It all comes down to this, the whole enchilada. Super Bowl XLVII. Winner take all and gets immortalized, loser goes home and wonders why. This time around, we have the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Baltimore Ravens down in New Orleans, LA. Neither team is a stranger to this dance. This will be San Fran's 6th appearance on football's biggest stage, winning 4 during the 1980s (XVI in '81-82, XIX in '84-'85, XXIII in '88-'89, XXIV in '89-'90) and then XXIX in '94-'95. All were victories for the red and gold. On the other side, this will be the Raven's 2nd trip to the big dance, the first coming in Super Bowl XXXV during the '00-'01 season.
Now aside from everything Ray Lewis, this is the first Super Bowl that pits two siblings as opposing oaches (Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers and John Harbaugh with the Ravens). Not too mention that the Madden 2013 simulation had picked the Ravens over the 49ers and since 2003, has predicted all but 2 Super Bowls winners correctly. That being all said, let's get this show on the road.
Conference Championship Record: 2-0
Playoff Record: 6-4
Sunday 6:30 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens (Away) vs. San Francisco 49ers (Home)
@ Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans
And so Ray Lewis will get his Lombardi, walk over to the 50 yard line and then ascend into heaven while the angels sing....Is what practically all of the media is looking forward to. Fact of the matter is that they still need to play the game. So lets break it down. Flacco has gone 51 for 93 with 853 yards, 8 TDs, No interceptions and a passer rating of 114.7 in these postseason. He has a receiving corp composed of the physical Anquain Boldin, the deep threat in Torrey Smith, the safety valve in Dennis Pitta, and he can hand it off or through it to Ray Rice. On the opposite side, we have piston formation led by the mobile QB Colin Kapernick who can stretch the field with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and Vernon Davis. Or if the situation calls for it, they have the gritty Frank Gore who ran for 90 yards and 2 TDs against the Falcons or the change of pace speedster in LaMichael James Not to mention that the 49ers offense played in one of the more physical divisions in football this year, facing the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and the vastly improved St. Louis Rams defense twice. So if you're a 49ers fan, you shouldn't fret too much against the Ravens defense.
Now on the defensive side of the ball, everybody will focus in on Ray Lewis. Instead the ones the 49ers should watch out for are obviously S Ed Reed, DT Haloti Ngata, and LB Terrell Suggs. However they should keep an eye on Ravens DE Paul Krueger, who led the team in sacks with 9.0 during the regular season and can provide a powerful pass rush. But speaking of defenses, it would seem that this would be perhaps the first time that Joe Flacco has faced up against an actual battle-tested defense. The 49ers were ranked 4th against run and pass as well as 3rd in total yards allowed per game, but what they were 2nd in scoring defense (17.1 PPG) and faced the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady and won all those games. Unlike the opponents the Ravens offense faced, the 49ers have two devastating pass rushers in Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks and 66 tackles) and Justin Smith (3.5 sacks and 66 tackles), a physical secondary headed by S Dashon Goldson and CB Carlos Rogers, and perhaps the best young LB in the game, the other #52 Patrick Willis who can cover TEs and snuff out the running game.
It'll be an ugly game for the most part. It won't be as ugly as Super Bowl V in 1970 where there 11 turnovers (7 by Baltimore Colts and 4 by Dallas Cowboys), nor will it low scoring like it was in Super Bowl VII 1972 (Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7), or perhaps as lopsided as Super Bowl XXIV (49ers with 55 points, 28 first downs, 461 net yards, and time of possession 39:31 vs. Broncos 10 points, 12 first downs, 167 net yards and time of possession 20:29). Perhaps it'll resemble Super Bowl X (Steelers vs. Cowboys in '76) with two powerful defenses, two intricate offenses, and two coaches who bring different fundamentals in the game. Personally, when yours truly observes this game, all I see is the '90-'91 NFC Championship game between the Giants and 49ers. The 49ers, like the Ravens now, had some decent play makers on defense but had a high-powered West Coast offense. The Giants, like the 49ers now, had a smash mouth defense with a offense built to grind out the clock.
-Ryan L. Fox
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