Super Bowl Point Spread: Straight-Up and Against the Spread Picks

Michael DulkaContributor IJanuary 29, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin #81 in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) and the Baltimore Ravens are set to square off in Super Bowl XLVII. As the underdogs, the Ravens will likely be looking to use the Vegas line as inspiration as they look to knock off the favored 49ers. 

When the game finally kicks off, a big key to this one is the defenses from both teams. They both want to hit the other team in the mouth and make them earn every yard. The 49ers had the third ranked defense as they allowed 294.4 yards per game, while the Ravens were 17th ranked with 350.94 yards allowed per game.

Despite the defenses, the 49ers and Ravens both feature offenses that are capable of putting up points. Colin Kaepernick is a big play waiting to happen, while Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco will be looking to hit the deep ball numerous times. 


When the 49ers have the ball 

The 49ers will likely use their run game the same way they did against the Atlanta Falcons. They will find the best pass rusher on defense and run the ball right at him with the zone read. If the defender is jumping out to contain Kaepernick, Frank Gore or LaMichael James will get the ball right up the middle. 

The rushing attack should open things up nicely for Kaepernick and give him plenty of time to throw. Vernon Davis was a big target against the Falcons and should be expected to have another big game in the Super Bowl.

The Ravens need to assault the 49ers rushing attack with discipline and execution. In order to stop the zone read they need to stick to their assignments and make tackles when they get chances to do so. Ray Lewis has been a shell of his former self, but a big game shutting down Davis and playing well in the run game could win the Ravens the game. 

If the Ravens need to bring cornerback or safety help to cover Davis, they will weaken their play outside of the hash marks. That would it even more difficult to cover Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. The Ravens can't afford to make the game any easier for Colin Kaepernick.


When the Ravens have the ball 

The Ravens are going to have to win the game on the arm of Flacco. If he can have some success through the air, Ray Rice should be able to find some running room and make some plays with this feet. Bernard Pierce offers a nice change of pace back to counter Rice's small stature. 

The Ravens need to consistently move the ball and get first downs. That will allow them to take some chances with Smith and allow him to get behind the 49ers secondary. They can be beat deep if the quarterback is given time. 

The big key for the 49ers is to manufacture some pressure and make things uncomfortable for Flacco. Aldon Smith and Justin Smith haven't been the same players since Justin Smith hurt his triceps late in the regular season. If they can figure out how to free up Aldon Smith, the Ravens could be in trouble. 

If the 49ers can't get pressure on Flacco, they run the risk of their secondary getting burned deep. This was the case against the Falcons as Matt Ryan was able to find Julio Jones deep a number of occasions. The Ravens have proven they can hit the deep ball all postseason long. 


Against the Spread–49ers


The 49ers offensive attack is just too hard to stop at this point. While the Ravens have the benefit of getting an extra week to prepare, they don't have the defensive athleticism or speed to hang with Kaepernick, Gore and James. 

The Ravens will put up points with Flacco having a decent game, but it won't be enough to match the 49ers. The game will be close throughout, but the Ravens will be playing catch-up and it will cost them late. Flacco has played nearly perfect throughout the postseason. That won't continue against the best defense he will have faced. Garbage time scores give the 49ers an against the spread victory.