Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh has little impact on Super Bowl betting

Jan 23, 2013 |
John's Ravens beat Jim's 49ers on Thursday Night Football last season.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
John's Ravens beat Jim's 49ers on Thursday Night Football last season.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Jim and John Harbaugh are far from Cain and Abel.

But, with the way the media is playing up the brother-versus-brother angle for the upcoming Super Bowl, you’d expect the two head coaches to leave their troops on the sidelines and settle Super Bowl XLVII like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers.

Caution: This might be NSFW, depending on where you work.

While the “Harbaugh Bowl” is unique and fun, it has little bearing on how Feb. 3’s Big Game will play out, according to both Las Vegas oddsmakers and professional sports bettors. Books opened Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers as 4.5-point favorites versus John Harbaugh’s Ravens, with the early money taking the spread down to 3.5.

“There is a competitive thing there but I don’t think it’s a factor,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, told Covers. “We didn’t think about it (when making the odds). It’s the perfect breakeven, and kind of cancels itself out.”

Some NFL bettors believe the familiarity between the brothers will create a defensive stalemate, much like their first meeting as head coaches for their respective clubs last November. Baltimore won 16-6 as a 3.5-point home favorite over San Francisco, playing well under the total of 40 points.

Neither team totaled more than 260 yards of offense and they traded field goals until Ravens QB Joe Flacco found Dennis Pitta for an 8-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter. The 49ers had a 75-yard TD strike in the second quarter called back because of a chop block penalty on RB Frank Gore.

Plenty of bettors will look back at that Nov. 24, 2011 game for some insight into Super Bowl XLVII, which has had its opening total of 49 bet down to as low as 47 points. However, Covers Expert Teddy Covers says recapping that Thursday Night Football showdown is a waste of time.

“I personally think the first meeting is absolutely irrelevant to the current meeting,” he says. “Remember, that was a Thursday night game and both teams had limited time to prepare. Here, they'll both have two weeks to prep. And the two units have been completely overhauled since that game. The Niners offense and the Ravens defense. Baltimore also has two different coordinators.”

Perhaps the biggest difference is San Francisco second-year QB Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers started Alex Smith in that previous meeting with the Ravens and watched as he was sacked nine times for a loss of 44 yards. Baltimore relied on the blitz in that game but may not find the same success against a much more mobile Kaepernick.

“This game will be more about player execution than coaching decisions,” says Teddy Covers. “Brother versus brother is nice for the league to hype, but the game will be won or lost where most games are won or lost - on the offensive and defensive lines.”
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