After two weeks of hype and hysteria, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will finally take the field for Super Bowl XLVII this evening. Tonight’s showdown between John and Jim Harbaugh and their respective squads is scheduled to kickoff at 6:30pm ET at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana; it will be broadcast live on CBS. The current Super Bowl line 2013 has San Francisco listed as a -4 against the spread favorite and the Over/Under set at 48 points.
For two weeks almost every pundit, handicapper, bettor, and football fan has analyzed and re-analyzed tonight’s match-up, looking for any sort of nugget to determine which team will seize hold of the moment and capture Super Bowl glory.
Most in the media seem to think tonight’s game is San Francisco’s to lose, but bettors are backing the Ravens (56 percent of spread bettors are on Baltimore, and moneyline wagers are presently at 50 percent apiece). The reasoning is sound for both parties; the Niners are probably the better team on paper and, for most of this season, have been the better team on the field. However, that does not mean they will win or cover the spread this evening.
Our efforts to uncover tonight’s winner have led us to one key match-up: San Francisco’s pass rush vs. Baltimore’s offensive line. If the 49ers can put pressure on Joe Flacco (pressure = three or more sacks), they will win this evening and probably do so by at least four or more points. If they cannot get to Flacco, Baltimore will cover and stands a good chance to win outright.
Flacco has been tremendous since the Ravens 33-14 week 16 home win over the Giants, putting together a 115.6 passer rating (excludes season finale against Cincinnati, only threw eight passes) to go along with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Flacco was sacked exactly four times in those four games, indicating that when given time, both he and the Ravens offense can more than get the job done.
That, frankly, does not bode well for the 49ers. San Francisco had a solid pass rush most of the season with Justin Smith sucking up blockers inside and Aldon Smith taking advantage of one-on-one match-ups on the edge; however, since Justin Smith suffered a torn triceps injury, things have not been the same. Credit him for holding off on surgery to finish out the season, but the Niners sack totals would suggest he is not performing at the same level.
San Francisco has just eight sacks in its last five games, and while they have won the majority of those games, they faced mostly teams with mediocre to poor defenses. In other words, the 49ers offense led the team to victory. The Patriots lack of ball security saved San Francisco in that meeting while the Packers porous defense and a couple of untimely turnovers on the part of the Falcons aided its playoff cause, but the Niners did little to stop any of those teams. Baltimore’s offense is not typically lumped in with the Pats, Packers, and Falcons, but when Flacco is well protected, it absolutely belongs in that group.
So which team will win this match-up is the big question. Will the Niners create havoc upfront and disrupt Flacco’s timing as well as his ability to throw the deep ball? The answer here is no. Take the Ravens +4.
Current Super Bowl Line 2013: Provided by Bovada.lv
Baltimore Ravens +4 (-110), Over 48 (-105), +145 (Moneyline)
San Francisco 49ers -4 (-110), Under 48 (-110), -165 (Moneyline)