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“There is kind of a misconception that we’re always rooting for the underdog to win, “ said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne. “We’re rooting for the underdog in most cases, but not necessarily to win, especially in big, isolated games. Dogs winning outright in a two-game setting like this weekend can sometimes be just as fatal for us with money-line parlays as both favorites covering the spread.“
The 49ers will cover on Sunday because the Falcons will be unable to sufficiently game plan against Colin Kaepernick. If they keep a linebacker to spy on him, it potentially opens up the middle of the field. If they don't spy him, they risk getting burned on the ground. They will be playing down either way.
For the Falcons to cover, they'll need to slow down a high-flying 49ers offense and bring firepower of their own. The key? Stop Michael Crabtree and the 49ers' dynamic tight ends and hold the edges against Colin Kaepernick. Also, don't be afraid to pass the ball deep and challenge the Niners secondary.
Despite losing in last year’s AFC Championship Game, Joe Flacco outperformed Tom Brady. When the teams played in Week 3, Flacco outplayed Brady again. Flacco is currently the highest-rated passer in the postseason, registering a 120.0 quarterback rating by completing 30 of 57 passes for 613 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions during wins against Indianapolis and Denver.
The addition of Aqib Talib to the Pats secondary allowed Devin McCourty to move to safety, where he is even better than at CB. In fact, McCourty has allowed a QB Rating of just 10.2 since the switch to safety. Those position changes have led to a terrific upswing in the Pats ability to stop opposing passing offenses, and their improvement on pass defense is going to be the difference-maker this time around in holding down Torrey Smith and the Ravens pass offense.
With Lewis on the field, the Ravens gave up 20.3 points, 399 total yards and 137 rushing yards per game. (These numbers include the two playoff wins, but they barely change if we look only at Lewis' regular-season games.) In his absence, they actually cut their total yards and rushing yards allowed, to 324 and 115 yards per game, respectively, although they let opponents score 22.6 points per game.