Five Reasons to Bet on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII
With a convincing 28-13 victory over the heavily favored New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens advanced to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Baltimore continues a trend of lower seeded teams advancing to the NFL’s biggest game—once primarily the province of number 1 and 2 seeds (in the first 11 years of the 12 team format, the Super Bowl winner was a 1 or 2 seed nine times), the Super Bowl now features a team seeded 4th or lower for the sixth time in the last eight years. Can the Ravens continue the trend of a lower seeded team advancing all the way from the Wild Card round to become Super Bowl champion? SuperBowlBets.Org presents five compelling reasons the underdog Baltimore Ravens are poised to upset the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
First, as the lines has been fluctuating since there were first set after the January 20th championship games, let’s take a look at how things currently stand:
Point spread: Baltimore +4
Money line: San Francisco -160, Baltimore +140
Over/under: 47 ½
Even with just a few hours left before Sunday’s 6:30 EST kickoff, there is still plenty of time left to place your bet. In fact, with two week’s worth of analysis and a clearer picture of both team’s injury situations, there is no better time for NFL bettors to fatten their wallets with an informed Super Bowl bet.
Before examining how the Ravens match up against the 49ers, it is useful to consider how both the Ravens’ offense and defense performed during the regular season. To include the most accurate, up to date information available, we’ve included the adjusted numbers for the Ravens post season performance:
On offense, the Ravens finished 15th in the NFL in passing yards per game (233.7) and 11th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (118.8). Those averages have seen a enormous increase in the 2013 playoffs—perhaps due to recently promoted offensive coordinate (and former Colts head coach) Jim Caldwell. In the post season, the Ravens are averaging 276 yards per game through the air and 148.7 yards per game on the ground. On defense, the once feared Ravens defense finished 17th against the pass (allowing 228.1 yards per game) and just 20th against the run (allowing 122.8 yards per game). Those averages have gotten even worse in the playoffs as the Ravens, through three games, are now allowing opponents 286.7 passing yards and 128.3 rushing yards.
These regular season and playoff statistics undoubtedly provided a useful tool for all would-be Super Bowl bettors as they give an indication of the Ravens strengths on offense and defense. Football is a game of match ups so the crucial question remains—How do the Ravens match up against the San Francisco 49ers and what convincing reasons are their for bettors to lay their money on the upset? We here at SuperBowlBets.org offer five reasons the underdog Baltimore Ravens will be hoisting the Lombardi trophy next Sunday.
1. No Ordinary Joe
No player in this year’s NFL playoffs has been more integral to his team’s success and made bigger strides towards entering the NFL’s elite echelon than Joe Flacco. Once practically defined by the “not good enough to win a Super Bowl” tag, Flacco has been this year’s most reliable post season signal caller and enters Sunday’s game with the highest quarterback rating (114) of any playoff performer. In his first three playoff games, Flacco has thrown for 853 yards, 1 touchdown and, most importantly, 0 interceptions.
While he has never put up the gaudy regular season statistics of a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, Flacco has now bested both in his last two games. Flacco, although often the object of criticism, in year’s past, has also now won a playoff game in each of his first five NFL seasons—a first in NFL history.
The past few weeks have demonstrated that Flacco is now playing the best football of his career. In the NFL playoffs and particularly the Super Bowl, the narrow line between victory and defeat is often just one turnover. With two wins under his belt—and zero interceptions—our money is on Joe Flacco being the quarterback leaving the field a Super Bowl champion come Sunday.
2. Torrey Smith Over the Top/Ray Rice Underneath
As well as Flacco has been playing, the Ravens offense would be no better than an unloaded gun if he wasn’t surrounded by talent at the wide receiver and running back positions. Once a team whose identity was based on the running game, recent years have seen the Ravens add considerable talent on offense. Now possessing the firepower to beat the NFL’s elite, receiving talent can be considered strength of the Baltimore offense and will play a key role if they are to upset the 49ers.
One of the biggest improvement the Ravens have made is in their deep ball efficiency. During the regular season, the Ravens were among the league’s best in passes completed over 20 yards. This trend has continued during the playoffs with Flacco averaging nearly 17 yards per completion. Second year player Torrey Smith is a big reason why. No receiver has been more dangerous down the field this post season than Smith who is now averaging 22 yards per completion—best in the NFL playoffs. Smith’s ability to beat corner backs down field adds a potent dimension past Ravens offenses has been lacking.
But what makes the Ravens offense so difficult to defend is its diversity. In addition to the deep ball, the Ravens feature one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL in Ray Rice. Rice provides a security blanket for Flacco; if no receivers are open down field, Flacco can always dump the ball underneath to Rice who is often mismatched against an opposing linebacker. And, once he gets the ball in his hands, few players are as dangerous in the open field as Rice. His fourth and 29 scramble in week 12 against the San Diego Chargers remains one of the plays of the season and demonstrates how he can turn a desperation pass into a game changing gain.
