The two-week-long lead-up to Super Bowl Sunday is usually a little rough. There always seems to be one story line that's beat to death because there's no actual football to talk about for two weeks. (Did you know Jerome Bettis was from Detroit?) Surprisingly, we haven't been completely inundated with the Harbaugh Brothers over the last two weeks given that it was the obvious storyline. It's possible that I've subconsciously kept myself away from “SportsCenter” this week to avoid that one, but I actually think it hasn't been beaten to death. That's probably because there have been so many other things surfacing this week that have garnered attention.
Joe Flacco was called dull by his parents and then proved to not be so when he criticized the cold-weather Super Bowl taking place in New Jersey next year. Ray Lewis has been accused PED use (and possibly bestiality) with a product called Deer Antler Spray. San Francisco cornerback Chris Culliver was dumb enough to come out against gays in the locker room by saying he "can't be with that sweet stuff." And then there's the Kaepernicking phenomenon, which is a hack job of last year's Tebowing. But hey, at least we're not talking about the Harbaugh brothers...
Before we get to the game, here’s a list of the Super Bowl prop bets with the greatest potential for success:
Longest Touchdown of the Game (Under 45.5 yards, -115)
San Francisco has scored 10 touchdowns this postseason and only one of them has been over 45 yards. They've given up seven touchdowns and only two of those would hit the over. The odds on San Francisco being involved in a long touchdown is rather slim on both sides considering their generally strong defense and their inability to really create a big play other than with Kaepernick's legs. Baltimore's a bit of a different beast because they have been involved in some surprising long touchdowns in these playoffs. They came into the postseason with the best special teams in the league, but gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns to Denver. They also had the 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones that should've never happened. Including those scores, two of Baltimore's 12 offensive touchdowns and two of the six touchdowns they've allowed are over 45 yards. Take out those anomalies and I feel pretty good about this even if the game is indoors on a fast turf.
Total Sacks by Both Teams (Under 4.5, -115)
The casual fans sees these two teams, assumes they have great defenses, and thinks there will be plenty of sacks on either side. But look a little closer. The 49ers have only averaged one sack a game in the playoffs and have only taken the same amount. Add in the fact that Justin Smith is playing at less than 100 percent and those sack totals for the 49ers defense don't seem in line for improvement. Baltimore's pass rush has been a little better with six sacks in three games, but two of the three quarterbacks they faced are statues behind their offensive lines. Flacco has also only been sacked four times in Baltimore's three playoff games, so all signs point to the under. The sample size for Baltimore might be a little small given Flacco was sacked 35 times in the regular season, but the Baltimore offensive line features a different group of players than it did in the regular season.
Largest Lead of the Game (Under 14, -115)
It's kind of weird that I'm promoting three unders in a row, but it is what it is. If you see this being a close game as I do, then one team leading by more than two touchdowns doesn't seem to be in the cards. It's also nice to know that a two touchdown lead would be a push since the flip side of this bet is over 14.
Will there be a Safety (No, -1100)
As Bill Barnwell points out in his Grantland column on props this week, safeties occur in only 6.4 percent of games, but the odds of +650 for a safety occurring suggest they happen 13.3% of the happen. It happened last year, so those who bet that prop got bulldozed, but you need to have faith in the odds and call for a little more cowbell.
Will there be Overtime? (No, -1000)
Again we have to thank Barnwell for doing the math. Ties have only occurred 6.7 percent of the time in games with a spread similar to this. With the "Yes" result yielding a return worthy of an event that actually happens 14.3 percent of the time, the "No" answer is the right choice here.