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Vegas bookies favor 49ers by 4.5 points

Vegas bookies favor 49ers by 4.5 points

LAS VEGAS (AP) If the Baltimore Ravens are to become Super Bowl champions, they'll have to beat the odds again to do it.

Bookmakers in this gambling city mostly have the San Francisco 49ers 4.5-point favorites over the Ravens in the Super Bowl, amid expectations this could be the heaviest bet title game ever.

``It's a monster matchup, brother versus brother,'' William Hill oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. ``I believe it will top last year's Super Bowl handle and could go higher.''

Some sports books didn't even wait until the clock ran out in the Ravens win over the New England Patriots to set the line. At the LVH sports book, a line favoring the 49ers by 4.5 points was put up just before the 2-minute warning, and bettors didn't waste any time to get money down on the game.

``We've got money coming in as we speak, it looks like it will be good on both sides,'' said LVH book director Jay Kornegay. ``These teams mirror each other, but the 49ers are a bit more sexy now than the Ravens.''

At William Hill, which operates 75 betting parlors in Nevada, oddsmakers opened the game with the 49ers a 5-point favorite, as did some other books. But it was quickly bet down to 4.5 points, a line that seemed to be holding in the early betting.

``We had what I consider a large bet come in at 5 points and moved down from there,'' said Vaccaro, who said he believes the line will hold between 4 and 4 1/2 points until close to the day of the game.

Baltimore already is the first underdog of more than a touchdown to win both the division and championship playoff rounds. The Ravens were 7.5-point underdogs to the Patriots before beating them 28-13 to win the AFC title game.

``The Ravens are the hot team now but they're not getting a lot of support from the public,'' Kornegay said. ``These are very similar teams, both can run the ball well, play smash mouth football and have two quarterbacks playing very good football.''

Last year's game between the New York Giants and the Patriots drew $93.9 million in wagers in Nevada, just under the record $94.5 million bet in 2006 when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. Those who follow the betting industry closely say hundreds of millions of dollars - possibly even billions - will be bet on the game by the time the offshore sports books and illegal bookmakers take in their share.

Like the LVH, some books in Las Vegas opened the game at 4.5 points, while others put their number up at 5. Most of the major Las Vegas sports books were at 4.5 points, with a few listing the 49ers at 4 points Sunday night.

The over/under, where bettors can wager on whether the two teams will combine for more or less points than the posted number, was at 49 points at most books.

Point spreads fluctuate on games, especially the most heavily bet ones, according to how much oddsmakers take on each team. A big bet on one team can sometimes send a line moving a half point one way or another, though most movement normally takes place in the days just before the game.

Nevada oddsmakers also post hundreds of proposition bets on the game, everything from who will win the coin flip to which quarterback will have more passing yards. Those bets aren't expected to be posted fully until later in the week.

Vaccaro said the proximity of the 49ers to Nevada should boost betting on the game.

Casinos have lost once only once on the Super Bowl the last 10 years, in 2008 when bettors gambled $92 million and casinos lost $2.57 million as the Giants beat New England, 17-14.

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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.”