We were spot on with our Giants pick in last year’s Super Brawl vs New England and look to start a trend with our selection this Sunday at 6:30 P.M. EST. We have stayed clear of a lot of the same news and stories that have been bandied about for two weeks in the media and have basically stuck to just facts and stats to come up with our decision. Here now is our take on the Big Game…
For starters, both teams are very well evenly matched which should bring us all a competitive & exciting game; the kind we’ve been spoiled with over the past several years. They both had similar regular season records. Frisco at 11-4-1 and the Ravens at 10-6. Both running backs are tops in the league and also have similar stats; Raven’s Ray Rice 1214 rushing yards and 4.7 YPC. Frank Gore finished the season with 1143 yards and 4.4. So no ‘clear cut’ edge in this department.
In total offense, again, it’s pretty even with the 49ers at 361.8 yards per game vs 352.5 YPG for the Ravens. On defense the 49ers have an edge with 294.4 yards allowed per game while the Ravens check in at 350.9 YPG.
As far as sacks are concerned it’s a mixed bag. Niner’s Aldon Smith had 19.5 sacks in the regular season which was slightly more than doubled Ravens sack leader Paul Kruger who had nine, however, Smith has not recorded a sack since way back in week 13…
Even in kickoff returns it was ever so close when you check the numbers. Ravens speedster Jacoby Jones had a kickoff return average of 30.7 yards while the 49ers return man, LaMichael (don’t call me LeBron) James ended up with 29.8. No big disparity there.
So who are we picking and why? We’re going with the Baltimore Ravens and essentially it’s for four reasons:
1. We like the way that another slightly above average team during the regular season (remember they lost 4 out of 5 at one point), has come on strong at the end of the season and has turned it up a notch by beating two pretty good road teams at Denver and New England. You have to get some recognition when you can beat Peyton Manning and hold Tom Brady scoreless in the second-half on the road. It’s reminiscent of the Packers, Giants-on two occasions- and the Steelers runs for the championship. There is just something about teams that can get hot in the post-season that seems to be the trend of late.
2. The over-played out drama that Ray Lewis’ retirement announcement has brought to the table, has an intangible that could continue to help drive the Ravens towards a victory on February 3rd. Lewis has made his living fostering an energy level with his team using his passion and leadership qualities that has clearly resonated with his teammates. Emotional lifts can push a team or player to heights that otherwise might not be attainable. Think Indianapolis and how that team performed for coach Chuck Pagano recovering from Leukemia and Ravens WR Torrey Smith, who less than 24 hours after losing his brother in a motorcycle accident caught 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns.
3. Sports, it is been said can be a ‘game of inches’. All sports! Should this Super Bowl be a close one, the overwhelming edge would have to go to K Justin Tucker who finished the season connecting on 30 of 33 field goals (91% average), while his San Francisco counterpart, veteran David Akers, missed 13 field goals while hitting just 29 of 42 for a 69% average. Little impact on a Super Bowl? Who can forget, for example, Bills K Scott Norwood’s 47 yard attempted field goal that went “Wide Right” with 8 seconds remaining vs the Giants in Super Bowl XXV?
4. The biggest and most stressful position in all of sports is quarterback. Joe Flacco has way more experience than Colin Kaepernick and that will be crucial in a game played on the largest stage there is.
Ravens are the pick here. Lets just hope for a competitive and exciting game!