Super Bowl XLVII Match-Up: Baltimore vs. San Francisco

‘Battle Tested’

Super Bowl XLVII Match-Up: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, February 3, 2013 – New Orleans – Super Dome

Congratulations Baltimore and San Francisco. Getting to the Super Bowl is one of the most competitive and toughest pinnacles in sports. The road is challenging, grueling and takes heart.

San Francisco, they are tough and physical. This is a run first team, the rushing attack was ranked 4th (155.7) in the regular season led by RB Frank Gore.  Defensively, they play the run and pass well, along with keeping pressure on opponents.  Coach Jim Harbaugh made a quarterback change with Colin Kaepernick, who has been sensational in just 10 starts in the NFL. The second year QB is athletic, has a strong arm, and is smart with the football. Using the ‘pistol’ or (option) offense he can keep defenses off balanced.

For Baltimore, they are  riding the momentum of great play in the playoffs. The offense is revitalized, QB Joe Flacco has been stellar and the defense is playing like Ravens fans are accustom to; fast, physical, smart. It’s apropos that the Ravens are to suit up with their ‘visiting’ white jerseys to this Super Bowl (just as they did in 2000). For the reason that they have have proven to be a battle tested team away from M&T Bank stadium to make their run to the Super Bowl.

CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UPS:

FS ED REED VS. QB COLIN KAEPERNICK:

There has been talk about teams not being able to figure of the ‘read option,’ yet. At least not against San Francisco. That may be the case, but the Ravens won’t over think the fundamentals. They will commit defenders to the box and show different looks to do their best to contain the read option. OLB Paul Kruger/OLB Courtney Upshaw  and OLB Terrell Suggs will be integral in setting the edge, not allowing QB Kaepernick outside the numbers.   KEY: Where it gets interesting is when the 49ers will be in passing situations. You can bet that FS Ed Reed hasn’t let a second go by without studying the tendencies of the 49ers gifted quarterback. Look for Ed Reed and the Ravens secondary to throw some different looks and to disguise coverages.

RAVENS RUN D VS. RB FRANK GORE 

The Ravens have been steady defending the run through these playoffs. The 49ers are a run dominant team with a big/physical offensive line. RB Frank Gore is one of the top running backs int he NFL, he is averaging 4.8 yards in the playoffs.  The Ravens defense will have to play the most disciplined they’ve played all year; maintaining gap integrity. With a an extra week off DT Haloti Ngata could be the key in slowing down the rushing attack.

RAVENS SECONDARY VS. 49ERS RECEIVERS:

The Ravens secondary is playing lights out. San Francisco has a dynamic receiving core. The Ravens defense will have to find a way to contain, the speed of receiver Michael Crabtree and veteran Randy Moss along with the talented tightend, Vernon Davis.  The Ravens biggest challenge is containing Vernon Davis. The unit did a decent job containing TE Aaron Hernandez in the Championship game. The will need to do the same in order to contain the big play ability of Davis.

 

RAVENS O-LINE (Ray Rice) VS. 49ERS FRONT 7:

Make no mistake the 49ers have a solid and skilled linebacking core along with a stingy defensive line.  The key for the Ravens in the run and pass game is winning the battle upfront.   In addition to Flacco’s great playing, his success has been the stellar due to the consistent play of the offensive line.  The key for the Ravens O-line is to get a good push in order to open lanes for RB Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.  The 49ers ranked 4th against the run in the regular season.

It might surprise some that both the Ravens and 49ers had almost the exact amount of sacks during the regular season (37).  San Francisco had 38, with DE Aldon Smith having an whopping 19.5 sacks in the reg. season (half of the 49ers totals). The key then: LT Bryant McKinnie vs. DE Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks) will be a huge match-up. The Ravens have 6 sacks in the playoffs, while the 49ers have 2.

QB JOE FLACCO/RAVENS RECEIVERS VS. 49ERS SECONDARY

Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has been patient with the run and he doesn’t get away from it. While the 49ers front is stingy, the Ravens will have more success in play-action sticking to the run. Expect running back Ray Rice to be a big part of the game plan, along with rookie RB Bernard Pierce. Still, Caldwell will call for the offense to spread out the 49ers defense and take some shots deep; Flacco will have his opportunities. Flacco has been throwing the ball well, reading defenses well and his ability to look off defenders in these playoffs has been a huge benefit.

 The key: Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin being able to get separation.  The 49ers should be game-planning to stop Anquan Boldin, who’s been nothing short of dominant and has taken over games in the regular season and these playoffs.  The veteran CB Carlos Rogers may be up against Boldin–could be a great match-up.  If Boldin draws a lot of coverage it might open things up for Torrey Smith and wideout Jacoby Jones.

TE DENNIS PITTA VS. LB PATRICK WILLIS:

The 49ers line up man-to man and expect coverage to be that way for the Super Bowl. A key match-up is Dennis Pitta vs. the talented linebacker  Patrick Willis. The Atlanta Flacons were able to take advantage of some match-ups with their tight ends and running backs out of the backfield against the 49ers linebacking core. Pitta been a ‘go-to’ target in the playoffs; 10 rec., 137 yds., 13.7 yards per rec., and 2 TD’s.

RAVENS X-FACTORS:  

K Justin Tucker: The rookie kicker has been consistent and the 49ers kicker David Akers has struggled this year. Is Tucker up to the pressure? He had a game winning kick in overtime vs. Denver. The field was beat up and he seemed to hit a solid kick for 47 yards.

RB Bernard Pierce: The rookie running back has been an integral driving force for the offense.

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