On Sunday February 3rd, the Worlds sporting eye will be cast towards New Orleans as the San Francisco 49’ers play the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. There are plenty of mini-stories to watch with this contest, but none more so than family rivalry. Jim Harbaugh – head coach of the 49’ers will lead his NFC Championship team against his brother John Harbaugh – head coach of Baltimore and the AFC champion Ravens.

Super Bowl XLVII Preview

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So I, David Wyatt from SB Nation will walk you through some of the key players to watch, and give you a few tips on how to throw the perfect Super Bowl party. Luckily the game will get started at 11:30pm GMT, so there is no excuse not to tune in – even if you have to get back to work Monday morning. Our tip though, book the day off just in case!

The Players

Offense

Both the 49’ers and Ravens have rosters full of talent, hence why they are in the Super Bowl. However there is one player that all eyes will really be on, and that’s second year Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the 49’ers. When he takes his starting spot under centre in New Orleans, he will be doing so for just the 10th time in his career. However his ability to make plays with both his legs and arm make him one of the most dangerous players in this contest.

In the 49’ers Divisional win against the Packers, Kaepernick set an NFL record for rushing yards by a Quarterback with 181, including two touchdowns. Game planning against a player like Colin is nearly impossible, it gets defenders flat footed and that hesitation opens up windows for big play potential, whether it is him or the potent running back tandem of Frank Gore and LaMichael James. The 49’ers have one of the most balanced attacks in the league, when you add receivers Michael Crabtree (1105 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2012) and Vernon Davis (548 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2012) to the mix.

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So the 49’ers Quarterback is hot right now, but is he is as tuned in as Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco? I doubt it! Flacco has been unstoppable this off-season, completing 51-of-93 passes for 853 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions for an incredible QB rating of 114.7. He has been efficient with the football, and his ability to find his big play receiver Anquan Boldin 16 times for three touchdowns, have allowed Baltimore to defeat two of the best Quarterbacks to ever play the game in Denver’s Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady on route to the Super Bowl.

Flacco is a player that performs well when given time to throw, and so far this off-season he has been sacked only 4 times – a big hat tip to the Baltimore offensive line. And if they keep the aggressive 49’ers defence out of the backfield, Joe could cause San Francisco serious trouble. If Flacco doesn’t beat you, then Ray Rice will. The Baltimore running back as accumulated 1143 yards this season running the ball, and his explosive running style, coupled with his elite vision make him a threat to take it to the house every time he is in the play.

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Defence

If the match-up on offence wasn’t quite enough to wet the appetite, the coming together of two of the league’s premier defences should be. Statistically Baltimore may not be in the top 10 anymore, and the defence of the Ravens is ageing, but they still bring the boom! Before the post-season started, legendary Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis announced his decision to retire at the end of the season – one of the most iconic players in history will get a chance to do his dance one more time. The Ravens have been playing hurt this year, but when you put a defence on the field that consists of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed – they are coming to play.

In the AFC Conference game they managed to shut out Tom Brady and the high powered New England offence for the entire 2nd half, and San Francisco doesn’t have the seasoned veteran signal caller like Brady or Peyton Manning who Baltimore also defeated this post-season. You could list every single player on the defensive side of the ball for Baltimore but I’ll leave with just one more, mountain nose tackle Haloti Ngata – all 340 lb’s of him, expect him to shift across the defensive line and cause havoc for the 49’ers offensive unit trying to keep him out of Kaepernick grills.

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San Francisco also boasts one of the best defensive units in the league, they do say after all that defence wins championships. The 49’ers allowed only 294 yards a game in 2012, good for 3rd best in the league, led by for my money the best defensive player out there at present, inside linebacker Patrick Willis (120 tackles this season). Who is sure to be around the ball on every single down. The Ravens improved offensive line will need to keep impressive defensive end Justin Smith out of the backfield if they hope to move the football. Smith an 11 year veteran has racked up over 75 career sacks and if not given the proper attention will cause problems. Another player that you may want to keep your eye on is centre field roamer and playmaker, free safety Dashon Goldson. Now Dashon can gamble from time to time meaning the potential for big plays behind him is there – however he is one of the best safeties in the league at jumping routes and coming down with interceptions. Although Flacco has yet to toss an interception this off-season – his history would suggest it’s only a matter of time.

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Conclusion & Prediction

This is perhaps one of the best Super Bowl match-ups in history. Two offences capable of putting points up on the board, well balanced and riding hot quarterback play, but with two defences renowned for stopping the run and limiting opportunities. You have family rivalry and you have one of the most iconic players in NFL history playing his final game. I think in the end, Baltimore rides the emotional wave to the title, although I’ll personally be hoping for a San Francisco win.

San Francisco 17-24 Baltimore Ravens

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Super Bowl Party Check List

There will be Super Bowl parties the world over, here in the UK, and I know three of the guys are attending them out of the country as well. If you are thinking about it, here is your quick UK Super Bowl Party Check Tips.

  • A never ending supply of alcohol, preferably American screw top bottles or stubbies!
  • Foam fingers, you need to look the part
  • Hot wings, beef jerky, burgers, and sausages, and for those up class parties, maybe some steak!
  • A clean run to the bathroom, that beer has to filter somewhere.
  • HD TV, no smaller than 42 inches!
  • A friendly wager between friends, every game is better with a bet riding on it!

There we have it, my 2013 Super Bowl Guide and Preview. You can catch me talking all things American Football over at SB Nation, or on twitter – @D_wyatt13.


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