Simulating Super Bowl XLVII

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 30, 2013

Simulating Super Bowl XLVII

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    Despite the meeting between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII still being days away, we've already determined the 2013 Super Bowl winner. In fact, we've determined it 10 different times.

    How? WhatIfSports.com refers to itself as "a sports simulation site dedicated to online sports games and analysis for the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA sports and more." WhatIfSports.com simulates each game, gives a box score and play-by-play analysis of each quarter.

    We matched up the Ravens and 49ers 10 times and are ready to break down each game. We'll let you know winners, MVPs and all the stats you could ever want as we simulate Super Bowl XLVII.

First Simulation: San Francisco 16, Baltimore 13 (OT)

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    Super Bowl MVP: Frank Gore

    Our first simulation brought the only overtime game, and the most exciting off all the games we simulated.

    After a defensive battle in the first and second quarter that resulted in only nine combined points, things got much more exciting in the second half. With just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for a 75-yard touchdown pass to help take a 10-6 lead.

    Things would slow down for the remainder of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. However, the San Francisco 49ers put together a 13-play scoring drive that covered 88 yards and took just over seven minutes off the clock. This helped give them a 13-6 lead with just over two minutes remaining.

    Without much of a return on the kickoff, Flacco went to work at his 22-yard line. A holding penalty on the first play of the drive would push the Baltimore Ravens back inside their 15 and bring about the two-minute warning.

    Flacco completed three huge passes to Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith and Jones to set Justin Tucker up for a game-tying 28-yard field-goal attempt. With time expiring, Tucker hit the field goal to send the game into overtime.

    The Ravens put together a drive that ended with Tucker missing a 56-yard field goal. With a short field, the 49ers were able to move the ball on the ground and give David Akers an opportunity to win the game with a 36-yard field goal. 

    The ball soared through the uprights and gave San Francisco a 16-13 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

    Gore finished the day with 106 rushing yards, and Michael Crabtree had five receptions and 91 yards to cap a successful postseason run.

    For Baltimore, Ray Rice struggled all game long, only gaining 28 yards on 17 carries. Flacco and Jones hooked up three times for 96 yards and the only offensive touchdown for the Ravens.

    On defense, Bernard Pollard for Baltimore and NaVorro Bowman for San Francisco both finished the game with over 10 tackles.

Second Simulation: San Francisco 34, Baltimore 24

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    Super Bowl MVP: Colin Kaepernick

    This simulation turned out to be more of an offensive shootout than the first simulation, with the San Francisco 49ers taking complete control in the second half.

    San Francisco put the first points on the board when Kaepernick scrambled eight yards for a touchdown. A David Akers field goal put the 49ers up 10 before Joe Flacco found Ray Rice for a 57-yard touchdown pass to help cut the lead to three.

    The Baltimore Ravens would take the lead early in the second quarter. Flacco found Torrey Smith, his favorite receiver of the playoffs, for a 51-yard touchdown pass as the Ravens took a 14-10 lead.

    However, it didn't take long for the 49ers to jump back on top, as Frank Gore scampered 10 yards for a touchdown. Justin Tucker hit a 52-yard field goal with just three seconds left in the first half, and just like that, the two teams were tied 17-17 heading into halftime.

    After both teams struggled moving the ball to start the third quarter, the 49ers finally found the end zone. Kaepernick hit Randy Moss on a short pass to help put San Francisco up seven points with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

    From that point on, it was all San Francisco. The defense stepped up and kept the Ravens from doing anything on offense. Kaepernick found Delanie Walker for his second touchdown pass of the game and another Akers field goal gave San Francisco a 34-17 lead with a minute left in the game.

    Baltimore would ultimately score on a 54-yard touchdown run by Bernard Pierce, but it would be too little, too late.

    Kaepernick dominated this game to the tune of 199 total yards and three touchdowns. Gore and LaMichael James kept things moving on the ground, as they combined for 152 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries.

