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That’s So Raven(s) – From the Bird’s Nest

Joe Rogash/Getty Images Sport

It’s amazing how, when you ask someone to handicap the event like the Super Bowl, most folks will pick a point spread of seven points or less.

In the Super Bowl, history says it’s not goin

g to happen.

Although there have been quite a few close games in the last decade, the rule of thumb is, it’s not going to be nearly as close as you might think.

This Super Bowl is a really interesting one.  San Francisco made a change in starting quarterbacks…while they were already WINNING.  And, Colin Kaepernick is making Jim Harbaugh look like a really smart coach.  Kaepernick has made the 49ers even better than they were.   His ability to run the zone read, a college football staple not used much in the NFL has befuddled defenses.

Meanwhile the Baltimore Ravens have come through playing their best football.  They knocked Peyton Manning out of the playoffs.  They knocked Tom Brady out of the playoffs.  LB Ray Lewis is playing his final game.  The Ravens are in the Super Bowl months after the death of their owner, Art Modell.  The Ravens are built on defense, and that’s the reputation of their football team.

But don’t fall asleep on the Ravens’ offense….or the 49ers defense.  Joe Flacco isn’t fancy, but he’s awfully good.  And San Francisco’s defense doesn’t get the ink Baltimore’s does, but it’s one of the best.

Here are some keys if you’re handicapping:

RAVENS–Much will be made over stopping Kaepernick.  And, that’s, in my opinion, not great analysis.  I’ve watched teams that run the zone read and it’s never successful without a good running back.  The Ravens must stop Frank Gore.  If they’re able to do that they take a big dimension out of the 49ers offense and San Francisco becomes much more ordinary.

49ERS–The Ravens are going to run Ray Rice.  A lot.  But I don’t think stopping him is the key.  No, the key for the 49ers offense is making sure the Ravens don’t beat them deep.  If Flacco has time to throw, he’ll throw the long ball and the Ravens have an advantage.

Intangibles favor Baltimore.  More big games in the last couple of years.  Ray Lewis is retiring and the Ravens will be emotional, wanting to win for their leader in his final game.  And, the Ravens have had two weeks to prepare, which might be the most important intangible of all.  Give them two weeks and Baltimore’s defense can stop anyone.

Enjoy the game.

Baltimore 27, San Francisco 16

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