Bernard Pierce, is averaging 56.3 RYPG and 6.3 yards per carry in the playoffs.

Kicker Justin Tucker has been pretty clutch throughout the season; he’s made both field goals in the playoffs, and was 30-for-33 in the regular season.

Keep an eye on WR Torrey Smith (855RYDS, 8TD) during the Super Bowl since he figures to be this game’s only true deep threat. Also don’t forget about the emotional boost that franchise linebacker Ray Lewis will provide to his teammates in his final game.

Super Bowl XLVII Prediction: San Francisco 31 – Baltimore 27

The strengths seem to be split pretty evenly among these teams. The Flacco-Kaepernick duel should be quite fun to watch, Frank Gore vs. Ray Rice will be close, and both defenses are pretty solid all-around. However, we think that the offensive line of the 49ers will hold up pretty well against the Ravens’ D-line. Also, look for San Francisco to put more pressure on Flacco than he’s seen in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Protecting Flacco against Indianapolis, New England and Denver was nothing compared to what the Niners will bring.

NFL Power Rankings for Dec. 13th, 2012

Ever since we began doing NFL power rankings this season, it’s been the Houston Texans or Atlanta Falcons at the top. However, an off-week for both teams has a new team rising above them and into first in our power rankings. This being said, let’s get straight to the number one team.

1. New England (10-3) – The Patriots have been quickly moving up the ranks over the past few weeks. Last week they checked in at number three, but now they’re easily the best team following an obliteration of the previously top-ranked Texans. Tom Brady tossed TD passes to Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez (twice) and Donte Stallworth during the route. What’s funny is that we didn’t even know Stallworth was still in the league until the 63-yard bomb he caught.

Last Game: 42-14 win over Houston
Next Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers

2. Denver Broncos (10-3) – While Peyton Manning still threw for 310 yards, the Broncos put much of the focus on RB Knowshon Moreno while playing the Raiders. Moreno carried 32 times for 119 rushing yards and tallied 48 receiving yards too. Assuming he can continue at this pace without wearing down, Denver truly has a complete offense.

Last Game: 26-13 win over Oakland
Next Game: at Baltimore Ravens

3. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) – Colin Kaepernick appears to have solved the quarterback controversy in San Francisco after throwing for 185 yards and rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown. Aldon Smith is having an outstanding season for the Niners after adding two more sacks against the Dolphins to set a franchise record at 19.5 sacks.

Last Game: 27-13 win over Miami
Next Game: at New England Patriots

4. Houston Texans (11-2) – Last week we discussed how CB Brice McCain will be out for the season following a foot injury. And this certainly put a major dent in the Texans’ pass defense, which was thoroughly exposed against New England. Of course, one blowout to the league’s top team doesn’t erase an 11-2 season.

Last Game: 42-14 loss to New England
Next Game: vs. Indianapolis Colts

5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – Carolina QB Cam Newton is no doubt a major talent, but nobody expected him to carry the three-win Panthers over Atlanta. However, 272 pass yards and 116 rushing yards later, Newton pulled off the improbable. At least Falcons QB Matt Ryan came out of his mid-season funk after throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

Last Game: 30-20 loss to Carolina
Next Game: vs. New York Giants

6. Green Bay Packers (9-4) – For now, we put the Packers at number six; however, this could change greatly when they get Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Jordy Nelson back. Plus they pulled undrafted running back DuJuan Harris out of nowhere and watched him run for 31 yards and a score against the Lions.

Last Game: 27-20 win over Detroit
Next Game: at Chicago Bears

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – Seattle is another team with tremendous upside since Russell Wilson has evolved into a legitimate starting quarterback while the defense has been outstanding. Of course, anybody who saw the 58-0 dismantling of Arizona already knew this. Watch out for this team in the playoffs!

Last Game: 58-0 win over Arizona
Next Game: at Buffalo Bills

8. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Defying all preseason prediction logic, the Colts are on the verge of making the playoffs. All they need is one win in their last two games. Of course, this will be easier said than done when you consider that they play the Texans in two out of the last three games. But with how the Colts have played this year, you can definitely expect them to win at least one more regular season game….if not the AFC South with a couple victories against the Texans.

Last Game: 27-23 win over Tennessee
Next Game: at Houston Texans

9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – It’s hard to have much confidence in Baltimore right now after they fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. And it’s difficult to see a scenario where the offense is better with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell suddenly thrust into the play-calling role. Taking all of this into account, we have trouble seeing the Ravens making it very far in the playoffs.

Last Game: 31-28 loss to Washington
Next Game: vs. Denver Broncos

10. New York Giants (8-5) – Over the past few years, the Giants have traditionally come alive at playoff time. And they looked pretty good during a recent route of the Saints. But we’re not ready to throw our full support behind New York just yet since they’ve won just two out of the past five games. Plus a tough road game against the Falcons looms ahead.

Last Game: 52-27 win over New Orleans
Next Game: at Atlanta Falcons