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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 28, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Hip, hip, hooray - the Super Bowl week is finally upon us and so it's time to get down to the nuts-and-bolts business:

Both the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens and the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers are in New Orleans for this Sunday's super-duper showdown and so let's get to examining what's on the table here as the clock ticks down on the February 3rd kickoff at 6:29 p.m.:

First off, we tackle the topic of the all-important Las Vegas line that opened with the SF 49ers favored by 5 points and in the past week it's dropped to San Fran favored by 3 ½ points in most locales. Note the totals price right now is at 47 ½ points - it opened at 49 points and so the "under" folks have been weighing in a bit here.

If you happen to be one of those "money-line" guys/gals than note that San Francisco is - 170 to $100 right now while Baltimore is + 150 to every $100 wagered.

As you know, we have had a couple of cool money-line underdog winners in recent years with the New York Giants gobbling up the greenbacks in last year's 21-17 Super Bowl upset against 3-point fav New England and back in the 2009 season there were the New Orleans Saints getting the goodies at plus the price in that 31-17 win against 4 ½-point fav Indianapolis - and so there are a couple of very recent examples of dogs getting "all the money" in the Super Bowl and now you wonder if it could happen again with these underdog Ravens.

Now, let's go back in time and "borrow" something we wrote in this exact Jim Sez column a year ago and that is this ...Dig all the way back to January 15, 1967 when the Green Bay Packers slugged the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I and you'll note the following:

There have been only 16 Super Bowls decided by 7 points-or-less and another 30 Super Bowl games decided by more than a touchdown and so the knee-jerk reaction would be to say that nearly two-thirds or 65.2 percent of games played in Super Bowl history have not been overly competitive when you check out the final scoreboard but note the changes in the modern-day era as seven of the last 11 Super Bowl showdowns have been decided by a touchdown-or-less and a couple of those games decided by more than 7 points arguably were lots closer than the scoreboard indicated (see New Orleans copping that come-from-behind aforementioned 31-17 win against Indianapolis two years ago and Pittsburgh's 21-10 controversial win against Seattle back in 2005).

In case you were wondering, the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history so far was San Francisco's 55-10 win against Denver back on January 28, 1990 while the only one-point Super Bowl in history thus far occurred almost exactly one year later on January 27, 1991 when the New York Giants held off "wide-right" Scott Norwood and the Buffalo Bills 20-19.

And how about Sunday's game in New Orleans?

Baltimore comes into action riding a season-best five-game ATS (against the spread) winning streak which - as a matter of cat - is the team's longest spread winning streak in the five-year era of John Harbaugh-coached football. Overall, the here-and-now Ravens are 10-8-1 against the odds overall and that includes a heady 8-3-1 ATS mark ever since the AFC North team had their Week 8 bye. And - just so you know - the Ravens beat 3 ½-point home dog Cleveland 25-15 in Baltimore's post-bye game this year.

Conversely, San Francisco is 10-7-1 against the Vegas prices this season but the Niners have not exactly been burning up the books in recent weeks as evidenced by San Francisco's rather modest 5-4-1 ATS mark since the team's Week 9 bye. Note that Jim Harbaugh's club followed on the heels of that bye with a 24-24 tie against 13-point dog St. Louis back on November 11th.

Next up is all the quarterback talk:

Okay, so while neither Baltimore slinger Joe Flacco nor San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick - obviously not even a starter until mid-November - were flashing their grins on any national magazine covers prior to the start of this 2012 season (those were reserved for the likes of New England's Tom Brady, New York Giants QB Eli Manning, New Orleans signal-caller Drew Brees and Denver QB Peyton Manning) these are the guys who are the shiny names on the marquee outside the Louisiana Superdome here.

Let's look at Flacco first when it comes to this post-season: In Baltimore's playoff wins against Indianapolis, Denver and New England, the fifth-year pro from Delaware has been downright spectacular with a 51-of-93 completion state line good for 853 yards with 8 TDs and 0 INTs - amazing! Flacco sports a QB Rating of 114.7 and - while he's most remembered for that 70-yard rainbow scoring bomb in Denver that forced overtime it's been his accuracy in short-to-medium range passes that have really been the difference as both WR Anquan Boldin (16 receptions and 3 TDs this post-season) and TE Dennis Pitta (10 receptions ad two TDs these playoffs) have been major stat-sheet stuffers with Flacco wingin' it their way. 

