It has taken two weeks and a lot of shuffling around, but the oddsmakers have finally settled on a final spread for the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
According to sports betting website Bovada, the 49ers will enter the game as a four-point favorite. They have been the odds-on favorite ever since the game became official, but the line has fluctuated as the game has gotten closer.
For a long time the 49ers were 3.5-point favorites, but then the line settled back to four over the weekend. It's hard to imagine anything significant changing to get the odds moving again, though maybe a lot of people came in late for the 49ers to beat that line.
Playing the spread in this Super Bowl is likely to leave you scratching your head. Gamblers love to look at patterns and trends for both teams that will give them some kind of edge when they put their hard-earned money on the table.
Let's start with the Ravens and what they have done in the postseason. Against Indianapolis, they didn't look especially dominant. They gave up 419 yards and 25 first downs, and the defense was on the field for 87 plays.
Taking advantage of a young, inexperienced team still trying to establish an identity, the Ravens were able to break out in the second half with 14 points and earn a 24-9 victory.
The Ravens looked bad in aspects of the game against Denver. They struggled to get off the field, allowing two special teams touchdowns and 398 yards on 87 plays. Yet a few big plays on offense, including the Jacoby Jones Hail Mary, put them over the top.
Their most dominant effort came against New England in the AFC Championship game, though it is important to remember they couldn't move the ball in the first half. The Patriots held them to just six points, and Joe Flacco had just 83 passing yards.
Credit the coaching staff for making adjustments, because they looked like a different team in the second half. Flacco had 157 yards and three touchdowns, and the defense shut the Patriots out after the break.
For the 49ers, they started out putting on one of the greatest offensive performances in postseason history against Green Bay. They racked up 579 yards and held the ball for 38 minutes in a 45-31 victory.
The NFC Championship game against Atlanta was a different story. You could see some cracks in the defensive armor. They weren't getting any pressure up front, allowing Matt Ryan to exploit the secondary with big plays to Julio Jones and Roddy White.
It took a few mistakes on Atlanta's part in the second half for that defense to pitch a shutout and allow the offense to take the lead with eight minutes left. The Falcons were driving one more time, only to have NaVorro Bowman swat a fourth-down pass away to preserve the victory.
Patterns for gambling? Good luck finding them in this Super Bowl. You can see games the Ravens and 49ers have dominated. You can also see the many ways that this could go wrong for either team.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it gambling. Risk is always involved, no matter how many stats and numbers you might have at your disposal.