It’s a Harbaugh world and the rest of us are just paying rent.
Of course, Super Bowl week allowed us all to have some fun saying something I never thought I’d have an opportunity to put together in a phrase: “Deer-antler spray!”
I recommend you try it. Just blurt it out there. You’ll be happy you did, even if those around you will more than likely believe you’ve completely lost your mind.
The Baltimore Ravens got to the Super Bowl by winning a wild-card playoff game at home over the Indianapolis Colts, then going on the road to take down Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in consecutive weeks. Not bad for a defense that did not have a great statistical year, ranking just 17th in the league in total defense, 17th in passing defense and only 20th against the run.
The San Francisco 49ers are riding the wave of a new read-option run game that is being run to an assassin’s level of perfection by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will be making just his 10th NFL start in the Super Bowl. The only quarterbacks in Super Bowl history to have fewer starts at the time they took the opening snap in the big game at the end? Jeff Hostetler of the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV (a winner over the Buffalo Bills) and Vince Ferragamo of the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV (a loser to the Pittsburgh Steelers).
There are two key factors in this game. If the 49ers can generate the pass rush that has been missing since Justin Smith was injured late in the regular season, San Francisco could make life miserable for Joe Flacco—who has been red-hot in the playoffs with eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his three games.
The other factor is Kaepernick. If he can continue to do what he’s done in the first two playoff games—which is to take what the defense gives him in the read-option game—the 49ers will be in a good position to win. Against Green Bay in the divisional round, the Packers accounted for Frank Gore and Kaepernick ran wild. Against Atlanta in the NFC Championship, the Falcons accounted for Kaepernick and got chewed up by Gore and LaMichael James.
The Ravens will be inspired by the pending retirement of Ray Lewis—of course, it’s the Super Bowl, so I question how much extra motivation a dude really needs at this point—but San Francisco has more advantages. This should be a good, tight game, but the 49ers collected their sixth Lombardi Trophy. 49ers (minus 3 ½) over Ravens, 27-21.
Championship Sunday: 1-0-1