LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sports books in Las Vegas made the San Francisco 49ers a favorite in the Super Bowl over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night based on the team's solid record and popularity with sports fans.
Oddsmakers gave the 49ers an early 4½-point handicap and put the total score at 49 points for the Feb. 3 game in New Orleans. This means gamblers who bet on the Niners will collect only if they win by a margin of victory surpassing 4½ points.
In addition to betting on the victor, fans can put money on whether the total points scored during the game will fall short of or exceed oddsmakers' predictions.
Jay Kornegay, race and sports book director at The LVH casino, said his book made the 49ers a 4½-point favorite and quickly moved the line to 4 points as bettors gambled on the Ravens.
"The 49ers have been a sexy team all year," he said. "The Ravens don't get a lot of respect from the public, but that bandwagon is getting a lot more supporters as we speak."
The 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game Sunday afternoon, rallying in the second half after falling behind by 17 points. The Ravens defeated the New England Patriots for the AFC championship later that night, with Joe Flacco throwing three touchdown passes in just over 10 minutes.
Oddsmaker Benjamin Eckstein of America's Line said he made the 49ers a 4½-point favorite to encourage action on both teams.
"San Francisco is what we call a very public team because they've been very good over the past couple years, and people just like to bet on them," said Eckstein, who provides betting lines to more than 100 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. "The 49ers have done very well against the spread this year, so they've made people a lot of money."