Only during Super Bowl Week can the most popular reporter be Alabama football heartthrob Katherine Webb and the most talked-about story be centered on the healing powers of deer antlers. Of course, other storylines — maybe you’ve heard of the Harbaughs — and a few prop bets deserve attention. Here are three myths and three truths concerning Super Bowl XLVII.
Fiction: Team discipline is needed to make the Super Bowl.
The Ravens are the most penalized team in the NFL (69.2 yards per game) with the 49ers four spots behind them in fifth with 59.4 ypg. Defensively, intimidation is still part of the game for two of the league’s most fearsome units, who play with little regard for Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inconsistent flag football rules. Baltimore and San Francisco would rather risk a 15-yard personal foul penalty in exchange for a shell-shocked opposing wideout refusing to go over the middle the rest of the game.
Disclaimer: Cleveland, St. Louis and Jacksonville are teams two through four in penalty yards. That lackluster trio has zero playoff appearances since 2007 and has combined for three postseason games since 2003. No one said you didn’t need good players, too.
Fact: Colin Kaepernick is the future of NFL quarterbacking.
The 25-year-old 49ers signal-caller with Kerry Wood’s arm and Carl Lewis’ legs is the latest in line of dual-threat QBs to threaten one of the NFLs immutable truths: only pocket-passing QBs are capable of sustained success.
In nine starts this season, Kaepernick has thrown for 246.8 yards per game and rushed for 58 ypg.
Those numbers scream more Tom Brady than Michael Vick. And that’s the point.
The latest influx of athletic quarterbacks — Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson — are not only more skilled passers than their running predecessors, but their coaches are less rigid in breaking from traditionalist NFL philosophies and are catering to their QB’s strengths.
The new wave of quarterbacks excel in different aspects of the passing game while maintaining the ability — but not the need — to scramble.
Andrew Luck, who recorded a 4.59 40-meter dash at last year’s combine, established himself as a downfield specialist, averaging 12.9 yards per completion this season while breaking Peyton Manning’s rookie passing yards record.
RGIII, who nearly set the 300-meter hurdles national mark as a Texas high schooler, completed 65.6 percent of his passes in the Redskins’ completion-centered passing offense.
Russell Wilson equaled another one of Manning’s rookie records with 26 touchdown passes.
At six-foot-4 and weighing 230 pounds, ‘Kaep’ has a higher ceiling than Luck, Griffin or Wilson. And he can gain an advantage in the most important category, Super Bowl rings, with a victory Sunday.
Fiction: Ray Lewis’ total tackles will outnumber LeBron James’ number of rebounds and assists Sunday vs. Toronto.
My favorite “Cross-Sports Matchup” listed by the sports booking site Bovada. Lewis, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a torn triceps but returned for the Wild Card round vs. Indianapolis, is averaging 13.3 total tackles (solo tackles plus assists) for his team’s three playoff games. For his career, James is tallying 7.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists, a sum of 15.1, against Toronto. The 49ers are a team committed to the run — they were seventh in rushing attempts and third in yards per carry during the regular season. But, according to Pro Football Focus, the Ravens have yielded only 3.68 yards per carry and missed only four tackles on 90 inside carries in their past six games. As for James, his squad will be in Toronto Sunday after playing at Indiana Friday. Miami hosts Charlotte Monday, so the chance of James getting some rest Sunday is high. Yet, the pick is James. San Francisco won’t waste much time running up the middle on Baltimore, limiting Lewis’ opportunities, and Sunday will likely be Rudy Gay’s first game for Toronto, meaning the former Memphis swingman (a subpar defender) will draw James in his Raptors’ debut.
Fact: The postgame handshake/hug between San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh will last under six seconds.
The line is six seconds, and Bovada lists the under at -135 — meaning one would have to bet $135 in order to win $100 — and the over at -105. It’s hard to think the embrace goes longer than five seconds. Even though football players and coaches are some of the biggest bromancers around, seven seconds is pushing it considering the Harbaughs will be surrounded by an avalanche of media members. The brothers will have plenty of time for a heartfelt Harbaugh Hug somewhere else in the Superdome away from the public eye.
Fiction: Roger Goodell is welcomed by the people of New Orleans.
Fine, this one is a layup, but it’s an excuse to relay some humorous details regarding NOLA’s dislike for Goodell. Clearly still peeved over the Bountygate suspensions of Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and others, multiple New Orleans establishments have reportedly posted pictures of Goodell in their dwellings with the tagline of “Do not serve this man.” The website nola.eater.com sports a “Roger Goodell Hate Map” detailing locations where the Commissioner is far from welcome. Ben Sherman, owner of The Midway, a Chicago-style pizza place in New Orleans, told WWL-TV, “(Goodell) can’t drink here. Because we don’t serve babies.” Hopefully you’ve memorized the Saints’ “Who Dat?” battle cry, Roger.
Fact: The 49ers will win Super XLVII.
These two teams have been through turbulent times this season. From the death of Torrey Smith’s younger brother, to the installation of former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator, to Director of Player Development O.J. Brigance’s battle with ALS, to the lightning rod that is the retiring Ray Lewis, the Ravens have been on an emotional roller coaster since Day 1. All the 49ers did was bench Alex Smith, the quarterback who got them to the NFC Championship Game a year ago, midway through the season in favor of Kaepernick. Against Baltimore, San Francisco will go down early like they have in their two previous playoff games, but Ted Ginn Jr. will return a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter to jump-start the 49ers, whose offense will burn up the Superdome turf in the second half. And, on the anniversary of former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams becoming the first man of African-American descent to win the Super Bowl, Kaepernick will join him Sunday night. 49ers win, 31-26.
Grant Freking is a sportswriter for the Greenfield Daily Reporter. Contact him at (317) 477-3230 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More prop bets
Three prop bets being offered at Las Vegas casino sports books, and the picks of Daily Reporter sports editor Brian Harmon:
What will be the primary color of Beyonce’s top at the start of the halftime show? Black (9/4), gold (11/4), silver (7/2), white (5/1), red (13/2), pink (15/2), orange (12/1), blue (15/1), green (15/1).
The pick: Girls like shiny. Go with the gold or silver.
If Ray Lewis is interviewed on TV after the game, how many times will he mention God/Lord? Over 3 (-120), Under 3 (-120).
The pick: Ray Lewis loves him some Ray Lewis. The man upstairs gets only two mentions.
How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing the national anthem? Over two minutes, 10 seconds (even); Under two minutes, 10 seconds (-140).
The pick: Over. That girl has some lungs. She’ll belt out a long tune, and it will sound terrific.