BOSTON (CBS) — The Super Bowl represents a true paradox for football fans. Yes, it is the ultimate game, and it’s a grand spectacle that is fun to soak in, but we all know in the back of our heads that once that final piece of confetti falls, we will be without meaningful football for a very long and painful eight months.
As football fans, we really do have it pretty tough.
Alas, that’s the way life goes, and in terms of this picks column, it’s sad to be left with just one final game after making 266 picks since September. Fortunately, though, the Super Bowl presents a whole slew of wild and wacky things to bet on to help us through this terrible, awful crisis.
So let’s get right to it, starting with the real pick.
SAN FRANCISCO (-3.5) over Baltimore
I hate to just be one of a million folks making the obvious pick — I rarely am — and while I never read anyone else’s picks before making my own, I imagine the majority will be picking the Niners. Though sometimes the popular opinion can be the painfully obvious bad one, that’s just not the case.
Granted, there is the ever-present football reality of any team being able to completely lay an egg in any given 60-minute session (see: Patriots, New England). Yet at the same time, there is no team more capable of putting together an absolutely perfect football game than the San Francisco 49ers.
They did exactly that in the divisional round against the Packers, gaining 579 yards and winning by two touchdowns, and while their game in Atlanta started pretty terribly, they snapped out of it in time to outscore the Falcons 28-7 in the final 38:08 of the game.
I look at these two teams, and I give the 49ers a big advantage on offense and defense. The Ravens’ special teams wins in a landslide, but that shouldn’t factor in unless it’s a close game, which I don’t think we’ll see.
I’ll admit that my biggest fear about this pick is the health statuses of the Smiths on the San Francisco defensive line. We witnessed how the whole dynamic of that defense changed when Justin Smith left the game in New England, when the Patriots scored 24 points in the fourth quarter. And since suffering that injury, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded a sack, after he averaged 1.5 sacks per game in the first 13 weeks of the season. After watching Joe Flacco get rid of the ball very quickly on almost every dropback against the Patriots, I do worry about the Niners’ pass rush being able to impact the game.
However, I trust the 49ers defensive backs about 317 percent more than I would New England’s, and if Flacco escapes this game with fewer than two interceptions, I will eat my socks. If the Niners can force Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan to throw an interception, I’d hope they can get Flacco to throw a couple.
And frankly, I didn’t like Ray Lewis’ overconfidence regarding the Ravens’ ability to stop Colin Kaepernick’s offense.
“A lot of people who played against them just never communicated at all. I believe that’s one of the advantages we have. We do a good job of communicating,” Lewis said this week when not discussing deer antler spray, the Bible or reporters’ qualifications for asking about the infamous 2000 murder trial. “If you watch film you can tell a lot of people playing against the read option just played as individuals. It’s hard to play that type of package as individuals. You have to play it as a group. That is the only way to slow it down.”
That’s all well and good, but my buddies and I could go out there and communicate like a bunch of Verizon technicians. We still wouldn’t be fast enough to slow it down.
Final score prediction: San Francisco 27, Baltimore 13
Regular season: 124-125-7
OK, with that pesky football talk out of the way, let’s get to some fun stuff.
(Prop bets gathered from various sources.)
Over/under – 2 minutes, 10 seconds: How long will Alicia Keys take to sing the national anthem?
The bet: Over.
I came across this headline in doing my in-depth research for this one: “Alicia Keys National Anthem: Singer Promises Unique Rendition at Super Bowl XLVII.”
I’m no music expert, but I believe “unique rendition” is diva codeword for “adding a bunch of notes and soaking up the spotlight as long as possible.” Or maybe it just means “getting all the words right, unlike Christina Aguilera.”
Will Beyonce’s hair be curly/crimped OR straight at the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show?
The bet: Straight (-200)
I’ll admit I don’t technically know what crimped means, but I think her hair was crimped at her press conference in New Orleans this week. She’s going to mix it up. I can feel it!
Also, sadly, there’s nowhere that I can bet that this year’s halftime act won’t feature a Sri Lankan female rapper flipping the bird to the American viewing public. That’s too bad.
Over/under 2.5: How many times will Jack Harbaugh be shown on TV during the game?
The bet: Under (-140)
I “bet” the over (quotation marks because if you actually bet on these things then you’re crazy) on four Archie Manning shots back in the Colts/Saints Super Bowl, and incredibly, it didn’t hit. If the cameras didn’t focus on Archie Manning, are they really going to focus on Jack Harbaugh.
Over/under 12: Months filled with shame for only finishing with a better picks record than my wife by one game.
The bet: Over. Way over.
I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to see how I could fare against my own wife making picks this season. She never really grasped the whole point-spread idea, and she never spent more than three seconds to make any pick. Meanwhile, I was poring through stats, history, injury reports, columns and the like for hours every week. And after 20 weeks, I only bested her by one game. That’s not very good. I don’t know how long I’ll feel shame, but I know I won’t be challenging her next season.
Over/under 3: If Ray Lewis is interviewed on TV after the game, on the field or in the locker room, how many times will he mention “God/Lord”
The bet: Over
Are you kidding me with that one? I would bet the over if it was set at 3 million.
Which player will make the first reception of the game?
The bet: Vernon Davis (9-to-1)
I just like those odds. They sound real good to me.
Over/under 40.5 yards: Joe Flacco’s longest completion.
The bet: Under.
The Patriots didn’t give up any pass longer than 26 yards. The 49ers should be OK there.
Over/under 22.5: How many times will “Harbaugh” be said during the game.The bet: Over.
That’s a lot of times, but I just watched Super Bowl XXXVI the other day, and they must have said Mike Martz and Bill Belichick 15 times each. With brothers on opposing sidelines? Brothers who tend to flip out all the time at officials? Safe bet here, people.
Over/under 6 seconds: How long will the post game handshake/hug last between Jim and John Harbaugh?
The bet: Under
Have you ever hugged your brother for more than 6 seconds? That would be so weird. This postgame talk will be a, “Nice job, see you next week, bro. I hate your guts.”
Will any Baltimore or San Francisco player on the active roster be arrested before Super Bowl XLVII?
The bet: No.
You actually can’t bet no on this one, just yes (5-to-1). I want to make sure you don’t bet yes on this. With Baltimore’s Joe Flacco using the word “retarded” at a press conference and San Francisco’s Chris Culliver speaking out against welcoming gay people in his locker room, I think both teams got their boneheadedness out of the way early this week.
What color will the Gatorade (or liquid) dumped on the winning head coach be?
The bet: None.
That’s a sucker’s bet, you guys.
In fact, they all are, but like I said earlier, this is our last chance.
You better enjoy the game, because once it’s over, we’re in for months of draft talk (“He is a High. Motor. Guy!“) and minicamps and contract drama and franchise tags and a whole bunch of stuff that is not the great sport of football. See you next season.