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Preview: Ravens (1-1) at 49ers (1-1)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: February 03, 2013 6:30 PM EDT
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com
  

For those familiar with my work, you know what my program is in regards to Super Bowl betting strategy. I have always believed that you make a ‘sink-or-swim wager’ that makes you either a winner or loser on Super Sunday.

Have fun with as many proposition bets as you want, but make sure that you are on the side or the total (your sink-or-swim play) for at least 80 percent of your bankroll for the day.

For instance, if your bankroll is $1,000, put at least $800 on the side (Ravens or 49ers) or the total (‘over’ or ‘under’). In this scenario, you could make 10 prop picks for $20 apiece and lose every one of them, yet still be a big winner for the day if you hit your main pick.

Make sense? Here is my sink-or-swim pick this year.

As of early this morning, most betting shops had San Francisco (13-4 straight up, 11-7 against the spread) installed as a 3.5 or four-point favorite. The total was 48 at most spots and the Ravens were available on the money line for a plus-160 payout (risk $100 to win $160).

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Baltimore (13-6 SU, 9-9-1 ATS) made it to New Orleans by winning at home against Indianapolis before posting back-to-back road wins at Denver and at New England. In the process, Joe Flacco has silenced his critics by outplaying Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Flacco has eight touchdown passes without an interception in these playoffs. After trailing 13-7 at halftime of the AFC Championship Game, Flacco led the Ravens back in the second half to capture a 28-13 win at New England as eight-point underdogs. They hooked up their money-line backers with a generous plus-300 payout (risk $100 to win $300). The 41 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 49.5-point total.

Flacco completed 21-of-36 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns without committing a turnover. Anquan Boldin hauled in five receptions for 60 yards and had a pair of fourth-quarter TD catches.

Baltimore’s defense intercepted Tom Brady twice with Dannell Ellerbee and Cary Williams producing one pick apiece.

San Francisco fell behind 17-0 at Atlanta early in the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game. I’ve been in the Ga. Dome many times for Falcons games and SEC Championship Games, but I have never heard it as loud as it was after Julio Jones made his second TD grab to give the Falcons a 17-point lead.

Nevertheless, in just his ninth career start, San Francisco second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn’t flinch at all. He promptly marched the 49ers down the field with LaMichael James capping the drive with a 15-yard scamper into the end zone.

After its defense got a stop, San Francisco sliced the deficit to 17-14 on a four-yard TD pass from Kaepernick to tight end Vernon Davis. But Atlanta would respond with a quick drive to take a 24-14 lead to intermission thanks to a 10-yard TD pass from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez with 25 seconds remaining.

The 49ers took the opening drive of the second half and marched right down the field before Frank Gore scored a five-yard TD run. Atlanta’s offense kept moving the ball successfully in the second half, but a pair of turnovers inside San Francisco territory were costly.

Jim Harbaugh’s team took the lead for good with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter on a nine-yard TD run by Gore, who finished with 90 yards on 21 carries. The 49ers defense stopped the Falcons on downs on a late drive at crunch time to seal the 28-24 victory and a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

Which bettors cashed tickets was determined by when the game was wagered on. The Falcons were 4 ½-point underdogs early in the week and I pulled the trigger on them at that point for a winner. Later in the week, the number moved to four and most spots closed at 3.5, so many 49er backers on game day were victorious. The 52 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 47.5-point total.

San Francisco advanced to the NFC title game with a 45-31 win over Green Bay as a three-point home ‘chalk.’ Kapernick was nothing short of sensational in his postseason debut, rushing for 181 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. The University of Nevada product also threw for 263 yards and a pair of TDs.

For the season, Kaepernick has 13 TD passes compared to only four interceptions. He has also rushed for seven TDs. Flacco has a 30/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Baltimore has been an underdog eight times this season, compiling a 4-4 spread record. Meanwhile, San Francisco has posted a 7-4 spread record as a single-digit favorite.

The ‘over’ has hit in six consecutive games and nine of the last 10 for the 49ers. They have seen the ‘over’ go 11-6-1 overall.

The ‘over’ is 10-9 overall for the Ravens, but they have watched the ‘under’ cash in four of their last five games.

Kickoff from the Superdome is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--I like the prop bets that have big payouts. One I’m bullish on is Vernon Davis to score the first touchdown of the game for a 10/1 payout.

--San Francisco is unbeaten in five previous trips to the Super Bowl. The 49ers have wins over the Chargers, Bengals (twice), Dolphins and Broncos.

--This is the ninth time the city of New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl. In 1990, San Francisco destroyed Denver by a 55-10 count at the Superdome.

--These teams played each other during the regular season last season. San Francisco had to travel across the country on a short week to face Baltimore on a Thursday night. The Ravens won a 16-6 decision as 3.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The 22 combined points went ‘under’ the 40.5-point total. Flacco’s eight-yard scoring strike to TE Dennis Pitta on the first play of the fourth quarter gave Baltimore the lead for good.

--I have to give Jim Harbaugh props galore for making the tough decision to stick with Kaepernick after he shined while Alex Smith sat out two weeks due to a concussion. The only time in recent memory that we’ve seen such a decision rewarded with a trip to the Super Bowl was when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stuck with rookie QB Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe. That was 11 years ago and the result was a 20-17 win for New England over St. Louis. Where was that game played? You guessed it, the Louisiana Superdome.

--Is Alex Smith ready to play if needed? I believe he is and he should be credited for the way he has handled this situation with class. Remember, Brady sprained his ankle in the AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh and Bledsoe came in and played well in the upset victory over the Steelers.

--Baltimore is in its second Super Bowl in franchise history. In 2001, the Ravens rolled past the Giants by a 34-7 count at Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. Ray Lewis was named the MVP. His odds to do so again are 8/1 at Sportsbook.ag.

--Sportsbook.ag has Kapernick as the plus-160 favorite to win Super Bowl MVP honors. Flacco has the second-shortest odds at 3/1. Gore and Ray Rice have 10/1 and 12/1 odds, respectively. I think Rice is worth a shot for a small amount for a 12/1 return. 

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

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