Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore Ravens +4 vs. San Francisco 49ers -4

Mercedes-Benz Superdome— New Orleans, Louisiana

NFLbetting.org Pick: Baltimore Ravens +4

Looking past the media day hoopla, the Ray Lewis controversy, and all the Harbaugh stories, there’s a pretty good football game to be played Sunday night. The NFL is on a run of competitive Super Bowls, and the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens promise to continue that trend.

While the San Francisco 49ers entered the playoffs as the favorite in the NFC (+500 to win the Super Bowl) and were favored in each of their games, the Baltimore Ravens have taken a different path. The Ravens were considered a long-shot to win the Super Bowl (+2,500) and were ten and nine point underdogs in their wins against Denver and New England, respectively. Underdogs have covered the spread in four of the last five Super Bowls, and have won outright in three of those games. The trends are pointing towards Baltimore, but that’s not the only reason to like the Ravens in this one.

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The Baltimore Ravens’ offense is playing on a new level during their playoff run. This can partially be attributed to the switch from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell at offensive coordinator, but an improved offensive approach is only part of it. More apparent is that Baltimore’s play-makers are stepping up. Quarterback Joe Flacco is currently playing the best football of his career right now. Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns to no interceptions and is averaging 9.2 yards per attempt; he is driving the ball down-field while limiting mistakes. Torrey Smith continues to be a big play threat for the Ravens. The 49ers allowed Julio Jones to get open deep early in the NFC Championship due to a breakdown in the secondary. Smith is capable of putting pressure on San Francisco’s backfield and flat out beating them deep if allowed to get single coverage for much of the game. Anquan Boldin is providing a perfect complement to Smith. Bolding has been creating yards underneath and outplaying his man for the ball on an absolutely stellar playoff run.

The Baltimore offensive line has done a fantastic job of giving Flacco time in the pocket, crucial to setting up the down-field-passing-game, and will face their toughest challenge yet. The Aldon Smith/Justin Smith sack machine has slowed. The likely explanation is that Justin Smith’s triceps injury has limited his strength, and subsequently his ability to open rushing holes on stunts. The chess match in the trenches will go a long way in deciding the Super Bowl’s outcome. If the 49ers can get to Flacco before his receivers have a chance to get deep, the Ravens will struggle to move the ball at all.

After watching Colin Kaepernick run untouched past Green Bay defenders, the Atlanta Falcons largely focused their efforts on containing the quarterback in the zone-read. As a result Kaepernick barely carried the ball (two rushes for 21 yards), but Kaepernick effectively eliminated the defensive end and created rushing lanes for the backs. Baltimore will have more time and film to prepare for Colin Kaepernick’s offense than any team to this point. How the Ravens handle San Francisco’s running game is the most fascinating aspect of the Super Bowl. As a passer, Kaepernick is still inexperienced in reading defenses. Baltimore’s mix-it-up style of defensive play calling can likely entice him into some mistakes. Ed Reed in particular has a well-known knack for opportunistic defensive back play.

The Baltimore Ravens have been undervalued by sportsbook during the entirety of their playoff run, and the Super Bowl line is no exception. While the Ravens are certainly no lock to win, they should at the very least keep the score close. The points are again too good to pass on with the Ravens. Take Baltimore to cover and potentially pull of the upset win.

Online Super Bowl Betting with NFLbetting.org

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