Super Bowl XLVII
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers
It has come down to this.
Two teams. One trophy.
Time to settle it.
Thankfully the Ravens and 49ers will do just that on Sunday and bring down the curtain on the NFL season.
While the Super Bowl often disintegrates into a rout, I’m not sure that will happen this year, mainly because the two teams are so similar.
Consider the statistics.
In the regular season, the Ravens averaged 24.9 points per game; the 49ers averaged 24.8.
The Ravens rushed for an average of 118.8 yards per game while the 49ers piled up 155.7 rushing yards per game.
Baltimore averaged 233.7 yards per game passing compared to the 49ers’ 206.1.
In total offense, the 49ers gained an average of 361.8 yards per game to the Ravens’ 352.5.
On defense, the Ravens gave up an average of 21.5 points per game while the 49ers surrendered only 17.1 points (2nd fewest in the NFL) each time they took the field.
The 49ers held their opponents to 84.2 rushing yards per game; the Ravens allowed an average of 122.8 yards per game on the ground.
Both teams are plus-9 in turnover margin.
Both teams have quarterbacks who are playing extremely well in the playoffs. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco has the highest quarterback rating in the postseason and Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco is second.
Both teams have an experienced and dynamic running back: Frank Gore of the 49ers and the Ravens’ Ray Rice.
Each team upset its conference’s number one seed on the road to get to the Super Bowl.
While the teams are evenly matched, I give the edge to the 49ers for three reasons.
1) QUARTERBACK PLAY. I know Joe Flacco is having an unbelievable postseason with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. But Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers has been downright amazing. He led a comeback from 17 points down on the road in the NFL Championship game win over the Falcons.
He is a dual threat, possessing a terrific throwing arm and the ability to run the ball. Plus, it is hard for a defense to keep this guy down for a full game. He helped the 49ers score 45 points in the NFC Divisional Playoff win over the Packers. He had a huge first half in a 41-34 win at New England on December 16. He also made some big, big plays in that game as the Patriots were rallying from a 31-10 deficit.
Nothing seems too big for Kaepernick and I don’t think he’ll be intimidated by the Super Bowl experience or pressure one bit.
No doubt, Joe Flacco has been playing really well for the Ravens. But I just don’t see it lasting and the main reason for that is….
2) THE 49ERS DEFENSE IS TOO GOOD. San Francisco’s defense has the ability to get into lock-down mode. It has the ability to flat-out suffocate an opponent. While I do think the Ravens will make some plays and score some points, I think the 49ers defense is just too good for the Ravens to have consistent success throughout the game.
As the statistics above point out, San Francisco is tremendous against the run. The 49ers were fourth in the NFL in the regular season, allowing an average of 94.2 rushing yards per game. In two playoff wins, they have given up 92.5 yards per game on the ground.
I know, stats can mean pretty much anything you want them to mean, but the bottom line is that I do not believe the Ravens will be able to run the ball much against the 49ers defense.
That puts the ball into Flacco’s hands and makes the Ravens somewhat one dimensional. I like the 49ers chances a lot if all of that happens.
3) THE RAVENS DEFENSE ISN’T WHAT IT ONCE WAS. I know it has been good enough to get three playoff wins to this point. I know it was good enough to help beat the AFC’s top two teams on the road.
But let’s face it, neither the Broncos nor the Patriots played particularly well in the losses to Baltimore. I’m not trying to diminish the Ravens’ accomplishment in getting to the Super Bowl. They beat those two teams and because of that, Baltimore deserves to be there.
San Francisco, though, has too many weapons and too much speed on offense. Plus, the 49ers have the ability to be really physical and pound the football. There is just too much for the Ravens to take away.
That gets me back to point number one: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. His ability to pass and run with great effectiveness will neutralize the Ravens’ defense.
Stranger things have happened than the Ravens finding a way to beat the 49ers and win the Super Bowl. But it will not happen that way on Sunday.
The 49ers will go to 6-0 all-time on the NFL’s biggest stage.
SAN FRANCISCO 27, BALTIMORE 20