Here we are, the last day of football until, well, longer than I'd like to imagine. The Ravens will face off against the 49ers tonight at the Superdome, and we'll finally end all the discussion as to who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
But right now the discussion still rages on, so we're here to give you our picks. Browsing around the interwebs, you'll find a fair amount of cases presented for both side in tonight's contest. Baltimore is on a hot streak with Joe Flacco playing his best football of the season, while Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers present tough matchups across the board.
Dave, Caleb, and James all chimed in with their picks as well, so I'll start us off. Enjoy.
I'm taking San Francisco, and the points if you're a betting man. Everyone seems to make their selections with a three-point margin of victory. The Super Bowl hasn't been decided by a field goal since 2008. C'mon, let's go out on a limb for once.
The 49ers possess a dynamic rushing attack, a dangerous, dual-threat quarterback, and a defense allowed under 300 yards per game in the regular season. Colin Kaepernick seems to get flustered as his pocket closes in, but his ability to break off huge gains with his feet makes up for it. Yes, Flacco has eight touchdowns and zero picks through three games. Jim Caldwell is calling more run plays now and then dialing up deep passes when the timing is right. However, if the Niners can shut down the rushing attack, Flacco has to step up on his own. I'm just not ready to put my faith in him. I think Smiths' pass rush, along with their fourth-ranked secondary (even though they did get destroyed by the Falcons passing attack) comes out on top. Sorry, Ravens fans. San Fran wins by a touchdown.
Here's the rest.
Dave: The Ravens snuck into the playoffs this year after a surprisingly lackluster season from Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and the defense. The fact that they made it to the Super Bowl is admirable, but it doesn't suddenly erase their season. The Ravens have real weaknesses in the secondary, at quarterback when Flacco isn't dealing and at spots along the offensive line. A great team can exploit those weaknesses.
The 49ers are a pretty great team. Colin Kaepernick isn't likely to get this kind of uncomfortable heavy petting for the rest of his career, but he's already a nice quarterback perfectly suited for this offense. The 49ers can rack up points thanks to their strong ground game and smart passing game, and their defense has been mostly stellar all year.
This one may be fairly close, because the Ravens are the kind of team that always hangs in. But I think some of their weaknesses will finally be exposed against this 49ers team, and I think the NFC representative is winning the Super Bowl.
James: I'm picking the Falcons. I've tried to convince myself they're not playing tomorrow, but I just can't. Officials will suspend play four minutes into the second quarter because strong winds and sideways rain are messing up the television feed. Jim Harbaugh will throw a hissy fit, angrily stomping around, looking for an umbrella and his poncho. Suddenly they'll realize it isn't a hurricane. It's actually Mike Smith, riding a red and black dragon. He will land the dragon at the 50 yard line, then within seconds, a bus on monster truck wheels/with a ridiculous lift kit will come through one of the tunnels.
The Comrade will be behind the wheel, and the entire first team will be on the bus, suited up and ready to go. A massive brawl will ensue, wherein Matt Ryan and Ray Lewis are the last men standing. Ryan will do the karate kid/one leg lift thing, and as Lewis rushes towards him, His Iceyness will ninja kick the antler spray out of the aging linebacker. Ryan will thrust his arms in the arm, grab the Lombardi from Jim Harbaugh (who's balled up on the ground in a fetal position and sobbing hysterically). Finally, as the dust settles, a double rainbow will appear, with an actual leprechaun at one end.
Caleb: Ravens, 'cuz it's fixed
You won't find better analysis anywhere else. What's your take?