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Niners with Super Bowl Hurdles to Face

In order for Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers to win the Super Bowl, there are certain trends that need to be bucked.

Despite the team’s status as Super Bowl favorite, the San Francisco 49ers will need to buck some trends if they’re to win the big game on Sunday. BettingSports.com takes a look at some of the hurdles the Niners face, as well as some factors that certainly favor the Northern California side.

Head to Head History

The Niners have faced the Ravens four times since the Baltimore side relocated from Cleveland in 1996.

Things started off well in November of 1996 as San Francisco – a team that featured Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and a young Terrell Owens – handed Baltimore a 38-20 defeat. That’s as good as it got for fans in the City by the Bay.

San Francisco’s fortunes changed shortly afterwards, with the retirement of Young and Rice. Meanwhile, Baltimore was headed in the other direction.

The teams have played three games since the 1996 season. The Ravens won all three, and they did so with a stifling defense. The Niners scored just 19 points over the three games, compared to Baltimore’s 69.

The last time the two sides met was on Nov. 24, 2011. That game ended 16-6 in favor of the Ravens.

Although Baltimore’s past life as the Cleveland Browns was officially nixed with its move to the East Coast, it’s worth pointing out that San Francisco struggled against this team when it was in Cleveland as well. Between 1946 and 1993, the Niners posted an 8-16 record against the Browns-soon-to-be-Ravens.

If San Francisco is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, it will need to buck this losing trend.

The Curse of the Favorite

In terms of the point spread, the favorite has covered just three times in the last 11 years. With this year’s spread so close – it’s down to 3.5 with most odds makers – that could spell danger for the Niners.

Only one of the three favorites to cover the spread during that period came out of the NFC. That was the 2010 Green Bay Packers. That side covered a three-point spread. The 2006 Indianapolis Colts covered seven, while the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers covered four.

During that same period, the favorite posted a less than stellar 6-5 record straight up. Those numbers can be further whittled down; the favorite has won just two of the last five Super Bowls.

If San Francisco is to be successful on Sunday, it will need to counter these less than favorable numbers.

New Orleans Hoodoo?

The Big Easy hasn’t been the most favorable city when it comes to NFC teams. In the nine previous Super Bowl games played in the city, the AFC has edged the NFC by a 5-4 tally. That could prove to be a harbinger of doom for the Niners. But hold on.

Things aren’t quite so bad. The NFC has tallied an improved 4-3 record when it enters the game as the favorite. That should give the Niners some hope. Furthermore, the NFC has gone 3-1 over the last four games in the city. That includes San Francisco’s record-setting 55-10 win over Denver at Super Bowl XXIV.

Maybe NOLA will take it easy on the NFC this year.

Previous Super Bowl games played in New Orleans

XXXIV New England 20, St. Louis 17

XXXI Green Bay 34, New England 21

XXIV San Francisco 55, Denver 10

XX Chicago 46, New England 10

XV Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10

XII Dallas 27, Denver 10

IX Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6

VI Dallas 24, Miami 3

IV Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7

Undefeated vs. Undefeated

Both sides enter Sunday’s game unbeaten in Super Bowl play. Of course, San Francisco has the much more impressive record of the two, having gone 5-0 compared to Baltimore’s 1-0.

A sixth win would put San Francisco level with Pittsburgh, currently the most successful Super Bowl team in history. A win would see the Niners take that moniker by way of the fact that Pittsburgh may have won six Super Bowls, but it’s also lost two.

Historically, San Francisco has outmatched its Super Bowl opponents by a tune of 188-89, which equates to 38-18 each game.

That’s one trend San Francisco will hope not to buck on Sunday.

The NFC and the Spread

Finally, here’s something for San Francisco to really embrace. Whilst we’ve seen the spread hasn’t been all that auspicious to the favorite, it has been the NFC’s best friend of late.

NFC teams have covered the Super Bowl spread in five straight games. If that wasn’t enough, that streak extends to nine of the last 11 games. That trend dates all the way back to 2002, the last time the game was played in New Orleans.

That’s one definite trend the Niners will hope to see continue on Sunday.

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