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ABOUT THE RAVENS (13-6, 9-9-1 ATS): There were plenty of doubts about Joe Flacco's ability to lead a team to a championship, which is one reason he's set to hit the free-agent market. Flacco silenced even his staunchest skeptics with a stirring postseason run, throwing eight TD passes and zero interceptions in Baltimore's three victories. Along the way, he set an NFL record for most playoff road wins with six while outplaying Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on their turf. Flacco threw three second-half touchdowns to rally the Ravens to a 28-13 victory at New England in the AFC title game.
Two of the scoring passes went to Anquan Boldin, who has 16 receptions and three TDs in the three playoff wins. Speedster Torrey Smith had 10 TD receptions this season, including two long ones in the win at Denver. Ray Rice has carried the running game for his entire career, but rookie Bernard Pierce came on strong down the stretch. The Ravens' defense cannot compare to the dominant unit of the 2000 Super Bowl season but it limited the high-powered Patriots to a season-low 13 points. Lewis returned from a 10-game injury absence to make 44 tackles in the postseason as he approaches his last game.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (13-4-1, 11-7-0 ATS): Jim Harbaugh made the biggest coaching gamble of the season when he inserted the dynamic but untested Kaepernick into the lineup in place of Alex Smith. The second-year quarterback has had moments of sheer brilliance, helping San Francisco blow away Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers by throwing for 263 yards and two TDs and rushing for 181 yards and two more scores in his playoff debut. Kaepernick played a more controlled game in the NFC championship game, calmly rallying the 49ers from a 17-0 deficit, and will enter the Super Bowl with the third-fewest starts for a quarterback.
Frank Gore rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons and provides the tough inside running to prevent the Ravens from attempting to tee off on Kaepernick. Tight end Vernon Davis emerged from a long slumber with five catches for 106 yards and a TD two weeks ago and wideout Michael Crabtree has 50 receptions in his last seven games. San Francisco's defense allowed the second-fewest points (17.1) during the regular season but has been lit up for at least 31 points in three of its final five games and had trouble defending the deep ball against the Falcons.
Fantasy Source projects Kaepernick and Flacco to throw two touchdown passes apiece. Kaepernick is a +150 underdog to throw OVER 1.5 touchdowns. Flacco is a flat -110 to go OVER two TD passes. Depending who you like in the game, these may be props worth considering, as FS projections suggest there’s value on the OVERs.
Odds get better, obviously, if you’re willing to go OVER 2.5 touchdown passes for either guy. Kaepernick is 3-to-1 to do so (or +300), Flacco is +270. If you’re expecting a shootout, think about a play on one of those props, too.
For many player-based props, Fantasy Source’s projections are awfully close to the posted numbers. The over/under on Kaepernick’s rushing yards is a perfect example. FS projects 48; the LVH’s total is 48.5.
But a deeper dive into the numbers shows Baltimore allowed just 9.6 rushing yards per game to quarterbacks this season. Throw out the outlying 181 rushing yards Kaepernick amassed vs. the Packers, and he’s averaging just 36 yards per game on the ground since taking over for Alex Smith; plus, he was held to just 21 against the Falcons. UNDER may be worth a look, especially if you’re on the Ravens.
While the LVH is offering numerous ways to bet one quarterback against the other, it makes sense to lean toward the guy whose team you like and may be wagering on. You’d essentially be betting against yourself, in other words, if you took the 49ers -3.5 and also Flacco to have more touchdown passes than Kaepernick.
Fantasy Source projects Kaepernick and Flacco to produce very even stat lines on Sunday (Kaepernick: 19-for-30 for 239 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Flacco: 19-for-31 for 247 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT).
These projections imply a lean toward the underdog in some of these props, and Kaepernick is the dog in many of them. He’s +3 in most completions, +6.5 in pass attempts and +12.5 in passing yards.
The 49ers are the favorites to win the game, so naturally, they are favored to score first. Kaepernick and Flacco are each -110 to be the first to throw a touchdown pass. So the value seems to be on Kaepernick here. If you like San Francisco to win the game, that might be one to take a shot on, too.
Sportsbook.ag has Kapernick as the plus-160 favorite to win Super Bowl MVP honors. Flacco has the second-shortest odds at 3/1. Gore and Ray Rice have 10/1 and 12/1 odds, respectively. I think Rice is worth a shot for a small amount for a 12/1 return.