Welcome back, defense. We have missed you.
In today's NFL, where offenses run up scoreboards with read-option attacks and aerial assaults, who would have thought we would have the marquee matchup of two elite defenses?
Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh.
Ray Lewis vs. Patrick Willis.
Fearsome Ravens defense vs. the fast 49ers defense.
Super Bowl XLVII has the potential to show that even in a passing league, defense still wins championships.
Which team has the defensive edge on Super Bowl Sunday?
1. A Healthy Bunch of Ravens
All season long, the Ravens defense has battled with injuries to linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Lewis and Suggs hardly spent any time on the field together until the start of the postseason and it does not show.
Lewis and Suggs are elite linebackers who are always impact players.
Sure, they have deal with the offensive terror that is Colin Kaepernick.
But a healthy Lewis and Suggs combination goes a long way in shutting down the 49ers' quick quarterback.
2. Prevent the Big Plays
During the regular season, the 49ers defense only allowed 17.1 points per game which ranked second in the NFL. Yet, in this postseason the 49ers have allowed 31 points against the Green Bay Packers and 24 points against the Falcons.
While it is just two games against two of the best offenses in the NFC, the 49ers are giving up points and big plays. Julio Jones broke free in the first half for a huge, 46-yard touchdown.
The 49ers cannot be vulnerable when playing against Joe Flacco and his big-play receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
The Ravens contained the Patriots offense and has the edge here in preventing big plays.
3. On-Field Coaches
The Ravens have two of the smartest defensive players at reading offenses and barking out calls to their teammates.
Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed are the old guys in this league and have the bruises and injuries to prove it.
But, their minds are still strong and give them a huge edge no matter what team they match up against.
Communication is key when trying to slow down Kaepernick and the 49ers offense. Lewis and Reed are some of the best on-field communicators and coaches that the league has to offer.
Veteran leadership and the on-field coaching tandem of Lewis and Reed gives the Ravens the edge.
4. Play for Ray
This is Ray Lewis's final game.
No ifs, ands or buts.
This Ravens team plays for Ray and the defense will want to send out one of the NFL's greatest linebackers of all time with a second Super Bowl ring on his hand.