I’ll take us to win. I’ll take us to cover.
So, let’s start here – the Niners were solidly the better regular season team, by the advanced metrics near the top of the league in offense and defense while the Ravens were in the middle of the pack. The Niners have a 7.3 advantage in the Simple Rating System metric; in 46 years of Super Bowls, how many teams who had that type of advantage over their SB opponent lost?
The ’70 Colts, in that awful game over the Cowboys.
Both Pats/Giants games. The Pats from the other end doing it to the Rams.
And Super Bowl 3.
That’s not the end of the story, but recognize when you’re looking at a 3.5 point spread that the disparity between the Niners and the Ravens is a little heavier than that.
To me, the next chapter of the story is this – are there reasons why the season long performances of the two teams should be minimized in favor of some additional piece of evidence. For Baltimore – sure, they changed offensive coordinators, they got Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, if not healthy than healthier (apparently, when it comes to #52, by means that appear outside of the rules; I’ll stipulate that there is no PED disparity between the Niners and Ravens, my thought is that if a baseball player had the kind of dramatic late career resurgence that Lewis had coupled with as much evidence that surrounds his possible PED use, there would be no other story in the World Series – the analysts would be considered to not be doing their jobs if during the actual broadcast itself the potential scandal was not the focus of attention. Baseball Ray Lewis would not get a broadcast job, not get endorsements, not be going to the Hall of Fame five years after retirement; at best he’s Jeff Bagwell, if they have him on tape he’s considered worse than Bonds or Clemens) and they beat sizeable favorites on the road in the AFC playoffs.
On the other hand, the 49ers completely changed their offense.
Consider this story – the 49ers took their new offense into New England, went up 31 points and then lost Justin Smith to injury. Without Smith to occupy the defensive line, freeing the edge pass rush, freeing the linebackers to make plays, the Niners scuffled all the way to season’s end.
Given the extra week off before the playoffs – the Niners again dominated, the team we saw in the first half of the Patriots game returned to beat Green Bay.
Without that rest, we again struggled for a half, Atlanta took a 17 point lead, the Niners comeback was the greatest in conference championship history (can we rewind to baseball for a moment? The Niners had to come back from a 17 point deficit and the Giants had to survive 6 postseason elimination games, 4 of which were on the road, to make the World Series; if this were happening in Boston Bill Simmons would get another special label website just to discuss it and Ken Burns would make a larded up documentary that we’d revere for a generation) and now, again with the extra week off, we’re in the Super Bowl.
The Ravens offensive line can struggle with speed – the Niners have Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
The Ravens wide receivers can struggle with tight man coverage – which is the Niners base defense.
You’re likely to see a run based, tightly played game from both sides – both teams looking to run the ball, the Niners having the advantage on both lines and with a quarterback who can run the spread and disable the Ravens ability to stack the defense (in the way the Niners will be able to do). It may be close for 3 quarters, but eventually, the Niners advantages on the lines and Kaepernick’s ability to bust a big play makes San Francisco the side.
If I can offer 3 thoughts you may not hear from other analysts let them be these.
Only 3 times in Super Bowl history has a team won despite losing the turnover battle.
The best season ever of Top Chef featured a battle between brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. Michael, the older brother, was technically very good – very controlled, very precise and steady. Bryan was a mad scientist and when they went head to head – it was Bryan who walked away with the chip. John Harbaugh is a good coach; he has a solid veteran team that looks a lot like the 49ers that Jim Harbaugh threw away to take new cards when he installed Kaepernick at midseason. John doesn’t ever, not in a million years, replace Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick. The margin of error in that decision means you have to win the whole thing or it’s a failure. Jim makes that decision – and that’s the difference between the two teams. Joe Flacco is just fine; Colin Kaepernick is a guy who beats you.
Argo is still even money to win Best Picture. Get in on that.
Niners 24 Ravens 17