BALTIMORE RAVENS (13-6) VS SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14-4)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA SUPER DOME FEBRUARY 3, 2013
BALTIMORE RAVENS +4 (OPENED AT +5)
SERIES RECORD BALTIMORE RAVENS 3-1 LOST FIRST GAME IN SAN FRANCISCO AND WON 3 IN A ROW WITH 1 AWAY GAME. JOHN 1-0 AGAINST JIM. THANKSGIVING NIGHT 2011. FIRST TIME IN THE NFL TWO BROTHERS COACHING AGAINST EACH OTHER, 16-6 (EACH TEAM HAS IMPROVED)
SUPER BOWL RECORDS BALTIMORE RAVENS 1-0 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 5-0
EXPERT PICKS 31 RAVENS 21 49ERS ( COULD ALSO BE THE SCORE)
SUPER BOWL WEEK POST MEDIA DAY
The mass of dumb questions have been asked (from Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com, to Haloti Ngata, What was the dumbest question that you got today? That one.”). Deer Antler Spray has made the news again. As far as I can tell is that Ray Lewis bought it, a fool and his money is soon parted (since he likes quoting positive phrases). I listened to Mike Alstott rave about Man Corp or some supplement system that made him look good ( “like in a heterosexual way” from Jeremy Conn from 105.7 The Fan). He raved about all these fantastic claims with correct eating and exercise. The latter sounds so familiar. Scientists say there is no PED effect from Deer Antler Spray just a separation of one’s money from himself and shows Lewis as naive as the rest of us, tell us the impossible and we want to believe. Chew your food 30-50 times, nah. Man Corp help lose 35 lbs with proper diet and exercise, you bet. So moving beyond the Spray and Stickers (look ma, I was at the dentist and was a good boy), the teams have been doing their final prep. Chris Culver put his foot in his mouth.
THE TOP DOWN
Art Modell has made it to the finals for this year’s Hall Of Fame, after his death this pre-season. the Ravens first draft choice, Jonathan Ogden, is also a finalist in his first year of eligibility. And the Baltimore Ravens are to meet the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday with Ray Lewis’ last game. Interesting 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon occurring. And of course the Family Feud, where is Richard Dawson when he is needed, Harbaugh vs Harbaugh. Art Modell made a bad deal with Cleveland concerning the Mistake on the Lake and needed money. Hence to Baltimore and to Steve Biscotti, 1983 Severna Park High School graduate, college drop out, billionaire internet mogul, retired. When Art was considering selling Biscotti’s name came up, season ticket owner, football fan, life long Marylander, and a marriage was born. As minority owner he attended the meetings with Art and sat and listened and learned. Modell’s smartest move ever was signing Ozzie Newsome to the front office, and bringing him to Baltimore and making him General Manager. Biscotti’s first important decision ( not that there was one there) and kept the Wizard Of Oz. Biscotti gives his State of the Ravens address and otherwise he is a background figure in the organization. A largely quiet voice. A man who is enjoying life. But he has been the altering force in the Ravens image. In the XXXV Super Bowl, the Ravens were known as the Baltimore Bullies and they pummeled their opponents into submission. With the firing of Brian Billick, Biscotti had his opportunity to hire his coach and have a team in his image. After the appropriate interviewing process, Jason Garrett was his man but Jason only had eyes for Jerry Jones which caused Biscotti into fallback and he chose John Harbaugh over team favorite Rex Ryan who stayed on as Defensive Coordinator. With that hire, Biscotti put a workman like face on the team with John Harbaugh, coach‘s son, younger brother NFL Quarterback with a nickname, Captain Comeback. Harbaugh stole Marriott’s statement, “location location location”. In Baltimore he said success is about 3 things, “Team, Team, Team”. And over the 5 years the Baltimore Bullies are now the image John Harbaugh projects which is what he sold to Biscotti in his interview, a hard, clean hitting, never say quit and never let your teammate down team. But it is Steve who sets the tone from the top down.
Art Modell, the owner who paved the way for the NFL-AFL merger, National TV contract divided equally among the teams, Monday Night Football, has been denied the Hall of Fame by Tony Grossi, the hack writer for Cleveland Plain Dealer, again. Get over it Tony, you did better than most cities that lose the team, name and colors. You got it all and a new stadium, and poor management.
