Super Bowl XLVII features a team many expected to be there, a team not so many expected to be there, and two head coaching brothers facing off. The San Francisco 49ers, favored after a second incredibly strong regular season, have made it to the Super Bowl after losing last year’s conference championship to the eventual champion, the New York Giants.
The Baltimore Ravens, led by the strong run of form from both sides of the ball, have surprised many and redeemed last season’s conference championship loss to the New England Patriots en route to a chance to win the Super Bowl in Ray Lewis’s final season.
The game could certainly go either way, but there are a number of not-so-obvious storylines to watch leading up to the game.
The league has changed over the past few years to a quarterback-friendly league, led by some of the best to ever play the position. However, this Super Bowl features two newcomers, and the primary question of the game becomes: Which QB will perform better?
All signs point to the answer being Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers. Ever since he took over from Alex Smith late this season, the dual threat quarterback has been on fire, showing poise as a pocket passer and the game-changing ability to make big plays with his feet.
On the other hand, the maddeningly inconsistent Joe Flacco seems to finally be unleashing his full potential at just the right time. The clutch, strong-armed Flacco has yet to throw an interception this postseason, and has now passed Eli Manning for most playoff road wins by a quarterback with six.
This game could conceivably come down to the last drive, so whichever quarterback performs better on the biggest stage will likely win this game.
Another storyline to watch is David Akers, the 49ers’ kicker.
Coming off one of his best seasons two years ago, this season has been the opposite. Akers has lost his confidence and missed a record 14 field goals this year, including his only attempt in the conference championship game. The 49ers will likely have a number of field goal situations against a stout Ravens defense, and it will be very interesting to see how these situations play out.
Lastly, the conference championship was one of the first times since Kaepernick took over that the 49ers utilized their star tight end, Vernon Davis. Davis has the speed and size to be a mismatch with anyone, but he has struggled to accumulate catches over Kaepernick’s brief stint. Last game, though, Davis was unstoppable, amassing five catches for a team-leading 106 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens must game-plan around trying to stop Kaepernick’s big play ability and newest weapon in Vernon Davis, while the 49ers must try to stop Joe Flacco and a superbly confident Ravens team.
These are two even and well-coached teams playing, and at this point it’s anyone’s game.