As a 49ers fan since 1983, I knew that I would not be able to discuss and analyze this Super Bowl without being biased. Thus, I asked Popblerd!’s own KJ to write his prediction from the Ravens point of view. That way, I could write it from the 49ers side of things. And everyone wins. Just like the 49ers will on Sunday. Heh.
5 Reasons Why The Ravens Will Win
1. They deserve to be here!
Last year they lost the AFC championship game on a dropped pass or an awesome defensive play – you make the call. Then moments later their kicker booted a potential game-tying field goal way wide left allowing the New England Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl. That sucks! They deserved this trip! And they earned this trip!
NOTE: The San Francisco 49ers also earned this trip after losing to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game last year on two miffed punt returns. But alas, I was asked to write about the Ravens so Baltimore deserves to be here more!
2. On the road again…
I just went through the last 30 years of Super Bowls to find the only teams to win three straight road games in the playoffs and how they fared in the Super Bowl just so I can tell you the following…
– In 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers won three times on the road and won the Super Bowl.
– In 2008, the New York Giants won three times on the road and won the Super Bowl.
– In 2011, the Green Bay Packers won three times on the road and won the Super Bowl.
– In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens won twice on the road – and once at home.
My bad! I forgot that the Ravens actually defeated the Indianapolis Colts at home and then won twice on the road to advance to the Super Bowl, making the 1/2 hour I just spent “researching” a waste of time. Probably because defeating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back weeks on the road feels like it’s worth three straight wins on the road. Stupid me! Still back-to-back wins over the top two seeds – ON THE ROAD! That’s not easy to do either!
For the sake of the rest of my “research”, the only team to win three straight games on the road and lose the Super Bowl? The 1986 New England Patriots.
3. Flacco’s on fire!
Remember back in April 2012 when Joe Flacco said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL and there was this discussion of him being an “elite” quarterback? Well, he’s nearly there!
Flacco has been incredible in the postseason, averaging 284 yards through the air with eight TDs and no interceptions. That’d be NO interceptions, as in ZERO, ZILCH, NADA interceptions! The last time he threw an interception? December 16 against the Broncos.
Flacco can join – wait for it – two 49er quarterbacks as the only players with at least nine touchdowns and zero interceptions throughout the postseason if he plays carefree in the Super Bowl. Steve Young had nine (though six came in Super Bowl XXIX) in 1995; Joe Montana had 11 (he threw five in Super Bowl XXIV) in 1990.
4. Ray Lewis… and Torrey Smith!
We all love inspirational sports stories right? The short Notre Dame fan named Rudy who tells everyone he’s going to play for the Fighting Irish, works hard and earns a spot on the roster. The young, black kid from a broken home who is adopted by white folks and ends up becoming one of the most highly recruited offensive linemen in the country. That’d be “The Blind Side” and that story is still alive – and in the Super Bowl – as Michael Oher is currently one of the linemen that protects the aforementioned Flacco.
Now we have Ray Lewis, in his Goodbye Tour, averaging 14 tackles a game during the postseason looking like he could play another 3-4 years. OK, so news broke that he may have been using PEDs to aid in his speedy recovery but for the sake of my story we won’t focus on that too much. And we won’t talk about the double-murder incident in Atlanta back in 2000 either. Anywho…
Back in September, Ravens’ wide receiver Torrey Smith lost his younger brother to a motorcycle accident. Hours after hearing the news, a sleepless Smith caught six balls for 127 yards and two TDs as the Ravens defeated the Patriots. How cool would it be for Smith to top this season off in tribute to his brother with another amazing performance in the Super Bowl? After all this Super Bowl is all about the relationship between brothers right?
I’m the oldest of three brothers. I always root for the older brother. Heck, if Cooper’s high school career would’ve panned out I would have a Man Crush on him. Instead I have to settle for the next eldest Manning brother. The younger brothers are cocky. They’re obnoxious. They’re attention grabbers. They’re often better at sports because we taught them how to be better by beating them in one-on-one hoop contests in the backyard until they were finally able to drive on us. They’re the ones Mom and Dad will forgive easily or go out of the way to please because they’re the baby. Wow, guess I needed to get that out! John is older, therefore the Ravens will win.
