2013 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl XLVII Preview

February 2, 2013

Tomorrow is the big day. I’m sure you all have heard enough about it by now if you’ve left your TV set on ESPN the past two weeks.

Fortunately, I found a way to avoid most of the pregame chatter, finding better things to do with my time. As difficult as it sounds, it actually was pretty easy.

But like just about any other sports fan, I’m ready for this game to be played now. It really is a great matchup between two of the better coaches in the entire league, with some interesting story lines which have all been strung out by the worldwide leader over the past 12 days.

Here is my much shorter preview of Super Bowl XLVII.

Super Bowl XLVII (Sunday, 6:30 PM ET)

San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Two very good teams, both of which made it to their respective conference championship games last season, will face off in New Orleans for the Lombardi Trophy. No one seems totally surprised that either squad made it this far, but how many people would be able to raise their hand and say they picked these teams to be playing on the final weekend back in August?

Chances are, not many.

There is a certain grittiness to the Harbaugh brothers’ teams, but for very different reasons. For San Francisco, the decision to ride the hot hand in Colin Kaepernick after Alex Smith suffered a concussion on November 11th was controversial at the time, but has proven to be the correct decision, at least from a wins and losses standpoint.

For Baltimore, the rallying behind Ray Lewis, who announced he will retire after the conclusion of the season, has been something special to watch. Left for dead in the Divisional Round game against Denver, Joe Flacco silenced all critics with a tremendous performance that saw him come out of the Mile High City with a playoff victory over Peyton Manning. A week later, he did it again against  Tom Brady.

A story of two quarterbacks that in the matter of a few key weekends, have solidified their positions as the leaders of the next wave of potential stars. However, the next game is more important than that. Each young man has the chance to capture a ring early in his career, which is the ultimate goal for any NFL quarterback.

Kaepernick is without a doubt the more electric athlete. A threat through the air and on the ground, he has been able to carve up defenses similarly to the way he did in college while playing at Nevada. It’s crazy to some, but to others its just a testament to the fact that the read option can work if the guy truly has an arm to go with his golden legs.

Flacco has been in the league longer, and has definitely heard more criticism about his game. Despite being the only quarterback to win a playoff game in his first six years in the league, he has been labeled as a system player and connotatively as a game manager. What’s really so bad about a game manager, though? Because if not making a mistake the entire game and only letting it rip when the team really needs you to is considered underachieving, then more quarterbacks should underachieve.

Ultimately, Super Bowl XLVII will come down to the play of these two men. Game manager or game-changer, the fact is that the one who makes fewer mistakes will set his team up with the best shot to win. Both defenses are solid and have been playing well throughout these playoffs. Ray Lewis has invigorated a unit that probably wasn’t as strong heading into the playoffs, but is scary now. Each side will have its share of shining moments.

Surprisingly, I don’t think that coaching will have a major effect on the game. I believe Jim and John are a couple of the best coaches in the NFL, and have the uncanny ability to recognize when to take a chance in a crucial moment. When all is said and done, the media won’t be debating a decision made by one of these two men that could have altered the outcome of the game.

So, who do I have?

I like the 49ers because of their ability to score at will. Coming back from a 17-point deficit against Atlanta is nothing to scoff at,  even though they had to get into that hole first in order to climb out of it.

However, something tells me that the Ravens have a lot of non-football related factors helping them out. The intensity of Ray Lewis is one thing, and Joe Flacco’s giant-sized chip on his shoulder is another. After watching the Denver game three weeks ago, I knew I’d be riding Baltimore for as long as it stayed alive.

Thus, I’m going with the Ravens. My roommates won’t like me for it, but that’s part of what makes the pick fun.

My Pick: 27-23 Baltimore

– K. Becks

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