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Late For Work 1/21: Ravens Already Underdogs To 49ers


Ravens Already Underdogs To 49ers

Who (or what quarterback) do the Ravens need to beat to get some respect in Vegas?

The Ravens are already the first underdog of more than a touchdown to win both the division and championship playoff rounds – EVER.

Now Baltimore's going to have to overcome the odds once again if it wants to be crowned Super Bowl champions.

The Ravens are 4.5-point underdogs to the San Francisco 49ers for Super Bowl XLVII.

So what's new?

The Ravens were 9.5-point underdogs to the Denver Broncos, then went to the Rocky Mountains and shocked Peyton Manning. Then they were 8.5-point underdogs to the Patriots (9.5 originally), then went to New England and toppled Tom Brady.

"These teams mirror each other, but the 49ers are a bit more sexy now than the Ravens," said Las Vegas Hilton (LVH) sports book book director Jay Kornegay. "The Ravens are the hot team now, but they're not getting a lot of support from the public."

At LVH, the line was set just before the two-minute warning of the Ravens-Patriots game. Some books opened with the 49ers as 5-point favorites, but most settled at 4.5.

Casinos have lost only once on the Super Bowl the last 10 years, in 2008, when the Giants beat New England, 17-14. But just ask Vegas how much money it's lost on the Ravens already this postseason. Well they aren't saying, but I'm guessing a lot.

Sharpe: Belichick A 'Poor Sport'

CBS analyst and former Ravens tight end and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe ripped the Patriots head coach for not doing the customary postgame interview with the network.

"There's something to be said about being gracious in defeat," Sharpe said on CBS' postgame show. "We've seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game). We've seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker. Coach [Bill] Cowher did it when they lost to them, we saw this last week.

"Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can't be a poor sport all the time. You're not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It's unacceptable."

Instead of Belichick, CBS was given Patriots safety Devin McCourty to talk to after the game. Belichick did hold the customary press conference afterwards (not that he said much).

Belichick also notably walked off the field with a second left in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants. This year's decision could draw a fine from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for skipping his media obligations.

Tom Brady Karate Kick (GIF)

Was it purposeful or not?

On the second-to-last play of the first half, Brady scrambled to his left and slid to avoid a hit by safety Ed Reed. Only problem is Brady's slide looked more like a "jiu-jitsu kick."

Brady went in cleats up (really high up) and spiked Reed's knee. The veteran safety was a bit gimpy after the play, and the Patriots went on to kick a field goal. !

"It's a good play when you're trying to take out a second baseman, but a bit unusual in pro football," Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar wrote.

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard saw it as purposeful, as did Harbaugh who yelled to officials that his player was kicked.

"You’ve got to keep them legs down," Pollard told Comcast Sports Network New England. "You've got to keep the legs down. We all know and understand what's going on there. And as a quarterback, when you go to slide, we're taught  … we can't do anything. When you come sliding, and your leg is up in the air trying to kick somebody, that's bull crap."

CBS broadcaster Phil Simms immediately said, "He puts that leg up to protect himself."

It's impossible to know whether Brady truly meant to kick Reed. But there were similar questions when Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh kicked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the crotch and Suh was fined $30,000.

Jim Caldwell 'Permanent' Offensive Coordinator

Even before the Ravens' victory, before their effective halftime decision to cut quarterback Joe Flacco loose in the second half, CBS' Jason La Canfora reported that Baltimore plans to retain Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell next season.

"When Ravens coach John Harbaugh parted with long-time coordinator Cam Cameron late in the season, and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell to the position, it was on an interim basis," La Canfora wrote. "Now, you can consider it permanent."

La Canfora reports that team sources say Harbaugh and Caldwell have already discussed Caldwell remaining the play caller next season, but that both mutually agreed to put off finalizing anything until after the season.

Caldwell had never called plays at the NFL level before Dec. 16 against the Denver Broncos, but the offense has averaged 30.75 points per game in the four with the starters going the distance. Flacco has also flourished during that time.

"[Flacco] has clicked with Caldwell, and the team is taking more deep shots with him calling plays -- very much in Flacco's nature -- and also thriving in a scheme utilizing more of a moving pocket, which has helped with protection," La Canfora wrote.

As for Flacco's contract, La Canfora still believes the pending free agent quarterback will get franchised for $14.6 million to buy time for a long-term deal. The cap is expected to spike in 2014, so any deal would likely include a lot of money being delayed until then, La Canfora reports.

Lewis Motivated By Retirement Billboard

It was big news (or at least buzz worthy) last week when it was reported that there was a billboard in the Boston area celebrating ' impending retirement party.

Lewis had already spoken to the media last week when the sign was revealed. So he was not asked for comment before the game.

But in his ESPN postgame interview, the General brought up the Clear Channel Outdoor billboard as if it were something that motivated him.

"I was hurt when I saw a sign that actually said my retirement would [start] tonight," Lewis said. "Man can't dictate that. God dictates that."

Billboards have now sprouted up around Baltimore saying that Ray's Retirement Party has been postponed to Feb. 3.  

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