The San Francisco 49ers may be favored, but here are four reasons why the Baltimore Ravens hold the upper hand heading into Super Bowl XLVII.
1. Flacco Is on Fire
One thing is certain: the Ravens aren't going to win this game on the ground. The 49ers run defense, one of the NFL's best, has surrendered just 185 rushing yards in playoff games against the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons—combined.
The good news is that the Ravens offense has been less dependent on RB Ray Rice and more reliant on QB Joe Flacco.
Flacco has thrown for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions this postseason. He devastated the Denver Broncos with a downfield, aerial attack and showed the ability to sustain long drives against the Patriots, connecting on TD passes of five, three and 11 yards in the AFC Championship game.
The 49ers D rarely gives up big plays, so it's imperative that Flacco continue to be effective in the short-to-intermediate passing game and red-zone situations.
2. Boldin Coming up Big
Anquan Boldin showed up in a major way with two TD catches against the Patriots. He also had a monster game against the Colts (five catches, 145 yards, one TD).
The 49ers secondary was torched for 282 yards and two touchdowns by Atlanta's wide-receiver duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White. Boldin may be closing in on 10 years in the league, but the 6'1", 220-pound receiver is a physical specimen who can capitalize on the size mismatch with the smaller 49ers corners. Look for Flacco to target Boldin in the red zone.
3. Veteran Presence
Both the Falcons and Packers defenses folded down the stretch against the 49ers. Meanwhile, the Ravens D held off Peyton Manning and shut down Tom Brady in consecutive weeks. With Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs on the field, the Ravens D may bend, but we'll be shocked to see it break under pressure.
4. Team of Destiny
Ravens coach John Harbaugh outwits his younger brother Jim. Future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis goes out on top with a Super Bowl title. It just seems so right.
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