Ravens vs. 49ers: Early Expert Analysis Around Super Bowl XLVII
After 17 regular-season weeks, three rounds of playoffs and the Pro Bowl, Super Bowl week is officially here.
For the next six days, expect an overload of storylines, analysis and predictions surrounding both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. Most of it you'll hear several times over by the time Sunday rolls around.
Considering it is still Monday, most of the fresh stuff from around the Internet remains fresh.
In the following slides, we will present some of the better expert analysis we found of Super Bowl XLVII.
ESPN's Scouts Inc.
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ESPN's Scouts Inc. does an in-depth scouting report for every NFL game of every week, including the preseason. This week, Matt Williamson put together a strong preview (subscription required) with this prediction to cap it off:
The Ravens are inspired by the impending retirement of Ray Lewis, but the tape shows that San Francisco has more advantages. In an excellent, hard-fought contest, the 49ers leave New Orleans with the franchise's sixth Super Bowl trophy.
Williamson picked the 49ers to win, 27-21.
Scouts Inc. gives the 49ers a positional edge on the offensive and defensive line, linebacker, defensive back and coaching. The Ravens get the nod at quarterback, running back, receiver and special teams.
Williamson also highlights the matchup between Ravens running backs and 49ers linebackers as the key positional battle, and says 49ers defensive end Justin Smith is the key player.
ESPN's John Clayton
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Few have the NFL covered like John Clayton, ESPN's resident football professor. His question-and-answer on Super Bowl XVLII is a must read.
In the piece, Clayton addresses the major storylines—Ray Lewis, the Harbaugh brothers, Joe Flacco—but he also touches on underrated stuff that some are overlooking.
Case in point: What kind of effect will the officiating crew have on the game?
Clayton notes that games officiated by Jerome Boger's crew averaged the second-lowest point total of any this season. While his crew will be a mix of the best officials from this past season, that figure can still be significant. Boger also called the eighth-most penalties.
Also in the piece, Clayton addressed the injury situations, run ratios, Kaepernick's ability in the read-option, the potential end for those not named Ray Lewis and the historical significance of Super Bowl XLVII.
And while Clayton does not give a prediction on the game, the tone of piece tends to lean toward San Francisco.
Vinnie Iyer and Clifton Brown, Sporting News
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Looking for a fun, quick-hit analysis of Super Bowl XLVII?
Vinnie Iyer and Clifton Brown of Sporting News have you covered.
In their version of the question-and-answer format, Iyer and Brown cover X-factors, Ray Lewis' legacy, red-hot receivers, the halftime show and what team will benefit most from playing inside the dome.
Iyer's take on Lewis is worth the look, and the respective X-factors (Jacoby Jones for Brown, Dennis Pitta for Iyer) make a lot of sense. The two also make note of the potential benefit of a two-week break for Baltimore's veteran defense.
Neither give a rock-solid prediction, so don't expect to rail either for their final scores of Super Bowl XLVII.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks
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The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl allow most of the storylines to get overplayed and overused, but Don Banks of Sports Illustrated went a different route in his column last week.
Instead of rehashing the same stories, Banks dug deep for some relatively unknown facts and figures about Super Bowl XLVII.
Among the notes Banks has is the history of teams making the Super Bowl one year after losing the conference title game, playoff seeding predicting the winner, the all-time series history between the two teams and the many connections between the 49ers and Ravens that make this game compelling.
Banks is skilled in his craft, and the work that goes into the piece makes it worth your time. For 49ers fans, Banks also embeds a video of him leaning toward San Francisco to win Super Bowl XLVII.
ESPN's Adam Schefter
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No piece on expert analysis would be complete without hearing from ESPN's Adam Schefter.
In his weekly "10 Spot" piece, Schefter looks at some of the lesser talked about angles of Super Bowl XLVII.
Among those storylines include Colin Kaepernick's locked-in contract situation, the future of Alex Smith, the importance of takeaways for both teams and an overlooked coordinator.
Maybe the most compelling of the angles is Schefter's examination of 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who has pushed all the right buttons over the last three seasons but failed to even get a sniff as a head coaching candidate this offseason. By this time next year, that could change—especially if the 49ers are able to crown themselves world champions by Sunday night.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King
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Like always, Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" is a must read for Super Bowl week.
In this championship version, King goes into the mind of backup Alex Smith and provides a look at the draft history of Colin Kaepernick. Both are unique inquiries into two stories most have probably heard.
King also provides links to several great Super Bowl pieces, each of which NFL fans should check out and read before Sunday's game. They center around the Harbaugh brothers, but each provides something new for fans to dig their teeth into.
The rest is King's mumblings about other things not related to the Super Bowl. But the start of the piece is worth your read if you're at all interested in Super Bowl XLVII.