It is the end of the NFL year. The Ravens of Baltimore will play the 49ers of San Francisco. The game will be held at the Superdome in New Orleans. The NFL celebrates its championship for the 47th time. For the first time ever, the game will feature coaches who happen to be brothers facing off against each other. The coach of the Ravens is John Harbaugh and the coach of the 49ers is his younger brother, Jim Harbaugh. So the game may also be referred to as the "Bro-Bowl." That will be gaining coverage, as well as their father Jack Harbaugh. As usual, I will write this year the case for each team and then end it with my prediction.
The Case For The Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens had been scuffling a little bit, losing four out of their last five weeks of the season to end the year 10-6. The Ravens then allowed only field goals to Indianapolis while they scored touchdowns. Then they had a miraculous win in Denver where they grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat. They followed that up with a really stifling defensive effort in manhandling New England. Baltimore beat the best of the AFC to get here.
The quarterback of the Ravens is Joe Flacco. He is known as a laid back cerebral player. But what I have seen from the Baltimore offense is the ability to take large chances downfield to the very talented wide receiver duo of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. Throw in a decent tight end in Dennis Pitta and those are enough weapons to get the job done in any circumstance.
The Baltimore Ravens used to be known for their defense. This year it was 16th in the league in allowing yards at 352.5 per game. The rush defense was a little bit better than their pass defense. In the playoffs they have specialized in a bend-but-don't-break defense. Indianapolis got to the red zone several times in their game against Baltimore but only came away with field goals.
The Baltimore Ravens' back story is the impending retirement of their outstanding linebacker Ray Lewis. Ever since he announced his retirement, the team has played better and better each game.
The Case For The San Francisco 49ers
Where have you been San Francisco? The 49ers are back in the Super Bowl for a sixth time. They are 5-0 all-time and they are a franchise that dominated the NFL landscape in parts of the 1980s and 1990s.
The 49ers had a record of 5-2-1 after their bye week. They impressively defeated New England at New England on Dec. 16. They also woefully lost to St. Louis on Dec. 2. They had impressive victories over the Green Bay Packers and a squeaker on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. This team was down early in both of those games but came back to win in each case, meaning the 49ers are resilient and cannot be counted out.
The quarterback of the 49ers is Colin Kaepernick. He is the answer to the defenses that stymied the West Coast offense. With his running ability and his strong arm and the ability to get the ball downfield he is a chaotic force in the pocket. His arm and decision making along with wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis give him an arsenal as well. His legs give him the advantage over any opponent. Running back Frank Gore gives the 49ers more of a running offense than Baltimore.
The 49ers went to Kaepernick over Alex Smith and have never looked back. His electric arm and proper decision making have made the 49ers a tour-de-force.
The 49ers' back story is riding the arm of Kaepernick.
The matchup is the bend-but-don't-break defense of the Baltimore Ravens against the downfield passing of Kaepernick. Will San Francisco score in the red zone? To add insult to injury, San Francisco's kicker is David Akers. He attempted 42 field goals and has missed 13.
When you live by the greatness of an arm, you also don't. I say that Kaepernick plays alright, but when you swap out three points or none in the red zone for possessions, you do not win.
I go with the Baltimore Ravens!
See you in August!
Have a safe spring and summer.
Tim can now be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcomes your opinions on the "Diary of a Fantasy Virgin" articles.