February 2, 2013 Leave a comment
So here we are at the final pinnacle moment of the 2012 NFL Season – the Super Bowl. In some areas, they like to call it the Harbaugh Bowl. After last year, you feel like this was just something meant to be. Almost like someone up there said, wow, a brother vs. brother matchup would be kind of cool – let’s get it done. After watching the Ravens do essentially what the Giants did last year, seeing the same teams in the Championship Round, minus the team that won last year, you get a sense that there is a higher power working these scenarios. It’s like watching a reality show, wondering how much of it is staged.
After the Ravens won, virtually every analyst started calling them the winners of this year’s Super Bowl. After two weeks of hype, many have changed their opinion. Here is mine – it’s hard to believe the Ravens won’t win this one. After all, when the season began, I made note that the last 3 Super Bowl winners played the Eagles in their home opener…who played them this year – Ravens. Then you have a team that looked terrible in many games, yet found a way to win. Can you say beating Cleveland by the skin of their teeth…4th and 29 in San Diego, then 3rd and 3…31 seconds in the playoffs.
I was watching the AFC Championship game, Brady was driving down the field, trying to make a comeback when I thought, it’s only a matter of time before that moment hits where something goes the Ravens way. Where you say, yep, karma is with them. It use to always happen when the Ravens played Pittsburgh and Pitt would eventually have that moment. It happened with Giants in both Super Bowl runs. Tyree’s helmet catch, Mannigham’s 4th quarter catch, the SF returner’s fumbles. Moments after thinking this in this year’s AFC matchup, it happened…Brady threw, it bounced off a defender, went up in the air and landed perfectly in a Ravens linebacker’s hands. It was like I knew it was coming. It was at that moment, that I knew the AFC game was over before it started. Now onto the Super Bowl.
Baltimore @ San Francisco – yes, the Ravens are technically the away team, but it means little here. This should be a battle of defenses, with one trying to stop the run and the other trying to stop the long ball. I will keep this to keys to the game because honestly, this script is already written – one way or the other. There is just too much karma around this game. Ray Lewis’ final game, Randy Moss’ curtain call, a rookie QB, a once starter QB who would love a chance to take over under center and prove a point and a battle between two brothers. So, to make it simple, here are the keys:
San Francisco – run…run…run. The Ravens D is not like it was a few years ago. You can run on this crew and if you do it successfully, you will wear them down. You will also keep the ball out of Flacco’s hand, which surprisingly is key these days. Stick to the run game, get ahead and things will go well. This will also be the first time the Ravens will face a dynamic QB in awhile. I would argue Andrew Luck is the most dynamic of the three QBs the Ravens faced in the playoffs, with Brady and Manning being more pocket passers. The Ravens do well against QBs who stay in the pocket, but I would argue the one problem they had with Luck was containing him. In fact, I would argue, Luck had the most success against them overall. His passers let him down a bit – not to say they would have won, but it would have been closer. In the regular season, RGIII, the most dynamic they faced, ate the Ravens for lunch – Look for Kaep to get in on the feeding frenzy.
Ravens – two words – Long Ball. If Flacco gets time and can get it downfield early and often, he could take SF out of the game to the point where they will be forced to throw. Taking the run game away from them is key. Both the Broncos and Patriots were throwing teams and they were able to hold them off, so if they can just be successful at what they are best at – long ball, they can win the battle on both sides of the field. Also, while RGIII had success against the Ravens, they also finally hit him and took him out. The Ravens could easily do that here, but unfortunately, I am not sure what that would mean. Do you want the dynamic rookie, or the once starter who would want nothing more to come into this game and prove the biggest point of his life…
So what do I think in the end. I think we are going to find out how important it is to actually beat the Eagles in their home opener vs. just playing them. I think we are going to find out that it’s not that important.
Baltimore 28, SF – 27