*Weeping and gnashing of teeth*
At any rate, this Super Bowl has lots of storylines – perhaps you all have heard of them. John and Jim Harbaugh being the first set of brothers who are opposing head coaches in the Super Bowl – the Har-Bowl! A hot, second-year QB named Colin Kaepernick who has taken the NFL by storm on his journey to the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis’ last NFL game. Will Randy Moss get his first ring?
Ok, enough with all that…
The Baltimore Ravens are on a ride that I have seen a few years ago. My Pittsburgh Steelers rode the Jerome Bettis retirement rumors to a win in Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks in what turned out to be Bettis’ last NFL game. The Steelers got hot near the end of the season, and rode that momentum towards a world championship.
The Ravens are doing the same for Lewis. As soon as Lewis announced that this was his last ride before their wildcard game against the Indianapolis Colts, I said to myself, “maybe the Ravens could get one last playoff win for Ray-Ray?” However, when they upset the Denver Broncos the next week, I thought to myself “could it be we are seeing the Steelers ride with Bettis again?” Now that they beat those damn New England Patriots, I’m thinking “those boys may very well finish this off for Ray-Ray!”
The Ravens are certainly a different bunch than the regular season. They are healthy on defense, and has their swagger back in full effect. Baltimore’s D has stepped up in a HUGE way in the playoffs. Even in the Denver game, it was not responsible for 14 of the 35 points the Broncos scored – that would be the Ravens’ special teams that allowed those 14 points. The offense is something I haven’t seen. QB Joe Flacco has finally gotten the green light to air it out, and he has in a big way. While Ray Rice is still the best offensive player, Flacco has suddenly become the weapon the Ravens envisioned him when they drafted him.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are on a mission of their own. Kaepernick is playing EXTREMELY well. He proved that he can beat you with his legs (vs. the Green Bay Packers) and his arm (vs. the Atlanta Falcons). The defense is its usually hard-hitting self. The Niners wear teams down on both sides of the ball, and will look to inflict that same punishment on Baltimore.
I have to give props to coach Jim Harbaugh. In two seasons, Harbaugh has transformed the 49ers from an also-ran to an NFC champion. He transformed the Niners into a hard-nosed, hard-hitting physical team. He made a ballsy, yet correct move from Alex Smith to Kaepernick in the second half of the season.
Now, as for who I think will be the Super Bowl XLVII champions…
I think the combination of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching and ballsy-ness will get the best of older brother John this Sunday. The Ravens are not ready for the dual-threat that is Kaepernick. I think the Ravens’ run defense will not be able to contain Frank Gore and Kaepernick. I think the Niners will wear the Ravens down on both sides of the ball. The Niners’ front four are so good, they rarely blitz more than one extra defender.
This is not to say the Ravens will get waxed. I think the Ravens will continue on its “let’s win one for Ray’s last ride” campaign. I even think Flacco will be able to make a big play or two on Sunday. I just think that Rice will not be running roughshod on the Niners’ defense. That will make the Ravens one-dimension, which will be bad news for Flacco and his crew.
I will say this – being a Steelers fan, this Super Bowl will be torture for me to watch. I have to watch a division rival who tries to imitate and worry about the Steelers more than any team go against a franchise looking to tie Pittsburgh with the most Super Bowl wins.
Nevertheless, I see the Niners winning and yes, TYING my glorious Steelers with the most Super Bowl wins when it’s all said and done. 49ers 27, Ravens 20.