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Ravens-49ers: Five predictions for Super Bowl XLVII

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Ravens-49ers: Five predictions for Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 03 February 2013 by Luke Jones

Sixty minutes remain in the 2012 season for the Baltimore Ravens.

Only sixty minutes are left in the Hall of Fame career of 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis.

Head coach John Harbaugh, quarterback Joe Flacco, and the Ravens might call themselves Super Bowl champions after 60 minutes of play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday night. To do it, they must topple the San Francisco 49ers, a team with a loaded roster and more talent than Baltimore.

The 49ers are the better overall team — or at least looked like it all season — but the Ravens have heard that story before and are fine being underdogs as we learned against the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Baltimore prevailed in the most-recent meeting with the 49ers last season and owns a 3-1 advantage in the all-time regular-season series.

But none of that matters now as the Ravens and 49ers play for the right to be called champions of Super Bowl XLVII.

Here’s what to expect as the 13-6 Ravens attempt to win their second NFL championship and first since Jan. 28, 2001 while San Francisco tries to win its sixth Super Bowl title and first since the 1994 season …

1. Ray Lewis will provide a solid but unspectacular effort in his final NFL game with nine tackles against the run-heavy San Francisco offense. The 49ers will have some success running the football with their read-option attack, but the presence of Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe at inside linebacker — both missed the Dec. 9 game against Washington’s similar running game — will make a major difference in preventing running back Frank Gore from having a big day. Lewis is a clear liability in pass coverage and the Ravens will be vulnerable should he need to match up with a tight end or running back at any point, but the veteran still plays the run solidly. It won’t be a performance reminiscent of Super Bowl XXXV, but Lewis’ cerebral presence will be a major asset in trying to deal with the 49ers’ pistol formation.

2. 49ers tight end Vernon Davis will be problematic over the middle of the field, catching a touchdown and 85 receiving yards to lead the 49ers. The Ravens have proven over and over they have few answers for the top tight ends in the NFL as Aaron Hernandez was the latest to have a strong game against them in the conference championship. Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard will be the ones to draw the assignment most often, but that becomes dangerous when you consider how critical each is to stopping the run against such a unique offense. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will mix it up as much as he can, but Davis will be difficult to stop and the 49ers would be wise to go to him early and often.

3. As I predicted in the AFC Championship game, the team that wins the battle in the red zone will prevail in New Orleans. The Ravens were 4-for-4 in the red zone against New England and held the Patriots to one touchdown in four trips inside the 20. It’s a simple concept, but the team that can limit its opponents to field goals inside the red zone will have a great chance to win in what should be a very close game. The Baltimore defense has employed a “bend but don’t break” philosophy all season long and just finds the ability to tighten up when opponents see the end zone in clear focus. The Ravens ranked second in red-zone defense (43.4 percent) while the 49ers were 21st in red-zone offense (50.9 percent). Meanwhile, the Baltimore offense scored touchdowns on 57.1 percent of trips inside the 20 (11th in the NFL) while San Francisco allowed touchdowns in 61.1 percent of opponents’ red-zone opportunities. The team that wins this battle will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

4. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will play admirably, but a critical turnover in the second half will cost the 49ers dearly. Making his 10th career start on Sunday, Kaepernick is already an incredible story as he’s found success so quickly after replacing former starter Alex Smith midway through the season. His ability to make huge plays as a runner kept Pees and the Baltimore defense awake at night over these last two weeks, and the Ravens will be careful to protect the edges and force the 49ers to count on inside runs with Gore. Kaepernick’s arm shouldn’t be slept on by the Baltimore defense, but you feel better about the thought of him dropping back to throw 35 or 40 times as opposed to letting him rush for 85 yards in open spaces continuously. As impressive as he’s been in the postseason, Kaepernick hasn’t faced a defense as hot as this one and he’ll throw a crucial interception in the fourth quarter to swing the momentum in the Ravens’ favor.

