The day is almost upon us, it is not near as exciting as it would have been if our Patriots had been in it, but it is still the Super Bowl. This matchup looks to be like one for the ages, both are hard hitting teams with exciting offenses and the two coaches are actually brothers. The story-lines are endless for this one, starting with Ray Lewis’ interesting ‘last ride’. Lewis announced before the playoffs began that he would be retiring whenever the Ravens season ended, that sparked more emotion and heart than I have ever seen in an NFL team, as they rode that emotion to two upsets and into the Super Bowl. Lewis is getting up there in age, so physically he may be easy to attack. However, what he does in the leadership category is unmatched in the NFL, and maybe even in sports. He motivates teammates like none other. On the Niners side, you have the ‘young gun’ Colin Kaepernick. Since he was promoted to starter over Alex Smith he has brought the Niners offense to new heights. His ability to throw the ball down the field and his lightning quick speed has made the Niners offense even more hard to defend. The team has also rallied around Kaepernick as they make their Super Bowl run.
Niners offense vs. Ravens defense
I think the Niners have a big edge in this department. Sure, the Ravens defense has played very well in these playoffs, but think of the teams they had to face. They had to face the Colts, the Broncos and the Patriots. Those are all more or less ‘finesse’ teams (I can make argument Pats are not, but I will save that for some other time). The Niners offense will come up and hit you in the face, again and again. They are a big nasty group, that can stuff the ball down your throat with Frank Gore and maybe the best offensive line in the league. Then, when you seem to have slowed that down Kaepernick can bounce outside or burn you deep with his arm. I do not think the Ravens match up well with them, they are getting older on defense and all the punishment given out by the Niners may take and effect on all the Raven defenders. I believe the Niners will have their way running the football against the Ravens, especially on the outside where Kaepernick can utilize his speed. Advantage Niners
Ravens offense vs. Niners defense
This may be the best matchup of the game. You have the big, tough, hard hitting Niners group up against a Ravens offense that can beat you multiple ways. The key to this will be the Niners defensive line against the Ravens offensive line. If Joe Flacco has time to throw the ball, I believe he will find some holes back their in the secondary. However, if the the Niners are able to get some pressure with their D line, then the Ravens offense may stall. Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are the guys on the Niners that have to bring the pressure on Flacco. They are both dinged up, but they must fight through it in this game, and produce like they did during the regular season. Anquan Boldin is going to have to be big for the Ravens in this game. With Smith and Jones getting extra attention on the outside, Boldin will get a lot of one on one coverage in the slot, and he will have to take advantage of that if they Ravens hope to win. These two units really are pretty evenly matched and it will all come down to the defensive and offensive lines. I think the Niners find a way to get some heat on Flacco and force some bad decisions. Advantage Niners
The Niners and Ravens both have very good special teams. The Ravens have Jacoby Jones returning kickoffs, and he led the way as the Ravens had the best kickoff return average in the regular season. The Niners on the other hand have a very good coverage unit, and they will hope to slow Jones and the Ravens. Kicker wise, I believe the Ravens have the edge. Justin Tucker is just a rookie, but he is a very good rookie, and more importantly is brimming with confidence. He made 30 of 33 field goals in the regular season and nailed a couple game winners. David Akers of the Niners is a very different story. He made a record tying 63 yard field in the opening game, but since then he has been all over the place. Akers only made 29 of 42 field goals this season, that is one of the worst percentages in the league. If this Super Bowl comes down to a last second kick, I trust Tucker more than Akers. Advantage Ravens
I think the Niners will come out and establish the running game early to open up some deep shots late. On defense I think they set the tone with some real hard hits, and get Flacco out of his rhythm. However, the Ravens play with so much heart that they will be in this game until the end, I just think that the Niners have too much talent for the Ravens to overcome. Niners 27 Ravens 23