by Lawrence Vos
Super Bowl XLVII will likely be one of the more brutal games played in recent championship memory.
The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers are playing against each other in the Har-Bowl because they execute to the highest standard the two most fundamental aspects of professional football, the ability to block and the ability to tackle.
I have to say the hype surrounding the running ability of Colin Kaepernick has gone a bit galactic, but sustaining long clock dwindling drives, through a dominant running game will be a big key to this game.
So without further ado here are my top five individual matc=hups for this game…
1) Ravens tight-end Dennis Pitta against the 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith.
Pitta, in his third season, was second on the team in receptions (61) and receiving touchdowns (7). He had five catches in the AFC Championship and score. In five playoff games he has scored three touchdowns. What frustrates fantasy football fans with Pitta is that his production is as boing-boing as Zebedee with a spring freshly sprayed with WD-40. Twice this season he failed to register a catch and once he got just one grab. In other games he went up to eight catches (at Philadelphia) and 125 yards (home against the Broncos).
The 49ers outside linebackers will need to show discipline in their pass coverage skills, as Brooks will likely be man marking Pitta for the majority of the game. Both Brooks and Smith are excellent at rushing the passer, combining for 26 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season, but they can play so hard that Pitta could find himself open throughout the game for those 8-12 yard gains that help sustain drives.
Prediction – Pitta to get 6 catches for 77 yards and one TD
2) 49ers wide-receiver Michael Crabtree against the Ravens cornerbacks Corey Graham and Carey Williams
It took a change of quarterback (in Week 10) for Crabtree to move from an average NFL stater to a top 10 in his position. The former Texas Tech wide-out went from 39 catches for 440 yards in games 1-8 to an outstanding 46 catches for 665 yards in games 9-16. Crabtree’s touchdown total doubles in the second half of the season and his yards per catch went up from 11.3 to 14.5 during that span.
Despite a quiet performance in the NFC Championship Crabtree still managed 7 catches. Now he faces a pair of cornerbacks who are not exactly household names. Graham stepped up to a starting role when the Ravens lost up-and coming star Lardarius Webb after six games. Williams in his fourth year with the Ravens had four interceptions this year, the first season he recorded picks in his five year career.
Crabtree knows how to find separation in the end-zone and also has the advantage of being Kaepernick’s out and out number one target. With Randy Moss on the opposite side of the field and rampant post-hibernation tight-end Vernon Davis ready to perform, Crabtree may find himself in a number of single coverage battles that he has the speed and guile to win. Now he has the confidence to match the talent, and could put up MVP type stats if the Ravens focus too hard on trying to stop the running game.
Prediction – Crabtree to lead the game in receptions with 11 for 131 yards and two tds. MVP like numbers but he isn’t a quarterback so he wont win the award.