If the 49ers defense has a weakness, it is in their secondary. Consider this match up one that goes in the Ravens favor.
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3. Special Teams
Although an often overlooked aspect of NFL football, special teams have been decisive in a number of past Super Bowls. Think of Super Bowl XXXI. After the Patriots cut the lead to 27-2 in the third quarter, kick off returner Desmond Howard propelled the Green Bay Packers to victory with a scintillating 99 yard kick off return touchdown. Howard was named the MVP of the game and is exhibit #1 in showing how special teams players can change a game.
The Ravens feature the NFL’s top return man in all-pro kick returner Jacoby Jones. Jones has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season—one an NFL record 108 yards—and led the league with a 30.7 average. On the flip side, the 49ers special teams unit gave up over 26 yards per return attempt–bad enough to rank them 2nd worst in the entire league. In a game that could come down to field position, expect the Ravens special teams to give them an important edge.
The Ravens also have a significant advantageous with their field goal kicker Justin Tucker. One of the NFL’s best, Tucker was good on 91% of his regular season field goal attempts. Even more impressive, the reliable kicker was 4-4 on field goals of 50 yards or more. Tucker has yet to miss in this year’s playoffs. Contrast Tucker with his counterpart David Akers. Akers were near the bottom of the league with just a 69% success rate on field goal attempts. In fact, after Akers missed 13 regular season field goal attempts, the 49ers brought in journeyman Billy Cundiff as competition. Although Akers remains the kicker, he again missed a routine attempt in the NFC Championship game against the Falcons. In a game that could come down to 3 points or less, the leg of Justin Tucker gives the Ravens a not to be overlooked advantage.
4. Ravens defense taking flight
With the return of emotional leader Ray Lewis who has announced this season will be his last, the Baltimore defense appears to be a revitalized unit. Perennially among the league’s elite, this year saw the Ravens falter to a mediocre to below average defense. Although they have given up big yardage through their three playoff games, their post season play in the red zone has been a key in all three victories.
Their 28-13 victory over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game is the most illustrative example. Although the Ravens actually allowed more yards than their offense gained—428 total yards including 320 passing yards for Tom Brady—those yards only translated to a mere 13 points on the scoreboard. How did the Ravens defense constantly allow yards while keeping their opponent out of the end zone? The key was in their red zone play. Three times the New England offense drove within the Ravens 20 yard line but left the field with no points to show for the effort. The usually infallible Tom Brady was picked twice in the red zone by an opportunistic Baltimore defense.
This trend has been consistent throughout the Ravens three playoff games. Although the Ravens gave up 419 total yards to Andrew Luck and the Colts, the Colts finished with only 9 points as they were 0-3 in the red zone.
It’s simple enough – the NFL comes down to points and, although the Ravens are allowing their opponents to amass a large amount of yards, they are keeping them off the scoreboard.
5. The Ravens Have Been Here Before
Despite their last Super Bowl appearance being 12 years ago–Baltimore’s 34-7 manhandling of the New York Giants in 2001–the Ravens roster still contains a key player from that championship team: defensive leader Ray Lewis. More importantly, the majority of the Ravens roster is a playoff seasoned bunch. Since Flacco took over in 2008, the Ravens have appeared in a league high 13 playoff games. The team has won at least one playoff game every season in that stretch and has advanced as far as the conference championship three times in the last five seasons. No team in the NFL is better prepared to deal with the pressures of a Super Bowl than the Baltimore Ravens.
On the other hand, the San Francisco 49ers team is starting a quarterback playing in just his 10th start—fewer total games to his resume than many Ravens have in the post season alone. This might factor as less of an issue if the 49ers had a seasoned, veteran coach who could navigate the team through the many distractions of a Super Bowl. Instead, Harbaugh is just as green under the collar and enters Sunday’s game with just two years of NFL coaching experience.
Inexperience doesn’t always translate to a lack of success; but, in a game that has NFL analysts divided, the fact that the Ravens have been here before gives them an advantage in dealing with the pitfalls and pressure of a Super Bowl appearance.
Super Bowl Betting
Although the Ravens enter Sunday’s game 4 point dogs, there are compelling reasons to think that, not only can they cover the spread, but that they will be the team taking home the Lombardi Trophy and bringing Baltimore its second NFL championship in the last 12 years.
With kickoff now just days away in what promises to be one of the better championship games in recent memory, be sure to stay tuned to SuperBowlBets.org for the latest news, commentary and analysis. With the lines starting to settle, there is no better and no more exciting time to bet on NFL football than Super Bowl weekend. Be sure to take advantage of unbeatable offers currently available through our recommended SportsBooks—lest you kick yourself at kickoff by not taking advantage of SuperBowlBets.org outstanding betting opportunities.
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