The Wizard of Oz. HOF Tightend, Cleveland Browns, ver. 1.0. Knows the heart break of being close. The 2000 Ravens was his first Super Bowl as player or exec. And what an exec. Ozzie builds the team and over the years has had the best and brightest working for him and has lost his assistants to other teams but Eric DeCosta is hired as his heir apparent. His drafts include Jonathan Ogden,HOF 2012,Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Michael Oher, Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, and deeper he has Adalius Thomas, Jarret Johnson, free agents like Kelly Gregg, picking important pieces to fill in like Shannon Sharpe, Ron Woodson. Putting small piece together that paid big, Corey Graham, Jacoby Jones, and how about free agent rookie, Justin Tucker? We can go on and on about the Wizard who like his boss, prefers the attention be on the people he put in place as opposed to himself (Jerry, Danny, you hear? Hope not or you may get it right). Another Raven you do not hear talk but hear talked about. He is the modern cap genius and judge of talent. Dannell Ellerbee, Undrafted Free Agent is on the verge of a large payday as a free agent this coming season. After Suggs, he is the best they have got. Jameel McClain will also be back, another Undrafted Free Agent of Ozzie’s. During the draft, everyone knows Ozzie craves draft picks and is unlikely to give a pick up. He and his team have someone slotted for that position. One has to give Ozzie credit for putting together a Super Bowl team in 2000 and making the playoffs 9 of the past 12 seasons with only 2 one and done years. 5 consecutive playoffs and at least one win each season with Flacco with a record 6 road wins, 1 OT victory and 3 dropped passes from 2 other Super Bowls. When the Ravens vote on their MVP, it has got to be Ozzie. And as a former player and HOFamer, when he talks with the players, they know he knows what they are talking about and understands their positions.
THE RAVENS OFFENSE
It starts here. And with the return of Bryant McKinnie and his return from where ever he went to. He stayed in Baltimore and met his contract for weight and went home. A magic back injury, poor work ethic, hip injury in game 6 against Dallas (that was a body bag game) kept him on the bench and second team. After a meeting with Harbaugh, he worked his way back in with help from an injury to Jah Reid that moved Oher back to Right Tackle and Osemele to Left Guard and McKinnie, all 6’8″ and 360 lbs before breakfast. With the new line, Flacco has been sacked 4 times in 3 games and during the 5 game misery 15 times. He has 2.76 seconds to pass in post season ranked 9th where as he had 2.58 seconds ranked 26th before the line change. All the numbers go up with the new line.
A 5 year pro, 5 trips to the playoffs, 8-4 in playoffs, most road victories, 6, lost two AFC title games due to 3 dropped passes and catach able balls, 8 TDs no INTS, a 114 rating a 40 QBR. The much maligned man is on fire. He is battle tested, AFC game rookie year. I would think after his first 5 years, he has seen the big games. Beating the Pats again at home is big. He is one win away from tying his hero Joe Montana in playoff wins and is only 28 and has the Wizard of Oz to keep him surrounded by playoff caliber teams. And after this season of injury, In Ozzie the Ravens Nation We Trust. This is Joe’s playoffs, with deep weapons in Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and a bit of Boldin, middle with Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pita, Ed Dickson, and Tandon Doss. Not so Secret Service protection from Vonata Leach the human battering ram, and Ray Rice, all everything. (d0 we get a halfback option out of Ray Ray). He is loaded.
Ladarius Webb and Jameel McClain, season ending injuries. Terrell Suggs, superman, back from Achilles tear and biceps tear and just getting back into game shape (he will be a beast), Ray Lewis back from triceps tear and smoking deer antler shavings or something and in his final game and run. Jimmy Smith out with groin surgery and back. Bernard Pollard missed time, Haloti Ngata injured all season and now back to snuff. Pernell McPhee missed time but has been back with a big paw disturbing Manning and Brady. The defense is rounding together. They held Manning and Broncos to 3 TDs, they shut down da nada Brady in the second half. Ed Reed has been noted for no INTs (he did drop one in Colts game but Manning and Brady avoided his side of the field so he shut them down. He loves to seduce rookies and Kapernick is up his alley. Although the defense was porous during the regular season, they were ranked 16th at the end, up from a low of 27 so they have improved. The Ravens though had a top 10 Red Zone defense, they bend and do not break. Dean Pees, the DC, is big game tested being the DC on the Patriots and was 4-3 in the PlayOffs.
