Funny thing about the Super Bowl. The odds-makers continue to insist the San Francisco 49ers are 4 point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens. Yet it seems like every sports scribe, TV talking head, or any man/woman about town, when asked their opinion, think the Ravens are going to win. Certainly, one could presume the people that handicap sporting contests for a living do a lot more in-depth analysis and number crunching than your average co-worker or person on a bar stool next to you.
Further, once it was determined these two teams would be the contestants, the opening line was 3 1/2 points. If so many people were jumping all over Baltimore while taking the 3.5, it would stand to reason the spread would shrink -- not get a little bigger. But that's what happened. Very strange.
There's likely a few reasons for public sentiment going Baltimore's way. Not long ago, their "leader", Ray Lewis, announced his retirement after this season. While that no doubt juiced his Ravens teammates to want to sent him out on top -- there can also be little doubt that opinions of Mr. Lewis amongst the public vary wildly. There are those that deem him one of the best, if not THE best linebacker of all time, and a spiritual leader, to those that think he literally got away with murder in a nightclub incident over a decade ago. Whether or not he's the best linebacker to ever play the game is highly debatable, but few can dispute he's been the face of the Ravens during his 17 year career, and will almost certainly be voted into the NFL Hall of Fame as soon as he becomes eligible.
On an ironic note, or maybe not, Lewis was going to be presented with some kind of gospel award during the Super Bowl festivities. Personally, I've never heard the man sing. Then again, maybe it has something to do with him being willing to sing like a canary on his two co-defendants way back when those murders happened in Atlanta, to save his own skin. Beats me. The only thing I know about that is the record says two guys got stabbed to death and nobody ever got convicted of doing the horrible crime. What smelled a little fishy was Lewis paying out big bucks to the families of the deceased in an "out of court" settlement. If he had nothing to do with their demise, then why would he....... Well, enough said.
Football-wise, the Ravens seem reminiscent of last year's eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Giants squeaked into the playoffs at the end of the season, and who thought they could go into Green Bay and defeat the Packers, then into San Francisco to dispatch the 49ers, and further defeat Tom Brady and Co. in the Super Bowl? They were underdogs in every one of those games, but somehow they won.
Much the same can be said of Baltimore this year. They weren't supposed to go into Denver and beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos, much less follow it up by clobbering the same New England Patriots in their own back yard. But they did. Much like the Giants last year, it appears the Ravens got hot at the right time and are on a roll.
Still, the "experts" aren't buying it. Neither am I.
With apologies to Neil Diamond, I predict the Ray Lewis "brother love travelling salvation show" doesn't go out in a blaze of glory in New Orleans.
Top to bottom, San Fran is too good, and after being within a whiff of the Super Bowl last year, they're on a mission of their own this time around.
Getting back to the odds-makers, they set the over/under of total points scored between both teams at 47.5. Doing a little math, while keeping the 4 point spread in mind, it seems the wise guys think San Fran is going to score 25.75 points, and Baltimore 21.75 to make everything come out perfect. Of course, those scores can't happen, but far be it from me to underestimate the wisdom of those guys in the back rooms in Vegas. I think they're pretty close.
Though both teams are known for their stout defenses, and it should be a hard-hitting affair indeed, yours truly is of the opinion that after a slow start, the offenses will eventually start clicking, particularly in the second half.
Give me the over on the 47.5, while San Fran covers the 4 point spread.
SF. 31. Baltimore 24.
Of course, as I stated in a post not long ago (see How To Pick Football Games, Jan. 28) I've been wrong on about 98.5% of all the predictions I've ever made. Like Hank Jr. once sang -- it's a family tradition.
But you never know. There's always the blind squirrel and the acorn thing -- right?
On with the game.