Get your buffalo chicken dip recipe out, load up on the adult beverages and grab some tissues for Ray Lewis because it’s the Bro Bowl!
I mean, Super Bowl 2013!
Insert every plot line here you can think of because this game has them all. Clearly on top of them all is the fact that for the first time in Super Bowl history, brothers will be coaching against each other. Talk about the ultimate Madden NFL video game battle… Oh wait this is real.
Both coaches may share the Harbaugh family name but these are two very different guys. Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) is a serious guy and can seem quite intense on the sideline, while older brother John Harbaugh, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens (13-6) is much more of an extrovert and talkative.
Then there is the varied NFL background. Older brother John was backup defensive back at Miami of Ohio who had to work his way up the coaching ladder as an NFL assistant before landing as the Ravens head coach in 2008.
On paper, Jim had the more illustrious football playing career as a three-year starting quarterback at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) where he was a Big Ten conference player of the year and a Heisman Trophy finalist. In the NFL Jim played 15 seasons, then post-career went back to college to become the head coach for the University of San Diego and Stanford, before landing the head job with the Niners.
Last time these two coaches met was Thanksgiving 2011, when the Ravens defeated the Niners 16-6 in Baltimore. Both teams have never been defeated at the Super Bowl, with the Niners an impressive record 5-0 and Ravens 1-0 from their sole 2001 appearance.
As a Giants fan I can appreciate the road that the Ravens took, winning the wild card against the Indianapolis Colts, then stunning the Denver Broncos crowd at Mile High Stadium with a 38-35 win, then winning the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium verse the New England Patriots 28-13. The game was redemption for the Ravens who lost last year’s AFC Championship to the Patriots, and was a well earned win for the team who outscored the Patriots in the second quarter 21-0.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is having his best post season yet, with two road playoff victories this year leading to a career total of six, a league record. He is also the only quarterback to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons. But previous failed tries at getting the Ravens to that final goal of a Super Bowl have critics questioning if Flacco can finish the job in New Orleans.
As for the Niners, this time last year they were all home watching the big game, having been just one win away (Yea Giants!) from a spot. The team certainly earned their spot this year, winning the NFC West Division in convincing fashion and then beating the visiting Green Bay Packers 45-31, only to then kick the Atlanta Falcons out of their own house 28-24 to take the NFC Championship.
Then there is the Niners’ quarterback situation. Second-year player and former backup-quarterback replaced an injured Alex Smith midseason, and then in somewhat a surprising move won the job over Smith altogether.
Smith, who is rumored to be headed to the Browns, has said he will be ready if his team needs him, exhibiting the utmost professionalism with only high praise for Kaepernick. And while Smith did have a role in where the team is, Kaepernick has certainly been a huge factor. Kaepernick set an NFL record for the most rushing yards (181) by a quarterback in a game, in his first playoff game. And his incredibly strong arm and intense running abilities (remind you of someone DC?) are going to be quite dangerous.
Hopefully the Ravens’ defense has been working on their sprints, because they are going to need to be fast to keep up with this Niners offense. But speaking of offense, it’s the Ravens who win in the scoring department, with 90 points in the last three games, while the Niners have 73 points in just the last two.
And lest I forget the other notable storyline to the main event. This will be the last game that Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis will ever play in the NFL. It seems interesting and coincidental that Lewis announces his retirement and we see the team in the Super Bowl for the first time since their 2001 win. Could Lewis ignite the fire further and get his guys to hoist the Lombardi trophy?
Kaepernick will make things quite tricky for the Ravens’ defense, but Lewis and the boys have proven they can be put in different situations and make it through. Flacco is going to have to be on point for this one, but he has been thus far and does not seem to be letting the critics or hype of the game get to him.
My prediction: Ravens take it 29-27.
What is your prediction?