by Ryan Meehan
Super Bowl Forty Seven is here, and it’s supposed to be the most exciting time of the year for me. The NFL is my favorite sport, and I’ll always be a football fan first. But for some reason, this year seems very different. I did an article about this on Sports Blog Movement (http://sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/super-bowl-week-is-here-at-last-but-something-doesnt-feel-right%e2%80%8f/) and have outlined several reasons for that but in case you missed it I’m also going to discuss some of that here.
Now, what you have to realize about the Super Bowl is that it’s more than just the game itself. It’s the entertainment both before and during the game, the Super Bowl parties that crowd the streets of the host city, and everything in between. Sure there is a game to be played, but the Super Bowl does tend to be a lot of hoopla. So let’s sort through some of that garbage first and then we’ll get to analysis of the game to be played.
The Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
I have to be honest with you, I have never been to New Orleans and have no intention of going. I’m not a very worldly guy and see no need for excessive travel. And let’s level with ourselves, the reason people visit New Orleans is to party. There was that two year period after the hurricane where people were going down there to help rebuild, but business on Bourbon Street is back to whiskey and blow. The Super Bowl is the ultimate party, but as a backdrop New Orleans still looks really rough on TV. The ESPN gang has their set in front of the historic French Quarter, which doesn’t exactly appear to be very appealing even after seven gin and tonics. The Stadium is still in questionable shape, and when you purchase a Super Bowl ticket for the amount of money they’re going for you don’t want to think about all of the horrible things that happened in that building after the storm.
The Halftime Show: Beyonce Knowles
I can’t believe that two thousand and thirteen years into modern society Beyonce is the halftime entertainment, but it looks as if we’ve finally run out of ideas. This should be pretty predictable: The whole thing is sponsored by Pepsi and will feature user submitted photos, billing itself as the first interactive Super Bowl halftime show. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Jay-Z shows up and spits a few bars at some point during the performance, and I’m also going to say that Lil’ Wayne will chime in with something unintelligible. Since I’m not a fan of Beyonce, I can’t really say what songs I think she’ll sing, or act, or…wait…what is it that she does again? I do know this – she was recently accused of lip-synching at the presidential inauguration, so there’s a very high possibility that she will sing live just to prove to the aging white “60 minutes” crowd that she is capable of singing. Not that she should owe them an explanation, as most of CBS’ viewers aren’t exactly the smartest when it comes to being consumers of entertainment. So let’s talk about that for a second…
The Network: CBS
While a lot of people (including myself) would rather not see the big game be played on FOX or NBC (because that would mean you’re either going to be stuck with Collinsworth or Aikman), CBS’ audio signal is the most compressed out of all of the major networks and the picture struggles to compete as well. I don’t mind Nantz and Simms, but the network as a whole hardly puts out the best NFL product. Their graphics are painfully average, the camera angles would also fall into that category, and compared to the other network CBS has almost completely ignored the trend of how social media affects how we talk about sports in this country.
The Game: Baltimore Ravens (13-6) +3.5 at San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1)
Meehan: Initially I was unhappy with the results of the AFC Championship game, as I want the Super Bowl to be as interesting as possible and I don’t think that the Baltimore Ravens are one of the two most interesting franchises in the NFL. San Francisco is coming up and has finally achieved their goal of making it to the big game. But on the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens seem to be surrounded by this very euthanizational feeling. It’s Ray Lewis’ last year, and Ed Reed may be looking to retire or head elsewhere after this game. Flacco is going to want a ton of scratch regardless of whether he wins or loses, so it’s kind of a no-win situation for Baltimore as a franchise. Plus, Cincinnati is getting better and I can’t possibly imagine the Steelers getting any less competitive than they had been this past year. The ideal situation for the NFL would be for San Francisco to win, with Colin Kaepernick having a huge day on the ground thus driving the final stake through the heart of what it used to mean for a quarterback to be successful in professional football. But that’s going to be very difficult for him to do, and even though the Niners are five point favorites they are going to be playing uphill for most of the game.
When San Francisco has the ball:
The best thing that Jim Harbaugh can do early would be to show the Baltimore Ravens that Kaepernick is not a one trick pony by making him throw a bomb down the field. Since Randy Moss has officially declared himself the “greatest receiver of all time”, maybe he’ll get a chance to prove to us that we shouldn’t show up at his house and pee on all of his flowers for saying that. However, I doubt it will be him. I could see Harbaugh challenging that Ravens secondary (which includes Corey Graham, who’s had an incredible year) by sending Vernon Davis long and utilizing his strength and athletic abilities to dictate who will control the pace of the game.
But other than that, it’s no secret that the Niners are going to run the ball a lot in this one. Even when the season started and Alex Smith was the signal caller, it was pretty obvious to everyone they faced that they weren’t going to ask him to throw the ball as much as say Matthew Stafford has to. Since Kaepernick can run well and has effectively managed the read option in a league where we’d never though it would work, that means he’ll be passing even LESS. Ray Lewis will be all over the field, but if I’m Colin I would take advantage of Lewis’ decreased ability to move laterally. I cannot stress the importance of either getting the hell out of bounds really fast or sliding, because you know the Ravens love to take cheap shots. Even though I like the kid, it would be funny as hell if Kaepernick got hurt and Alex Smith walked out there and proceeded to be an absolute killing machine. Then what? Harbaugh said that he was going to go with whoever had the hot hand, would he then be a man of his word? I’m saying probably not, and Smith is probably looking at condominiums in Manhattan anyway.
When Baltimore has the ball:
Joe Flacco has a great winning percentage in the playoffs that should contain another win after last year’s AFC Championship nightmare. He can throw the ball with brilliant accuracy, hang back in the pocket and take crazy shots, and he’s the perfect quarterback for that team. But for some reason, he’s not looked upon with the same adoration as Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. But if he wins this game, he’ll have just as many Super Bowl wins as those guys so look for him to be on point all night long like Lionel Richie.
“Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle” was the play that allowed the Baltimore Ravens to convert a 4th and 29 against the San Diego Chargers week 12 that allowed them to win the game in overtime 16-13. You’ll likely see a lot of Ray Rice, and just like the Niners win games on the ground the Ravens are also known for their running assault. The difference of course will be Flacco…he can really whip one down the field, and in a game that should be over rather quickly I can only assume he isn’t going to need to do that too many times in order to get his point across. Nonetheless, I expect him to take to the air and look towards Anquan Boldin when he’s trying to put together lengthy drives. And with either of the Harbaugh brothers at the helm, there’s always the possibility of a trick play on each side.
Since I swore up and down when the playoffs started that the Ravens had no shot at even being in the Super Bowl (let alone winning it) it’s only fitting I’m taking them to win on Sunday. I want the 49ers to win so bad, I really do. But in this case we have a guy leading his team onto the field to face one of the most experienced defenses when it comes to the playoffs. To use a sports cliché that has been beaten to death, at the end of the day this one will be about stamina and longevity so I think the Ravens have a bit of an advantage.
Meehan’s prediction: Ravens 26, 49ers 22
Although I am always hoping for a great Super Bowl, I get a lot of vibes that this one isn’t going to be very exciting. I’ve talked to numerous writers that usually jump all over this stuff who are completely disinterested in what’s about to happen here. One of those writers happens to be Coach Ryan whom you likely know from our weekly NFL previews. Coach didn’t do the Super Bowl preview this year and I can hardly blame him. As a Browns fan, he hates the Ravens and as someone who lives on the East Coast, he doesn’t really have an opinion about the 49ers. So as you see, there’s not a whole lot of interest in what might happen here.
That’s providing of course, that anything DOES happen here.
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