Get the wings, chips, dips, pizza and cold ones (soda, of course) ready … Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans could prove to be one of the best ever.
At least, the pre-game hype has made that a possibility.
The game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers has already managed to do something recent matchups have not: overshadow the talk about the commercials. And there’s a good reason for that — four reasons, actually.
You can rank the storylines any way you like, but we will kick off with this: Super Bowl XLVII is the first to pit one head coach brother against the other head coach brother. Call it the Har-Bowl if you like, since Baltimore’s John Harbauigh will lead his Ravens against San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers.
Second, of course, is the impending retirement of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis — which some say has fueled Baltimore’s emotional path to the big game. And if that’s not enough, on the opposing sideline will be Lewis’ first NFL sack victim in 1996: Jim Harbaugh when he was quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
Next is the fact that the game will be a matchup of two of the best defenses in the NFL. Neither team will go into this one just thinking it can outscore the other. On one side, for Baltimore, are four of the league’s Top 20 defenders (Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata); on the other, for San Francisco, are two Top 20 guys (Patrick Willias and Justin Smith) along with two others in the Top 100 (NaVorro Bowman and Carlos Rogers). Both defenses are loaded with some of the most physical and relentless playmakers in the game.
And finally, the quarterbacks will take center stage — not because they are experienced winners, but for exactly the opposite reason. The Raven’s Joe Flacco is only in his fifth year but has shown a consistent rise in ability to lead his team. On the other side is Colin Kaepernick for 49ers, who has started just nine games in the NFL. Both possess one of e strongest arms in the league, and Kaepernick can also run away from defenses a-la-RGIII. These two QBs should give the two stellar defenses fits.
So who will win?
Well, our unscientific poll — this past week more of a popularity contest — points to Baltimore. And we will agree: Though the 49ers can run the ball better than the Ravens, it’s going to be tough to do against that defense. And we think the two quarterbacks are a wash.
So we will put our pick on the Ravens because of the Ray Lewis Factor in a close one, 27-21.