Quarterbacks will be front and center when the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens battle the NFC champion 49ers from San Francisco this Sunday, Feb 3rd in New Orleans, looking to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl XLVII.
Colin Kaepernick will be under center for the Niners when kickoff ensues at 6:30pm ET Sunday, while the Ravens will have Joe Flacco leading the way, as the two teams look to add another notch to their respective team’s Super Bowl belts. The 49ers have claimed five championships for their franchise, while the Ravens are looking to add to the one win they claimed back in 2001.
Sportsbook odds makers have the 49ers as the slight favorites, giving them a 3.5 point handicap with the Total now sitting at 47 points.
Kaepernick has been especially impressive since he took over from the incumbent quarterback Alex Smith mid-way through the 2012 season, displaying an ability to not only throw the ball down the field, but using his legs to confuse defences, which was on display when he rushed for an NFL rushing playoff record for a quarterback by hauling the ball 183 yards during a big win over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. Flacco has been equally impressive by throwing eight TDs and zero interceptions while spearheading an attack that has knocked off some of the best QBs in the game in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, during wins over the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have arguably the best front seven in football, and boast one of the top 3 defenses in the NFL statistically. They have one of the top rush ends in Aldon Smith, DT Justin Smith, middle linebacker Patrick Willis and outside linebacker NaVarro Bowman. The Ravens have been defined by their defence over the past decade, led by all-world middle linebacker Ray Lewis. However this year, the Ravens have struggled to slow down top offences and sat in the middle of the pack, but key to this drop has been injuries to key players such as Lewis, safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, as well as outside linebacker Jameel McLain.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Niners have Frank Gore leading the way on the ground as one of the best running backs, as well as long time stretch receiver Randy Moss, and wide out Michael Crabtree, who’s become the go-to guy for Kaepernick on 3rd down. For the Ravens, Torrey Smith is the man when it comes to big plays, but Baltimore also has solid receiving weapons in Anquan Boldin and Tight end Jacoby Jones. Ray Rice is the man when it comes to running ball, but he’s also a definite threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, especially on 3rd and long when Flacco has to check down.