We are only two short days away from the most watched spectacle in all the land – Super Bowl XLVII. This year the big game features the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, two teams that have many striking similarities.
Both are coached by a member of the Harbough family, with John and Jim Harbough becoming the first pair of brothers to ever face off against one another as coaches in a championship game in American sports history. Both squads have a hard-nosed, physical style of play that is less about schemes and more about manhandling and out-executing their opponent; a throw back approach that harkens back to the days of Vince Lombardi‘s legendary Green Bay Packer teams.
Also, both teams made bold gambles in the second half of the season that have paid off in spades. The Ravens fired long-time offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in Week 14 and turned over the reigns to Jim Caldwell, who was last seen “leading” the Indianapolis Colts to the worst record in the NFL last year. However, since that time, the Ravens are scoring at a frenetic pace, and quarterback Joe Flacco is playing at an elite level, with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, in the most talked about move of the season, the 49ers demoted starting quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith. Smith was knocked out of the team’s 9th game with a concussion, but never regained his starting job, despite leading the NFL in completion percentage at the time of his injury. Enter backup Colin Kaepernick. The unheralded second-year player out of Nevada has set the NFL world on fire with his blazing speed and accurate arm. Kaepernick has singlehandedly transformed the 49ers offense from an adequate unit into a juggernaut, justifying the team’s bold decision.
So which franchise will come out on top?
My take: the Ravens jump out to an early lead, inspired by the heroic play of their emotional leader, Ray Lewis. However the aging Ravens roster eventually runs out of gas. The 49ers will exploit their advantage in talent and depth to eventually overwhelm the Ravens and take home the Lombardi Trophy. Final Score: 31-17.
By Lance Williams