Superbowl Preview

49ers

Offence

All the talk surrounding the San Francisco 49ers is focused on quarterback Colin Kaepernick—and rightfully so. The 2011 second round pick has sent former starter Alex Smith to the bench, just like Tom Brady did to Drew Bledsoe back in 2011. When Kaepernick beat Brady in Foxborough in Week 15, it vaulted the young quarterback into the national spotlight and had most observers pining for a Super Bowl rematch of that Monday night thriller. However the Baltimore Ravens had something to say about that; we will instead be treated to Ray Lewis’ dance one last time.

For the 49ers to come away victorious in Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick will have to play like a star. However, there are two players on San Francisco’s offence who must also come up huge in order to win this game: Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree. Neither are sleepers by any means; the former is a Pro Bowl running back, while the latter is a wide receiver who caught 85 balls for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. If the 49ers win on Super Bowl Sunday, expect both players to have put up big numbers.

Part of what makes Kaepernick such a threat is the fact that San Francisco has numerous playmakers in the running and passing game. When opponents focus on shutting down those playmakers, Kaepernick breaks off highlight-reel runs. But when opposing teams put the pressure on Kaepernick, he finds his stars, like Gore and Crabtree, for big gains.

 

Defence

With the narrative set on Colin Kaepernick, it’s easy to forget that the 49ers’ brand, for the better part of a decade, has been its stout defence. 2012 has been no different, as the San Fran D boasts no less than six Pro Bowlers. No doubt that they’re incredibly upset that they couldn’t play in Honolulu.

Three linebackers, both safeties, and a lineman got the invitation—over half of the team’s starting eleven. As you can tell, the defence is just as much of a threat as the Kaepernick-led offence, and has an equal chance to make a game-changing play in the Super Bowl. At the very least, their defence is capable of controlling the field position game—which could make the difference in a tight contest.

 

X-factor

David Akers. He fits in perfectly to the x-factor mould, due to his exceptional talent, but suffering through a struggling season. Akers holds 10 NFL records over his 16 year career, including six Pro Bowl nods.

However, this season has not been his greatest—hitting only 69 per cent of his kicks, despite having an 81 per cent career success rate. His lowest came on Nov. 25 against the Saints where he went 1-3 with a long of 27 yards and a blocked 33 yard attempt.

Which Akers is going to show up on Sunday? The one who can kick 63 yards, or the one who can’t hit 30? The answer is unclear at this time, but it will factor into the final score immensely. If Akers brings his A-game, this one is a lock for the Niners.

 

Ravens

Offence

For years now, the Ravens have created an identity as a ‘ground-and-pound’ team that is more than satisfied to play a smash-mouth brand of offensive football. Led by pint-sized dynamo Ray Rice—who compiled his fourth consecutive 1000-yard season—the Ravens are committed to wearing opposing defences out behind an offensive line that averages at 6’5 and 325 lbs. This unit combines veteran grit and savvy with youthful athleticism and sheer power, and has manhandled opponents at the line of scrimmage in the playoffs. What separates them from the rest of the pack, however, is the emergence of Joe Flacco as an elite quarterback. Flacco has shed the dreaded label of “game manager” and has morphed into a confident and mistake-free gunslinger. Flacco, unlike his 49ers counterpart, is a proven commodity in the playoffs, and has shown the poise necessary to handle big time situations—just ask the Denver Broncos secondary. Flacco’s weapons complement the ground game, as receiver Torrey Smith stretches the defence, and Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta control the middle of the field.

 

Defence

The Ravens’ defence, for the past decade, has wreaked havoc and caused nightmares around the league. The team didn’t live up to this mantra during the regular season, as stalwarts Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs both missed extended periods of time; subsequently, the defence struggled to stop opponents. However, with the two of them healthy, Baltimore has allowed the fewest points per game in the playoffs, a sign of a unit peaking at the right time. The line is stacked with space-eating goliaths, like Haloti Ngata, who will attempt to clog any running lanes. Behind them is a feared linebacking crew that is led by perennial pro-bowlers Lewis and Suggs. Ed Reed, who still has a knack for coming up with the game changing play when his team needs it most, leads the secondary. The question will be whether the defence can handle Colin Kaepernick in the read option scheme. Kaepernick is still raw in many senses—inexperienced for the pressure that will be thrown at him from all directions. Yes, he may break off a few long runs or string together a few nice passes, but this defence is aggressive, mobile, and smart; therefore they are well equipped to shut Kaepernick down.

 

X-factor

Ray Anthony Lewis. Could it be anything or anyone other than Ray-Ray? Following the announcement of his upcoming retirement at season’s end, the Ravens have rallied around their unquestioned leader and are the hottest team in football. Lewis has played his entire career with a chip on his shoulder, and the rest of his team has adopted this mindset—playing as though it’s them against the world. The Ravens bleed black and purple because of Lewis and his will to win. Some may call it dumb luck that has guided the Ravens this far, while others may say destiny. To me, it seems like the stars have aligned around #52, and they will only settle once he ends his career hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

 

Super Bowl predictions

Name: Jeff Downey

Position: Sports Editor

Prediciton: San Francisco 34, Baltimore 27

 

Name: Steven Lampert

Position: Sports Editor

Prediciton: Baltimore 24, San Francisco 21

 

Name: Adam Sadisnky

Position: Managing Editor

Prediciton: San Francisco 27, Baltimore 23

 

Name: Elisa Muyl

Position: Editor-in-Chief

Prediciton: Baltimore 100, San Francisco 5

 

Name: Andra Cernavskas

Position: News Editor

Prediciton: San Francisco 31, Baltimore 24

 

Name: Earl Zuckerman

Position: McGill Athletics Communications Officer

Prediciton: San Francisco 31, Baltimore 24

 

Name: Josh Redel

Position: SSMU President

Prediciton: San Francisco 24, Baltimore 20

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*