Congrats to the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, who both defeated higher-seeded opponents on the road to punch tickets to the Super Bowl. Here's our initial preview of the biggest matchup on the planet, which kicks off 332 hours from now.
Two storylines you're going to be sick of by Wednesday:
1. Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh are the first brothers to hold NFL head coaching jobs at the same time, so it's obviously the first time siblings have faced each other in the Super Bowl. We're going to hear more about their respective childhoods than we can handle between now and kickoff.
2. Ray Lewis will scream. He'll cry. He'll preach. He'll mention God once or twice. Rogue media jerks might even touch on the the murder he attempted to help cover up in 2000. For the next two weeks, you'll hear Lewis' name more than that of any other player in this game. By a wide margin.
Tale of the tape:
* The Ravens and Niners are a combined 6-0 in the Super Bowl. Five of those wins belong to the Niners, but San Fran hasn't been in the game since the 1994 season. Baltimore beat the New York Giants in 2000.
* In the only matchup ever between sibling head coaches, Baltimore defeated San Francisco 16-6 in a defensive showdown last November. Baltimore controlled the clock, had fewer penalties and was better on third down. And since both teams are very similar now, that's significant. The one big difference is that Alex Smith quarterbacked the 49ers in that game. Colin Kaepernick has replaced Smith and the Niners have encorporated the read option since.
* San Francisco has won five out of six. Baltimore has won four out of five. The Ravens are averaging 30 points per game these playoffs, while the 49ers are averaging 33 points per game since Week 17. But both defenses have slipped up a bit lately. Baltimore surrendered 35 points to Denver in the divisional playoffs and San Fran has given up 31 or more points in three of its last five games.
* The 49ers are 6-3 against teams that finished above .500. They lost to the Vikings, Giants and Seahawks, but they've also beaten Green Bay twice and they beat the Patriots, Bears, Seahawks and Falcons as well. Baltimore is 6-4 against teams with winning records. Four of those losses came in their final five such games to finish the season, and two came in blowout fashion. But they've obviously now won three straight against Indianapolis, Denver and New England.
* Kaepernick has never had more than 271 passing yards in a game, but he's coming off of one of his best performances of the year. He had the second-highest passer rating and completion percentage of his career against the Falcons. But Joe Flacco has now won eight playoff games, which is more than every active quarterback except Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. He's the only active quarterback with more than five playoff wins who doesn't have a Super Bowl ring.
* Baltimore had six Pro Bowlers. San Francisco had nine.
Regular-season stats breakdown:
San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots
New York Giants