BY DAN GARTLAND
EXECUTIVE SPORTS EDITOR
The Ravens’ defense has been so good for so long that it’s hard to imagine Baltimore being anything other than an immovable force on the defensive side. But this year the Ravens are a thoroughly average defensive team — 17th in the league against the pass and 20th against the rush.
What do the 49ers do? Run the ball — well. San Francisco had the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL this season, even though Colin Kaepernick only started seven games in the regular season.
The fact that the 49ers have a strong running game is not the key factor in this game — it’s how they run it. Stopping the read-option requires that the defense be quick, which Baltimore’s — with AARP cardholders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed — is not. There’s no doubting that Lewis, playing in the final game of his career, will have his teammates fired up and ready to play, but they’ll be facing a tough task.
Dan says: San Francisco wins, 28-24
Matt Rosenfeld, Sports Editor
Whenever I have trouble picking a game, I always end up leaning towards whoever has, in my opinion, the better quarterback. Well, unfortunately for me, both Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco are playing out of their minds, making my usual strategy obsolete.
But when I really think about this game and try to imagine who I’d pick if my life was on the line, I keep going back to the pistol offense, to the extreme advantage San Francisco has in the run game. I keep thinking of the paralyzed Atlanta defenders just standing there as Frank Gore and the 49ers ran the ball down their throat, scared to let Kaepernick beat them with his legs. I think the Ravens will face a similar fate.
Matt says: San Francisco wins, 24-17
Max Prinz, Asst. Sports Editor
For the last 10 years or so, my family has lived in New Rochelle, New York. Ray Rice, star running back of the Baltimore Ravens, will be representing New Rochelle in the Super Bowl. I believe Rice and the Ravens will bring the Lombardi Trophy to my hometown.
One of the main stories of this year’s playoffs has been Ray Lewis’ retirement. His announcement that this postseason will be his last has galvanized the Ravens. The Ravens took out the up-start Indianapolis Colts and knocked off potential MVP Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. They defeated the powerful offense of the New England Patriots to reach the Super Bowl. It is a trend bound to continue. Lewis will lead the Ravens defense and shut down quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Joe Flacco will use his powerful arm and connect with Torrey Smith. The Ravens will come out on top and give Ray Lewis the end he deserves.
Max says: Baltimore wins, 24-17