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SBXLVII - Quick Hitters
Early Super Bowl Thoughts

The two participants for Super Bowl XLVII have been decided and there will be plenty of stories told about the 49ers and Ravens for the next two weeks. Bettors have that time to dive into this line and all the accompanying prop bets the Super Bowl will have.

Here is a head start for that work process:

Line: San Francisco (-4) vs. Baltimore (+4); Total set at 48

Baltimore getting points in this spot shouldn’t come as a surprise, but they have thrived off this “underdog mentality” role the past two weeks. This number is right where it should be as anything less would attract plenty of San Francisco money, while any more points (say, 6+) and bettors would be pounding the Ravens. So it will be interesting to watch this line move throughout the next two weeks as the betting market stabilizes.

For Baltimore to cover this spread, they’ll have to make sure they do a couple of key things.

One – they have to find an answer for slowing down the 49ers pistol formation. Kaepernick didn’t scramble or run for a lot of yards vs. Atlanta because the Falcons contained him on the outside. But that strategy leaves big holes up the middle and RB Frank Gore took advantage of that. The strength of Baltimore’s defense is up the middle (at every level), so figuring out how to close those inside running lanes while keeping Kaepernick contained is a big task for this Baltimore team to figure out. They held the Colts to 9 points, Broncos to 21 (2 TD’s on special teams) and New England to 13. This defense has finally hit their stride and is playing as the defense that has been dominant in the NFL for many years now. With two weeks to prepare, Baltimore should have an answer for the pistol

Two – the Ravens have to have another great performance out of Flacco. Flacco did not throw an interception in the Broncos or Patriots wins and winning the turnover battle is a winner take-all scenario is huge. He needs to take care of the ball against the 49ers and if he does that, Baltimore’s chances of a win dramatically increase.

If Baltimore can accomplish those two things, keeping this game within 4 points is quite likely but saying you are going to do something and actually going out and doing it are two different things entirely.

San Francisco can cover if they…

Use their speed and youthful exuberance to wear down this Ravens team. It’s no secret that the Ravens are quite long in the tooth and if you can keep their defense on the field for extended periods of time, those veteran leaders will get gassed.

San Francisco has the rushing attack to do that and will likely try to keep the ball in Kaepernick’s hands the majority of the game. However, Kaepernick also has to get lost in the moment. He can’t let the enormity of being in the Super Bowl swallow him up. There have been no indications he will let that happen, but he is the engine that makes this 49ers offense go these days. If he struggles, chances are the 49ers will struggle (see losses to Stl and Sea). San Francisco is more than capable of covering this spread and will be comfortable in the dome having already beaten the Saints 31-21 here earlier this season.

Both of these teams have two weeks to prepare for the other in what should no doubt be a great game. With two weeks to go before it all goes down there is no need to rush with a pick. At the moment, it’s tough not to like taking the points with Baltimore though, as Super Bowl underdogs are 6-3 SU in the last nine Super Bowls. Capping off Ray Lewis’ final NFL season with a championship would be a fitting end for his Hall of Fame career. As the Ravens have done all playoffs already, they’ll leave everything on the field in this one and getting 4 points initially appears to be the way to go in this game.

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