First of all they renamed this game in honor of two great young head coaches. It's The "Harbowl" between brothers Jim and John. That's about as unlikely as two brothers playing against each other in the championship. Excuse me Peyton and Eli.
One of the big headlines for the 49ers during the course of the season was the decision to make 2nd year quarterback Colin Kaepernick the starter for the duration of the season. A move that was highly criticized but has proven to be the correct call. The Ravens made their own late season change on offense when they gave the play calling duties to Jim Caldwell in the wake of Cam Cameron being fired.
The 49ers have some all timers going for their first ring with guys like Randy Moss and Frank Gore who became the Niners all time leading rusher. Moss would love to cap off his incredible career as a dominating wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring.
Perhaps the biggest story line leading up to this title match up is the retirement of Ray Lewis following the game. Lewis is no doubt one of the best linebackers that ever played football. His story and history are well documented. During the course of his hall of fame career, Lewis won over the fans and became one of the most beloved players in the NFL. He has truly become an icon in this league and is one of the most well respected men to ever lace up the cleats.
But his career continues to be covered in a cloud of controversy. After the murder case in Atlanta, Ray Lewis was constantly hounded by the media about the details of the evening even after his court appearances. Lewis was charged with murder but got it reduced to a lesser account (obstruction of justice) on a plea bargain. The following season Lewis and the Ravens won their first Super Bowl and he was named MVP.
Lewis knew that the Atlanta incident would most definitely be brought up again at this years Super Bowl, but I'm not so sure he was prepared to answer questions about deer antlers. Yes deer antlers! Or more specifically the extract that comes out of it which apparently helps to speed up the healing process in human beings. That all sounds great except the fact that the NFL has banned that substance for years now. Lewis denies ever taking that or any other sort of PED or HGH type of treatment. However the company that makes this product "Sports With Alternatives to Steroids" has stated that Lewis did in fact inquire and order the deer antler spray via a phone conversation.
Ya know what, I've said too much on that already. I don't give a damn. I want to see a great football game and I think we're in store for one of the all timers! So let's forget about the story lines and go in between the lines to take a closer look at the match ups in this game.
We are talking mirror images of each other and I don't mean the physical traits of brothers Jim and John. I mean big, tough offensive lines. I mean 3-4 defenses led by mammoth middle men with speedy, blood thirsty linebackers prowling for their prey. Ball hawking secondaries with hard hitters and pro bowlers parading the field. We're talking dynamic running backs and solid wide receivers to compliment their...oh quarterback! There's a big difference!
Which QB style will win? Is it the conventional drop back passer who can launch a football half way to the moon? Or do you go with the fresh new breed of quarterback with a combination of size, speed and athleticism?
Both of them come into the Super Bowl on hot streaks as they've been tossing touchdowns left and right while protecting the football as if it were their first born child. Flacco outplayed living legends Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in this years playoffs while throwing 8 TD's against zero interceptions. Highly impressive! But not shocking because Flacco is no stranger to the post season as he has made it and won at least one game in the playoffs every year he's been in the league. Flacco's stock is clearly on the rise.
Colin Kaepernick on the other hand has very little experience with this being only his 10th start as a quarterback in the NFL. But he's played like he's been in the league for 10 years. With every snap, Colin Kaepernick proves head coach Jim Harbaugh correct for opting to pull Alex Smith in favor of the sophomore QB. The Niners were a very good team with Smith as the QB. But they may be a great team with Kap under center.
He gives the 49ers a lot of options offensively as they have inserted and nearly perfected the Pistol offense. The major difference between Kaepernick and Flacco is that Kap can run...really fast! The Ravens will have their hands full trying to prepare and then stop Kaepernick from running. Even if they do follow the Falcons approach and take away Colin's ability to run to the outside, then he'll simply hand off the ball to Gore or find one of his many weapons with his strong arm to score points against that defense.
Given all the similarities between these two teams, it may just come down to which quarterback plays better. It won't be easy for either QB as both defenses are playing some of their best football all season. I really believe we're in for one of the best Super Bowl games ever played. That much the Sports Prophet can predict for sure.
My full preview of Super Bowl XLVII will be out by Saturday.