We’re going to skip all the hoopla and back stories that always surround the Super Bowl. We all know that it’s been covered, and over-covered and over-covered. And just like many other Super Bowls, it also presents us with an all too familiar narrative: The team that has looked dominant throughout the season, and the other team that got “hot at the right time.”
So, no, there won’t be any stories about brothers, or deer antlers; just football.
With that said, welcome to the oracle’s corner. Why oracle? You’ll find out after Sunday night’s game.
The 49ers are 3.5 point favorites over the Ravens, and the over/under is 47.5. Now, if I were a betting man–legally, of course–I would put some serious timber on the over and on the Ravens. I think the 49ers will win, but will not cover.
Here are a few golden nuggets that led to my predictions:
1. Throughout the season, San Francisco remained among the top-ranked in the league, and only got better when Colin Kaepernick took over. They finished the season with the third best defense, and third best offense. Yeah, pretty scary. The Ravens will have a very tough time trying to stop Kaepernick and the 49ers. If it’s not the run hurting you, it’s their pass; utilizing either a conventional formation or their pistol formation.
The Ravens are in the middle of the pack on offense and defense, but have played beyond that this postseason. They must not let the 49ers dictate the pace of the game on both sides of the ball. That will be no easy task.
2. As mentioned earlier, the Ravens are middle of the pack on both sides of the ball, but when it comes to their third-down defense, they are ranked first according to Football Outsiders. If they can hold the 49ers to one or two yards less on first and second down, then that’ll put the 49ers in a third-and-long situation that will work to the Ravens advantage.
3. The Ravens used to rely on a bruising running attack and solid defense. This year it’s different. This is now Joe Flacco’s team, a team that now relies on Flacco’s arm and his receivers–no pressure, Joe–who have been on fire as of late. But can the Ravens o-line provide enough time for Flacco to continue to play at a high-level against a ferocious 49ers pass-rush? If the line can hold up and protect Flacco, he will be able to use his big arm and make plays down field, keeping the niners defense on their toes.
But can his receivers break free from the 49ers cornerbacks to get open?
Some key players for the Ravens will be Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, and Anquan Boldin.
4. Last time these two teams met, the Ravens won 16-6. They held San Francisco to a total of 170 yards and sacked Alex Smith nine times. But that Baltimore defense was much more dominant than this season’s. The 49ers are a more dangerous offense with Kaepernick at the helm and running the read-option, so the same low-scoring game will be unlikely, but there will be a constant struggle to move the ball for both teams.
5. With the read-option, there will always be the threat of the quarterback (especially with Kaepernick’s speed) and if the Ravens concentrate on slowing Kaepernick down, it will lead to a huge day for the 49ers running backs and create some huge plays with the play-action.
The key player for San Francisco will be Colin Kaepernick. Of course their running game will play an important role, but it comes down to the quarterback, and if he can keep his cool in the pocket against a tough veteran defense.
This is going to be one helluva game that will have a few lead changes and will go down to the wire.
In the end, though, the 49ers will eke out a win for the Lombardi Trophy.
Final score: 49ers 26, Ravens 23