5. Continuing one of the best postseasons in NFL history, Joe Flacco shows the world it’s his time as he leads the Ravens to a 27-24 victory and is named Super XLVII Most Valuable Player. I picked against the Ravens in Denver and Foxborough, so fans may wish I were doing it again but I just can’t overlook what’s happened over the last month. The offensive line has been exceptional, the defense more dynamic, and the Ravens just have the feel of a champion at this point. This will be a close game, but I’m going to side with the team that has the better quarterback as I erroneously attempted to do in picking the Broncos and the Patriots. Flacco has been brilliant in the playoffs, throwing eight touchdown passes without an interception, and he has continued to remain even-keeled throughout this improbable run. He’ll throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns to put a bow on one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NFL history. Kaepernick might be the next big thing at the quarterback position, but Flacco and Harbaugh finally step into the limelight they deserve and Lewis rides off into the sunset with the franchise’s second Super Bowl title.

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Vernon Davis won’t bite when asked if Ray Lewis can cover him

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

TIGHT END VERNON DAVIS

 

(on how competitive he was against his brother) “We were very competitive, me and my little brother. He always wanted to get the best of best of me, but I wouldn’t let him because I was the older brother. It’s great having a brother because you keep that competitive edge, you never lose it. I know what they are going through, the Harbaugh brothers, because I have a brother.”

 

(on getting back to practice) “It will be great to get back to work. It seems like it has been a little while because we have been doing so much with media and things like that. I’m excited to get back to work and put the game plan in.”

 

(on Colin Kaepernick being so calm) “There is something about Kaep (Colin Kaepernick) that no matter what happens he always keeps his composure. That is what I like about him. He is always under control, no matter what. It’s a great thing. I am just happy to have him be a part of this team.”

 

(on when Colin Kaepernick became the starter) “How did Kaep (Colin Kaepernick) find me in that last game we played Atlanta? It’s all about how the defense plays you. In the past, during the regular season, the defense would turn into coverage and it wouldn’t allow me to get open. What happened in the Atlanta game was they took their eyes off of me and I was able to get open numerous times and he found me. That’s what it is about. It’s about each and every week, you never know what’s going to happen, but you always have to be prepared.”

 

(on what he remembers about last year’s Thanksgiving game against Baltimore) “I remember we lost. I strongly believe we should have won that game. We travelled. We had one day. We didn’t rest. It’s probably the amount of rest that we got in that game. I strongly believe that.”

 

(on whether Ray Lewis can cover him) “We’ll see. I guess we’ll find out.”

 

(on the development of the offensive line) “That group, the offensive line, they have come a long way. We’ve been building the offensive line since I’ve been here, trying to get it right. All of a sudden, it pops just like that. (The offensive line is a) great group. (They are) very competitive and guys who want to be great, every last one of them. You have Joe Stanley, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis. (It’s) a young group destined to be great.”

 

(on high expectations as a rookie) “A lot was expected out of us coming in, but it takes time. You have to build, work your craft and mold yourself. It’s rare for someone to come into the league and make an impact like that, unless you’re Colin Kaepernick.”

 

(on appreciating Colin Kaepernick) “He knows that we appreciate him. Look at where we are now.”

 

(on growing as a man and a player) “Growing as a man, I had to go through some stuff first. I had to figure this thing out, find out who I was as a player. (Mike) Singletary helped me channel my emotions and really find out the best route to go. Putting my teammates first was the best thing I could’ve done. Once I did that, things started to happen for me. I started to see the game differently. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was more about my team. I enjoyed it. I still do. Everything that I do, I put my teammates first. To me, that’s the mark of a true leader. That’s what I want to be. I want to be a leader and have guys continue to follow.”

 

(on whether he has seen a change in Michael Crabtree) “For (Michael) Crabtree, he had to grow. He had to find his niche, just like anyone else. He has done a great job for us in terms of making plays and being there when we need him. It’s truly a blessing to have him be a part of this team as well. Michael Crabtree has turned it on. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for his future.”

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49ers TE Davis knows old Maryland friends will be watching Sunday

Posted on 29 January 2013 by WNST Staff

TIGHT END VERNON DAVIS

 

(on what the team is focusing on during this week of preparation) “Just keeping the focus that we need to have because it’s easy to get distracted. We have to maintain a good level of focus.”

 

(on how he would describe Head Coach Jim Harbaugh in one word) “Energetic.”

 

(on what is the one thing about QB Colin Kaepernick that has impressed him the most) “His ability to maintain focus under pressure. He came in late in the year, and he can still maintain his focus. That was something that impressed me.”

