The Super Bowl MVP is usually an obvious choice, but every so often, there is a surprise. This battle between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens could be one of those exceptions.
Most winners of this award have been quarterbacks of the winning team. This means that Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick are the most likely to take home the trophy.
However, there are certainly opportunities for players to become this year's Dexter Jackson or Desmond Howard.
These lesser-known players will have a shot at winning the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player award with big performances on Sunday.
Jacoby Jones, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens
In Super Bowl XXXI, Desmond Howard was named MVP thanks mostly to a single kickoff returned for a touchdown. This and a few good punt returns made him the hero for the Green Bay Packers.
The upcoming contest in Super Bowl XLVII should be a back-and-forth battle, and Jacoby Jones could be the difference-maker.
Jones has been excellent this season as a kick returner in his first year with the Ravens. He led the NFL with an average return of 30.7 and he was the only player to return two for touchdowns.
In addition, only the Oakland Raiders allowed more yards per return than the 49ers.
If the talented player is able to get some space, he has the ability to take one to the house for a game-changing touchdown. A couple of big plays as a receiver would then seal the award for Jones.
Dashon Goldson, FS, San Francisco 49ers
With all of the talented players on the 49ers defense, it is easy to forget about Dashon Goldson.
Big-time stars like Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith are often getting many more headlines. However, Goldson had been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two years and was named first-team All-Pro this season.
The safety always seems to be in the right spot at the right time, and he has made some big plays over the last two years. He is among the top of the NFL with nine interceptions over that stretch.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco loves to throw the deep ball, which can sometimes get him in trouble against elite safeties. Goldson can certainly change the game by forcing a turnover or two in the defensive secondary.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
When you list the top tight ends in the NFL, Dennis Pitta is often pretty far from the top. However, the third-year player proved otherwise with a breakout season.
He ranked in the top 10 at his position in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns and had a number of huge games for the Ravens.
The 49ers will spend a lot of time in preparation focusing on receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but Pitta is the type of player who can make teams pay when he is forgotten.
In the NFC Championship Game, Tony Gonzalez finished with eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown against San Francisco. If Pitta can replicate these numbers, he would certainly be in the running for the MVP award.
LaMichael James, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore is still the man in San Francisco's backfield after the veteran put together yet another Pro Bowl season, but LaMichael James is certain to get some work in the next game.
The rookie has provided another dimension to the already solid rushing attack since he started playing late in the year.
Including the playoffs, James is averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry in six games. He also got a very important 15-yard touchdown in the NFC Championship Game with the team trailing 17-0.
James has very good speed and the ability to score from anywhere on the field. With a great run-blocking offensive line in front of him, he could see a lot of space against the Ravens.
It could only take a few touches for James to make a huge impact in this game.