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How Baltimore Got Here
Behind two Joe Flacco touchdowns passes, the Ravens disposed of the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 in the Wild Card Round.
Baltimore then upset the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime to advance to the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens allowed two special teams touchdowns to Trindon Holliday, yet they recovered to tie the game up at 28 late in the third quarter.
Peyton Manning's third touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to Demaryius Thomas, gave Denver a 35-28 lead, which it held until less than a minute to go in regulation.
Needing a miracle, the Ravens found one when Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard strike to tie the game with 31 seconds left. Justin Tucker's 47-yard field goal in double overtime was the nail in Denver's coffin.
When the 49ers Have the Ball
The good: The Ravens have only allowed three offensive touchdowns in their two playoff games.
The bad: The Ravens have allowed 817 yards in those games.
Translation: They are bending, but they aren't breaking.
Baltimore ranked 12th in scoring defense in the regular season, one spot behind Green Bay's rank. I don't see why the 49ers would have any issue moving the ball on the Ravens, but the key would be red zone efficiency.
Baltimore had the league's second-best red zone defense in the regular season, and if it can hold San Francisco to several field goals, it could win this potential Super Bowl matchup.
Still, after Kaepernick and Co. combined for 579 yards against a Green Bay defense that has similar stats to Baltimore's, I have to at least give a slight edge to the 49ers on this side of the ball.
When the Ravens Have the Ball
Based on regular-season stats, San Francisco's defense would have a clear advantage over Baltimore's offense.
But the emergence of Joe Flacco this postseason levels the playing field considerably.
Flacco has tossed five touchdowns passes and zero interceptions in his two playoff games. More impressively, he's averaging 10.8 yards per attempt.
Ray Rice also rushed for 131 yards against a talented Denver rushing defense.
That being said, when the Ravens and 49ers met in the regular season 14 months ago, San Francisco's defense held Ray Rice to 59 yards rushing and Flacco to 161 yards passing. The Ravens won that game 16-6.
Since that game, Baltimore's offense and San Francisco's defense haven't changed much (aside from Flacco's performance during his current playoff run).
Eventually, the mediocre version of Flacco has to surface again, right?
Which Team Has the Edge?
The Ravens shut down San Francisco's offense in last year's matchup, but that was obviously before Colin Kaepernick was starting, Michael Crabtree emerged as an elite wide receiver and the 49ers run game became one of the best in the NFL.
This year, the Ravens have consistently struggled to slow down quality offenses, and if these teams face each other in Super Bowl XLVII, I would expect Baltimore's struggles to continue.