The Super Bowl Pick, Plus 12 Prop Bets to Help You Enjoy the Game

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.{pagebreak}

Total Number of Different Players to have a Pass Attempt (Under 2.5, -300)
I must really be in a negative move today. I swear that will change eventually. The only way this goes over is if one of the quarterbacks gets hurt and the backup has to come in. Alex Smith may get a token snap or two at the end of the game if the 49ers are winning, but they sure as hell won't let him throw the ball unless they're winning by three or four touchdowns.

Total Rushing Yards by the Ravens (Under 104.5, -110)
The 49ers have only allowed over 104 yards to running backs in five of 18 games this year. (I'm not too worried about Flacco running since he only had 22 rushing yards in the regular season.)

Joe Flacco's Total Touchdown Passes (Over 1.5, -130)
Finally something's going over! Flacco has been sharp this postseason and his rebuilt offensive line is keeping him upright. The 49ers have also been susceptible to touchdown passes recently. They've given up two or more passing touchdowns in three of their last four games. With a tough run D likely holding Baltimore's running game at bay, I'm finally calling an over.

Jacoby Jones's Receiving Yards (Under 24.5, -115)
The guy's a non-factor. He had 7 games of 25 receiving yards or more this year and one of those involves the Hail Mary in Denver. I've got 12 games on my side of the coin for this one.

Will Vernon Davis score a Touchdown? (No, -240)
He had a breakout game last week, but there are two factors working against Davis here. Davis has only caught two touchdowns in the 10 games with Colin Kaepernick at QB. Baltimore has only given up two touchdowns to tight ends in their 19 games this year. I like my odds.

Jozy Altidore will score More Goals than Torrey Smith will score Touchdowns (Yes, -155)
Altidore is averaging 1.5 goals a game for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie this year. His team is at home against a team in 12th place. Torrey Smith is more boom or bust, so I'll take my chances with Altidore.

Will Beyonce be showing cleavage in her first song? (No, +300)
I know it's a while since the Janet Jackson incident, but I have a feeling this show will continue to be very PG.

San Francisco -3.5 over Baltimore
Who knew there was actually a football game that's being played as well? I feel the same way about the Super Bowl as I did with the 49ers in their last two games. They're the most complete team in football. They play well in all aspects of offense and defense and are pretty good on special teams with the exception of field-goal kicking. Their defense was slightly exposed last week by Atlanta's ability to break out big passing plays early in the game, but they took that away in the second half and it wasn't an issue for them earlier in the season. I might be picking against the whole Ray Lewis retirement thing and God, but I'm OK with that.

People were questioning as recently as last week whether or not Colin Kaepernick gave San Francisco the best chance to win a Super Bowl. I think those people have been proven wrong after Kaepernick's display against Atlanta. Alex Smith wasn't going to lead that team from a 17-point deficit, but Kaepernick did with relative ease and grace. Smith was holding the offense back. Kaepernick allows the office to thrive with his arm strength and his mobility. Now that we've moved on from Smith, there are still some doubters. They think Kaepernick will be nervous because it's the Super Bowl and will fall apart.

What have we seen from him this season that would make you remotely concerned that would happen? Sure he could fall apart like anyone named Brady, Manning, or Rodgers could, but he's proven already that he's not necessarily more mistake-prone than your average quarterback. There's potential for Baltimore to throw defensive looks at him that he hasn't necessarily seen enough of, but haven't teams been throwing different looks him at him all season that he's reacted well too?

I'll give Baltimore their due. Flacco has exceeded my wildest imaginations in the playoffs. While his completion percentage is under 50 percent, he has completed eight touchdowns without throwing any interceptions. He's going to be getting himself a huge contract if the Ravens win the Super Bowl given that owner Steve Bisciotti has said he's willing to sign Flacco long-term. We're probably talking about a 7-year contract worth close to 100 million dollars for Flacco, which is around the same amount that Ben Roethilsberger and Eli Manning made with their deals.

Generally though I don't think Baltimore's strengths and weakness play well to what San Francisco does. The 49ers should stop Baltimore's running game and do a good job against Anquan Boldin. Their rush defense is only average and their pass defense can be exploited.

But hey, that's why they play the games…

San Francisco 27 Baltimore 20

Last Week: 1-1
Playoffs: 7-3