What a great 2012 NFL season it's been, We saw the return of Peyton Manning, the resurgence of Adrian Peterson, and the great inspirational story of Chuck Pagano and the Colts. Even though the season is coming to a close, we still got one game left to watch and enjoy. No, I'm not talking about the Pro Bowl, which was last Sunday, I'm talking about the big one, Super Bowl XLVII.
This year's game, down in New Orleans, will include the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers and this could be one of the most physical matchups we have ever seen in the Super Bowl. This game will not only include two of the most intimatind defenses in the NFL, some history will also be involve. Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, will take on his younger brother, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, as it will be the first time ever in Super Bowl history that two brothers, both head coaches, will go up against each other.
Besides being named, "the Harbaugh Bowl." this year's Super Bowl has lots of other intriguing headlines to offer and probably the biggest headline, going into Sunday, will be niners QB Colin Kaepernick and how he'll handle the nerves and pressure of being in the big game. Let us not forget that this Sunday will be Ray Lewis's last game of his career, win or lose, and you know that he would love to end his career on a high note.
Both the Ravens and the niners had pretty good seasons, as they won their division and became legitimate contenders to win their conferences. Even with their successes this season, they both had a few speed bumps to overcome in some points of their seasons, in order to get to New Orleans.
The Ravens were not only inconsistent and had lost some big games during the season, their defense was not at it's best, as it gave up lots of points and big plays in some games, It didn't help that two of their defensive star players, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, suffered injuries during the season. Even with their problems in the regular season, once the playoffs began, the Ravens looked like a different team. Not only did they looked like more of a complete team, their defense played great and their offense were able to score points and make big plays. Throughout the playoffs, the Ravens were able to prove to people that they were indeed, a serious Super Bowl contender and were ready to make the run for the championship.
In the wild card game, they were able to dominate and give Andrew Luck and the Colts lots of problems and were able to win that game easily. Then, they had to comeback from behind and outlast Peyton Manning and the high powered Denver Bronco's offense for two overtimes, before they could win it on a game winning field goal. Finally, They had to go Foxboro and take on a determined Patriots team in the AFC tittle game, on a windy/cold night. The Ravens were able to not only give Tom Brady and the Pats offense problems, they didn't give up any points in the second half and they eventually won the game and were on their way to New Orleans.
The 49ers proved this season that not only they were one of the best teams in the NFL, they proved that they had the most physical defense also. The team was pretty consistent throughout the season and their defense was able to cause everyone problems. The most crucial moment of the niners season came when Jim Harbaugh made the decision to start QB Colin Kaepernick over QB Alex Smith, in the middle of the season. Up to this moment, it looks like the decision is paying off, Kaepernick has been able to not only win games, he's been able to make big plays with his arm and feet and gave the niners offense a boost.
The niners won their division for a second straight season and had a first round bye in the playoffs and If you thought, like me, that Kaepernick was going to struggle in his first playoff start against the Green Bay Packers, man we were wrong. Kaepernick was able to put on a show by running all over the packs defense and making plenty of big plays to win the game.
Even though being down by 10 at halftime of the NFC tittle game, the 49ers were able to comeback from behind and took charge of the game. With Kaepernick continuing to produce big plays and helping the offense get rolling and with the defense not giving up any points in the second half, the niners were able to defeat the Falcons and were back in the Super Bowl for the first time in a long time.
These two teams are preparing for what could be the most physical Super Bowl game ever and whoever wins the game, it'll be a hard earned victory. I believe that each teams needs to do somethings, in order to not only survive this hard-hitting match-up, but to win the game and get the Lombardi trophy and down below are some of those things.
Three things that the Ravens must do to win
The Ravens defense must stop Kaepernick: Although the Ravens defense looked inconsistent in parts of the regular season, it's been a different story in the playoffs. The defense has looked not only more consistent, but with the return of Reed and Lewis, it seems more energized and emotionally charged. Their defesne were able to stop Luck, Manning, and Brady. Now they'll have another tough QB to face in Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been able to play great and make big plays throughout the postseason and if the Ravens want to have an advantage in this game, their defense must stop him and take away his big play abilities. If the defense can stop Kaepernick and get pressure to him, he'll struggle alittle and will make mistakes and the niners offense will be affected by it, but if they can't stop or get to him, he'll continue to make big plays and make it a difficult night for them.
