49ers' Win In New England Stamps San Francisco As Super Bowl Favorites
How unique was Sunday in the NFL? According to a league release, it was the latest calendar day in league history in which six games were played between teams with winning records. Easily the game of the day was in New England, where the San Francisco 49ers ended the Patriots' 20-game home winning streak in December and in doing so became the Super Bowl 9/2 favorites at the book.
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It was truly a remarkable game and the most-wagered of the week at the book. San Francisco led 31-3 in the third quarter, only to see the Patriots tie it at 31 with a little less than seven minutes remaining in the game. Michael Crabtree scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to give the Niners a 38-31 lead they wouldn't relinquish on the way to a 41-34 victory. Kaepernick had four touchdown passes - he had three in his career entering the game. You can forget about Alex Smith ever getting his job back. The Niners were outgained by nearly 150 yards but forced four turnovers and held New England to 2-for-15 on third downs. Tom Brady threw it a whopping 65 times and had 443 yards but just one touchdown and two picks.
It clinched a playoff spot for the 49ers, who can clinch the NFC West with a win in Seattle this week, and put a major damper on New England's hopes of getting a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. As things stand now, the Pats would be a No. 3 seed because Denver beat Baltimore on Sunday. The Pats actually are still the second-favorites to win the Super Bowl at 19/4. It was their first loss in the second half of the season since Week 17 three years ago. The Patriots will need to likely win out and have Denver lose at least once to get that coveted bye. New England holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Broncos did leapfrog the Houston Texans on the Super Bowl futures with their ninth straight victory. Denver is now 5/1 to win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning surpassed 4,000 passing yards for the 12th season, extending his NFL record. All nine of Denver's wins during the streak have been by at least seven points. Baltimore, meanwhile, did clinch the AFC North despite the loss but has dropped three straight and is down to 28/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Ravens' firing on Monday of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron definitely didn't pay off. New OC Jim Caldwell stressed the team would use Pro Bowl back Ray Rice more - the book listed his carries at 19.5 for Sunday's game - but Rice had just 12 carries and wasn't a factor. In fact, he had a season-low 41 yards from scrimmage. The Ravens were down 31-3 before adding a few garbage touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Baltimore has now lost two straight at home for the first time in five years.
Saturday's Live Betting Game
The Atlanta Falcons were only the fourth-favorites in the NFC entering Week 15 but they made a statement on Sunday by spanking the New York Giants 34-0 - the same Giants team that beat Atlanta 24-2 in last year's wild-card game. You just don't bet against Matt Ryan if he has a 100.0 QB rating or better. He improved to 31-1 in such games in his career. Now Atlanta is the second-favorite behind the Niners in the NFC to win the Super Bowl at 7/1. It was the first regular-season shutout ever for Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
The Falcons (12-2) could clinch the top seed in the NFC with a win this weekend. It's the first Saturday night game of the NFL season as they visit nothing-to-play-for Detroit, with Atlanta an opening three-point favorite. There will be Live Betting at the book and there's huge early money on Atlanta.
The Lions (4-10) have lost six straight after Sunday's 38-10 defeat to an Arizona team that brought a nine-game losing streak into the game. About the only bright spot this season for Detroit has been WR Calvin Johnson. Megatron is 182 yards shy of Jerry Rice's NFL single-season receiving yardage record.
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