Super Bowl XLVII picks: Baltimore vs. San Francisco
Posted February 1, 2013
Updated February 2, 2013
New Orleans — Super Bowl XLVII has been dubbed the HarBowl as Jim ans John Harbaugh will square off against each other as the head coaches on opposite sidelines. The Baltimore Ravens will represent the AFC looking to sent Ray Lewis off into retirement with a win. The San Francisco 49ers will represent the NFC riding the arm and legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Baltimore has worked their way through three playoff wins already in large part to a miracle comeback against the Denver Broncos,
San Francisco had a first-round bye and maneuvered through Green Bay and Atlanta to get to New Orleans.
The contest kicks-off at 6:29 p.m. Sunday at The Superdome in New Orleans and can be seen live on WRAL-TV.
But first, the WRAL sports staff weighs in on Sunday, offering their keys to the game and telling you who they think will win.
There are story lines galore in every Super Bowl and this one is no exception. Coaches Jim and John Harbaugh can't play, but quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick will. In that match-up I like the experience of Flacco who has 12 PLAYOFF starts (8-4) vs. Kaepernick's nine CAREER starts. I just don't see the Ravens defense allowing Ray Lewis to lose his final NFL game.
This has the potential to be only of the more evenly-matched and entertaining Super Bowls we've seen - which makes it a difficult one to predict.
The Niners are known for their defense, especially against the run - which makes for an interesting matchup against a Ravens team that prides itself on its ground game, led by Ray Rice.
I think San Fran will win that battle by a slim margin.
As for the Baltimore D, the Ravens have shown their age this season but they have shown flashes of their old brilliance during the postseason. The Ravens have been able to contain quarterbacks named Luck, Manning and Brady. So why not Kaepernick?
The problem there is Kaepernick presents an entirely different kind of challenge. The Ravens have played Michael Vick and Robert Griffin, III this season, but that's about the extent of their experience against mobile quarterbacks. Their record in those games? 0-2
I'll take the Niners by a field goal.
I haven’t been sold on the Ravens the entire post season so I am certainly not going to buy into this team now. Baltimore has a knack for making the big plays, like that Joe Flacco 70-plus yard TD pass to beat Denver, but I do not think they have the talent to keep up with San Francisco.
Colin Kaepernick is an obvious matchup problem for any team. The 49ers used his ability to run to beat the Packers and then completely changed it up against the Falcons and used his arm. This ability to do both is the difference for this team. It is exciting to think about the future in San Francisco. It feels like this team is on the way up and we could see the first of many championships in this Super Bowl.
Wow, Sunday's showdown is the ultimate no-win scenario for Steelers fans. Black and Gold faithful can pull for the Ravens, their hated, division rivals which in recent years has become one of the most physical, vitriolic matchups in all of sports. On the other hand, Steel City citizens can root for the 49ers, and should San Fran be "super" again, will no longer be able to claim the distinction of the "only six time Super Bowl Champion franchise." Eek, talk about choosing between an Adam Vinatieri cleat to the shin or catching a Robert Griffin III fastball to the face at close range. My heart goes out to you, West Pennsylvanians. That being said, self-professed "greatest wide receiver of all-time" Randy Moss finally gets his elusive ring as San Francisco ends the Ray Lewis Retirement Tour, 31-21.
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In terms of evenly matched Super Bowl participants, there are just too many similarities. The obvious is that each team is coached by a Harbaugh -- I'm not sure you've heard that, so I just thought I'd point it out for you. Even though Jim is more the offensive guy, having played the better part of 15 seasons in the NFL as a quarterback, both teams are known primarily for physical, attacking defenses. They are even led by inside linebackers who each wear number 52, and while the Raven's Ray Lewis is headed for the Hall of Fame, it's his opposite number for the 49ers, Patrick Willis, who is arguably the best at his position in the NFL.
In addition, each team has a powerful running game led by one of the best ball-carriers in the league. Stopping Baltimore's Ray Rice and Frank Gore of the 49ers will both be job one for the opposing defenses. Rice totaled more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns during the regular season while Gore rang up nearly 1,500 and found the end zone on nine different occasions. Both teams have big play receivers on the outside and at tight end, and both had to overcome deficits on the road in their respective conference championship games.
The only difference between these two teams -- other than the fact that San Francisco is probably a faster team in the back seven, defensively -- is at quarterback. And, even there, the different isn't as much in the quality of the passers as much as it is the style and experience. Baltimore's Joe Flacco, much like Eli Manning of the Giants a year ago, is playing to prove a point; that he belongs in the conversation regarding the best players at his position on the game today. Whether he is or not is immaterial. If he wins Sunday, it's hard to argue against him. Flacco's played big in big situations and there is no position in sports, other than starting pitcher, that has a greater impact on his team's chances of winning than the quarterback. On the other side, Colin Kaepernick is starting for just the 10th time as a pro, and while he is arguably the most dangerous player at his position in the sport, his lack of big game experience makes it more likely that he'll make the big mistake that causes his team to lose.
But, he's made those mistakes already and has been able to overcome them. He threw an interception early in their playoff opener against Green Bay that was brought back for a touchdown only to ring up one of the most prolific days in post season history for a quarterback with almost 450 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. Whereas in many occasions Super Bowls are about managing your mistakes, I think this one will be about making the biggest plays. No one is better at that, of late, than Kaepernick.
The Super Bowl is more than the Harbaugh Brothers. In fact it's bigger than Ray Lewis playing in his last game of his HOFer career.
They key to the game comes down to the Baltimore defense shutting down Colin Kaepernick in the 3rd quarter. The 49ers have dominated opponents coming out of halftime. And it's because of defenses getting worn down, then not being able to slow down the running of Kapernick. The Ravens won't be able to do it either.
The San Francisco 49ers are riding the Colin Kaepernick train on offense to New Orleans. The quarterback has been such a threat that there is no easy answer to stop the offense.
The Ravens have been lead by the emotional push of Ray Lewis retiring. But if you have paid attention, it has been Joe Flacco and the offense that punched Baltimore's ticket to the big game.
This is a fairly even match-up but emotion will in the day. I have a hard time thinking the Ravens lose this one.
Joe Flacco has the best vertical passing game in the NFL and a running back that has seen more carries as the year has worn on - and a coaching change was made.
Colin Kaepernick has solidified himself as a threat and shook off a pick-6 on his first drive of his first playoff game to reach the big game. He too has a work-horse running back in Frank Gore.
The defenses are where I see this game changing. San Francisco is younger and faster, Baltimore is veteran and opportunistic.
The Ravens have been winning on emotion, the 49ers have been winning on talent. With two weeks off, logic says that emotion wears off, talent does not. Enjoy retirement Ray Lewis, sorry it won't be the John Elway-esque sunset ride.
The Ravens are riding an emotional high right now and things just keep going their way, the past five Super Bowls have been won by long-shot teams like the Ravens. But streaks don't last forever and the bottom line is the 49ers have more talent. They have heavy hitters in the run and pass game, not to mention a much more versatile quarterback.
Defensively they have proven they can stop any offense, even better than the Ravens D. Ray Lewis may have driven the Baltimore team this far but the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches out there. He may not be one of many words but what he does say works.
When it's all said and done, San Francisco will join the Giants in celebrating another Bay Area championship. And personally, I can't wait to see the post game hand shake.
While the Ray Lewis and Harbaugh story lines continue to dominate all the headlines, Colin Kaepernick is the player that will steal the show in New Orleans. He'll be the difference in a close San Francisco win.