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Fearless Rick's NFL Super Bowl XLVII Picks

Rick Gagliano | January 27, 2013

All times Eastern - Click here for more analysis.


Super Bowl XLVII
Sunday, February 3, 2013, 6:30 pm
The Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana
San Francisco 49ers (-3 1/2, 47 1/2) vs. Baltimore Ravens


OVERVIEW

The overarching story of Super Bowl XLVII is that of the coaches, Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers, pitted against his older brother, John, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

While the story line is unique and quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event, the preparations and strategies employed by both coaches will be largely similar, with various, subtle differences.

Both the 49ers and Ravens are built on defense first, employment of the running game and explosive plays in the passing game. Statistically, they are near equals, with the 49ers holding an edge of defense and the Ravens just a shade more prolific on offense.

For NFL odds and college football odds, visit Doc's Sports, official odds provider for Downtown Magazine.
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During the regular season, Baltimore averaged 24.9 points per game, to San Francisco's 24.8. The 49ers were, however, more productive in yardage gained, 361.8-352.5, but Baltimore was more of a passing team, gaining an average of 233.7 to the 49ers' 206.1. San Francisco was third-best overall in rushing, with an average game total of 155.7, behind Minnesota and Seattle, a figure which was surely exacerbated when Colin Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith at quarterback midway through the season.

Kaepernick took over for an injured Smith in week 10, rushing for 66 yards in the 49ers 24-all tie to St. Louis. Including that effort, Kaepernick totaled 415 yards rushing on the season, the bulk of it coming in weeks 11-17, when he was officially the starter for San Francisco.

Baltimore averaged 118.8 rushing yards per game, most of it by Ray Rice, the Ravens' durable, hard-hitting ramrod.

On defense, San Francisco finished the regular season second-best in points allowed, giving up an average of just 17.1 points per game. That compares favorably to Baltimore's 21.5 ppg, though it's worth noting that the Ravens suffered significant injuries to their defense during the season, specifically sidelining Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, among others.

Now that the Ravens have all of their defensive players healthy, there's very little, statistically, to distinguish between the two defenses, just like the offenses.

Statistical comparisons aside, it's not by chance that the head coach brothers would embrace very similar designs to the integral parts of their teams. These are two hard-nosed determined teams with a similar aim : to gain the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy.


Latest Super Bowl XLVII odds at Doc's Sports
http://www.docsports.com/super-bowl-odds.html

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Both teams were champions of their respective divisions, with San Francisco taking the NFC West with a record of 11-4-1, and Baltimore winning the AFC North tie breakers with Cincinnati at 10-6. An aging, depleted, tired-looking Pittsburgh team finished a distant third, at 8-8.

Having the second-best record in the NFC, the 49ers received a bye in the opening round, but Baltimore had to play the upstart Indianapolis Colts on Wild Card weekend. The Ravens proved much the best, holding the Colts to three Adam Vinatieri field goals.


--- Story continues below ---


In the divisional round, the Ravens faced what turned out to be their sternest test, topping Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, winners of 11 straight, at the mile-high height of Coors Field. Proving again determined and unflappable, the Ravens tied the game late and won it in overtime, 38-35.

Meanwhile, the 49ers laid waste to Green Bay, 45-31, after trailing early.

Once more, in the conference championship, San Francisco fell well behind early, giving up 17 points in the first quarter and trailing the Atlanta Falcons, 24-14 at the half. Dialing up defense, the 'Niners shut out Atlanta in the second half, en route to a 28-24 victory and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Baltimore traveled to New England on Championship Sunday, taking care of Tom Brady and the Patriots, 28-13, once again, the defense taking charge and stifling the best offense in the league.

Thus, the stage was set for the showdown of the two coaching brothers, making Super Bowl Sunday on February 3, 2013 a history-making event.

KEY PLAYERS

There are so many stars on each team, it's difficult to single out just a few who will make significant impacts in a game of this magnitude, but let's start with two of the most experienced, San Francisco's Randy Moss and Baltimore's Ray Lewis.

Win or lose, Lewis will be playing his final professional football game, but the man who just may be the greatest middle linebacker of all time (let's not forget Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, though) has already announced his retirement and that adds a key element of motivation (for both him and his teammates) and drama. Lewis may have lost a step over the years, but he still is a mastermind at analyzing offensive sets and barking out directions as captain of the defense.

Lewis will make his plays. He's still quite mobile and a sure tackler.

Like Lewis, Randy Moss has slowed down a little, but he's become a more reliable receiver over the years, especially adept at 12-20 yard curl-ins and slants in key situations. His imposing size makes him an available target for Kaeprenick and a serious threat in the red zone.

All times Eastern - Click here for the rest of the story...

Copyright 2012, 2013, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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