No matter what kind of research we do, no matter what kind of history and stats we look up, we won’t find the answer we are looking for when trying to predict the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII. It just wont happen! Still, that won’t deter any of us from shaking out all the variables to justify the reasoning behind our winning pick this Sunday in New Orleans. Ha-ha-ha, you might as well flip a coin in this matchup or go visit your local fortune teller. My two cents: your going to have to scroll down and weigh out all the variables for yourself.
Let’s Start Small: On paper, the 49ers blow the Ravens out of the water in most categories.
Profootballfocus.com ranks the San Francisco 49er’s # 1 overall on offense and on defense in 2012.
Take a look at where the Broncos and Patriots placed on offense and defense this season. Hmmm…..
Seasonal Patterns: Let’s take a brief look @ the 49er’s and the Raven’s win and loss patterns in 2012.
SUPER BOWL XLVII – ?
Interesting to note: This season, the 49er’s have had a trend of most likely losing every third game they have played. This season, the Ravens have had a trend of going on a few 4 game winning streaks. After the Niners bye week, they tied the Rams. After the Ravens bye week, they went on a 4 game winning streak. So by looking at these so called patterns I dug up, it seems as though the Ravens are due for a win and the 49ers are due for a loss. Am I reaching too much? Eh, you tell me. Either way, there are more goodies downtown, do it!
Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick: Technically, Kaepernick is a second year pro at the quarterback position, but he hasn’t seen everything. This seems like an advantage for the Ravens defense considering the different types of blitzes they can/will throw at him all game, however, the boy can run. Colin ran a 4.5 forty at the 2010 NFL combine and can run in and outside of the tackles without hesitating. The Ravens have had a huge problem at containing the outside rush all season long, and that won’t change in Super Bowl XLVII.
Kaepernick set the NFL rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards against the Packers three weeks ago, so the Ravens have to balance their blitz attack and look to get a couple of great hits on Colin to keep him from entering beast mode. Ask yourself this question: can he be stopped? Are the Ravens going to lay licks or throw cheap shots at Colin to get him out of the/off of his game?
Joe Flacco is a prototypical, fundamentally sound quarterback @ “6′ 6,” with one of the strongest arms in the NFL, but ever since Jim Caldwell took over as the offensive coordinator, his qb production has soared through the roof. In the postseason, Flacco has thrown for 8 touchdowns with 0 interceptions with a more balanced attack offense. His quarterback rating in the playoffs thus far is 114.
Now, something interesting to note is the fact that Joe Flacco is incredible when opposing teams don’t blitz or pressure him, while the complete opposite is true when he does get blitzed or pressured. Sounds like a pretty common sense statement to make about most quarterbacks playing the game of football, but that simply isn’t true. A lot of great quarterbacks love getting blitzed, Joe Flacco does not however. Take a look see.
It’s no surprise that Flacco is pretty bad against the blitz. The 49er’s know it but they don’t like to blitz a whole lot because they can generate pressure with their front 4. The truth: The Ravens offensive line is one of the better offensive lines in the NFL at pass protection, so expect the Niners to dial up some blitzes if they want to fluster Joe cool.
Strange but True: Ed Reed is overdue, having not collected an interception or pass defense since Week 13. 49ers’ outside linebacker, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded a sack since Week 14 of the regular season.
Distractions: Did Ray Lewis use deer antler extract to help him recover from his triceps injury? Who gives a _________!!!!! The whole world wants to see him play, he’s freaking playing and he’s gonna do the squirrel dance one last time by golly!
New Orleans is a very easy place to get distracted by, especially right before the Super Bowl. This will be the tenth Super Bowl played in New Orleans since the start of the Lombardy Trophy race.
Besides for the three point difference in Super Bowl XXXVI (20-17) between the New England Patriots and the St.Louis Rams, the Super Bowl loser in New Orleans loses by an average of 22 points since it’s history of hosting Super Bowls. Super Bowl XXXVI is the only outlier. WOW.
Either way, You knew this was coming:
Football games aren’t played on paper, they be played on the gridiron fool, so choose wisely.
My Prediction: If it wasn’t for the Harbaugh brothers knowing each other so well, I would honestly take the 49ers in this game in another New Orleans’ Super Bowl blowout. The 49ers are a young team with so much brute force and a ton of depth on the interior line, on both sides of the ball; it’s hard to pick against them.
On the flip sip,the Ravens are old vets that use to be the best in the business on the defensive side of the ball but they have adapted by countering a “bend but don’t break defense” with an interchangeable offense that could put up plenty of points when in need.
