After two weeks of breaking down almost every aspect of the big game, it is almost time for the Super Bowl to almost begin. Everybody has their opinion of what could, or should, happen in New Orleans tonight, but here is what I think will play out between San Francisco and Baltimore.
Final Score: San Francisco 49ers: 27, Baltimore Ravens 21
Super Bowl MVP: Frank Gore (100+ yards, 2TDs)
When the 49ers have the ball:
49ers Offense: Now that everybody is aware of the “new” read option offense that the 49ers now run, Baltimore will do everything possible to stop it. The only problem for the Ravens will be which person do they try to contain. With the emergence of Colin Kaepernick and his abilities running the football and the potential for breaking open a big play, I believe the Ravens will choose to clue in on him and contain him the most. This is what the Falcons did during the latter part of the NFC Championship game. While Kaepernick may not have the huge game running that people are looking for, he would be wise to let his running backs take charge behind one of the best offensive lines in football. If this happens, Gore could turn into the one who puts the team on his back. He could be in a position to get over 100 yards and a couple touchdowns in a MVP performance. With that strong running game, Kaepernick could be in a position where he just has to hit a couple big passes that could put this game away. In this sense, playmakers like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Randy Moss could deliver in huge moments throughout the game.
Ravens Defense: Ray Lewis will have his unit ready to play. If anybody has the ability and overall football IQ to get the job done, it is these guys. With a secondary that could match up against the receivers, and a linebacking core that could keep up against Vernon Davis, it will come down to how they stop the running game. What could come back to hurt Lewis, Suggs, and company could be their aggressiveness when trying to contain Kaepernick. If Suggs rushes too far, or Lewis anticipates the wrong thing, and it could mean touchdown. This is where I think the game could hang in the balance,
When the Ravens have the ball:
Ravens Offense: Joe Flacco is on a mission to prove that he is indeed elite. This is not the defense to do it against. He needs to utilize his weapons such as Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, and Anquan Boldin and let them do the work. His tight ends may not provide much against linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. The running game may struggle against a stout 49ers defense. Flacco may be able to hit some deep passes to Boldin and Smith with a secondary that has not exactly been the best, but that will open up opportunities for interceptions as well. The Ravens offense may be in for the roughest test of any unit in this game.
49ers Defense: Although the Ravens defense has the biggest reputation, it may be the 49ers defense that is the best. They should be able to control the running game for the most part, and could in turn focus their abilities to the passing game of the Ravens. With Flacco and his tendency for the deep ball, the 49ers secondary could have a couple of opportunities for turnovers, and if they capitalize could turn this game into a rout. This unit is looking for respect, and are looking to get it on the biggest stage of all of sports.
If this game is close:
If the score is close going into the final minutes, I expect the 49ers to be ahead. Baltimore will ramp up their defense to get the ball to Flacco but the 49ers will be ready. I fully expect this game to end on an interception to seal it. Something like a Flacco deep pass to Torrey Smith that gets picked off by Carlos Rogers. Kneel down by Kaepernick, game over.