The Super Bowl has often been kind to the Contrarian. Last year he ignored all the usual hysteria surrounding Tom Brady and the Patriots and backed the Giants to topple New England for a second time in four years.
And even though it means staying up late enough to witness the milkman curdle the semi-skimmed with his miserable face, he'll be backing the Baltimore Ravens to take down the fancied San Francisco 49ers at [2.6].
Ray Lewis is a man on a mission
The Ravens' line-backer is an all time great, picking up a record 13 Pro-Bowls among a mountain of other accolades. Drafted in 1996, Lewis is the only player left from Baltimore's 2000 championship winning team, and will play his last ever game of football in New Orleans. At 37 he will be the oldest positional player on the field, however, a look at his stats for this post-season alone tells you exactly why he is still playing at the very highest level. Since the end of the regular season Lewis has made the most tackles of any defensive player (44) and when active, brings down the opposing quarterback rating (an overall measure of their effectiveness) to an average of 19.5 compared to 63.8 when not on the field. Lewis' teammates will not want to let the great man down on his swansong and will draw inspiration from his presence.
Baltimore reduced the free-scoring Patriots to ashes in the playoffs
Many observers thought the game against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game could be a step too far for the Ravens. After all, the Pats owned by far the largest points difference in the NFL (+226), winning all six of their AFC East match-ups to boot. However, as in the regular season, the Ravens came out on top once more, reducing their AFC rivals to just one touchdown and a measly 13 point total, by far their lowest of the season.
Big brothers always win
This particular Super Bowl has more sub-plots than a Tarantino movie, though the main attraction is the touchline sibling rivalry between older brother John Harbaugh - in charge of the Ravens - and younger bro Jim, coach of the 49ers. This is the first time two brothers have ever opposed each other as coaches in the Super Bowl, leading some to name this the Brother Bowl. The only time they met as coaches previously was in the 2011 regular season, when John celebrated Thanksgiving by beating Jim 16-6.
The 49ers have a dodgy kicker
Many people thought that Jim Harbaugh would drop kicker David Akers for the big game, but it's now clear the coach is sticking with his man. This could be a big advantage for the Ravens as Akers not only missed a simple 38-yard field goal in the NFL Championship game against Atlanta, but he has also missed around 60% of his kicks down the stretch throughout the season. If the game is tight, as these Super Bowl showdowns often are, then you need a kicker who can handle the pressure.
Joe Flacco has been a revelation at quarterback in the playoffs
Since getting his big break in the post season Joe Flacco hasn't looked back. His three touchdown passes in the AFL Championship game displayed the kind of deep throwing ability capable of winning any Super Bowl. Despite some mixed regular season performances, he has gone on to own the playoffs with his arm strength and accuracy, cementing his place among the elite quarterbacks in the game.
Back Baltimore to win the Super Bowl @ [2.6]