Super Bowl XLVII Preview

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The Super Bowl has become one of the biggest events on the sports calendar every year as it has become much more than just a game. It is an event that is no longer reserved for the die-hard football fan or even the casual football fan. Everyone watches this event but it is still the ultimate day for all football fans. Despite the pageantry and everything else that goes with the Super Bowl it all comes down to a game. A game that pits the two best teams in the NFL against each other and can provide legendary moments that no football fan can afford to miss. It is one game for more than just a ring and a trophy but for a team and players to put their names in the history books. After the game one team will walk away as the champions and all of the players will always be known as Super Bowl champions. The loser will walk away and quickly be forgotten as they will have come so close but will have essentially achieved nothing. It is the harsh reality of the NFL season and now it faces two teams as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers face off at Super Bowl XLVII. It is a matchup that not many saw coming when the season start or even when the season ended. Many believed the Niners could be the team in the NFC until they went with an untested rookie QB. The Ravens on the other hand were never considered a Super Bowl Contender with Denver and New England taking the focus in the preseason. Now both teams have made it through the long road of the playoffs with amazing plays and legends waiting to be finished. With this matchup there is plenty to look at this year in the Super Bowl with a lot of storylines to follow. Who will win the Harbowl when Jim and John Harbaugh face off in the biggest game either has coached? Will Ray Lewis go out on top as he walks away from the game after 17 seasons? Can the Niners return to their winning ways that were all but forgotten in the last decade? Will Joe Flacco finally silence doubters? Can Colin Kaepernick write the first chapter in what looks to be a promising career? But more importantly who will win Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday in the biggest game of the NFL and the sports calendar.

 

Baltimore Ravens

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The Baltimore Ravens have been one of those teams that has consistently made their impact on the NFL but have failed to get to the big game. The last time they would make it was in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl and yet were quickly forgotten. That team became known as proof that a bad QB doesn’t mean you can’t win as long as you have one of the best defences of the decade. Since that time the Ravens have attempted to become more balanced but have failed to get back to the Super Bowl despite coming close a few times. This year the plan seemed to be working until the end of the year. They would lead their division the entire year until the last four weeks of the season when they began losing and releasing the hold they had on the division. Luckily for them the rest of the division would struggle as well. In the end the Ravens would limp into the playoffs losing four of their last five games. Not a lot was expected of them in the playoffs as they were on the downward slope in a conference that contained two Super Bowl favorites in the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. Then came the turning point when the emotional leader of the Ravens for the last 17 seasons, Ray Lewis, would announce that this playoff run would be his last. Out of nowhere the Ravens would look like a new team as they would easily get by Indianapolis. Then they would take on two of the biggest favorites for the Super bowl as they would beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos along with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Both games would be thrillers that the Ravens where the Ravens would come out on top. Now after facing two of the toughest opponents in the playoffs they are back in the Super Bowl and this time they are a more complete team than when they won in 2000.

The Ravens are always built on a big and bruising defence and this year that attitude remains. The defence is still the biggest part of this team and they are led by Ray Lewis once again who is a constant force at linebacker. The difference about the Ravens this year than in years past is the fact that their offence seems to have caught up to the defence. Throughout the playoffs it has been Joe Flacco not the defence that has made the biggest impact on the team. The Ravens offence is one of opportunity as they have gone from a ground dominated team to one who can take their chances throw the air. They do still have a great ground game led by Ray Rice but Joe Flacco has emerged as the true leader and someone they can lean on when the game is on the line. With this new-found offence the Ravens are a team to be feared as defences cannot shut down the running game and expect to win. It is a change Ravens team but one that still looks to a stifling defence and good running game to win games with an added bonus of having a QB emerge as a true leader and a clutch passer if need be.

