Looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday, this year’s game has all the makings of a classic on the field. With the obvious “Harbowl” talk every media outlet will feature this week about coaches and brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, it’s easy to overlook the most important part — the game. In this head-to-head, sportswriters Sean Frye and John Zetmeir sound off on who they think will win.
Sean Frye — Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are facing off against a red-hot San Francisco 49ers team. Both teams played in the conference championship game last year but fell to the New England Patriots and New York Giants, respectively. Now both teams, coached by the Harbaugh brothers, will face off in Super Bowl XLVII.
While the 49ers are led by a charismatic quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, and have a steller group of linebackers, the Ravens hold several key advantages going into the Super Bowl.
First off, the Ravens have a perfect balance of young talent and veteran leadership. The Ravens are the 21st youngest team in the league, averaging 26.4 years of age per player. Meanwhile, the 49ers are slightly older, averaging over 26.6 years of age per player.
While the Ravens are younger, they also have a core group of veteran leaders, including defensive standouts Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Lewis, who announced his plans to retire at the end of the playoffs, has a Super Bowl ring to his credit from 2000, when the Ravens beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis was also named the game’s MVP.
John Zetmeir – San Francisco 49ers
The saying goes that defense wins championships, but what happens when both teams playing in the Super Bowl have championship-caliber defenses?
In a lot of ways, both of these teams have a lot in common. Both have great defenses, both have a good running game, both have a head coach named Harbaugh and both were one win shy of playing in the Super Bowl last season.
San Francisco is ranked fourth in both opponent passing yards and opponent rushing yards. In those same categories, the Ravens rank 17th and 20th. On paper, the 49ers defense looks better, but what do the Ravens have that the 49ers don’t? The answer is two guys named Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, and it is because of this reason that many believe the Ravens defense is better. Both of these players provide leadership and veteran experience, but does it make them better?
On offense, the edge has to go to San Francisco. Many questioned Harbaugh’s decision to bench Alex Smith halfway through the season, but now Harbaugh looks like a genius. Colin Kaepernick is arguably the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL. The only thing he lacks is experience. However, Joe Flacco has never played in a Super Bowl, so that card goes out the window.
Kaepernick could explode on the Ravens if they don’t contain him. The reason he is arguably the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL is because the opposing team can’t try to just take one talent away from him. Against the Falcons, Kaepernick accumulated only 21 rushing yards, but completed 16-of-21 passes finishing with a quarterback rating of 98.3. Flacco had the best game of his career against the Patriots, and silenced many critics. However, the edge goes to Kaepernick.
The backfields for both teams are practically identical when you compare Baltimore’s Ray Rice to San Francisco’s Frank Gore. Both are phenomenal running backs, but for the 49ers the running game does not stop with Gore.
The Ravens have players who have been in the big game before, but the advantage stops there. This will most likely be a low scoring game, but 49ers will get it done 24-13.
Sean Frye is a junior in journalism and mass communications. John Zetmeir is a sophomore in print journalism. Please send comments to [email protected].