On the flip side, Kaepernick has been nothing short of brilliant in his team's post-season wins against Green Bay and Atlanta. Note that the Alex Smith-backup-turned-starter has completed 33-of-52 passing tries for 496 yards with 3 TDs and only 1 INT and - of course - it must be duly noted that Kaepernick has rushed the ball 18 times for 202 yards in these playoffs with a pair of scores including that game-changing 56-yard TD run against the Packers back in NFC Divisional Playoff round action.

Get this: Kaepernick's averaging a haughty 9.54 yards per pass completion this post-season while Flacco is averaging 9.17 yards per completion - great stuff!

No doubt there's been a changing-of-the-guard mentality in the NFL when it comes to the modern-day quarterback but - make no mistake about it - the quarterbacks in this league better know how to throw it first and foremost and both Flacco and Kaepernick can zip it with the latter often showing off his once-upon-a-time baseball skills with 95-mph type rockets being launched from the pocket.

No surprise that these two dudes are the pre-game favorites to win the Super Bowl MVP trophy. In fact, here's how a shortened version of that list looks like right now:





Colin Kaepernick


San Francisco

+ 120

Joe Flacco



+ 160

Frank Gore


San Francisco

+ 400

Ray Lewis



+ 500

Ray Rice



+ 700

Michael Crabtree


San Francisco

+ 700

Vernon Davis


San Francisco

+ 1000

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be there to bang out the Super Bowl XLVIII Side & Totals winners on game-day morning come Sunday, February 3rd plus get all the NBA and NCAA Basketball Winners each and every day too with America's #1 Handicapper scorching-hot on the hard courts these days. So don't get bummed out by the fact we'll soon be putting this 2012 Football Season to bed -- get all the hoop winners this wintertime as the round ball fun is just heatin' up! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.


Tonight, it's ...PITTSBURGH (17-4, 5-3 Big East) at #5 LOUISVILLE (16-4, 4-3 Big East) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
How the mighty have fallen! The Louisville Cardinals were once-upon-a-time the numero uno team in the land and proud owners of a dizzying 16-1 record but since January 19th the proverbial bottom has dropped out on the Cardinals: Back-to-back-to-back losses to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown has 'Ville boss Rick Pitino in an especially crusty mood (okay, he was in that crusty mood following the 70-68 loss to the 'Cuse a couple of weekends back!) and now it's back-to-the-drawing board time for the Redbirds who shot a dismal 34.8 percent from the floor in Saturday's 53-51 loss at the 5-point underdog Hoyas (that's 16 field goals in 46 attempts) and when did you think you'd see the day when a Pitino-coached club was so dreary at the free-throw line? In the loss at G-town, the Cards missed 6-of-10 foul shots in the second half thus repeating recent ills and getting Pitino to have his own personal eruptions after the game. IIf Louisville is gonna fly right here than senior PG Peyton Siva (0 points and only 2 assists while battling foul woes the other day) must step up to the plate. P.S., that marked the first time since Siva was a freshman that he didn't score a single point in a game.

On Tuesday, it's ...KENTUCKY (13-6, 4-2) at #23 OLE MISS (17-2, 6- SEC) - 9 p.m. ET. ESPN
When did you think you'd see the day where Ole Miss was the ranked team ... and Kentucky was not? Okay, so the growing pains that these freshman-laden UK Wildcats have experienced this year have sometimes been extreme but John Calipari's kids still can score - they rank 26th nationally while averaging 75.8 ppg - but folks mainly will be keeping eyes here on Ole Miss G Marshall Henderson (19.2 ppg) and F Murphy Holloway (14.8 ppg and 10.4 rebounds-per-game) plus F Reginald Buckner has 53 blocks and figures to go nose-to-nose with Kentucky's Nerlens Noel who is starting to believe more and more than this is "his" team. The Rebels average 80.3 ppg - 4th-best in the land - and head coach Andy Kennedy wants a get-out-and-go approach here even if it's gonna cost his guys some transition hoops in the process. First team to 90 wins?

NOTE: More Super Bowl 47 coverage plus NCAA and NBA notes/previews too all this week right here in Jim Sez!

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