The end of a 17 year playing career at a top level although his play has degraded over the last 3 years, his value is in the leadership and coaching role on the field. With Ed Reed, the Ravens D has 2 active coaches on the field with Lewis controlling the front 7 and Reed the back 4. The world’s eyes will be on Ray and he will receive credited for tackles he does not deserve but so go the spoils of a great career. He will not be the difference maker in this game. Look for Pollard to bring some heavy wood and if he nail Kapernick, Smith off the bench. It will be the line containing their lanes and Kruger and Suggs not letting Kapernick outside the edge. Ngata is in form and should help contain Gore.
In a game of this nature it is not unusual to see Special Teams “win” the game. The Ravens bring one of Oz’s Rookie Free Agents into the game, Justin Tucker the kicker. Big leg, small body, looks and acts like a local rock band performer but sings opera. Mafe the biggest kick in Ravens history, OT winning Field Goal against the Broncos. The 49ers Akers has gone from Mr Perfect to Billy Cundiff. In fact they brought Cundiff into compete with Akers in the playoffs, not a good sign. Jacoby Jones is the All Pro kick returner and leads the league in KO average. And Sam Koch punter extraordinaire and and Ravens Cornhole Champion years running. If the Special Teams do not break down as they did in Denver, advantage Baltimore.
Jim and John, John and Jim, which way to go? 15 months apart, raised with the same philosophy on coaching from their Dad and Bo Schemblecher and their Mom, after high school they went their separate ways with the younger and more talented Jim off to Michigan and the NFL and John went to Miami of Ohio and played DB and went into college and then NFL coaching. He was on that great Eagles run through NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl and studied under Andy Reid before becoming Baltimore’s head coach 5 years ago. He too is battle tested. Jim was Captain Comeback and was Ray Lewis’ first sack in the NFL. He went onto San Diego State as Head Coach and then lead Stanford to the Rose Bowl before taking over the 49ers and taking them to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Giants last year. John promoted Jim Caldwell to OC after firing long time friend Cam Cameron and that turned the O around.
John seems more comfortable in his skin, has the right mix of vets and rookies and has been through the play offs more than Jim. He and his team has gone through more adversity. And as the older brother has less stress to prove himself against his younger brother.
The Big Game. So much riding on this game. Flacco’s contract. Lewis’ last game, big brother against younger brother. On paper, it seems the 40ers hold most of the edges. I give the Ravens the special team edge. They have the QB edge. Joe Cool is not known as Joe Cool for no reason. He is unflappable and is developing an impressive resume` of comebacks. A big gun and big receivers to get the ball. Defensively they are riding a winning streak
The intangibles. I agree with Scott about teams having to take steps. Many get to a Championship and lose and do not make it back. The Ravens and 49ers have done the difficult and were relevant again this year. And here they are. There are teams of destiny that pop up out of no where and go back to no where. The NY Jets in ’69 and the Miracle Mets. But to be consistent that is the trick. The Ravens have prepped for this for 5 years and seem to be a team of destiny beyond just the steps they have taken. I believe that Flacco establishes his bona fides for the rest of the nation, he has them here in the Land of Pleasant Living. Lewis will impinge his desire upon his team and they will push the 49ers for him. I think the stage is too big for the rookie QB this year.
BALTIMORE RAVENS 34 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 18
The Baltimore Ravens first draft choice in history and 5 years after his 12 year career he is the first true Raven HOF member. He will be followed in 5 years by their second first round pick 17 years ago. Ray Lewis, 52. Congratulations to JO and hopefully Grossi will grow up and realize he has a team, colors and records. He does not realize how tough it is for a fan to see their team’s colors, name and records in a different city ( and I still do not approve of adapting the Colt Fight Song for the Ravens.).Elect Art Modell to HOF,
SUPER BOWL XLV111 is at the Meadowlands, home to NY Giants and Jets, Let’s see tickets are $1500+. Tonight the weather will be 31 F at game time with snow showers and wind chill of 24 F. I love cold weather football as a fan in the stands. But if they were to do this than give the game to one of the home teams. Unfortunately the logistics for one game are too great for that as opposed to the World Series. I agree with Joe Flacco cold weather football should be left to the Play Offs but the Super Bowl, play it in warm climes with open air or warm or cold in the dome. I am sure the gliteratti will enjoy sitting in the cold for their only football game of the year.