 

(on how the 49ers can win the game) “The 49ers will win if we play to the highest level of our potential.

 

(on former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary playing a part in this team’s success) “I think that he did have a key role in helping to make us successful.  When Singletary was here, he helped mold us. That’s one thing that I appreciate about him is that he was always there for us and he stayed on us no matter what.”

 

(on how he felt about the quarterback switch during the season) “We pretty much had to support Harbaugh’s decision. He is the head coach, so whatever decision he makes we have to support it no matter what. Whether we like it or dislike it.”

 

(on QB Alex Smith) “Alex is a class guy. He’s been through so much. He’s been on an emotional roller coaster. I wasn’t worried about Alex because I know that he can handle anything. He’s been high, he’s been low, and he’s been through so much at a young age. So he can pretty much handle whatever comes his way.”

 

(on what he thinks of media day so far) “I haven’t really paid attention to it. My thing is just keeping my focus. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve been to [NBA] All-Star weekend, I’ve been to a number of Super Bowls. Just the atmosphere and the things that are going on don’t really impress me. It’s not new to me, so I can maintain my focus as well as my teammates. They can do the same thing.”

 

(on whether it matters that the Super Bowl is in a fun city like New Orleans) “I doesn’t really matter because we’re not here to have fun. The game will be fun for us.”

 

(on where he does his curling in the offseason) “In the weight room.”

 

(on WR Michael Crabtree) “I think that Michael Crabtree has done a terrific job as far as stepping up and becoming a leader. He’s been through a lot as well. It’s takes time for a guy to come in and be successful.  You have to go through some things first before you can reach your highest peak. So I think that he’s been patient as far as that.”

 

(on WR Randy Moss) “I’m happy for Randy. I’m very happy for him because he’s been in this league for years now and he still hasn’t had a chance to win a Super Bowl. He’s finally at the stage where he can really make some things happen with this team and I’m very happy for him.”

 

(on playing in the Super Bowl against Maryland alumn Ravens’ WR Torrey Smith) “Torrey is a Maryland guy and to come from Maryland- there aren’t too many guys in the league that are from Maryland. So to have Torrey, who is playing at a high level and most of the guys that are in the league, I can name them but it’s a few, I’m very pleased to see that. Because most of the guys that I played with, to have them and especially Torrey, play in this game is truly a blessing.”

 

(on whether or not he was a Ravens fan growing up in Baltimore) “I was always a Washington Redskins fan, but I would see the Baltimore Ravens all of the time. I know that Ray Lewis had a brother that played with me in college: Keon Lattimore. So I would see him come through. But the Baltimore Ravens being my home team is pretty significant because everyone back there will be watching and they’ll get a chance to see me and my teammates playing as well.”

 

(on facing the Raven’s defense and LB Ray Lewis) “They’re a tough defense, very tough and physical. Ray Lewis is playing at a high level. I know he’s up in age put still playing. They’ve got a lot of guys over there. I know from playing them last year that they are really going to bring all that they have. Despite some of the injuries that they have they will play hard and fast. As an offensive unit we know that and so we have to start fast as well.”

 

(on the connection with QB Colin Kaepernick versus QB Alex Smith) “I was not frustrated when they made the change from Alex to Kaepernick because I knew that Harbaugh will make the right decision. As far as the adjustment to Colin Kaepernick, it took a little while at first. But as far as practice, we had to continue to work on our chemistry, building chemistry and just learning one another because Alex had been there since day one and it took years to build what we had. But it didn’t take too long to learn that with Kaepernick.”

 

(on the team’s multi-dimensional offensive weapons) “With this offense, you never know. One week it can be me, next week it can be (WR Michael) Crabtree, it can be (RB) Frank Gore. That’s what makes this offense unique is that you never know who’s number is going to be called each week. It’s a good thing because we’re winning. We’re here so how could you complain about it?”

 

(on the type of person that WR Randy Moss is) “My locker is right beside Randy’s. Randy is a great guy. I think that people view him the wrong way. He’s a terrific guy in the locker room. He’s funny, he’s energetic, he’ll always put a smile on your face and a lot of people don’t know that about him. I’m very thankful to have him as part of this team. I think that this has been a great year for him. Probably, after it’s all said and done, it’ll be one of the best years of his career.”

