Friday, February 1, 2013
SUPER BOWL 47 PREVIEW
The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will square off in Super Bowl 47 on Sunday in New Orleans.
The Ravens (13-6) have been on a roll similar to that of the New York Giants last season when they won it all in surprising fashion.
The 49ers (13-4-1) are slight favorites (-3 1/2) in the game on Sunday with a total points scored of 47 1/2 for the game (which could easily change by kickoff time) for the Vegas odds makers and players.
Heftyinfo has been on a bit of a roll in the post-season, going 8-2 in picking the playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl.
The following is a breakdown of each team and the prediction for the game follows up . . .
Head Coach - John Harbaugh
The Ravens have a solid defense and an offense that has been on the rise lately as quarterback Joe Flacco has been superb, throwing for eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three post-season wins.
Running back Ray Rice (1,143 yards and nine rushing touchdowns in regular season) and backup Bernard Pierce (532 yards with a 4.9 yards per carry average) provide a great compliment to the passing game.
Flacco has good targets at wide receiver with Anquan Boldin (65 receptions to lead the team) and Torrey Smith, who averaged 17.4 yards per catch and had eight TD receptions in the regular season. Add in Jacoby Jones, who made the big touchdown catch against Denver in the division playoffs to keep Baltimore alive and Tight End Dennis Pitta, who made 61 catches this season (with seven for TD) and the Ravens know they can keep the pressure on the 49ers' defense.
Flacco has been at his best this post-season, not making critical mistakes as in past post-seasons.
The way he's played is reminiscent of Eli Manning in his two Super Bowl winning runs for the Giants. Both have their share of critics and have silenced them with their performances. Flacco is hoping for one more big performance to keep the silence golden.
Defense has been the name of the game for the Baltimore Ravens for years, with linebackers Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis leading the way along with veteran safety Ed Reed.
The Ravens are vulnerable against the run, however (which is a strength of San Francisco) and will need to keep San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick in check and not let him get running wild as he did against Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The pass defense is solid with a great pass rush and ball hawking secondary that picked off two passes against both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in successive games.
Ravens' rookie kicker Justin Tucker has made it very easy for people to forget last year's playoff goat Billy Cundiff as he has been superb, connecting on 30 of 33 field goals in the regular season and then making the game winning 48-yard kick against Denver in overtime.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Head Coach - Jim Harbaugh
The 49ers are very good defensively and the offense ain't bad either.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (1,814 passing yards with 10 TD passes and three INT) took over as the starter in early November after Alex Smith suffered a concussion and the 'Niners have never looked back.
Kaepernick gives the team an added edge in his ability as a runner, evidenced by his record setting performance with 181 yards rushing against Green Bay in the playoffs. The second year signal caller also can zing the ball around, having connected with Tight End Vernon Davis in the passing game for a big win against Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game.
Along with Davis is wide receiver Michael Crabtree (85 catches in regular season for 1,105 yards and nine TD) and Randy Moss, who has played in one previous Super Bowl five years ago. These players give Kaepernick plenty of options to choose from.
Another option is running back Frank Gore, who ran for 1,214 yards (4.7 ypc average) and scored eight touchdowns. Gore also caught 28 passes out of the backfield, which will present a challenge to the Ravens' linebacking unit.
Gore is the team's leading rusher, but Kaepernick and Kendall Hunter (who averaged 5.2 yards per carry in regular season) also can get it going in that area, which helps open up the passing game with the run-option attack the team uses with Kaepernick.
The defense has been coming up with big stops when they need them all season long and will need to do so against Baltimore's versatile attack. Keeping Ray Rice and the Ravens' rushing attack in check will be a big factor for the 49ers' success or failure in the game.
The team can get after the quarterback, with Aldon Smith (19 1/2 sacks) leading the way. Linebacker Patrick Willis is a leader on this unit and along with Justin Smith, makes it difficult to run against the 'Niners defense.
In the secondary, Dashon Goldson and Chris Culliver do a great job shutting down opposing air attacks and will have to be ready against the trio of wideouts Baltimore has.
San Francisco punter Andy Lee is one of the best in the NFL and will be a factor in this one. Kicker David Akers struggled this season (he was just 29 of 42 on field goal attempts in the regular season) but has shown the ability to make the clutch kicks in the past.
PREDICTION - San Francisco 27, Baltimore 17