The Baltimore Ravens have made it to Super Bowl 47 in improbable fashion, and they are just one game away from sending LB Ray Lewis out as a Super Bowl champion to end his career. Check out the five things that Baltimore has to do if it wants to lift the Lombardi Trophy on February 3rd.
Key #1: Joe Flacco has to stay cool – The 49ers are going to get after Flacco. He has to figure out how to keep playing the way that he has over the course of these first three games of the postseason. Joe Cool has eight TDs and no picks, and that has to keep up for him to succeed.
Key #2: There cannot be any special teams breakdowns – The one bugaboo that the Ravens have had at times in the postseason is that it hasn’t played well on special teams. Whether it be the punt return for a TD allowed to Trindon Holliday, the kick return for a TD allowed to Holliday, or the missed field goal in the AFC Championship Game last year against New England, something has always gotten in this team’s way. The gaffes can’t continue here in the Super Bowl if the Ravens want a chance to survive.
Key #3: Baltimore has to continue its defensive dominance – Easy to say. Difficult to do. The Ravens have allowed just a grand total of 333 yards in the last two games against the 49ers, and no matter what San Fran has thrown their way, they have been able to stop it. Perhaps matters will be different with QB Colin Kaepernick calling the shots, but the swagger for this team has to stay the same.
Key #4: Colin Kaepernick has to be forced into being a pocket passer – When the Atlanta Falcons had their most success in the NFC Championship Game, it came when Kaepernick was forced to be a pocket passer. Granted, we know that the second year man from Nevada can make the throws, but he is a lot less dangerous if his legs are taken away from him. The Ravens have a speedy defense that can get the job done, but if they don’t and Kaepernick gets loose, it’s going to be tough for the secondary to respond.
Key #5: The secondary has to blanket Michael Crabtree – Crabtree is clearly the best option that the 49ers have to throw the football to. He was kept in relative check last week, getting just 57 yards on six receptions (and seven targets). What we have seen in the past is that San Francisco just doesn’t have the weapons to stretch the field without Crabtree having a big game. WR Randy Moss is past his prime, there aren’t any other wide receivers that are threats, and until last week, TE Vernon Davis wasn’t a real threat either. The key to stopping this San Fran offense very well could be slowing down Crabtree.
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.