Updated Super Bowl Odds After NFL's Conference Championship Games
Then there were two. The San Francisco 49ers punched the first ticket to Super Bowl XLVII with a comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
Meanwhile, the Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens took down a favored New England Patriots team Sunday night to set up the "Harbowl."
We can envision the storylines here. Two brothers going up against one another for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Two parents torn between which team to root for. A future Hall of Fame linebacker playing what will be his final NFL game.
Yes, the NFL never gets boring.
For his part, Colin Kaepernick leads the 49ers to New Orleans with just nine career starts under his belt. He does so after taking over for Alex Smith midseason. He does after winning on the road in a hostile environment, down by 17 points early.
Flacco, on the other hand, finally led his club past Tom Brady and the Patriots after everyone and their mother didn't give him much of a chance to do so.
In order to avoid rambling, let's just get to the point of today's article. I am going to focus on the Super Bowl odds for each of the remaining two teams left in the race.
Again, I will be using BetVega as my source here.
Remember, these are not my odds.
For the second consecutive week Joe Flacco outplayed a future Hall of Fame quarterback and is now one win away from winning the Super Bowl. Outside of diehard fans in Baltimore, no one really could have seen the Ravens winning the AFC after the way they ended the regular season.
It just goes to show you how little momentum means entering the playoffs.
Flacco completed 21-of-36 passes for 240 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The enigmatic quarterback has now tallied eight touchdowns compared to zero picks for a ridiculous 136.3 rating thus far in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Baltimore's hard-hitting defense literally knocked the New England Patriots out of the game in the second half. Tom Brady was nowhere near his normally effective self, completing failing to show up when it counted the most in the AFC Championship Game.
Despite three impressive victories on the road to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, Baltimore looks like it will be underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers when the game rolls around in two weeks. It opens as five point dogs, yet another example of disrespect the world of football, Vegas in particular, has shown this team since the regular season concluded.
With that in mind, it is important to note exactly what Baltimore did in its run through the playoffs. It defeated an inspired Indianapolis Colts team in the initial round before traveling to Sports Authority Field to defeat a Denver Broncos unit that had won 11 consecutive games coming in.
Baltimore then took on New England in Gillette with a trip to New Orleans on the line. After struggling on offense in the first half, coordinator Jim Caldwell made some great halftime adjustments and simply outcoached the defensive guru that is Bill Belichick.
That really was something to behold.
John Harbaugh now must take on his younger brother and a San Francisco team that is riding high after overcoming a 17-point deficit against the Atlanta Falcons.
There is a reason why Baltimore is not favored in this game. It should struggle going up against Colin Kaepernick and the read option.
For two consecutive weeks top teams in the NFC failed to actually have a decent scheme in place to stop it. While Atlanta was able to control Kaepernick on the ground, it couldn't contain Frank Gore and LaMichael James on read-option runs. Instead, all three of San Francisco's rushing touchdowns came relatively easy.
It might not be a popular statement to make, but the 49ers can have success running at Ray Lewis up the middle with this type of game plan. They have five bullies up front along the offensive line and a dominating downhill rushing attack.
If Baltimore does attempt to bring extra men into the box to stop those two running backs, Kaepernick will be able to beat it like he did to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round by running the ball himself.
On the offensive side of the ball, Baltimore will be relying on the deep pass against a 49ers' secondary that doesn't allow many, sans a couple breakdowns Sunday against Atlanta. In short, Flacco and company will struggle going up top against San Francisco.
If the Ravens attempt to utilize a rushing attack with Ray Rice and win the field of possession battle, they will have a hard time doing so against a defense that boasts six Pro Bowl performers.
Football is a game of matchups, and right now Baltimore doesn't seem to have the upper hand here nearly two weeks prior to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick, making only his ninth NFL start, led the San Francisco 49ers back from a three-score deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in his first road playoff game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. This is how legends are made.
While it was far from a perfect performance for San Francisco, this team showed just how battle tested it is by overcoming the largest deficit to win a NFC Championship Game. It did so with a green quarterback and in a hostile environment.
If you are still questioning Jim Harbaugh's decision to "bench" Alex Smith in lieu of Kaepernick, you may want to take a step back. After all, it could easily be stated that the 49ers wouldn't be in the Super Bowl without Kaepernick.
The second-year quarterback has compiled five total touchdowns and just one interception for a 105.9 rating in his first two postseason starts.
Meanwhile, it was the read option that baffled the Mike Nolan-led Falcons defense. While they were able to contain Kaepernick, it struggled against the likes of Frank Gore and LaMichael James, who gained 124 yards and three scores on the ground. It is that type of guessing game that makes San Francisco's offense so damn hard to stop.
The 49ers will assuredly enjoy a couple days basking in the glory of their first Super Bowl appearance in 18 seasons, but they now have to start getting prepared for a Baltimore Ravens team that is clicking on all cylinders following an impressive victory last night in New England.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that San Francisco passed what has to be the biggest test of the playoffs. It went into a hostile environment against a 13-win Atlanta team, fell down by three scores and came back to win. Playing in a more neutral environment in New Orleans will seem like a home-field advantage in two weeks.
Get ready for a solid two weeks of coverage about the Harbaugh brothers, what diapers they wore, who won the first fight and which one stopped wetting his bed first.
Yeah I know, this could get old relatively quickly.
As it relates to the Super Bowl, San Francisco is favored and will remain favored. It seems to matchup pretty well against Baltimore. As I indicated in the previous slide, the read option will definitely play a role here.
On the other hand, Baltimore does have some favorable mismatches heading into the game. Torrey Smith is a major deep threat that San Francisco will have to hone in on moving forward, especially after Julio Jones torched it in the first half on Sunday.
While the 49ers haven't given up a lot of huge plays in the passing game, fourth overall against the pass during the regular season, they have struggled in this aspect of the game over the last few weeks.
As it is, San Francisco proved that it is the best team in the NFC just a little more than a year after it was unceremoniously kicked out of the playoffs in overtime last January. At the very least, this takes a little sting out of that loss.
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