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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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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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