    Rice and Flacco both had solid games. Rice finished the day with 133 yards of total offense, and Flacco added 247 yards through the air and two scores.

    Defensively, Aldon Smith recorded the only sack for either team, and Dannell Ellerbe lead all players with 10 tackles.

Third Simulation: San Francisco 20, Baltimore 13

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    Super Bowl MVP: Frank Gore

    In our third simulation, the difference between a San Francisco 49ers win and Baltimore Ravens loss was the play of the running backs.

    Justin Tucker started the scoring of the game with a 30-yard field goal with 11:16 remaining in the first quarter. The 49ers answered almost instantly with LaMichael James finding paydirt on a 17-yard run.

    Neither offense would have much success in the second quarter until there was under a minute remaining. Joe Flacco found Dennis Pitta for a touchdown to help put Baltimore up 10-7 with 56 seconds left in the half.

    A nice kickoff return would give San Francisco the ball at its 40-yard line with 51 seconds left on the clock. A series of medium completions from Colin Kaepernick would put San Francisco in field goal range for David Akers. A 36-yard field goal would tie the game at 10-10 at halftime.

    Each team would kick a field goal in the third quarter to head into the fourth quarter all tied up at 13 points a piece. A touchdown from Gore on a 31-yard gain would put the 49ers up early in the fourth quarter.

    Both teams would go back and forth with little success on offense. The Ravens had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but two sacks by Justin Smith in the final 19 seconds ended all chances of tying the game.

    Gore finished the day with a monster 169 rushing yards to go along with his game-winning touchdown. As far as the rest of the offense, Kaepernick finished the game with only 13 passing attempts that netted 86 yards.

    Not much was happening for Baltimore on offense as neither Flacco (197 passing yards) or Rice (83 rushing yards) were able to be extremely productive. 

    Smith was the standout defensive player with three tackles and two sacks.

Fourth Simulation: San Francisco 24, Baltimore 0

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    Super Bowl MVP: LaMichael James

    The only Super Bowl shutout took place in our fourth simulation. It was pure domination on both sides of the ball from start to finish for the San Francisco 49ers.

    There wasn't much action at all in the first quarter. In fact, a 37-yard field goal from David Akers midway through the quarter was the only scoring that took place.

    It wasn't until Bruce Miller scored from nine yards out just over 12 minutes later that more points were put on the board. That touchdown helped give San Francisco a 10-0 lead heading into half.

    Michael Crabtree and LaMichael James both scored in the third quarter from inside the 10-yard line to give the 49ers a three-score lead. The final 20 minutes of the game brought no touchdowns or turnovers, and was rather uneventful.

    The Baltimore Ravens had difficulties on offense all game long. They were only able to gain 86 total yards on the ground. Joe Flacco struggled with accuracy and consistency, only completing 44 percent of his passes for 117 yards. 

    San Francisco, on the other hand, had no difficulty moving the ball on offense at all. Frank Gore finished the day with 209 yards on just 19 carries. However, James brings home MVP honors due to his 108 rushing yards and one touchdown.

    The big news on defense was the lack of elite play from Ray Lewis in his final NFL game. He finished the game with only three tackles and was unable to do anything to slow down the ground game.

Fifth Simulation: Baltimore 52, San Francisco 27

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    Super Bowl MVP: Ray Rice

    It took five simulations before the Baltimore Ravens were able to get their first win. It was a dominating win for Baltimore—and our highest-scoring simulation so far.

    Frank Gore actually got the scoring started with a 29-yard touchdown run just three minutes into the game. It would only take five minutes for Baltimore to answer right back with a score of their own as Bernard Pierce put together a 24-yard touchdown run.

    After a David Akers field goal and Jacoby Jones touchdown to end the first quarter, Gore would find the end zone for the second time with just under 11 minutes left in the second quarter. Five minutes later, Jones would catch his second touchdown pass of the day to give Baltimore a 21-17 lead over the San Francisco 49ers.