The mystique behind Ray Lewis’s retirement and the Ravens will to win in the past two games and on the road as the underdogs, against TWO 8/9 point spreads, is arguably a miracle. Don’t count out the trials and tribulations the Ravens went through as a team all season long in 2012.
When the now backup quarterback for the 49ers, Alex Smith was benched behind Colin Kaepernick long term, I thought it might have bitten San Francisco in the back, it hasn’t yet. I think it will in Super Bowl XLVII. I do want the Ravens to win but I also believe that they can and will. I believe that every individual Raven wants to win Super Bowl XLVII more so, than every individual 49er. The Ravens are going to win Super Bowl XLVII, 24-19 final.
If you attempted to surf the Baltimore Ravens official website this past week, you couldn’t help not skipping past the highlight montage created for family and fans, recapping the entire Ravens’ 2012 season. After watching the well designed video, I couldn’t help but get the sense that the Ravens’ season has finally come to an end, but then I was like, “Oh yeah, don’t cry Alan, the playoffs are just about to begin!”
Finally, I watched a press conference held by Ray Lewis announcing his return to the AFC Wild Card game this week along with a mini speech regarding his NFL career and departure, post 2012. As many variables as their may be heading into each and every individual game on football Sundays, the desire to keep Ray Lewis on the field for another game, is quite strong.
BO Ray Lewis Knows how to Motivate: Even when he’s not motivating or has no intention to do so, it’s in the role model’s nature. “Everything that starts has an end. There’s no accolade that I don’t have,” Ray said. Walking away from his teammates to spend more quality time with his kids isn’t going to be that hard of a transition into for Ray, especially since he has done it all. Regardless, the Ravens organization respects his decision to retire and will sell out even more than they ever had before, for Ray, heading into the 2013 playoffs.
Ray’s Playing Time: Ray says he’s nearly 100% recovered. Many speculate that he’s not expected to see a lot of playing time on Sunday, but then again, how can we be so sure? Foolish analysts claim Ray will suit up just to run out on the field with his teammates, but Ray Lewis isn’t fake, nor does he know what pain is. For Ray, 3 snaps on the field could parlay into 3 series’, which could parlay into every passing down for the game’s entirety. Against Bruce Arian’s non-stop passing offense, Ray could be on the field for the majority of the game. Dropping in pass coverage is a lot less demanding on the body than shedding blocks and trying to stop the run, so let’s keep it a mystery until kickoff. Ray Lewis hasn’t been on the field since week 6.
Caldwell vs. Pagano: Ravens offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell spent the last decade with the Indianapolis Colts. Also,you may all know, Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano, is the former defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens (3 years). Hmmmm, Chuck may know a thing or two about his former team as well but the advantage goes to Jim! I was about to consider this matchup a wash but in a league where the rules are catered to offenses scoring points, I’d say Jim Caldwell has the slight edge in this battle. Pagano’s battle with cancer has been an excellent story all season given the Colts’ success, but in order for the Colts to pull up an upset on the road, they have to invent a letter before A, and play that type of game, if they want to match the Ravens.
Game Day Strengths and Weaknesses:
It doesn’t matter much, but since you asked, the Ravens defense has been giving up an average of 4 yards a carry this season, which s surprisingly one of the better defenses at containing the run. However, the Ravens still have problems slowing down the rush outside the tackles. Colts’ running back Vick Ballard is averaging 4.3 yards a carry outside of the tackles this season, but he isn’t considered a home run threat or a running back that can take over a game. Yes, this alleviates some pressure on the Ravens rush defense but it also puts more pressure on Andrew Luck to read, react, and pinpoint his throws all game. According to profootballfocus.com, the Colts defense is ranked dead last at stopping the run. Something, something, something: RAY RICE, all day.
Prediction: Forget the fact that M & T Bank Stadium is one of the loudest places to play in, Ray Lewis is retiring after this season and will be running out on of the tunnel one last time (?) to play with all of his teammates; I think not, guy! The fans won’t let that happen, the Ravens’ ball boy won’t even let that happen. The Colts should be grateful for how far they’ve come this season, no doubt. They are grateful for their 11-5 record and don’t have as much to play for like the Ravens do, I like the Ravens to squash the Colts, 34-17.
15 out of the 16 games being played at 1 o’ clock this Sunday have playoff aspirations at stake. The Ravens may have had back to back losses in the last two games of the regular season, but a win versus the Denver Broncos this weekend @ home will secure them a playoff birth in 2012.
