How the Daily News staff guys see the Super Bowl
If nothing else, this game already is a victory for the little guy. For the first time in Super Bowl history, a quarterback from the University of Nevada is going against a quarterback from Delaware. Stick that in your BCS blender and chug it.
Perhaps the biggest similarity between Baltimore and New England is their rugged defenses. Granted, this group isn't as good as the Ravens had when they won the Super Bowl, but they still hit like freight trains. The Niners are the same, except they might have a better pass rush.
The quarterback who is able to improvise best will give his team the advantage.
These were not the teams I pictured myself covering at the Super Bowl when the playoffs began.
The fact that these are the teams that made it highlights something I think is increasingly true. In every sport, except maybe basketball, it isn't the best regular-season team that wins the championship. It's the team that grows and develops during the playoffs, that becomes much more than it was in the regular season.
That's the case with both these solid, physical teams. And I really have no idea which of them will come out on top. I looked at the picks of some experts I trust, and they were all taking the Ravens with the points. I'm more than willing to do that. As a South Jerseyan who is surrounded by various Flacco kin, I'd love to see the QB from Audubon win it all.
I really thought the NFC was stronger this year, though, and I can't shake the feeling that if Rahim Moore hadn't badly mistimed his leap, the Ravens would not be here.
So, here's where I am: By the slimmest of all possible margins ...
I see this as a tortoise and hare game between 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Ravens signalcaller Joe Flacco.
Will the 49ers unleash the running Kaepernick as they did against the Green Bay Packers or the mostly pocket passer that we saw against Atlanta?
Flacco has been unwavering in Baltimore's run through the AFC, and the bigger the game, the more he seems to thrive.
I totally think this one depends on the quarterbacks. I see Flacco making fewer mistakes and his slower and steadier play being the difference.
Joe Flacco is on fire. He's thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions and is averaging 9.17 yards per attempt in the Ravens' three playoff wins.
But Colin Kaepernick also is on fire. He's got a 105.9 playoff passer rating and is averaging 11.2 yards per rushing attempt.
I'm not sure Ray Lewis and the Ravens can contain the Niners' read-option attack. I'm not sure they have the speed to deal with tight end Vernon Davis.
I'm not sure they can score more than 21 points against the Niners' defense. If Broncos safety Rahim Moore hadn't misjudged that 70-yard pass to Jacoby Jones late in the fourth quarter of their game, the Ravens would have been out of the playoffs 3 weeks ago.
Maybe they're a team of destiny. Maybe somebody up there likes Ray Ray. But I'm picking the Niners.
The teams are so similar - stout defenses, strong running games, indeterminate quarterbacks - that the pick becomes visceral.
How can you pull for a team coached by a cantankerous bully like Jim Harbaugh?
How can you root against his brother and apologist, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, overshadowed by Jim's physique and Jim's talents, Jim's professional successes as a player and his explosive successes as a coach?
How can you root for Ray Lewis, football's testament to self-promotion and society's testament to the value of excellent legal representation? Lewis' involvement in a Super Bowl murder in Atlanta more than a decade ago, and his subsequent hand-slap, still tastes acrid. Like Deer Antler Spray.
The answer: You root for John Harbaugh, because Jim always got everything, and got it better. Lewis already won a Super Bowl MVP the year after the murder, then worked for a decade to reconstruct his image. Perhaps he will, finally, go away.
Perhaps it's just the nostalgia of having grown up in the Baltimore area that has me thinking more emotionally than logically about this Super Bowl.The 49ers are a slight favorite and I can't disagree.
Still, I like the Ravens. Baltimore's rush has the ability to pressure Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and contain his dual-threat ability. The Ravens did go through Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to get to the Super Bowl. The Ravens have experience with dual-threat quarterbacks having faced Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III this season.
The Ravens have forced eight turnovers in the playoffs. Turnovers generally play a big role in Super Bowls.
Joe Flacco has come into his own as a quarterback and demonstrated the ability to make big plays at key moments. He's been efficient in the playoffs, throwing eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Having running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce (416 yards combined) adds balance.