    The first half would end with another Akers field goal and a Ray Rice touchdown run to give the Ravens a 28-20 lead heading into the second half. Baltimore would put 10 quick points on the board to build its lead to 18 with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.

    LaMichael James would break a huge touchdown run to help cut the lead to only 11 as the fourth quarter started, but the offense would sputter from then on for San Francisco. The Ravens, however, would put two more touchdowns on the board with Pierce and Rice both finding the end zone for the second time of the day.

    The 49ers would actually outgain the Ravens on the ground with 323 yards compared to Baltimore's 233 yards. The big difference would be in the play of the quarterbacks.

    Joe Flacco continued his impressive run through the playoffs with 259 passing yards (122 to Anquan Boldin) and three touchdowns. Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, completed only seven of his 22 passing attempts for 111 yards.

    He was eventually replaced with Alex Smith, who was 2-of-4 for 20 yards and an interception. Justin Smith was the defensive player of the game with two sacks, while Jameel McClain led all players with eight tackles.

Sixth Simulation: San Francisco 13, Baltimore 6

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    Super Bowl MVP: Michael Crabtree

    Our sixth simulation was a low-scoring affair, proving each team still has dominant defenses to work with. In fact, both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were held scoreless in the entire second half.

    Justin Tucker started the scoring for Baltimore on a monstrous 52-yard field goal with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. David Akers would answer five minutes later with a 51-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

    Rookie LaMichael James, who has seen his role increase in these playoffs, scored the only touchdown in the game on a 13-yard run. The score capped off a drive that covered 87 yards on only nine plays, including a 27-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick to Randy Moss.

    Both teams would add a field goal to end the half, giving San Francisco a 13-6 lead and what was the final score of this simulated version of Super Bowl XLVII.

    Ed Reed had a solid game defensively, finishing the day with seven tackles and an interception. For San Francisco, Crabtree only made three receptions, but they resulted in 102 receiving yards. This was good enough for him to bring home Super Bowl MVP. 

Seventh Simulation: Baltimore 12, San Francisco 6

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    Super Bowl MVP: Ed Reed

    Another defensive battle took place in our seventh simulation. However, this battle was won by the Baltimore Ravens rather than the San Francisco 49ers.

    Neither team was able to get anything going offensively throughout the game. Baltimore finished the day with only 232 yards of total offense, and San Francisco was even worse with only 203 yards of total offense.

    The 49ers actually held the lead heading into the half by a score of 6-3. However, they were unable to move the ball at all, and Justin Tucker added three second-half field goals to pull away in the second half.

    The big winner in this game was Ed Reed. Not only did he finally win a Super Bowl, but his eight tackles were tied for the most of any defensive player. This performance was enough to win him his first Super Bowl MVP.

Eighth Simulation: Baltimore 15, San Francisco 3

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    Super Bowl MVP: Justin Tucker

    Another simulation, another low-scoring game highlighted by kickers. Our eighth simulation might be the blandest and uneventful Super Bowl in recent history.

    Neither team was able to get much of anything going offensively. For Baltimore, Ray Rice managed to gain 77 yards on 17 carries, good for a 4.5 yard-per-carry average. Joe Flacco didn't do anything special and finished the game with 240 passing yards and an interception.

    For San Francisco, no one on offense had any success whatsoever. Colin Kaepernick (6-of-11, 128 yards and an interception) was completely shut down. Frank Gore couldn't get anything going on the ground as he gained only 27 yards on 15 carries.

    On defense, the 49ers were able to get decent pressure on Flacco. They finished the game with five sacks, with Larry Grant having two of the five. 

    Haloti Ngata was an absolute force to be reckoned with. His eight tackles led all players for Baltimore, and he was the main force behind slowing down the 49ers' rushing attack.

    To prove just how pitiful this game would have been to watch, Tucker's five field goals were enough to give him the MVP trophy. Let's all hope and pray that this isn't how the actual Super Bowl XLVII turns out.