QB Joe Flacco needs to have a great game: Flacco may not be the best QB in the league and may not have the stats like Brady, Manning, or Brees, but he sure knows how to win playoff games. Flacco has taken his team far into the postseason in each of his five playoff appearances and this season was no different. Flacco has played three great games this postseason and was able to help his team get to the Super Bowl and now, he'll go up against the toughest defense that he has ever face. If Flacco wants to help the offense get past this tough niners defense, he needs to not only play well and not make too many mistakes, he just can't afford to have a bad performance in this game. If Flacco doesn't struggle and can continue to make big plays to stretch out the field, he'll make it easier for himself and the offense and he would give the team a chance to score points and give the niners defense some problems.
RB Ray Rice needs to take advantge of openings and breaks: Ray Rice had another great season on the ground and he was able to continue that into the playoffs. Although Rice has made a few big plays this postseason, it's going to be interesting to see how effective and productive he can be against this niners defense. The niners defense has been pretty good overall against the run and by knowing that, the Ravens may play more of a passing game, but that doesn't mean Rice could still make an impact on the field. I think that if Rice is going to have any chance of having a productive game, I feel that he needs to be patient, take advantage of any openings, that the niners give him, and think that every run that he takes, could be his last of the game. It's also possible the Ravens could use Rice as a catch and run player and if it becomes successful, Rice could have a good game and become the impact player.
Three Things that the 49ers must do to win
Kaepernick needs to continue playing well: What a decision Jim Harbaugh made, to switch from Smith to Kaepernick, it has made an impact in a big way. Kaepernick has not only played well in the regular season, but in the postseason and now he's one win away of winning a championship. Kaepernick had a field day against the Packers defense and then led his team to a great comeback against the Falcons to win the NFC, now the question is, what does he have in store for the Ravens defense. If the 49ers have any chance of defeating the Ravens, Kaepernick needs to continue to play well and not make mistakes. If Kaepernick can stay calm and not get too fruasted by the Ravens defense, he'll be fine and will be able to continue to make big plays and help the offense get down the field.
The 49ers defense needs to contunie playing great: The 49ers have one of the top defenses in the NFL and they've been able to prove that this postseason. They were able to give Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense problems in the divisional game and then, in the second half of the NFC tittle game, they completely shut down the Falcons and didn't give up a single point. If the niners want to have success against an high powered Ravens offense, they just need to continue to play their great, physical defense and get to Flacco. I feel that niners don't need to chance anything about their defense, it's working well right now, and if it performs as well as it has so far this postseason and were able to stop Flacco, the Ravens offense might be in trouble and could have a long day.
The offense needs to take advantage of their playmakers: Besides Kaepernick, the 49ers offense have plenty of other playmakers, that can score points and stretch the field alittle. Throughout the playoffs, some of the niners offensive players like WR Michael Crabtree and RB Frank Gore have been able to produce big plays and some of them came in critical moments of a game. Even though the Ravens defense can be great at times, they tend to give up big plays and lots of points once in awhile and based on how good the niners offense have been lately, the Ravens will have a tough challenge ahead them. I feel that if Kaepernick can continue to distribute the ball and give some of his offensive weapons a chance to make plays and stretch out the field, especially in crucial moments, it would make things easier for him and the offense will be able to run smoothly.
Prediction: I feel that this game will be great and it should be fun to watch as these two physical defenses go at it. I believe that both of the defenses will play well and it could come down to which offense can make the big plays and score points, while not getting turned away by the defenses. I think that both of the QB's will be okay and will be able to distribute the ball to their playmakers, when necessary. At first, I thought that this could be a low scoring game, cause of the defenses, but with both teams being able to produce points and their defenses sometimes giving up a play or two, this could become a mid-scoring game.
In my opinion, this is a hard game to pick, their both really good teams, with tenacious defenses, and the will to fight til the end, but after some serious thinking, I'm taking the Ravens to win the game. The Ravens are very confident right now and are playing with such high emotions and with this being Lewis's last game, you gotta think their going to play extra hard for him and try to win it for him. I think that Flacco has more experienced and have always found ways to win big games and I believe he'll have a fine performance.
I know Kaepernick has done well in his first two playoff games and I believe he'll do okay, but playing in the Super Bowl is a different story and I just don't know if he can handle the hype and the pressure that comes with it. I think and it's going to be interesting to see if Kaepernick can not only continue his hot streak and, but continue to not make too many errors during a game.
It wouldn't surprise me if the niners won this game, their a great team and have been one of the best teams in the NFL for the last two seasons, but I believe that the Ravens are ready for this moment and will fly away with the Lombardi trophy, Ravens win 20-10.