Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII - Super Prediction

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-Digger's Daily-

The time has come to crown a new NFL champion. It's dubbed the "Brother Bowl". Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) are 3 1/2 point favorites to beat brother John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens (10-6).

We've listened to a few sideshows heading into the big game.
- Super Bowl XLVII represents Ravens LB Ray Lewis final NFL game. He's been equally admired and criticized all week. Admired for his sensational play on the field. Severely criticized for three things...1) his involvement in a fight years ago leaving one man dead. No one was ever convicted and Lewis has refused any and all commentary. 2) Criticized for appearing to place himself above Ravens teammates by way of solo celebrations and post-game interviews. Most shockingly 3) accused of using PED's in a Sports Illustrated article. The magazine said Lewis sought help from a company that says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a banned product connected to human growth hormone.
- 49ers WR Randy Moss declared himself the best wide receiver in NFL history. Jerry Rice was quick to point out Moss hasn't won any Super Bowl's nor is he the leader in most receiving statistics. Moss is no stranger to controversy which seems to erupt in every city he's played during a fine career.
- 49ers DB Chris Culliver was forced to quickly take back anti-gay comments made earlier this week. During a live radio interview Culliver quipped: "I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that," Culliver said during the one-minute taped interview. "Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff." So much for freedom of speech. 49ers officials quickly clamped down on Culliver.
- Legendary Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino was exposed for fathering a child out of wedlock with another woman. Rumors swirl of Marino paying millions to the "other" woman to keep their affair (and child) silent. “This is a personal and private matter. I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then,” Marino said. “We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved.”
- Both Jim and John Harbaugh tried keeping media focused on their Super Bowl teams instead of Harbaugh vs Harbaugh (first time in history two brothers are head coaches of Super Bowl teams).
- Marshall Faulk keeps "Spygate" alive. "Spygate" was big news when New England Patriots were caught illegally filming opponents practice sessions. Faulk's Rams were defeated by New England in SB XXXVI 20-17. "Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss," Faulk told CSNNE.com's Tom Curran on Tuesday. "But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl; that's fine … But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them. But if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em."
(Commissioner Goodall burned tapes submitted as evidence against New England and cleared them of wrong doing for the SB game).

So, now that we've tackled the bizaar, are you ready for some football? Who will win?
Super Bowl XLVII features two very good head coaches. Two very strong defenses. Two clutch offenses. Sunday's game is probably the best player for player matchup in recent memory. Defense is expected to rule the day. Time to break down some key elements...

QB: (even) SF is led by tattooed rookie sensation Colin Kaepernick. He runs at will and can burn defenses with strong armed throws. He started SF's final 7 games after early season starter Alex Smith was sidelined by injury. He's a handful to shut down. If there's one team capable of slowing him down it's Baltimore's tenacious defense.
Baltimore has steady handed Joe Flacco leading the way. He has good vision, strong arm and protects the ball well. He'll face a furious 49ers pass rush and ever changing defensive schemes. I'll rank them even for one main reason. Although Kaepernick is more dynamic based on his rushing ability, Flacco reads defenses better and is cooler in the pocket. K's has never faced a defense like Baltimore's. Sunday might turn out to be a daunting learning on the job experience.

RB: (even) Frank Gore (SF) vs Ray Rice (Bal). Offensive lines key for both players. Both excellent runners and receivers out of the backfield. It'll be interesting watching how their coordinators fit them into game plans.

WR: (Ravens) I give the edge to Baltimore here. Boldin, Smith, Jones find ways to get open and have played great in playoff action. Flacco and these guys are on the same page. If Ravens line gives protection then look for a big day from these guys.
Randy Moss put a bullseye on his own back and Baltimore will make him pay dearly. Crabtree has been their go to guy all season and I expect Ravens defenders to keep him blanketed all game long.

TE: (even) Vernon Davis (SF) vs Dennis Pitta (Bal). Davis is a bruiser. Defenders better square up and wrap up or Davis will run them over. Pitta is a clutch chain mover and gives Flacco options.

Defense: (even) Both teams come flying after the ball. Niether is fooled often. All players appear healthy. 49ers were burned early and often against Atlanta in NFC Championship Game. However, they clamped down in the second half and completely stymied the Falcons soaring attack. Ravens were chewed up by Denver in divisional round but rebounded to keep Tom Brady and Patriots completely off balance.

Special teams: (Ravens) Ravens have a clear advantage here. Justin Tucker converted 30 of 33 field goals. Jacoby Jones returned 3 kicks for touchdowns (1 kickoff, 2 punts). He's a big key for field position this game. Niners kicker David Akers (29 of 42) has been struggling for most of the 2nd half of the season including a miss in the Championship Game. A miss on Sunday can make or break SF. His past misses might force Harbaugh's hand into going for it on 4th down when he might normally decide to kick.

Final outcome: It's going to be a great game. I'm expecting a very tight first half. The second half will belong to Baltimore. Ravens win 30-17.
 

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