After hours of watching various sports networks (NFL Network, ESPN, CBS sports) and reading more articles than I can imagine (SI, Grantland, Yahoo! Sports) it finally comes down to one final game in this NFL season. Let’s just take a moment to remember the 2012 season: from the replacement refs, to the fail mary, to AP and Peyton’s incredible comeback season, to the sensational rookies, to the Pagano speech, to the ridiculous divisional playoff round. It was an excellent season and I think it’s time to culminate it by what I think will be a great game. One thing is for sure, the Ravens and 49ers are two teams that like to overpower their opponents so expect a very physical game. Here are the match ups that I think will make the biggest impact come Sunday evening:
Can the Ravens defense get enough pressure on Kaepernick? The 49ers offensive line is among the best in the NFL, if not the best and the result is a very effective and efficient offense for the Niners. Stack the line and Kaepernick will use his fastball to find his receivers. Toss in nickle/dime packages and the Niners run a deadly pistol scheme. It’ll be interesting to see how a veteran and experienced defense like the Ravens will handle the offense after two weeks of preparation. Can the Ravens offense make the big plays downfield? If you’re going to try and exploit a certain aspect of the Niners defense, it’s going to be their secondary. The Ravens certainly have the QB (can Flacco continue to be elite?) and the weapons on offense to take advantage of a mismatch. Two x-factors that I like: back up RBs Bernard Pierce (Ravens) and LaMichael James (Niners) because I think they’re both capable of making big plays, despite not being the marquee names.
Prediction: It took me a while to try and figure out how this game will play out because I feel these teams are very evenly matched but in different manners. The Ravens are more of a “Cinderella” type story, many picking them to lose against the Broncos AND the Patriots. The 49ers are the more balanced and poised team, going down early in both playoff games but recovering very effectively. The coaching is dead even, both Harbaugh brothers are among the best in the league. It’s impossible to predict how either team will perform when it comes to special teams. I feel like the glaring mismatch comes at the line of scrimmage in favor of the 49ers. You know, the “trenches” or whatever analysts like to call that part of the team. If one team is going to dominate a certain part of the game, it’s going like the offense and defensive lines for the Niners. Sure, the Ravens are completely capable of winning this game with big plays on either side of the ball but i’m going with what’s probable as opposed to what’s possible. From head to toe, the Niners are a slightly better team.
49ers- 27 Ravens- 24
Enjoy the game, the commercials and Beyonce at halftime everyone. And as always: Go Cowboys!View All Photos ›