 

(on if he’s surprised at any of Randy Moss’s hobbies) “Randy’s favorite hobby is probably fishing. It did surprise me at first. I thought that he’d be one of those guys that played basketball during the offseason, but he likes to fish.”

 

(on winning the Super Bowl for Randy Moss) “I don’t think that we’re going into this game as far as winning for Randy. It would be great to be a part of this with him but our biggest thing is winning it for the team, the franchise, and our community because it’s been a long time. We’ve put a lot of work in just like Randy. He put a lot of work in throughout the years and he’s never won a Super Bowl. Our hopes are high for the team and for the community.”

 

(on how the 49ers could win in a close game) “In a close game, we would win because our defense doesn’t give up. Our offense is always aggressive and eager to win.”

 

(on how he feels about luck being on the 49ers side due to the hotel that they’re staying at) “I don’t think that this is a game of luck. I don’t really believe in luck, I believe in God. I believe that He’s always the way, He’s the answer, so prayer is important to me. So as far as luck, it doesn’t really stick to me.”

 

(on his message to service members overseas) “Good luck to all of the soldiers overseas. I’m honored to have you all as part of the United States of America and good luck out there.”

 

(on if he was concerned  on the offense’s use of the read-option) “As far as the read-option game, I wasn’t worried because this game is not about me, it’s about my team. I once read something that said, ‘In order to be great you have to be a servant, you have to be a slave.’ It’s a way of saying that you have to be humble and that’s something that I’ve learned here. I’m not worried about statistics and things like that. When I was younger I was. It was all about statistics. I had to get this number of catches, this number of yards. I don’t really care about that anymore. I’m more so worried about making it to the playoffs and making it to the Super Bowl.”

 

(on how special it is to be in New Orleans playing in the Super Bowl) “I was walking down the street the other day and I was looking up and I was like ‘Wow, the Super Bowl! This is incredible, man.’ Just being a part of this franchise is legendary (WR) Jerry Rice, (QB) Joe Montana, (QB) Steve Young and to be able to bring a ring back that’s something that you can cherish for the rest of your life.”

 

(on his own personal testimony) “As far as my story, I think that it’s important for young guys to see what I’ve gone through and the way that I view things, and what’s important and what is not important because they can learn from that. Because when I came in I was looking up to guys that were before me. The (Terrell Owens) and the (Chad Johnsons), I looked up to those guys. It is very important for guys to listen to the story of people like myself and learn from it.”

 

(on how his faith helps him stay focused both on and off of the field) “My faith as far as keeping me focused kind of works hand-in-hand. When I’m playing the game my faith is what keeps me going, keeps me humble, it makes me a leader. As far as off of the field I can stay away from the negativity that life brings you and that transforms me into a leader as well because I can go back and implement what I do off of the field to my teammates.”

 

(on his testimony) “I want people to remember that I was a man of God, I was a leader and that I was dedicated to this game. I also them to remember that I gave this game everything that I had as a tight end. I gave it everything. I gave it my all.”

 

(on QB Colin Kaepernick’s amazing start) “I was surprised at first, but when you look at Colin he wants to be great, he wants to be successful. He’s one of those guys that will give up anything to be great at this game and at his position. He’s alwaysd in the weight room, he works hard each and every day. That’s something that people don’t know about him that he’s always in the weight room, always. And it’s rare to see a quarterback in the weight room as much as he’s in there.”

 

(on Kaepernick’s physical ability) “I would call him a freak.”

 

(on the motivation it brings him seeing Kaepernick working out) “It does a lot. It motivates us because you have this quarterback, which is rare, in the weight room for a guy like him. It motivates us because I was walking in from practice one day and saw Colin doing abs and then he went over and started doing curls. I was like ‘I’m not going in. I’m about to go in the weight room myself.’ He doesn’t need to get too much bigger because he’s already throwing faster than anybody I’ve ever caught balls from.”

 

(on comparing himself from previous seasons) “The difference between me now and when I first came in was that it was all about me. I came in with the attitude to catch balls and get statistics and things like that. I didn’t care about the team. I was about Vernon, always but now I could care less about catching balls and getting statistics because I understand that the team is much bigger.”

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