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49ers favored by Vegas books to win Super Bowl

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49ers favored by Vegas books to win Super Bowl

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 4 1/2-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 4 1/2 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 4 1/2-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 4 1/2-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.''

The Super Bowl is the most popular betting event of the year in Las Vegas.

Last year, sports books made the New England Patriots three-point favorites to win the Super Bowl over the New York Giants, but the Giants won 21-17. Fans bet $93.9 million at Nevada casinos on the matchup- the most wagered in the past decade- and sports books made $5 million on the action, according to data from the Gaming Control Board.

Oddmakers say average fans bet far more money on the Super Bowl than professional bettors - making conventional wisdom all-important in setting betting lines.

``The Super Bowl is the one game all year where the public's money dominates the action,'' Kornegay said. ``That's why we have to gear this line toward the public perception.''

Johnny Avello, director of race and sports at Wynn Las Vegas, opened the 49ers as 5-point favorites. He said he expected heavy betting with a competitive underdog and a sibling rivalry narrative inspired by brothers John and Jim Harbaugh coaching the two teams.

``Baltimore's kind of dangerous. And you've got two brothers playing against each other. It makes for a good matchup,'' he said.

Avello said he planned to spend Monday watching footage from past games and devising what he said will likely exceed 200 proposition bets.

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Hannah Dreier can be reached athttp://twitter.com/hannahdreier .

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Dixon to miss four to six weeks, won't need surgery

Dixon to miss four to six weeks, won't need surgery

It appears Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s knee injury is not serious. Dixon is expected to miss four to six weeks with an MCL tear that will not require surgery, CSN has confirmed.

Dixon was injured during Saturday night’s preseason game against the Lions, after gaining 41 yards on just six carries. Dixon has the potential to be an impact rookie as a fourth-round pick, showing excellent acceleration and the ability to make people miss, while leading the Ravens in preseason rushing.

Dixon has quickly impressed Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

“Kenneth Dixon has had a run each week where you thought he was down for five seconds and he gets six, seven, eight, nine more yards out of it,” Flacco said. “You can see in practice how shifty he is and how well he sees things and some of the cuts he makes. I think he has been pretty impressive transferring that over to the games.”

If Dixon misses four weeks, he would return Week 3 of the regular season, which means he would not be placed on the injured list. The Ravens still have Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Terrance West on the running back depth chart, along with Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has been on the PUP list (foot) since the start of training camp. The Ravens are not expected to carry more than four running backs, along with fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

RELATED: HARBAUGH CALLS FOR PRESEASON CHANGES   

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Harbaugh calls for changes to NFL preseason format

Harbaugh calls for changes to NFL preseason format

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh believes the NFL preseason needs to be shortened, and perhaps even eliminated.

This is more than a knee-jerk reaction to tight end Ben Watson suffering a season-ending torn Achilles injury Saturday night, or running back Kenneth Dixon suffering a knee injury, or Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffering a back injury Friday night. Harbaugh had already concluded that a four-game preseason schedule preseason was no longer worth the risk for players.

“It’s not a reaction to any injuries we had tonight, or anybody else had,” Harbaugh said, following Saturday night’s 30-9 victory over the Lions. “I know the league and the (NFL) Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason.

“These guys playing in these preseason games – it’s tough and they’re not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails. I’m really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that’s good for everybody – especially what’s good for the players and for the fans.”

Harbaugh indicated he would be in favor of expanding rosters, lengthening the regular season, and shortening the preseason.

“If you go more games, fewer preseason games, and bigger rosters, that’s good for everybody,” Harbaugh said.

Asked how many preseason games he would like to see, Harbaugh gave a definite answer.

“If I had my choice, I’d go none,” Harbaugh said. “That might be an extreme point, but we could run scrimmages, or we could run practices against other teams and figure it out. We’d all be in the same boat. That’s for people higher up than me to decide.”

RELATED: Ravens win game, but lose TE Watson for season

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Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

When the Ravens entered training camp, tight end was considered the deepest position on the team after the signing of veteran Ben Watson and the return of Dennis Pitta from two serious hip injuries.

But now, the Ravens are staring at the prospect of having just one healthy tight end for their Week 1 game against the Bills.

Watson suffered what is believed to be a season-ending Achilles injury on the first play of the Ravens preseason game Saturday night against the Lions, and Dennis Pitta (broken finger) and Maxx Williams (undisclosed) remain sidelined with injuries. Two other tight ends, Darren Waller and Nick Boyle must begin serving suspensions when the regular season starts – Waller four games and Boyle 10.

So of the top six tight ends on the depth chart, Crockett Gillmore is the only healthy one who will be on the roster for the Sept. 11 opener.

But Gillmore, who had one catch for 2 yards in the Ravens 30-9 win Saturday night, said no one is in panic mode.

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“This is an organization that has dealt with those kinds of things since I’ve been here, and we’ve always had guys step up,” Gillmore said.

Watson’s injury does have a painful ring of familiarity; the Ravens lost veterans Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith to season-ending Achilles injuries last year.

“It’s not like we’re sweating bullets around here,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”

The problem is, at least two of them – Waller and Boyle – can’t play early in the season. Pitta has been out with a broken finger sustained in a scuffle with Kamalei Correa in a stadium practice earlier this month, and Wiliams has missed the past two preseason games. Their availability for Week 1 remains uncertain.

Watson’s injury could open the door for Daniel Brown to make the team, at least until Waller’s suspension is over, depending on the progress of Pitta and Williams.

Another option might be to look to utilize fullback Kyle Juszczyk more often in a hybrid role.

 “That’s a versatile guy that can do everything,” Gillmore said.

“We’re not sweating,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a bunch of receivers, too. We’ll make it work.”