We don’t yet know which two teams will be playing in the Super Bowl, but at this point there are only four possibilities. It seems like a good idea to rank each of those four possibilities in terms of betting attractiveness (odds of each matchup occurring are from Bovada):
New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers (5/6)
This is obviously the dream scenario — the near perfect matchup given the season that has been played. We have the best all-around offense in the league against the most dangerous defense. We have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time — a classic, old-school performer — up against a top representative of the next evolution of the position. We have one of the best coaches ever to stand on a sideline against a coach who has quickly developed a reputation both for excellence and for arrogance. East Coast versus West Coast. Two former Michigan quarterbacks squaring off — a one as a star, the other as the mastermind. It has it all.
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Early lines have the Patriots favored by about two points. The public will be heavily tilted towards the Patriots, though, so it is very likely that that number would climb through the NFL key number of three. As someone who really likes the 49ers and would make them the clear choice in the Super Bowl regardless of who they play, that couldn’t be more attractive. Getting a field goal or more with this San Francisco team would be a very attractive betting proposition.
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers (5/1)
I really struggle to see the Ravens beating the Patriots, but if it were to happen I would welcome this matchup. For starters, there are two incredibly juicy storylines. First, the chance for Ray Lewis to go out a winner would be the kind of thing the public would really love. More significantly, though, we would have brothers — and brothers with a strong relationship — facing each other in the biggest game on the planet as head coaches. Talk about a nightmare for their parents. That’s a nice story, but there is more to it than that. The two pick each other’s brains. While they have distinct styles, there are obvious shared tendencies and preferences. It’s always interesting when two coaches know each other well, and you can’t know anyone better than your own brother. This would be a high-level chess match. It could be epic.
The early line here has the Niners favored by four, but it seems possible that that could fall slightly if the game came around. The Ravens would draw action for beating the Patriots and because of Lewis, while the Niners aren’t likely to gain a lot of love form beating Atlanta. I would love to bet San Francisco at this number or lower.
New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (5/2)
I just can’t get excited by this matchup. The problem, of course, is Atlanta. They are a perfectly fine team, but I don’t believe in them in any real way. I question their heart, I don’t like their coaching or decision-making, Matt Ryan makes me nervous, and I just don’t think they are good enough. Most significantly, though, they are the football equivalent of vanilla ice cream. Outside of Georgia, they don’t inspire much excitement or emotion, and they really don’t draw much attention of any kind. They are just there. That’s probably not fair to what they have done and the talent they have, but it is how it is.
The Patriots are favored by six in early lines. It would be very likely that that line would climb because the public would be ridiculously one-sided in this one. The problem is, though, that it would have to take a big jump before I could really take them seriously in this spot. Not an interesting game.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Atlanta Falcons (10/1)
Seeing this matchup occur would be like looking forward to a concert for months only to find out when you arrive that the headliners are sick and you are stuck with an extended set from the opening act instead. There is no one outside of Maryland or Georgia who wants this matchup — and fans of these two teams only want it because they think it gives them their best chance of winning. Outside of the Lewis angle, there is a real shortage of interesting storylines here — at least of the type that will get the public excited. It’s the game that no one wants.
It’s the game that I don’t want to be on, either. The early line has the Falcons favored, but only by a point and a half. The line is a coin flip, and so is the game. I hate betting on games like that. If this is the matchup, then prop bets would get all the attention from me.
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