Super Bowl Predictions
The Baltimore Ravens (13-6) and San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) will go head-to-head Sunday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 PM ET in Super Bowl XLVII. The game will take place at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana and CBS has the television coverage. Oddsmakers have listed the 49ers as a four-point favorite and have set the total at 47.5.
Why San Francisco Covers
The 49ers are proof that playing solid defense and running the ball effectively will win a lot of games this time of year.
The San Francisco stop unit was tested by Atlanta’s potent offense in the first half of the NFC Championship. The 49ers found themselves down 24-14 at the half, but they didn’t let the Falcons score again the rest of the way. It takes some kind of defense to shut out a team with as many weapons as the Falcons for an entire half.
The 49ers have been among the best defensive teams in the league all season. They finished the regular season ranked second in the NFL in scoring defense with 17.1 points allowed per game. They finished third in total defense with 294.4 yards allowed per game. Keep in mind that Baltimore finished 12th in scoring defense with 21.5 points allowed per contest and 17th in total defense with 350.8 yards allowed per game.
After three playoff games, the Ravens are giving up 361.0 yards per game on the season. This statistic is significant because the 49ers are 15-5 against the number the last three seasons versus teams that give up 350.0 yards or more per game.
The Ravens have struggled against the run all season. They finished the regular season ranked 20th in the league against the run with 122.6 yards allowed per game, and they have allowed 128.3 rushing yards per contest in the playoffs. The Baltimore defense figures to have its hands full with a San Francisco running attack that ranked fourth in the NFL during the regular season with 155.6 yards per game and has averaged 236.0 yards in these playoffs.
Why Baltimore Covers
Like the Green Bay Packers two years ago and the New York Giants last season, the Ravens have caught fire at the right time. They made easy work of the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round and then defeated the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots on the road in the divisional and conference championship rounds. The latter two teams were led by two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. If Baltimore could find a way to win against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, it can beat a San Francisco squad that is led by an inexperienced quarterback (Colin Kaepernick).
The superb play of Joe Flacco is a big reason why Baltimore is on the brink of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. He connected on 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Patriots. He has thrown for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and no picks in these playoffs. Flacco isn’t as big of a threat on the ground as Kaepernick, but he is a more proven passer and has more big game experience.
Baltimore has had the upper hand in the series. It has won each of the past three meetings, including a 16-6 victory at home last season (Nov. 24, 2011). The Ravens held the 49ers to just 170 yards of offense in that game.