San Francisco’s Super Bowl futures odds were 200-to-1 before the season but are now up to 18-to-1, sixth-best in the league. And, according to CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell, one bettor saw the 49ers’ hot start coming all along.
An unidentified man placed a $700 wager on San Francisco to win the Super Bowl at Sportsbook.com, a bet that would pay him $140,000 if the team — which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002 — were to hoist the Lombardi trophy by season’s end.
What did the bettor see that the rest of us didn’t? The 49ers did next to nothing in the offseason, selecting Colin Kaepernick in the first round of the NFL Draft and adding wide receiver Braylon Edwards through free agency. Outside of that, they didn’t make a move of significance.
Oh, wait. Yes they did. They hired Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has immediately turned the 49ers into a juggernaut, guiding them to a 5-1 record while making a strong case for coach of the year honors. His fiery passion was on display after the 49ers defeated the Lions 25-19.
So, how do we know Harbaugh is a good coach and not the product of a fast start in a weak division? Well, we don’t. But there are certainly reasons for optimism, and it begins with the quarterback.
Alex Smith is completing more than 63 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of just over 95 — both of which are career highs. Offensively, the 49ers have been playing to their strengths, with an emphasis on the run.
In five-plus seasons, Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan couldn’t figure out a game plan that worked with Smith as the focal point of the offense. It has taken Harbaugh all of five weeks.
Now, the 49ers head into the bye week before taking on the Browns in Week 8, followed by the Redskins, Giants and Cardinals. Judging by its schedule, San Francisco could have the division title — and a playoff spot — locked up by Week 11.
The 49ers are the only team in the league with an unblemished ATS record at 5-0-1. Oddly enough, their latest ATS win came against a Lions squad that hadn’t dropped a game against the spread since Dec. 5, 2010.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: CONTENDER OR PRETENDER?
Talk about overreacting to a hot start.
Entering Week 6, the Washington Redskins were the favorite to win the NFC East at 2-to-1, which was a little surprising considering two of their three wins had come against the Rams (0-5) and Cardinals (1-4).
The Redskins are now 3-2 and in second place behind the 4-2 Giants after Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Eagles. Things won’t get any easier for the Redskins, either, as their remaining schedule is loaded with likely losses. Aside from divisional play, Washington has games against the 49ers, Jets, and Patriots, all likely playoff teams. They must also take on the Bills on the road.
In a league that is dominated by quarterback play, the Redskins look to be unarmed. Rex Grossman threw four interceptions against Philadelphia and did so against limited pressure from the defense.
What you see is what you get with Grossman under center, and the Redskins aren’t going anywhere as long as he’s calling the shots. He has thrown more interceptions (9) than touchdown passes (6) and has gradually passed for less yards in each of the first five games.
OVERS FINALLY COOL OFF
Prior to Sunday, overs were hitting at a ridiculous rate of 63 percent (48-28), which caused oddsmakers to raise the totals. The Week 5 totals were the highest in league history, and Week 6 totals became the new highest.
The inflated numbers helped break the over trend, as nine of 12 games went under the posted total on Sunday. Although the overs are still hitting at 58 percent (51-37), the under nearly went perfect, as the three games that went over did so by an average of four points.
ROB RYAN SLOWS PATS AGAIN
Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan accomplished something no team has been able to do against New England this year, as his unit held the Patriots to less than 30 points in Sunday’s 20-16 loss.
New England’s low-scoring day snapped a streak of 13 straight regular season games of having 30 or more points. Ryan’s defense pressured Tom Brady, sacking him three times and forcing him into a pair of interceptions.
The last time a defense held the Patriots to less than 30? Nov. 7, 2010. The Patriots were held to 14 points in a blowout loss against the Cleveland Browns.
Care to guess who the defensive coordinator was? Yep, it was Rob Ryan.
ODDS AND ENDS
—The New York Giants are one of the most unpredictable teams in the NFL, as they’ve had victories over the Eagles and Bills but have turned in their fair share of stinkers, including their home loss to the Seahawks as 10-point favorites two weeks ago. But New York’s reason for success is actually quite predictable. When Eli Manning doesn’t throw an interception, the Giants are 29-8. He didn’t have any interceptions against the Bills on Sunday.
—Green Bay improved to 6-0 with its win over the Rams Sunday, and BetOnline has released odds on whether or not the Packers will go 16-0 in the regular season: Yes +450; No -700.
—The Detroit Lions lost their first game of the season as 5.5-point home favorites over the 49ers, eliminating their chances at a perfect season — which came as no surprise to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, who risked $9,500 to win $380 that the Lions wouldn’t go unbeaten.