When the San Francisco 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday, it will mark only the fifth time these two teams have squared off against each other, in their franchise’s history. To date, the Ravens hold bragging rights, with a 3-1 record. With the 49ers running a new “pistol” offense and the Ravens founded on a bone crushing defense, makes this game an instant classic.
On one hand, you have arguably the biggest dual threat in the NFL in Colin Kaepernick. The player known for his “Kaepernicking” celebration, has took the NFL by storm, with his scrambling ability and cannon for an arm. He is big, fast, and extremely bright. Through nine games, he has posted a 7-2 record, while recording 17 touchdowns (4 rushing) against only four interceptions. His ability to read defenses with the “read-option” is hard to contain, making him the focal point of the offense.
To counter the 49ers unorthodox offensive philosophy, the Ravens have a gritty defense, led by middle linebacker Ray Lewis. The person responsible for returning the city of Baltimore back to relevance, Lewis has since been the face of the franchise. His passion, love, and dedication for the game is unparalleled, making him one of the all-time greats. His charismatic approach and ability to lead a team to victory is paramount, making him one of the most influential players of our time. Simply put, a true professional in it’s purest form.
The game will be a classic battle of the minds. As all eyes will be on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s complex offense and Ravens Ray Lewis’ fearless defense. To put things in perspective, the 49ers finished the regular season with the 11th ranked offense, while the Ravens defense ranked 17th. Not great rankings but one that provides a great head to head match-up, making this game an instant classic.
The 49ers known for their smash-mouth running style will need to dominate the line of scrimmage. A challenge for any team to accomplish, especially going against the best nose tackle in the game in Haloti Ngata. However, despite this obstacle, the 49ers bring a different type of presence, and one the Ravens have yet to see. An offense that prides themselves in physical play, use multiple tight-end sets, and extra offensive-lineman to impose their will.
In addition to using different sub-packages, offensive coordinator Greg Roman will almost certainly add a few wrinkles to the complex pistol read-option, that has never been seen before, including possibly having backup quarterback Alex Smith and Kaepernick on the field at the same time. How fun would that be? I don’t want to jinx it but with the Super Bowl just days away anything can happen, and the Ravens better be ready.
To counter this uncertainty, the Ravens defense will need to apply pressure on Kaepernick, by keeping him inside the pocket. The Ravens have a very underrated defense, with outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw. They are both capable run stuffers, and will be assigned to stop Kaepernick on the outside, a tough task for any linebacker to handle, but talented enough to win some battles.
On the front line, it will be all Haloti Ngata. The best defensive lineman in the game today, will be looking to outplay the 49ers bigs, by using his brute strength to push the pocket, commanding multiple double-teams. This will most likely free up inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe to potentially make some stops up the middle.
With the game being a classic offense verse defensive battle, look for a great game to be played on Sunday. I see the game being very close through the first three quarters, with the 49ers making a late rally in the middle of the fourth, to put the game out of reach, as the Niners win 27-16.
Whether you are a 49ers fan or Ravens fan, you can’t help but respect both teams as they make their push for Super Bowl XLVII.