Can it be done? The last time the Ravens lost back to back games was in 2009. They actually lost 3 straight to the Patriots, Bengals, and Vikings. The Patriots game was decided by 6 points (away), the Bengals game was decided by 3 points (home), and the Vikings game was decided by 2 points (away). If there were any team that could hand the Ravens their third loss in a row this season, it will be a team led by future hall of famer Peyton Manning, but they won’t go down without a fight.
Ray Lewis said Peyton Manning was the best quarterback he has ever faced in his entire life; he didn’t say that for just any ‘old reason. Out of the the last 4 games played against each other, the Ravens have gone 0-4 against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (the other guys). Peyton Manning will certainly be relieved to play the RayLewisless Ravens this time around in 2012, but how relieved will he be facing his former quarterbacks & head coach Jim Caldwell.
Blessing is Disguise: It’s very strange for an organization to fire their offensive coordinator (Cam Cameron) when their team has a winning record (9-4), but maybe this was the best possible time for the Ravens to unleash Jim Caldwell’s power. Not only will the Ravens defense have a hunch or two about Peyton Manning’s on field tendencies, but if Joe Flacco needs to air the ball out all game, Jim Caldwell will be the man for the job to call all the plays.
Prediction: The Ravens still posted up solid numbers last week on the road against the Redskins as it was any one’s game. I don’t think their game/focus has slipped like it did against Charlie Batch in week 13, but I am concerned with Joe Flacco’s inconsistency at the quarterback position when he is under pressure. The Broncos have a phenomenal pass rush on defense with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil so Joe Cool could be in for a long day. Luckily Ray Rice is a full go and Jim Caldwell will design the perfect balanced attack to defeat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos @ home. I like the Ravens to be the only NFL team to make it to the postseason in the last 5 years in a row, and that starts tomorrow with a win @ home. The Ravens win this one, 31-20.
RGIII and Kirk Cousins (?) combine efforts or just trade places to keep their playoff hopes alive, as the 7-6 Redskins get a win in nail biting fashion to enter the NFC wild card race.
Scoring Drives: The Redskins got on top first after completing an 80 yard drive with RGIII capping it off, buying enough time to find Josh Morgan in the end zone on a 3rd down and goal. Then Joe Flacco mustered an 81 drive together of his own, ending it with a 19 yard strike to Anquan Boldin (which was 2nd touchdown reception on the day) to tie things up in the first quarter. Back and forth we go as Alfred Morris paves the way on the next Redskins drive, closing out an 83 yard drive from 7 yards and goal to go. Morris had 122 yards rushing on 23 attempts on the day.
The second quarter was all Baltimore as Flacco hooked up with Anquan Boldin ( right over Deangelo Hall’s head) from 31 yards out and Dennis Pitta finds the highlight reel with a 14 yard score to bring the Ravens up 21-14.
In the third quarter, the Redskins rekindle the grind as Kai Forbath puts up 3 points on a 48 yard field goal to close the margin to 4 points, but it’s a clutch interception made by 17 year veteran, London Fletcher that ends a Joe Cool drive in the Redskins red zone and changes the momentum back in the Redskins’ favor. Kai Forbath’s name is called again as he hits his second field goal from 49 yards out for the Redkins and helps close the gap to just 1, as the Ravens lead 21-20 entering the fourth quarter!
After three quarters of play, fantasy owners of Ray Rice can finally feel some relief as Rice finally gets into the endzone after an eight play, 62 yard drive: Rice waits patiently from 7 yards out and shoots up the weak side a gap for a score as time ticks down in the fourth quarter. Ray Rice went for 121 yards rushing on 20 attempts with 3 receptions for 15 yards. Up 28-20, the Ravens cause the Redskins to fumble the ensuing kickoff return, but the Ravens jumble the football recovery out of bounds and it remains Redskins ball! RGIII and the Redskins are left with 2 minutes left in the game to mount a drive together, along with a two point conversion to tie things up to bring into overtime, and that is exactly what happens! However, it’s Kirk Cousins that gets the job done and not RGIII! Robert Griffin sprains his right knee but continues to stay on the field until it is too much to bear inside the Raven’s red zone. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins enters the game to relieve RGIII after he gets called for an intentional grounding, which pushes the Redskins right back, out of the Ravens’ red zone. No matter, to everyone’s surprise, Kirk Cousins borrows Joe Cool’s nick name and leads his team in for a score on a two play drive, hitting Pierre Garcon on an 11 yard touchdown pass, pump faking the Ravens defense, and fitting the ball right over Ravens corner back Chris Johnson as he swats for the ball and misses: the crowd goes wild. It’s not a tie game yet however, on the ensuing play, the Redskins go for the 2 point conversion and it’s a success! Kirk Cousins runs behind the left guard on a designed draw play for the 2 pt. conversion as the Ravens find it difficult to swallow. The Redskins tie the ball game up 28-28 and bring this fantastic battle into overtime!
