Super Bowl XLVII Betting Preview
Super Bowl XLVII is on us, and whilst the press attention in the run up to the game has centred around an inspirational veteran and an exciting young QB prospect, it is in the trenches where this game is likely to be won, and in New Orleans, one of the most exciting, intense Super Bowls of recent times could take place on Sunday night.
In the thirteen years between 1981 and 1994, the 49ers collected five magnificent championships, and are second only to the Steelers for the most all-time, but since their success in '94, they have stuggled significantly. San Francisco's lean spell has seen them miss out on postseason action in ten of the nineteen years since last hoisting the Lombardi, eight consecutively from 2003, but now, under the stewardship of head coach Jim Harbaugh, they return to the big game.
He has built perhaps the most talented, rounded team in the league in his two year tenure, using the free agent markets as well as he has drafted. A powerful 3-4 defense, led by bookend defensive ends Justin and Aldon Smith, has been the backbone to the Niners success. Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman continue to offer a powerful pass rush as well as playing coverage superbly, to help an already impressive defensive back corps.
Of course, that all means that Niners fans will be confident that the defense can contain the Ravens, meaning that success in NOLA could rest on the shoulders of second year QB Colin Kaepernick. The Nevada grad has developed greatly since being given his first NFL start in November, and in a Divisional playoff game against the Packers three weeks ago, 'Kap' rushed for an NFL QB record 181 yards, that in his first postseason start. In lieu of such a performance, the Home of Betting are offering a unique Super Bowl Special market that Kaepernick rushes for a TD in conjunction with throwing for two! If you like the look of that at 11/4, bet on it, and our full range of Super Bowl specials here.
There is, naturally, more than one team in the spotlight, and whilst Jim Harbaugh prepares San Fran, his brother John will lead the Ravens into the Louisiana Superdome confident that he can bring a second Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore. It is only the second time in NFL history a pair of brothers havr been opposite each other on the sideline; the other being a Ravens victory as this pair met on Thanksgiving in 2011.
Since taking the top job in Baltimore, John Harbaugh has, above everything, shown great consistency. After three Wildcard seasons saw the Ravens finish behind the Steelers, Harbaugh has led Baltimore to two straight AFC North titles, and holds a magnificent 8-4 record in the post-season. This season though, things seem to have clicked for the team, and as The Guardian's Cian Fahey writes, this season 'Harbaugh brought accountability, discipline, and unity to the locker room.'
This, coupled with the impending retirement of future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, has seen Baltimore take on step further than last season, Lewis, the ever-inspirational star, has led a largely patched-up defense to dominate the Patriots in the AFC Championship, and as Bernard Pollard and Haloti Ngata have ramped up the aggression, the 49ers strong O-Line will have to play the game of their lives.
Without a defense, its hard to win a championship, but, without an elite QB, it is more than possible (see Ravens '00 and Buccaneers '02). When Joe Flacco suggested he was just that pre-season, most had a good chuckle to themselves and went back to their business, however his postseason play has been remarkable. Without some luck in Denver, it could be argued Baltimore wouldn't have got this far, but Flacco has been steady and outshone Tom Brady in New England a fortnight ago.
Flacco is fortunate in that he has a great range of offensive options at his disposal. Whilst Ray Rice and Vonta'a Leach create a fantastic pair in the backfield, with Rice used as a dual threat on the ground and through the air, Flacco can drop back behind a powerful O-Line and throw deep for the lighting quick Torrey Smith, or ever reliable Anquan Boldin, both of whom are likely to create problems against a 49ers defensive backfield. It is tough to pluck an MVP candidate from the list of Ravens offensive weapons, but if they are to have a big game, it is likely to be as a collective unit. Of course if that is the case, 3/1 on Joe Flacco to be named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player is great value!
All in all, the pinnacle of the NFL season should provide a great duel as all four main units possess the ability to make game winning plays, as well as battling out a war of attrition. The Ravens are likely to jump out of the blocks quickly on offense, looking to make big plays early on, and are 9/2 to win the 1st half. However, the 49ers' all-round solidity and the explosive nature of Colin Kaepernick could provide the key that unlocks their trophy cabinet, and the Double Result of ravens/49ers, at 13/2, looks good value.
Coverage of Super Bowl XLVII can be found on BBC Two and Sky Sports 1 from 22:30 on Sunday evening, and with William Hill - the Home of Betting, you can find 100 pre-match markets, including a vast range of specials, to bet on.
Money Line: San Francisco 49ers 4/7; Baltimore Ravens 6/4
Spread: San Francisco 49ers -3.5 20/21; Baltimore Ravens +3.5 20/21
Total Points: Under 47.0 20/21; Over 47/0 20/21
Super Bowl MVP:Colin Kaepernick 6/4; Joe Flacco 3/1; Frank Gore 8/1; Ray Lewis 10/1; Ray Rice 10/1; Michael Crabtree 20/1; Vernon Davis 25/1; Anquan Boldin 33/1; Torrey Smith 50/1; 50/1 BAR
Ravens Anytime TD Scorer: Ray Rice EVS; Anquan Boldin 6/4; Dennis Pitta 13/8; Torrey Smith 13/8; Bernanrd Pierce 7/2; 7/2 BAR
49ers Anytime TD Scorer: Frank Gore 4/6; Michael Crabtree 11/10; Colin Kaepernick 11/8; Vernon Davis 7/4; 7/2 BAR