By Will Martin
We’re a few hours away from Super Bowl XLVII in the Big Easy where the hype will soon end and be over and done with.
Rarely have we seen a game where the actual result meets the hype. Hence the two week buildup and subsequent letdown.
The NFL has a chance to be witness to something really rare. A 3rd straight Super Bowl in which the margin of victory has been a touchdown or less. Can it happen? Will it happen? My gut instincts say no.
Six previous Super Bowls played indoors in New Orleans have shown a trend for the blowout. As we have been witness to during the run of Bowl games a 35 day layoff tends to throw off your timing, momentum, familiarity, pick an adverb. A two week layoff for both contending teams will do the same. There is also an added fact to ponder.
San Francisco plays by the Bay. Near sea level on natural grass where the turf can be incredibly fast or like a blues axeman on a rainy day-Muddy Waters which makes for a more sloppy warrior dash in the elements. It is how football should be played.
This being the NFL the main concern is making things fan friendly, convenient, comfortable for viewing in person or watching on television. The wine and cheese nippers might feel a little out of their element playing on artificial turf. Especially if the Ravens figure out how to unflex Kaepernick or stifle Frank Gore.
Baltimore is also a port city with a rich history. Very much a blue collar town with loyal, visceral, and passionate fans. A team that is led by defense and a suddenly burgeoning offense with Mr. 10-0 (as in touchdowns to interceptions) Joe Flacco leading the charge at the quarterback position and Ray Rice to hand off to.
Two teams who had to battle in cold weather climates (to get in) now get to play in a temperature controlled Super Dome in Louisiana. Does this favor either team? If you want to get technical perhaps the 49ers since this is an NFC locale.
Nevertheless there have been so many people who have accosted me to say, ‘this sure feels like 2001. Rookie quarterback takes the place of an established starter and goes all the way!’ Upon further review let me state that the 2012 49ers are not the 2001 Rams. Not even close. The 2012 Ravens are more like that Patriots of 2001 team with a little experience on the playoff side.
Back in 2001 I stated ‘defense wins championships’. Using that logic this should favor Baltimore, hands down. Whether you like Ray Lewis or not, his performance on the field has been unbelievable since his pro inception 17 years ago. With other crafty assistance from men like Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs my guess is that we will see a game where Baltimore creates turnovers defensively.
No one has been giving much kudos to Joe Flacco for what he has done in 2012. Remember that the fault was not his when Lee Evans dropped a sure touchdown pass in New England last year or when Billy Cundiff went wide left.
Super Bowl XLVII is going to be the coming out party for Joe Flacco as an elite quarterback after the game has been decided in Baltimore’s favor. This isn’t a knock on San Francisco whatsoever. I like what they accomplished to get here and overcoming a 17 point deficit in Atlanta two weeks ago. Colin Kaepernick has had an amazing season. I simply refuse to believe a perceived rookie can do what two Hall-Of-Fame quarterbacks have not. Show us how Colin reacts when dealing with a relentless stream of pressure from the Ravens front four.
This is not to say that San Francisco won’t get big runs and gains on the ground. Questions abound on how much or how little Randy Moss will get the ball. My guess is little due to double teams. The special teams of San Francisco may be what will keep this game close initially.
Only once have we seen a close game in the Super Dome. That was 11 years ago today. It won’t happen today. Even amongst the Band Of Brothers do not be surprised if Baltimore wins this game handily, say 25-15 or 35-25 (That’s my pick for squares, sorry!).
In 1980 Rod Martin got three interceptions on this day on defense for Oakland. I think we may see this happen again today for Ed Reed. Joe Flacco will be your MVP with some stellar ball control offense to the tune of 39-41 minutes.
Niners fans: No 6-0 sorry to say. By all means do enjoy the game wherever you choose to watch.
Also remember that:
1. A rolling Moss gathers no Rice…
2. No Deer? Buck You!
3. There is no Phat in Flacco!
4. a RAVENous appetite cannot be denied!
5. This is XLVII…San Fran-You’re two years early. Too late!