Super Bowl Preview: Baltimore Ravens v. San Francisco 49ers, Feb. 3, 2013 at 6:30pm EST on CBS
There are more reasons to watch this game and more compelling storylines, some of which emerged this week, than any game in recent memory. Here are the top five reasons to tune into the Har… I mean Super Bowl.
1. The Harbaugh Bros.– It really is a fascinating storyline to have two brothers, both relatively new in their positions, emerge as the NFL’s elite coaches facing each other in the Super Bowl. Watching the “family affair” that the Super Bowl has become, it is clear that these two will be among the top coaches in this league for a very long time. It is also clear that, while both brothers are fiery, passionate, football geniuses cut from the same cloth, the two are also very different. John, who coaches the Ravens, has been much more laid back this week while Jim, who coaches the San Francisco 49ers, seems to have much more of an edge. It will be interesting to watch the two pace the sidelines and to see one brother bask in glory while the other feels as though he has been kicked in the gut at the end.
2. Unheralded QBs with the chance to shine – Nevada and Delaware are not exactly known for producing Super Bowl caliber quarterbacks, yet San Francisco and Baltimore have starting quarterbacks that come from those less-than-highly-regarded college programs. After only nine starts, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken the nation by storm while the often overlooked Joe Flacco, of the Ravens, has made great strides and will be looking to make top-quarterback-level money this season. The matchup of the two quarterbacks may be the difference in the outcome of the ball game.
3. Ray Lewis- Arguably one of the game’s most iconic players, Ray Lewis will have his swan song on the biggest stage in all of sports. Whether Lewis, whose career is still somewhat tainted by his association with the Atlanta murder, is deserving of the adoration that has been heaped upon him during his farewell tour is up for discussion. However, it is undeniable that he has been the best defensive player on one of the best and most consistent defensive teams over a decade. His impact on the game has been incredible, his ability and passion undeniable, and the fact that this will be the last time he puts on pads makes this a special game to watch.
4. San Francisco’s offensive weapons– Colin Kaepernick has received all the attention and a lot of deserved praise has been heaped on the line and defense of the 49ers. However, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Randy Moss, and others make for a compelling group of weapons on offense. Crabtree is an outstanding receiver who was drafted lower than originally expected because of a lack of blazing speed, whereas Davis has been a revolutionary tight end because of top end speed at the position. Moss is perhaps the most talented receiver in the history of the game but in the twilight of his career, and Gore has been one of the most overlooked, workman-like backs over the last several years. This is a great and diverse group of players and any one of them could provide a breakout play.
5. An anti-Obama brand of football– President Barack Obama, like all too many folks these days, is calling for a less physical brand of football. While proper education and equipment are great steps for the NFL to take to keep player safe, changing the game, which by nature is a “violent” sport, is not the way to go. I do not know how much longer the NFL we see today will remain a physical contact sport, but I do know that old school, smash mouth, physical football will be on display on Sunday. These coaches love the physical nature of the game, and it was clear from their discussions this week that they would prefer the President stay out of trying to change football. (Maybe he could actually focus on the economy???) Anyway, this is a classic, physical matchup that you will not want to miss.
Honorable Mention- The “other” defenders, Gore v. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, and the 49ers seeking to recapture glory and remain perfect in Super Bowls.
I genuinely think that this is going to be one of the better Super Bowls in recent memory, and there have been some great ones. At the end of the season, I feel that we are seeing the two best teams in the NFL, playing at their peak, and with a whole lot to play for. While this one is very close to call, I am picking the older bro to win out. Harbaugh has a cooler approach, a team with more experience, and one of the NFL’s all-time greats who will not allow his team to lose.
Baltimore 27, San Francisco 24