Tonight, THE BIGGEST GAME IN AMERICA sees the AFC champion Balitmore Ravens clash with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Whilst the Ravens are seeking their second franchise Superbowl victory, the Niners are searching for a record-tying sixth franchise superbowl win. Superbowl XLVII is rife with talking points and this preview will feature the two coaches, who are the first
brothers to coach opposing teams in a Superbowl, as well as highlight the key players to watch on each side.
ROAD TO SUPERBOWL XLVII
(4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Wild Card Round: Colts @ Ravens: 9-24
Divisional Round: Ravens @ Broncos: 38-35 (After OT)
AFC Conference Championship: Ravens @ Patriots: 28-13
(2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
Wild Card Round: BYE
Divisional Round: Packers @ Niners: 31-45
NFC Conference Championship: Niners @ Falcons: 28- 24
One of the prominent talking points this year is that Ravens coach John Harbaugh will be preparing to face, Niners coach, Jim Harbaugh, who, you guessed it, is his BROTHER. It”s an unlikely plot twist that has led to this Superbowl being dubbed the Harbaugh Bowl, the HarBowl, the SuperBaugh, and countless other tedious monikers that only America could create to prolong a fortnight of tireless coverage. Tawdry puns aside, this will undoubtedly be a huge aspect of tonight”s game, particularly when you consider that each Harbaugh can boast an impressive record as a head coach. They have, in fact, faced each other in the past with John”s Ravens getting the upper hand of his younger brother Jim”s Niners with victory in a “Thanksgiving Classic” game in 2011. The psychology of this face off is a rare occurrence in any sport and onlookers will be fascinated to see how it plays out tonight.
If any predictions were to be a lock tonight it”s that Jim Harbaugh will play the role of whiny younger brother with aplomb.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Joe Flacco (Quarterback):
At the finale of his fifth year as starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco is, for want of a better word, an enigma. Despite leading the Ravens to their fifth consecutive playoff appearance, Flacco is regarded as somewhat of an unspectacular performer who receives much undue criticism for not being in the “elite” bracket with Brady and co. It is remarkable really that the majority of the credit to Flacco”s 60-30 record, during which he has won at least one playoff game in each of his seasons, is attributed to the Ravens” excellent rushing attack and defensive coordination. A great defense and rushing game cannot compensate for an average QB (hello Jay Cutler), however, and Flacco”s 12 wins per season average trails only behind Peyton Manning (12.75) and the aforementioned Tom Brady ( 12.8) who both missed a season through injury.
While Flacco”s pass completion record has been fairly poor in this playoff run (54.8%), he has thrown 853 yards for 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. A very capable quarterback on a hot streak leading a team that is hitting a run of good form at the perfect time? Where have we heard that before? It could also be argued that he”s playing for a contract to establish himself as the face of the franchise which means tonight could be the perfect night for a Flacco favourite.
Ray Rice (Running Back):
A crucial component of the Ravens” offense, the diminutive Ray Rice is arguably among the top running backs in the NFL. Under new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, Rice has averaged 94 rushing yards per game, and if he can reproduce The roulette en ligne wheel makes roulette en ligne arguably the most active and dynamic game on the casino floor. those numbers tonight against an efficient Niners” defense then that will go a long way to helping the Ravens overcome their opponents. One question surrounding Rice is whether or not he has addressed his fumbling issues when carrying the football. If he hasn”t, or the Niners can nullify his presence, then one expects that the Ravens will have a struggle on their hands.
Ray Lewis (Linebacker):
The only thing that can overshadow the Harbaugh Bowl is the Ray Lewis Factor. After 17 seasons, 13 pro bowls, a Superbowl ring and MVP, Ray Lewis will be playing his final game in the NFL on the biggest stage possible. Unquestionably, Lewis is the spiritual leader of the Ravens and his emotional presence is priceless to their defense despite his numbers falling short of what they used to be after the rigours of a lengthy career in the NFL and the injuries he carries. Lewis is a controversial figure but his stature on the field will be instrumental if the Ravens are to overcome the Niners tonight. Just don”t expect Lewis to be wearing a white suit during the victory parade.
Others to watch: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ed Reed.
Colin Kaepernick (Quarterback):
He can run, he can throw, he”s even trademarking a signature pose; an unfortunately
douchey kiss of the bicep. Who knew? Jim Harbaugh took a huge risk in dropping dependable quarterback Alex Smith for Kaepernick after Kaepernick”s demolition of the Bears on Monday Night Football, and neither Colin or Jim have looked back since. Kaepernick ran riot in the Divisional playoff, setting a QB rushing record of 181 yards as the Packers failed to compensate for his exceptional ground game. Meanwhile, the Falcons overcompensated against him which allowed Frank Gore more space to run and score in the Conference Championship. However, despite Kaepernicks exceptional performances, many commentators highlight the fact that the Superbowl will be only the tenth start of his fledgling career, in the biggest game of them all. Facing a secondary of Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, to name a few, could this challenge be a game too soon for this bright prospect? We”ll soon find out tonight.
Vernon Davis (Tight End):
Whilst Kaepernick is stealing all the headlines, Vernon Davis at tight end is arguably still San Franciso”s most important offensive weapon despite a relatively quiet season. He demonstrated his impact ability against the Falcons with 5 catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. If the Baltimore D stack up against the Niners” offense than Davis could escape once again and be the go to guy to get points when they really matter.
Aldon Smith (Linebacker):
Undoubtedly a name frequenting discussions for Defensive Player of the Year, Smith has had a stellar season wreaking havoc on opposition offenses amassing a total of 19.5 sacks. This outside linebacker is a key figure in the Niners” defense and you would expect him to get to Flacco at least once tonight.
Others to watch: Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis
Referee: Jerome Boger
National Anthem: Alicia Keys
Halftime Show: Beyoncé
Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (CBS)
Buy plenty of snacks, gather your buddies, and sit back for one of the greatest spectacles in sports… or you can just tune in for the halftime show to see if Beyoncé lip syncs again.
UK viewers can watch Superbowl XLVII live tonight on BBC Two (23:00-04:00) or on Sky Sports 1 (22:30-04:00).