Dissecting Super Bowl XLVII
This year’s Super Bowl, not unlike most others in its illustrious history, is shaping up to be a close one. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are teams of the same pedigree, both hanging their hat on a gritty, blue-collared defense to go with an offense sufficient enough to get them to the big stage.
Vegas oddsmakers are favoring the 49ers by 4.5 points in the contest, slated for Feb. 3 in New Orleans. Let’s breakdown each aspect of both team’s game and you decide who will come out on the winning end of the world’s biggest sports spectacle.
Neither team’s offense has blown away the competition this season. San Francisco ground out a number of wins while the Ravens’ lack of offense helped contribute to them losing four of their last five games of the regular season.
Still, both offenses seem to have finally hit their groove when it matters.
Running backs Frank Gore (San Francisco) and Ray Rice (Baltimore) have put up eerily similar numbers, and have both landed within the top 10 backs of the NFL this season. This was not so much a surprise for the highly touted Rice as it was for Gore, who logged 1,214 yards during the regular season, averaging 4.7 a carry. Rice averaged 4.4 yards per carry during the regular season and compiled 1,143 yards.
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco) and Joe Flacco (Baltimore) present a very unlikely Super Bowl match-up. Kaepernick wasn’t even the starter heading into the year while Joe Flacco was far from breaking the stratosphere of elite quarterbacking. Both have broken out during the postseason and surely look like elite signal callers now. The edge must go to Kaepernick, however, for his mobility compared to Flacco, who is more of a pocket passer.
The 49ers also get the nod in terms of wide receivers. Michael Crabtree has emerged as a solid go-to option, and is complimented by the savviest of receivers in Randy Moss. Of course, their speediest option might be at the tight end position with Vernon Davis. Baltimore has experience at the position with Anquan Boldin, paired with the youth of Torrey Smith.
For nearly the last decade, Baltimore has been known for its ferocious defense. Even though this is an aging defense, it still has some sharp teeth with guys like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bernard Pollard. Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata is also one of the best in the league.
While the Ravens might be tough up front, San Francisco has a more effective corps of linebackers with Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks, which will come in handy to combat Rice. The 49ers also boast one of the best defensive secondaries in the league.
Still, this is the last game in a storied career for Ray Lewis. The emotions of this game are an intangible that might be enough to lift the Ravens on defensive side of the ball.
Aside from the obvious storyline that brothers Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore) will collide in this big game, the bigger question is whether or not either of the coaches will drastically change their strategy.
As brothers, they know each other’s general game plan, and the winner might just be decided on who throws a few added wrinkles into that plan.
Stay tuned as Super Bowl 47 is coming in just a few days. The biggest football Sunday is almost here.