It’s that time of year again, my friends. Super Bowl Sunday is this Sunday, celebrated as an unofficial American holiday, complete with finger foods, multi-million dollar commercials, and football. Yet this year is bound to be one for the ages.
It’s a case of a battle between brothers, coaches John Harbaugh versus Jim Harbaugh. A case of the old guard versus the new kids on the block. The aging yet vaunted Ravens defense against a youthful and unpredictable 49ers quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. And above all, the last game of a Hall-of-Famer’s legendary career, also known as Ray Lewis’s “Last Ride.”
However, as evident by this article’s title, I’m predicting the Ravens to win the Super Bowl.
Even though some may predict the 49ers to take the bowl, like any devil’s advocate, I will state reasons why Baltimore will prevail in the end of this classic gridiron battle.
First and foremost, the Ravens are a team on a mission and are easily the team of destiny this postseason. While their postseason run began with an easy home date against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, their road trip to Denver was far from smooth. Quarterback Joe Flacco had to connect on big passes to overcome not one, but two spectacular special teams plays by the Broncos. However, it was the Broncos that failed to put away the Ravens, who used a Peyton Manning interception in double overtime to escape the Mile High City with a 38-35 victory.
Then, it was traveling to Foxborough to take on Tom Brady and a favorite to return to the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots. Despite falling behind quite early in their rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, 13-7, the Ravens stormed back to handle the Patriots with stout defense in a 28-13 win. If that is not a magical run for the purple and black clad Ravens, then I could not tell you what is.
Second and finally, it’s all about the play of Joe Flacco and the Ravens defense. While the Ravens showcase a brutal rushing attack in Ray Rice, Flacco has been nothing short of élite when it came to his play this postseason. He’s not only nearing Joe Montana levels of great play in the playoffs, but Flacco has thrown for eight touchdowns and had no giveaways thus far. With Ray Rice, it’s easy for Flacco to go play-action on a defense all day with plenty of protection, taking only four sacks during the playoffs.
As for the defense, they haven’t been as intimidating like in past years, such as their 2000 Super Bowl run. They are still a force to be reckoned with though. Led by a retiring Ray Lewis, the hard-hitting Bernard Pollard and the ball hawking Ed Reed, the Ravens have only four touchdowns in postseason play. Also, Lewis is leading the NFL in tackles and provided a spark of inspiration, and inspired teams win championships. Classic example: look at the John Elway led Broncos of 1998. Although Kaepernick and the zone-read offense of the 49ers may challenge the Ravens, they may be one of the few units to at least contain such an exciting offense.
The game itself will be a great game, without a doubt. Both teams like to begin fast and heavy to wear each other’s defenses down before setting up for deep routes and play action for big plays. The first sign of how the game will break down is to see which defense disintegrates first, and with experience on their side. I must lean toward Baltimore. It will also be the beginning of a great career for Kaepernick while signaling the end of the Ray Lewis era for the Ravens. Overall, my (ever so humble) prediction is that the 49ers and Ravens make Super Bowl 47 legendary by being the first Super Bowl to go overtime, before the Ravens prevail by the score of 34-28. However, sometimes you cannot deny destiny, whether one is sick of it or not.