Super Bowl XLVII is this upcoming Sunday and the media coverage is already in a frenzy. The same story lines of the Harbaugh brothers, Ray Lewis and Colin Kaepernick are sure to grow old by Sunday. However, what won’t grow old is the anticipation we all feel for the most important and exciting sporting event of the year in the U.S. and this year’s matchup features two of the most physical teams in the NFL.
In my honest opinion, Ray Lewis is a genius for announcing his retirement at the time he did. He is the unquestioned leader for the Ravens and his teammates have played hard to ensure he ends an illustrious career as a winner. I don’t think the Ravens would have made it all the way to the Super Bowl had it not been for Lewis retiring. Maybe I am overanalyzing the impact Lewis’ retirement has had as a motivational tool for the Ravens, but ever since he has returned from injury and announced his retirement, Baltimore has looked like a completely different team.
Jim Harbaugh, meanwhile, looks like a genius after making the risky move to replace Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick midseason. Kaepernick has used his rocket arm and athleticism to give the 49ers a multidimensional offensive attack that holds defenses accountable for every weapon in the Niners’ arsenal.
Previewing this game, I think the Niners finally end Ray Lewis’ quest for a final Super Bowl. No one has been able to slow down Kaepernick since he has erupted onto the scene and although the Ravens may be the team best equipped to do so, the Niners are too physically imposing to lose. San Francisco features an offensive attack that can pound the middle of the field with Frank Gore, beat you on the outside with LaMichael James and Kaepernick and burn you over the top to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, especially on the play-action pass. They are a team that can win by running for 200 yards one week and passing for 300 the next. The 49ers possess too many weapons that can spread the field and no defense, not even the Ravens will be able to account for all of them.
Many have worried about Kaepernick becoming injured, but he is a big quarterback. He does not have a slim frame like an RGIII or Michael Vick. Kaepernick is a load and rarely gets tackled. He is the master of deception and ran the Pistol offense at Nevada, so I wouldn’t worry too much about him getting hurt, even against a physically dominating defense like the Ravens.
I predict Kaepernick will run for roughly 60 yards on Sunday and score three total touchdowns. Frank Gore will also record a rushing touchdown, and Michael Crabtree will either catch a touchdown or rack up a 100-yard day. Vernon Davis might even get into some of the action with a touchdown as well.
Baltimore’s X-factor will be Joe Flacco and his ability to find Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith down the field. If the offensive line can give Flacco time to find the open man downfield, the Ravens will have a chance to keep up with San Francisco’s offensive attack.
But, with Justin Smith two weeks healthier, he and Aldon Smith will be able to pressure Flacco and account for at least two sacks in the game. Joe Flacco needs a Super Bowl to elevate him into the elite status of quarterbacks, but I just don’t think he continues to perform at a superstar level against the Niners.
Finally, this Super Bowl pits two brothers with an immense competitive spirit against each other in the biggest game of their respective careers. If you’ve ever seen the Harbaugh brothers, you know they come to win every time and do not take it lightly when they fail to do so. I’m not sure if it is a blessing or a curse for siblings to have to face each other on such an illuminating and intense national stage, but it sure does make one hell of a story.
Whether Ray Lewis sails off into the sunset with one final ring or San Francisco improves to 6-0 in Super Bowls and establishes itself as a dominant team for seasons to come, this Super Bowl Sunday will be one to remember.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of January 30th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.