- Jeff Gold, ESPN Contributor
No need for NBC to flex out of tonight's game as the San Francisco 49ers travel to face the New England Patriots in a possible Super Bowl preview. As far as regular-season games go, they don't get more intriguing than this matchup. These are the two favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to the online sports book BetUs. The Patriots are listed at plus-300, while the Niners are plus-500.
The talk for much of the season has been that there isn't a real Super Bowl favorite. Watch what happens if the Pats put on a performance similar to the one from Monday night. Before long, they'll be 2-1 to win the Super Bowl.
Since 2010, the Patriots have not lost a game in the second half of the season, an astonishing 21 straight. Their final two games this season are at Jacksonville and home for Miami. So if the streak ends, it's going to be tonight.
One matchup that should be fun to watch tonight is the battle between Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh. By any estimation, these are two of the top five coaches in the sport. Part of what makes them so great is their willingness to defy conventional wisdom and go with their intuition. Remember when Belichick ran Drew Bledsoe out of town for an unproven second-year player back in 2001? Harbaugh is hoping to work the same magic.
According to ESPN PickCenter, the Patriots are being backed at a 63.6 percent rate. The team getting the most public bets is coming off the most dominant performance of the year. This is not a surprise.
Let's get some handicapping analysis from Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdog Sports.
Spread: Opened at Patriots -3, now Patriots -4
Total: Opened at 48; now 47.5
8hESPN Stats & Information
1dEric D. Williams