Ron Glover’s Super Bowl XLVII Prediction: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49′ers: Unlimited skill meets unbreakable will
San Francisco and Baltimore will rely on game-breakers Colin Kaepernick and Ray Rice to gain an early advantage.
The time for talk is over, Super Bowl XLVII is here. Enough of the Harbaugh brothers discussion and the Ray Lewis character assassination attempts. Let’s play football fellas!
Sunday February 3, 2013 6:30 pm Super Bowl XLVII:
The Ravens must take advantage of the 49ers penchant to fall behind early in these playoffs. Green Bay and Atlanta failed in their attempt to run the ball when the Niners struggled. Rookie Bernard Pierce is critical here. Pierce has developed a toughness needed in the Ravens attack if Ray Rice struggles protecting the ball or is ineffective for a time. Pierce doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he’s most dangerous in the first four to six yards. Pierce has the power and low center of gravity to take on the physical Niners’ safeties if he’s still upright after the first five to six yards.
Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith have been great in the Ravens playoff run. Whatever Joe Flacco has thrown their way, they’ve caught it. The Ravens passing attack comes in three waves:
- Ray Rice in the short game.
- Boldin runs the intermediate routes and is the primary redzone option.
- Smith doubles as and intermediate and deep threat. Flacco is looking for Smith after the defense has been sucked into keying on Rice.
Tight end Dennis Pita has been just what the Ravens ordered as a blocker and safety valve for Flacco. Numbers don’t reflect his impact on critical downs.
Joe Flacco started this roll in Denver against the Broncos and hasn’t looked back. He’s done everything right — which means not doing too much. The Ravens playcalling has been balanced and effective. Even when the offense sputters for a series or two, Flacco has stuck to the game plan. Huge props to the offensive line for keeping everything in front of them and not allowing Flacco to take the big hit.
The Ravens defense is whole, healthy and effective again. They are surrendering a playoff-best 19 points per contest. Momentum-changing hits and turnovers have been their calling card in the playoffs. Although he looks a step slower, Ray Lewis is money within the first 5-7 yards of any play. If the Niners are smart, they will stay away from Lewis when he’s in close. The Ravens defense struggled against multi-dimensional quarterbacks Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III this season. Kaepernick is arguably the best of the bunch. Terrell Suggs and Paul Kreuger have been hell on the edges. Haloti Ngata has been solid in stopping the run. I’m still banking on a big play from him. Safety Bernard Pollard has become a game-changer. Pollard knack to land a big hit allows Ed Reed to focus on reading the ball. Baltimore holds a decided advantage in the all important kicking game.
Deception is paramount to the 49ers offense keeping the Ravens defense on its heels. Colin Kaepernick has enough weapons to outlast Baltimore if the pace of the game picks up. Frank Gore is just as dynamic as Ray Rice. Gore runs the ball tirelessly and rarely fumbles. LaMichael James has become another gear in the shifty 49′ers offense. James has held his own when spelling Gore with his ability to avoid tackles and cut on a dime. Vernon Davis and Kaepernick bonded at the right time in the NFC Championship Game. Davis worked the seams of the Falcons defense, resulting in 6 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr. and Randy Moss work well as a unit. When the pocket breaks down, any one of them can get considerable separation from the pack.
Kaepenick and the Pistol offensive will force the Ravens to play close to the line. He must be able to locate the slightest mismatch and take advantage of it. The most vulnerable area of the Ravens defense is in the middle. Vernon Davis should be readily available in these situations.
We haven’t seen anyone out physical the Baltimore Ravens in a long time…if ever. The Niners are capable of landing a shot which could knock the Ravens out early. Unlike the offense, the defense has yet to hit their stride and time irunning out. The defensive unit has given up over 25 points per game in the playoffs. For all of its talent, the defense cannot afford to play catch up.
The Ravens backs will struggle to get to the outside with the speed of Aldon Smith on rushing downs. Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman will spend most of their day working their way upfield. Justin Smith has played well despite injuries and has plenty of help surrounding him. The Niners secondary is the most physical and tactical in the NFL. They can ill-afford to have lapses like they did against the Falcons. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown will be challenged by Boldin and Smith. Safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner are solid finishers. David Akers is kicking in his second Super Bowl. Although Akers is experienced, the Niners must be careful not to push his limit.
Prediction: Depending on how they begin the game, the Niners could be on either side of a blow out. San Franciscon plays well from behind, but the Ravens play even better with a lead. The game may begin as a prize-fight for the first quarter, plenty of jabs and clutching – saving energy for the later rounds. Once things pick up, we’ll have the teeth-chattering slugfest we expected. Up to this point, I’m still having a tough time picking a winner. So much is riding on both sides and it has nothing to do with the Harbaugh brothers.
Ravens 28 – 49ers 26
Conference Championships 2-0
2012 NFL Playoffs 7-3