Last week, the close of the conference championship games brought us an opening 49ers-Ravens line of 49ers -5. It did not take long for a lot of money to start coming in on the Ravens, and the line was quickly lowered to 49ers -4. Since then, the line has wavered between -4 and -3.5. Oddsmakers generally see the line settling at -3.5 heading into the game.
For those wondering what causes the line to move, oddsmakers adjust it as money comes in because they want to try and get an even split of money coming in on both sides of the line. If there is an even split in bets, the oddsmakers can generally do fine because of the vig they are collecting on the bets.
The big question in my mind this past week was why fairly heavy money seemed to be coming in on the Ravens. I had a chance to talk to MGM's VP of Race and Sports, Jay Rood, to discuss the upcoming game and how things are looking from his perspective. While we can't get inside an individual bettor's mind, there are enough people wagering on the game that we can start to get an idea of what is behind the group mentality.
In Jay's opinion, their recent run through the AFC playoffs and the Ray Lewis factor are the big reasons for the early money. The Ravens covered in all three games, but winning on the road against the top two seeds in Denver and New England has some people feeling especially good about their chances.
While the 49ers Super Bowl opponent was secondary in my mind, I have still found myself concerned about the Ravens as the sort of "Giants" team of this year's playoffs. That being the team that just seems to have that needed irrational confidence and is just rolling along in spite of the odds against them. Ideally the 49ers will just jump out and squash them early, but there is still something about this Ravens team that leaves me a little uneasy.
It is worth noting on the gambling front, that Jay did think 49ers money will creep in a bit more this week as the emotions settle down following last week's conference championships. According to covers.com, the Las Vegas Hilton is starting to see that money coming in as game week develops.
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