01/31/2013 4:46PM

Dave Tuley: Point spread makes Ravens the play in tight Super Bowl matchup


LAS VEGAS – Every year I get the question: “Are you going to the Super Bowl?” (And the other variations for the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup, etc.)

My answer is always the same: “Nope, I’m staying here. This is where the action is.”

We’ll be joined by 311,000 visitors this weekend, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau, that obviously feel the same way. For comparison’s sake, I’ve seen estimates of 150,000 to 204,000 expected at the actual game site in New Orleans (with just 70,000 game tickets).

The other question I get this time of year is where is the best place to watch the game. The best answer is at one of the private high-roller parties at the casinos, but obviously anyone asking me that question hasn’t received an invite. While all the sports books will have the game on their big screens, I steer everyone else to the free public parties at the properties that do this every year in addition to their packed race and sports books.

The Orleans (a great place to start for a game held in the Big Easy) has its annual party in the Mardi Gras Ballroom. The Gold Coast and Suncoast, both also Boyd Gaming/Coast Casino properties, open their showrooms. The South Point (formerly the South Coast and part of the same group) also opens its Grand Ballroom for a free party. At all of these, you’re going to have a better view of the game than you would at the Superdome, plus food and drink will be much cheaper.

But the biggest free party of all is at the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly the Hilton). In addition to its world’s biggest race and sports book – which will be standing-room only – it also open its theater for a free party with 1,800 seats and the game on a 42-foot-by-24-foot hi-def screen. The doors open at 2 p.m. Sunday it’s first-come, first-seated, but there’s not a bad seat in the house with a screen that big.

The LVH actually gets the party started in the theater on Saturday with the premiere of the sports-betting movie “Life On The Line” at 5 p.m. Admission is free and again first-come, first-seated.

The movie is a classic story of good versus evil – in this case the bettors versus the bookmakers. The story revolves around Super Bowl XLV two years ago between the Packers and Steelers and stars professional sports bettors Teddy “Covers” Sevransky, two-time LVH SuperContest champion Steve Fezzik, John Netto, and others taking on the Vegas books, specifically the Hilton/LVH’s Jay Kornegay.

“There really hasn’t been an authentic movie about modern-day sports bettors,” director Isaac Feder said. “We take you inside their week leading up to the Super Bowl and how they battle the books.”

Feder and the other principals will be at the theater. For those who can’t attend the movie, it can be downloaded at lasvegasadvisor.com for $4.97. The movie was a joint effort from production companies Protagonist and Nuclear Tribe, and Feder said Protagaonist has a TV show in development for next season.

One final note before my pick: The books here know they’ll have a packed house and don’t need to do anything extra to draw a crowd, so a tip of the cap to the Palms, which is doing a free $10,000 contest using Super Bowl props. After years as an independent book then a few seasons as part of the South Point/Cannery family, the Palms book is now operated by Cantor Gaming, but it continued its regular-season NFL contest with Stadium Technology Group, a software tote company, and continues that with the only handicapping contest on the Super Bowl. You just need a rewards card (it’s also free to join) and must register in the contest area by 10 p.m. Saturday and then make your picks on 15 betting propositons plus a tiebreaker on the number of points scored. A single winner will take home $10,000, with the winner of the tiebreaker winning $8,000 and the rest of those tied for the top score splitting $2,000.

Back to the NFL betting board

I went 1-0-1 with my posted plays in the conference title games as the Falcons +4 pushed in their 28-24 loss to the 49ers (hope some of you were able to get +4.5 or at least not settle for +3.5) and the Ravens didn’t need the points in their 28-13 upset of the Patriots. Well, I’m taking the Ravens again (and taking the points again versus the 49ers).

Ravens +4 vs. 49ers

After dropping to 3.5, this line is mostly back up to 49ers –4. This is really a toss-up with two solid teams led by two coaches who are mirror images of each other (I’ve been avoiding all the pre-game hype . . . has anyone mentioned that they look like they could be brothers?). But seriously, they’re both playing well at the right time, and it could come down to one key play that someone makes or doesn’t make (or a referee’s call). I like the Ravens for several reasons beyond the fact they’re getting more than a field goal in a game that I think is a coin-flip for the overall winner. John Harbaugh and his staff had two weeks to go to school on the Falcons’ game plan that contained San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (at least on the ground). The question is if they can contain the pass as well and also keep Frank Gore from pounding them between the tackles. Even so, I don’t believe the 49ers’ defense is as stout as it was earlier in the year, and the Ravens should have the same success as Atlanta did last week with Joe Flacco in the role of Matt Ryan, Torrey Smith going deep like Julio Jones and Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta working underneath like Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, plus the added threat of Ray Rice out of the backfield. I haven’t bet the total bet, but I definitely don’t think it’ll be like the 16-6 game on Thanksgiving night 2011 (won by the Ravens, by the way).

PLAY: Ravens for 1 unit (I’m sure some will say I should make it 3 units to break even, but I see it as just another play with no added edge and don’t advise overbetting just because it’s the Super Bowl).

Last week: 1-0-1 for a net profit of 1 unit. NFL season record: 27-27-1 for a net loss of 2.7 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1).