Ninth Simulation: San Francisco 22, Baltimore 10

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    Super Bowl MVP: Ray McDonald

    In our ninth simulation, we finally saw the side of Joe Flacco that many expected to see much earlier in the playoffs. While he threw for 296 yards, his four interceptions were really what cost his team the Super Bowl.

    Things were actually looking good for the Baltimore Ravens in the first half for a while. Bernard Pierce found the end zone to start the second quarter as the Ravens took a 7-3 lead.

    However, the San Francisco 49ers and David Akers answered right back with three field goals to end the second quarter. This gave them a small lead of 12-7 before both teams came out onto the field for the third quarter.

    In that third quarter is where the game-changing play occurred. On second down with just under 13 minutes left, Flacco was intercepted by McDonald. The defensive end rumbled his way for a 53-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

    This helped give the 49ers a 19-7 early in the third quarter. They'd add another field goal in the fourth quarter, and their defense would continue to give Flacco and Co. problems with moving the ball.

    Frank Gore managed to eclipse the century mark in the game with 109 rushing yards on just 17 carries. Once again, Colin Kaepernick was uninspiring as he managed only 94 yards through the air.

    Other than Flacco's four interceptions, the Ravens were somewhat successful statistically on offense. Torrey Smith went over 100 yards receiving, and Anquan Boldin added another 66 yards trough the air.

    Overall, it was the play of San Francisco and its defense that dominated the day. McDonald won MVP because of his defensive touchdown, but Aldon Smith (five tackles and a sack), NaVorro Bowman (eight tackles) and Donte Whitner (three tackles and an interception) all played exceptionally well.

10th Simulation: Baltimore 19, San Francisco 10

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    Super Bowl MVP: Joe Flacco

    Our 10th and final simulation was another defensive battle between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

    After a quick three-and-out to start the game for San Francisco, the Ravens were able to put together a nice drive and put the first points on the board. Anquan Boldin capped off a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a screen pass that turned into a touchdown.

    The 49ers would add a field goal before the end of the first quarter to cut the lead to four points. However, two Justin Tucker field goals would give the Ravens a two-score lead of 13-3 heading into the half.

    Another Tucker field goal in the third quarter would stretch that lead to 13 points before the 49ers would score their first touchdown. Colin Kaepernick found Vernon Davis on a short three-yard touchdown reception to bring San Francisco to within six points.

    Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and Baltimore would add a fourth field goal to give them the win by a score of 19-10.

    The big story of this game was the impressive play of Flacco. He finished the game 25-of-28 with 314 yards and a touchdown. It was one of the best performances from a quarterback in a Super Bowl and enough to earn him a huge contract in the offseason.

Final Analysis

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    Average Score for Baltimore Ravens: 16.4 points

    Average Score for San Francisco 49ers: 17.5 points

    Average Rushing Yards for Baltimore: 115.1 rushing yards

    Average Rushing Yards for San Francisco: 193.3 rushing yards

    Average Passing Yards for Baltimore: 207 passing yards

    Average Passing Yards for San Francisco: 126.9 passing yards

    Despite a few high-scoring games, the majority of the simulations were low-scoring, defensive battles between two great defensive teams. 

    Both teams had great success on the ground, as evident by the 49ers nearly averaging 200 total rushing yards a game. Obviously, Frank Gore was a huge part of that, but LaMichael James had a number of solid games in our simulations, too.

    The biggest surprise from either team was the complete lack of production from Vernon Davis. While he did have a touchdown in our final simulation, there were a handful of games where he was kept without a catch.

    The biggest letdown from these simulations was the struggles of second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He's played so well throughout these playoffs, but really struggled in nearly every simulated game we ran.

    While these simulations aren't perfect science, they do paint a pretty decent picture of what we can expect from both these teams come Sunday. Both teams have been hot offensively throughout these playoffs, but look for defenses to play a huge role in the Super Bowl.

    Whichever team can successfully slow down the rushing attack of the other team will likely be the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when the clock hits zero.