The Ravens win the toss, elect to receive, but go 3 and out on the opening drive of overtime. Ravens’ punter Sam Koch punts the rock 56 yards but Redskins’ rookie punt returner/7th round pick Richard Crawford, makes a huge play to returns the ball for 64 yards which puts the Redskins in Kai Forbath’s field goal range. Forbath nails a 34 yard field goal to beat the Ravens 31-28 in overtime and that was all she wrote. The Redskins win 4 games in a row while the Ravens (9-4) go on a two game losing streak with the red hot (10-3) Denver Broncos coming into town in week 15.
Ravens’ Fans, Chill Out: What a game to remember! You can’t blame the Ravens’ game plan or effort in the loss @ Fed Ex Field as it was anyone’s game the whole way. You have to give credit to Kirk Cousins, the Redskins coaching staff, and the will of all the players, fighting for one another on each and every snap. The Steelers lost to the Chargers @ Heinz Field in week 14 so the Ravens can breath a sigh of relief in that regard as they are still ahead of the Steelers (7-5) in the AFC North by 2 games.
Side note: Backup quarterbacks are 2-1 against the Ravens this season.
I thought a quote by Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin would be fitting for the title of this article and I, like many other analysts/fans around the world, am shocked that the Ravens suffered their first loss @ home on the season and their first loss @ home in two years for that matter, against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13.
Now, in the last 8 games these two teams have faced one another, 7 of them have been decided by 3 points. Apparently it doesn’t matter who is behind center for the Pittsburgh Steelers because both teams know one another so well, but the Steelers had the game plan to win it in this one.
Charlie Batch/Phil Simms: I apologize. Plain and simple. Batch led his troops down the field in the fourth quarter not once, but twice to come out of the game with a win, and against all odds on the road against a 9-2 Ravens team. I laughed at Phil Simms before the game kicked off, criticizing him for predicting that the Steelers would win in week 13, I can’t retract my earlier remarks, I can only eat those words, good job sir.
Where’s the Explanation: I know we said no excuses, no explanations but give me a break!!! Charlie Batch completed 69% of his passes while Joe Flacco completed only 47% of his passing attempts. Batch took care of the football better than Joe “Cool” did this game, turning the ball over once less than Joe did. Batch threw an interception to Ed Reed in the end zone but he recovered the fumble he had initially lost in the game, Joe Cool on the other hand, threw an interception to Steelers’ free safety Ryan Clark but lost the football on a strip sack to James Harrison, along with his nerve. You can’t get that one back Joe. Ray Rice only had 12 carries in this game, but he was averaging 6.5 yards a carry. WHY WOULD YOU STOP FEEDING SUCH A BEAST?
John Harbaugh: “That was a typical Pittsburgh-Baltimore game. It’s amazing how it works out that way.” You sound like a little kid John, get your head out of your ____!!!! You should be ashamed.
Joe Flacco: “I think we missed a couple of opportunities early to really take a hold of this game even more. I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today and we didn’t. I think that’s a reflection that we hurt ourselves.” I think we missed a couple of opportunities, we? That is what a bitter loser sounds like, downplaying the fact that you and your team were too confident heading into this game, now the Steelers’ playoff hopes are still alive.
I’m almost ashamed to be writing for the Ravens after such a devastating loss in week 13. Not one Raven is pointing a finger at themselves, just taking the it is what it is approach. On the flip-side, their is no better way to end your career with a win against the Ravens @ home if you are Charlie Batch, well done sir, you deserve it. The Ravens will try to recoup next week as they take on the Washington Redskins (5-6) in week 14 @ Fed Ex Field.
Want to laugh? Phil Simms expects a close game between the Baltimore Ravens and the yet again Ben Roethlisbergerless Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday afternoon ( week 13) @ M&T Bank Stadium. Come again? I understand that 6 out of the last 7 games played against one another has been decided by 3 points, but how could Steelers’ third string, 38 year old quarterback Charlie Batch, muster up enough points to compete with a Baltimore Ravens’ offense that is averaging a fantastic 37 points @ home this season (#1 in the league) ?
