Sunday, January 20, 2013

NFL playoffs. Odds are.....

When you stop and think about it, there were a lot of similarities between the San Fran/Atlanta and Baltimore/New England games. Plus one big difference.

Both visiting teams won. So much for home field advantage.

Both winners shut out their opponents in the second half of the games.

A Harbaugh was the head coach of both winning teams. Let the 2-week build-up to the "Harbowl" begin.

In the SF/Atl game, the early line had SF as a 3.5 point favorite. By game time it had edged up to 4 points. And that's exactly how it turned out. 28-24. The oddsmakers hit it right on the money, pun intended. They love it when that happens. Cha-ching for the wise guys.

The early line on the Bal/NE game had the Patriots giving 9.5 points. That number jumped off the page when yours truly first saw it. Sure, beating Bill Belichick and the Brady Bunch in Foxborough is a daunting task, but it seemed like everybody forgot what the Ravens did to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver just last week. Yes, that game went into overtime before the Ravens finally prevailed, but it really wasn't that close. Denver had scored a couple touchdowns on special teams play, or the result might have been similar to what happened in Foxborough. Evidently, the bookies were getting some serious Baltimore money rolling in taking the points, because it dropped to 8 by game time.

And what a difference. Where the oddsmakers were dead on in the NFC game, they were over 3 touchdowns off for the AFC match-up. With a final score of Bal 28 -- NE 13, tack on the 8 point spread, and it comes out to 23. That's a bunch.

Ever since noted Raven linebacker Ray Lewis announced his retirement after this season, Baltimore seems to have kicked their play into another gear. They beat New England quite handily in their own house. Offense, defense, you name it, and they pretty well rolled the Patriots. Fair and square. No fluke about it.

Obviously, a Harbaugh, either Jim or John, will be a Super Bowl champion two weeks from now. But on the flip side, one of them has to lose, as well. One will enjoy a hero's parade, and the other will go home and sulk.

So that leaves a dilemma. Which one of their sons will Ma and Pa Harbaugh root for? Will they flip a coin and one takes Bal while the other takes SF? Surely, the media will ask them about that in the next couple weeks. Yet, I suppose if one is to have a problem, that's not an all-bad one to have.

Nevertheless, it appears the two best teams are heading to New Orleans for the big dance, as it should be. Thankfully, there were no crazy game-ending plays or highly controversial calls involved in the conference championship games that could have potentially changed their outcomes. I doubt many of us would look forward to hearing the talking heads rehashing "what-if" scenarios a zillion times in the next two weeks.

Who's going to win the Super Bowl is a good question. Yours truly would imagine the 49ers will be made a slight favorite by the odd-makers, but with these two teams, and the rolls they're on -- who knows how it will turn out? Not me.

Here's a pretty safe bet ---- when the 49ers and the Ravens finally have at each other -- it will not be for the faint of heart. Both are smash-mouth teams, and both will be amped to the max. The hitting in the Super Bowl will be ferocious. Both Jim and John Harbaugh are well-known for their hyper-competitive natures. Besides the players, the organizations, and the cities they represent, don't think for one minute family bragging rights won't be a part of this on some level, as well.

It should be one helluva game.

On an added note, remember the famous "handshake" incident between Jim Harbaugh and Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz? At that time, many Lions fans said they thought Schwartz was a better coach. Well, let's see. Jim Harbaugh was one play away from going to the Super Bowl last year, and he's in it this year. In the meantime, the Lions have settled into more familiar territory -- for them. Like somewhere between Atlantis and the Titanic. It would be interesting to see what those same people would say if they were asked the same question right now.

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