As we head into the last few days before Super Bowl 47, the sports channels have been hitting us with wave after wave of news and analysis. We've seen analysis including everything from the game itself, to how well Beyoncé will perform during the half-time show after her Presidential Inauguration lip-syncing debacle. Many football fans I have talked to don't seem to be into this particular game like past games. It's not like the Ravens and 49ers have that oomph that teams like the Packers and Patriots have every year. But still, it's football. And since this is the last game of the 2012-1013 season, might as well savor it as much as possible.
I won't inundate you with news that's already been regurgitated by ESPN and the NFL Network over and over again the last several days. You can find that stuff anywhere. There really is only one key item I'd like to talk about that I will heavily invest my attention in. And that is:
Can The Ravens Defense Stop Colin Kaepernick?
Even though I had been high on Kaepernick the entire year, I never thought he could perform THIS well. To go from the "clipboard holder" in Week One to playing in the Super Bowl the same year is a pretty hefty feat, even if the 49ers don't win. Kaepernick's passing stats don't exactly scream out Super Bowl caliber quarterback, however. Kaepernick currently ranks No. 9 amongst all 2012 playoff quarterbacks in terms of passing yards a game, averaging 248 yards. Not bad, but not a huge stat by any means. Hell, Alex Smith averaged a little over 247 passing yards during last year's playoff run and many considered him the least effective quarterback during the Conference Championships.
But the one thing that sets Kaepernick apart from the rest are his legs and ability to run and make big plays on the ground. He ranks 3rd overall amongst all rushers with 101 rushing yards a game this postseason, behind only Arian Foster (115) and teammate Frank Gore (104.5). Like the Falcons, I think the Ravens are going to have much trouble containing Kaepernick's rushing yards. When the Falcons lined up to stop Kaepernick near the goal line last week, it only took a hand off to Gore to rush in a score. Having a good running back is what makes Kaepernick that much more special.
The Ravens have yet to see this kind of quarterback in this year's playoffs, having faced Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. All of whom were top passers in the league in 2012, but combined for a total of 294 rushing yards during the regular season. It would help the Ravens if they had some resemblance of a passing defense, but they've allowed a whopping average of 286.7 yards. To be able to stop Kaepermick on the ground is going to be rough, but they are also going to have to figure out a way to contain the likes of Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis (maybe?).
If Kaepernick wins the Super Bowl, he will have officially ushered in the era of a new breed of quarterbacks who can make all the throws (Something Michael Vick lacked), but can also use their legs to make plays. We've already seen a glimpse of this with RG3 and Russell Wilson. This trend should continue.
If the Ravens want a chance to win, they are going to have to continue to put up monster points like they did against the Broncos and the Patriots. I'd be surprised if Baltimore's defense flipped a switch and played like a top-10 unit. It also doesn't help that Ray Lewis is in the news due to allegedly purchasing an NFL banned substance to help with recovery from a torn triceps injury. Although, I don't see this being that much of a distraction. Especially since Lewis will retire after the season regardless of a win or loss. The 49ers Defense hasn't been all that great either in regards to points given up so far, so I predict a high-scoring game. In the end, the 49ers will find a way to win. I'll also go so far as to predict Kaepernick himself will be named Super Bowl MVP, thus completing a magical season.
Think the Ravens can pull it out? Am I giving too much love to Kaepernick? Let me know in the comments section below. BTW, if you haven't checked out my Super Bowl Party Snacks article, I suggest you do so. Nothing like the big game, a cold brew and filling yourself up with food that would make a dietician cringe.