In a game this close, I look for several things: continuity, experience and cleanliness. The Ravens have simply been a contender longer than San Francisco has. They have qualified for the postseason six of the past seven seasons. That's experience, too.
Ravens' QB Joe Flacco has taken the Ravens to the playoffs n each of his five seasons as a pro. Tonight will be his 13th postseason start at QB. San Francisco 's Colin Kaepernick has only nine NFL starts under his belt. Even though Kaepernick is red-hot, this is the Big One, and I'll take experience and familiarity every time.
By cleanliness, I am referring to turnovers and penalties. The Ravens are +5 to the Niners' +2 this postseason. Ravens' QB Flacco also has thrown 8 TDs with no picks this postseason.
The Niners play slightly cleaner when it comes to penalties. They are averaging six penalties per game this postseason to the Ravens' 7.3.
I am also not impressed with the Niners' kicking game. David Akers has been wildly inconsistent this season. He was just 9/19 over 40 yards. Baltimore's Justin Tucker was 30/33 on his FGAs this year and 4/4 from over 50 yards.
In a game this close, it's always wise to have some points in your pocket. That is where I am going. Four points means if the game comes down to a kick, you're a winner. Here is some more fodder from our friends at covers.com...
4-0 ATS in their last 4 playoff games.
4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Throw in some intangibles such as the fact it is Ray Lewis' swan song and the emotional factor swings heavy in Baltimore's favor.