 

Storyline:
Ray’s Last Ride
– There are a lot of stories for the Ravens but none bigger than the fact that this will be the last game that Ray Lewis ever plays in the NFL as his retirement announcement has sparked something special in his team who will try to end a hall of fame career one top

Player to Watch:
Joe Flacco, QB
– Flacco is regularly forgotten when talking about the best QBs in the NFL but this year he has the chance to be put in the conversation and more than that he has a chance to take the torch from Ray Lewis and show that he has what it takes to become the new leader of the Ravens

How They Win:
Let Emotion Carry Them
– This playoff run for the Ravens has been due to one of the most immeasurable things in football and that is emotion as the retirement of Ray Lewis has given them that boost they needed and that is exactly what they need to harness to win this last game

 

San Francisco 49ers

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The 49ers are synonymous with being one of the greatest franchises in the NFL as they utterly dominated the 1980s and early 1990s with 5 Super Bowl wins under two coaches and two QBs. Since 1994 though, they have failed to meet the expectations that have been laid out by the likes of Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. They would still win divisions but it meant little when it was the worst division in the league year after year and the Niners won essentially by default. That changed in 2011 though as the second coming of Bill Walsh, Jim Harbaugh would leave an Orange Bowl winning program in Stanford and enter the NFL. Harbaugh would bring back the toughness and accountability that was missing in the bay area and the results were immediate. He would change Alex Smith from a forgettable draft pick to one of the most accurate QBs in the league. They would win the division in 2011 and go on to lose in the NFC Championships and would move in to 2012 will a lot of hope. Inconsistency would riddle their 2012 season as they would look unbeatable one week and terrible the next week. Then Alex Smith would go down with a concussion leaving the exciting but unproven sophomore Colin Kaepernick to lead the offence. He would impress in his first game and from that point on he would be the starting QB with some great games and some not so great. The questions remained as the Niners moved into the playoffs wondering if Kaepernick could lead them to the Super Bowl or if they would once again come up short. In his first playoff game as a starting QB he would break a record with 181 rushing yards against the Packers. In his next game he would use his arm throwing for 231 yards and a TD against the Atlanta Falcons. Kaepernick proved to be the man they were looking for and now he leads them into the Super Bowl looking to write the first chapter of his young career.

The Niners are a team that began 2011 built much like the Ravens have been in the past decade as they are a defensive first team. Led by linebackers Vernon Davis and Aldon Smith along with a great defensive line that includes Justin Smith, the Niners pride themselves on a hard-nosed defence and their running game. Much like the Ravens they have stuck with the defensive first mentality while becoming a much more balanced team. The one big difference will be a QB though as Colin Kaepernick has become an offensive coordinator’s dream. The Niners do not rely on Frank Gore anymore as they have been the latest team to switch to a hybrid read option-pistol offence. Much like Cam Newton or Robert Griffin, Kaepernick can run the ball or hand it off up the gut to Frank Gore depending on his read. Unlike these QBs though, Kaepernick can also run a standard west coast drop-back offence. This makes him more dangerous than most QBs as he can run to beat you or pass making him a difficult riddle to solve. This offence has made the Niners a dangerous team that can give the Ravens a lot of problems in a lot of different areas.

 

Storyline:
Return of the Franchise
– They are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history but their last of five title came in 1994 and they have yet to return to the Super Bowl but now they have a chance to cap off what looks like the return of a legendary franchise

Player to Watch:
Colin Kaepernick, QB
– In a team where there are a few players to look out for there are none bigger than the quarterback who will be playing in only his 10th game as a starter and will be the key to how well the Niners do in this game

How They Win:
Let Kaep work his magic
– Kaepernick is good both on his feet and with his arm and because of this he is the key to the Niners winning as he needs to be able to do what he does in order to keep a very good defence off-balance is the Niners hope to win this game

Super Bowl XLVII:
San Francisco 49ers 30 – 27 Baltimore Ravens
It is one of the most difficult games to predict as it will either be the emotion of the Ravens or the better team in the Niners and in the end I have to go with the better team as Colin Kaepernick will do enough to keep the Ravens off-balance while the Ravens offence will find it tough against the Niners defence although this game will come down to a last second field goal, even if it is by David Akers, for the Niners 6th Super Bowl

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