Get Creative in the Run Game: Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin said earlier in the week that they need to establish a running game where one of the Steelers’ running backs has to take on the full load opposed to be a team running the rock by committee. Jonathan Dwyer will be given that chance to produce all day long for the Steelers, but is he elite enough to take control over a game on the road against the Baltimore Ravens? Are any of the Steelers’ running backs elite enough to take control of a game for that matter? Dwyer was the most effective running back for the Steelers in week 11 as he averaged 4.6 yards a carry against the Ravens, but if the Steelers plan on running the ball 27 times like they did back in week 11, they better be a little more creative about it and get every last productive ounce out of Charlie Batch as they can if they want to keep this game within reach.
The 12th Man: We know the odds are stacked against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week as they are 7.5 point underdogs, but the Ravens’ 12th man shouldn’t be overlooked when looking at the spread and wondering if the Steelers are going to cover. The fans at M&T Bank Stadium are one of the loudest group of fans from the NFL and you better believe they are going to bring their A game in this week to help the Ravens cover the spread at home.
Prediction: What can’t the Ravens do nowadays as they convert a 4th and 29 last week to bring the game into overtime and leave a desperate San Diego Chargers team with a win on the road? Sky is the limit for the Ravens heading back home and playing on all cylinders. I don’t think the Steelers believe they have a chance to keep it close in this game, and I think they are right. I like the Ravens to smoke the Steelers at home, 31-9.
Heading into week 12, the Ravens knew they had a tough task on their hands matching up against a team (San Diego Chargers) they have previously lost to last season (34-14) and whose backs’ were against the wall in 2012, losing their last 5 out of 6 games.
Slug fest was written all over this one before it began, and I should have known! Both teams know one another pretty well but more importantly, the Chargers, a pass first team, have major pass protection problems with Jared Gaither recently placed on I.R., while the Ravens have been struggling to play quality ball on the road most of the season (L to Philly, L to Texans, 3 point win over Finger Less Chiefs (http://presnapread.net/2012/10/08/ravens-dodge-bullet-to-finger-less-chiefs-in-week-5/), 3 point win over Ben Roethlisbergerless Steelers). Either way, you get my drift. There were 11 sacks netted through out the entire contest, and Philip Rivers only through for 228 yards at home against the 5th worst team in pass coverage this season.
Game on: It took the Ravens until the fourth quarter with 4 minutes and twenty three seconds left on the clock to get their first touchdown on the day as Flacco hooked up with Dennis Pitta from 4 yards out in the back of the end zone ( 9 play 90 yard drive) to tighten up the game, trailing the Chargers thereafter by just 3 (13-10).
On Your Feet in Qualcomm: On the ensuing drive the Chargers go three and out and the momentum noticeably shifts in the Ravens’ favor as Jacoby Jones returns a punt for 23 yards that sets Baltimore up at their own 40 yard line with 3 minutes left on the clock and two time outs yet to be called for a chance win/tie the game. The Ravens would then struggle to move the chains with 3 incomplete passes, a 2nd down holding call on Marshall Yanda, and a 3rd down Antwan Barnes strip fumble on Joe Flacco that was reluctantly recovered by Ravens’ tackle Michael Oher, giving the Ravens just one more chance to convert for a first on fourth a 29 at their own 37.
The Play that Gets Norv Turner Fired: Joe Flacco dumps the ball off over the middle to Ray Rice and Ray finds a way to stiff arm one defender and run by 8 more on terrible pursuit angles, crossing the first down marker to keep the drive alive to set up a Justin Tucker field goal for the tie, it’s good! (13-13)
Let’s Go to Overtime Baby: The Chargers won the toss, elected to receive, and failed to impress. They mounted up a quality opening drive to start overtime, but when given another chance to redeem their initial efforts after a stalled Baltimore Ravens’ drive, they went three and out immediately afterwards. Torrey Smith saved the day for the Ravens on a 31 yard catch that set up Justin Tucker for a game winning field goal, boooom! Someone had to do it. The Ravens beat the Chargers 16-13, go 9-2 on the season,still remain on top of the AFC North, and have officially put together the best winning start in franchise history. Way to go fellows, as for Chargers fans, don’t watch any post game press conferences!
The Ravens will travel back at home in week 13 to take on the “just trying to hang on, Ben Roethlisbergerlss, just lost to the Browns” Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5). Oh yeah, great news Ravens’ fans: Ray Lewis is nearing a return!!!! If all goes well, he will be back in week 15 before the postseason.Rumors have it that he could actual start practicing this week. Way to go platelet-rich plasma therapy! GET IT RAY!