For the first time in the history of the NFL, two brothers will coach against each other in the Super Bowl as Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers take on John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Some have even called this game the Harbaugh Bowl I, The Harbaugh Bowl, and SupeHarbaughl. This ultimate test of sibling rivalry promises to be one of the most exciting games of the past decade.
The Baltimore Ravens have seemed to be on a determined path toward the Superbowl ever since All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis announced he would retire at the season’s end. Lewis has been both the on-field and the emotional leader of the Ravens since he joined the team in the it’s inaugural season over 10 years ago. The Ravens are now riding on the momentum of beating who experts considered to be the two best teams in the AFC – the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Baltimore found their success behind the excellent play of team leaders Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have looked to their smothering defense, led by linebacker Patrick Willis, and the surprisingly excellent play of second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick to defeat the Falcons, who boasted the best record in the NFL, in the NFC Championship Game.
Jim Harbaugh has always been known to take risks. His latest, starting second year Kaepernick over veteran quarterback Alex Smith, is making him look like the smartest coach in the NFL. The 49ers have gone 7-2 in Kaepernick’s nine starts during which he has thrown for 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Kaepernick has been even more impressive in the playoffs, boasting a 94.1 out of 100 QBR (Quarter Back Rating) and setting a playoff record for quarterback rushing yards with 181 against the Green Bay Packers. While Kaepernick’s play has been impressive, it is truly the 49ers defense that is the reason they are in the Super Bowl. Led by linebackers Navarro Bowman and Willis, as well as defensive lineman Justin Smith, the 49ers claim a top four defense in both opponent rushing and passing yards. If the 49ers are to beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl, the defense must shut down Flacco at quarterback as well as running back Ray Rice.
Just like his brother, John Harbaugh has had to make some tough decisions regarding his quarterback. Flacco has been criticized for years for his inability to win the big game, as he has lost in the AFC championship game two times before. However, John never gave up on his quarterback and has backed up Flacco since day one. Flacco has been exceptional this postseason, throwing for 853 yards, 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, just like their opponents, the Ravens have turned to their defense to close out games. Led by linebackers Lewis and Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed, the Ravens defense held a New England Patriot’s offense, considered the best in the league, to only 13 points.
Both defenses will undoubtedly come out to play, but the dual threat of San Francisco’s Kaepernick along with running back Frank Gore should turn out to be too much for Baltimore’s defense to contain. In only two years, Jim Harbaugh will help the 49ers complete their quest for their sixth Superbowl.
Nick’s Final Score: San Francisco 34 – Baltimore 31.
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