The unique stresses of both 49ers, Ravens' offenses
More than most offenses in the NFL, the 49ers and Ravens present unique challenges to NFL defenses. On the Niners' end, their positional flexibility places defenses in compromising positions almost constantly.
For the Ravens, it is the threat of Lamar Jackson as a runner; an athlete not seen at quarterback for any team in the NFC.
There is a reason that Jackson is 19-3 against NFC teams for his career (with two of those losses coming in his rookie season). He presents such a unique challenge that defenses that rarely, if ever, see him are not prepared to defend him.
That uniqueness challenge still exists in the playoffs, but the additional week of preparation should theoretically allow for a defense to be better prepared to play against this Ravens offense.
Likewise, extra preparation never hurt a team against the 49ers and their myriad weapons.
There is a desire to make every game in the NFL bigger and mean more than just a game. The 49ers-Cowboys was a referendum on Dallas' improvements to match up against a team that had beaten it in the playoffs for the last two years, and the 49ers-Eagles was a rematch of an NFC championship game.
But the reality is each week is different in the NFL, and should the 49ers and Ravens meet in the Super Bowl, what happens Christmas will mean little for how that game turns out.