The day is finally here. It’s time for the Super Bowl, the culmination of another memorable NFL season. And perhaps most importantly, after today NFL Draft season officially begins.
This game has a number of story lines between John and Jim Harbaugh coaching against eachother, Ray Lewis playing his final game as that fateful night in Atlanta continues to be rehashed, and two young quarterbacks seeking to etch their names into the annals of history by winning the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is seeking to prove he is elite, Colin Kaepernick is attempting to prove that the moment isn’t too big for him despite having substantially less starting experience than Flacco.
Much has been made of the 49ers’ utilization of the pistol formation and the zone read concept, and that is undoubtedly one of the keys to this game. I personally believe the 49ers are the better team in this game on offense and on defense, but the leaders the Ravens have (particularly on the defensive side of the ball in Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed) are the reason they have been able to beat the Colts, Broncos and Patriots despite being definite underdogs in the final two contests. The Ravens defense has been elevated by Ray Lewis’ presence despite his relative lower level of play, but trying to stop Kaepernick, Frank Gore and LaMichael James is going to put a lot of pressure on the Ravens front 7. The 49ers will have a tough task keeping a lid on Ray Rice and Torrey Smith, as well as Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. I never thought I’d hear “Ravens offense” and “explosive” in the same sentence, but thanks to Smith’s ability to get behind defenses and Flacco’s rocket arm it isn’t entirely inaccurate. Jim Caldwell may not be Chip Kelly or Bill Walsh, but it’s hard to deny that his influence has helped improve the Ravens offensively.
If the game comes down to a field goal it’s hard not to give the advantage to the Ravens, but David Akers has made big kicks before and I won’t pretend to fully understand the psychology of kickers and the pressure of making big kicks like a potential game winner in a Super Bowl. Despite the Ravens edge on special teams I am going to give the 49ers the edge and predict a 31-27 win for the 49ers.
I also believe two of the overlooked story lines in this game are longtime veterans Matt Birk, Ed Reed and Randy Moss playing with the opportunity to win their first Super Bowl despite long, productive careers. Birk and Moss actually played together for a long time in Minnesota, but today one of them will leave with that elusive Super Bowl ring. I’m a huge Randy Moss fan, but thanks to growing up in Minnesota I also respect Matt Birk quite a bit as a player and as a person, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t revere Ed Reed as a NFL safety. I’m looking forward to this game and I’m excited to see what unfolds. I don’t think the moment will be too big for Kaepernick, and I think he’s going to have a great game tonight.
Enjoy the game everyone!