There you have it. There’s nothing scientific about it. The Ravens, my preseason pick to lose the Super Bowl, will actually win the Super Bowl with tough defense, by running the ball, and – thanks to their head coach – by playing smart football.
5 Reasons Why The 49ers Will Win
1. It’s not about destiny, it’s about THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.
As you’d expect, I’m pretty tired of “Win it for Ray” and that the Baltimore Ravens are the “Team Of Destiny”. Bleh. Football is won on the field. And while a little encouragement and false confidence may do some good, at the end of the day, it won’t matter one bit. As my friend, The Bay Area Sports Guy said on Wednesday, Lewis has won a Super Bowl already. What about guys who haven’t like Frank Gore? And now that there’s it’s possible Lewis used a bit of smoke and mirrors to rehab his injury in such a short time, doesn’t that take away some of the goodness of his narrative?
(And shhh, don’t tell anyone, but Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are better players than Lewis right now and they’re both on the 49ers.)
Instead, the 49ers’ story isn’t solely about one person. It’s about many things. It’s about their vaunted defense. It’s about Kaepernicking. It’s about stalwarts like Frank Gore, Justin Smith, and Vernon Davis. And if anyone deserves a Super Bowl, it’s Randy Moss, one of the greatest wide receivers in football history. However, more importantly, it’s about THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.
2. The 49ers Are 5-0 In Super Bowls.
They have the pedigree. They are Joe, Jerry, Steve, and Ronnie. They are Eddie DeBartolo and Bill Walsh. And those guys won’t accept anything less than perfect. I know I just said that football is only won on the field. But still.
(I’ll use destiny when it helps my argument!)
When the expectation is that your job is to win Super Bowls, you win Super Bowls. The 49ers were predicted to be here. They expected to be here. They are all business and it’s all or nothing.
3. The team bucked trends all year.
Their 2011 team was very good, but all signs pointed to them regressing a bit in 2011. While they won two games less this season, they also played a tremendously tougher schedule. In 2011, they played one of the easiest schedules in the league. And in 2012, they played one of the toughest. That’s one of the reasons you see so much parity in the NFL. Teams do well against bad competition and then can’t follow it up against good competition. It’s why the Ravens are so respected. They continue to win every year playing tough schedules generally.
The 49ers didn’t take the ball away from other teams like crazy in 2012 like they did in 2011. But they still turn the ball over themselves infrequently. Alex Smith rarely turned the ball over in the air and Colin Kaepernick does it even less. For a team that was supposed to come back to earth (I myself predicted them to win only 9 or 10 games and lose in the playoffs), they sure bucked those odds.
4. 49ers are better in the trenches.
You can always fall back on the trenches. The age old adage is that the game is won and lost in the trenches. Both teams have done a tremendous job rushing the ball offensively in the playoffs, but only one team has stopped the run in the playoffs. The Ravens have given up over 100 yards rushing in every game in the playoffs so far against the likes of Vick Ballard, Ronnie Hillman, and Stevan Ridley. And now, they face the 49ers, the fourth best rushing team in football who averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a team. Frank Gore averaged 4.7 yards per carry. LaMichael James averaged 4.6 yards per carry. And Colin Kaepernick averaged 6.6 yards per carry. The 49ers will win this game with their dominating offensive line.
I said it at the beginning of the playoffs. CK7 is the x-factor of the playoffs. His running/passing ability gives him extra time to make decisions. As you saw against Atlanta, every time they ran the read-option, Atlanta was so worried about Kaepernick taking off, they hesitated when the ball was handed off to Gore. If the Ravens decide to focus more on Gore, Kaepernick will find an edge and he will run to daylight.
The x-factor may very well have the game of his life. While the Ravens are wacko for Flacco, 49ers fans are Kaepernicking.
(One thing I didn’t mention is the coaching and it’s because I believe both teams are cut from the same cloth. They’re all about preparation and I’m not sure either team has an edge there.)
KJ’s Prediction: Ravens 27, 49ers 24
GG’s Prediction: 49ers 31, Ravens 20