Super Bowl 2013 Predictions: Who Will Come Out on Top?
We are just days away from Super Bowl XLVII, and the big game often provides statistical anomalies that surprise the average fan upon discovery.
For instance: Did you know that the record-holder for most rushing yards in a single Super Bowl is the immortal Timmy Smith, who ran for 204 in Super Bowl XXII?
Were you aware that the record-holder for longest reception in Super Bowl history is Muhsin Muhammad, who caught an 85-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme in Super Bowl XXXVIII?
On Sunday, we know that history will be made, but who will make it? Will it be the obvious choices, or will it be someone more obscure?
It's time to examine who will lead each major statistical category in Super Bowl XLVII.
Passing Yards: Joe Flacco
At this point, you surely know that I'm #WackoForFlacco. I'm not surprised in the least by his sparkling postseason performance, as he's tossed eight touchdown passes against zero interceptions.
I know how good the 49ers defense is, but I don't care. It's Flacco's time. He's just been too good this postseason. He is an elite quarterback, and I expect him to get the job done on Sunday.
Not only will Flacco pass for more yards than Colin Kaepernick, but he will win the MVP award for Super Bowl XLVII, helping him command an even larger payday from the Ravens in the offseason.
I predict Flacco will throw for over 250 yards and for at least two touchdowns in a Ravens Super Bowl triumph.
Rushing Yards: Frank Gore
I think Ravens running back Ray Rice is a tremendous football player. I believe that his backup, rookie Bernard Pierce, could end up being the X-factor of Super Bowl XLVII.
But, there's no doubt in my mind that Frank Gore will out-rush them both.
The ascendance of Colin Kaepernick in the 49ers "pistol" offense has greatly benefited Gore, as it becomes a "pick your poison" scenario for opposing defenses. Just look at what Kaepernick did in the divisional round, slicing and dicing the Packers defense en route to a record-setting game. Defenses simply must respect Kaepernick's rushing ability, and in the read option, that opens up lanes for Gore. He will take advantage, as evidenced by his 90-yard, two-touchdown effort in the NFC title game in Atlanta.
As I've written before, Gore is one of the most underrated players of this generation. I expect him to rush for no fewer than 90 yards in Super Bowl XLVII.
Receiving Yards: Torrey Smith
Truthfully, I think both Torrey Smith and Michael Crabtree will have huge games. Both have been monsters throughout the postseason.
I'm picking Smith because of his big-play ability. I think back to his performance against Champ Bailey in Denver in the divisional round, and how he kept Baltimore in the game early on with his outrageous catches.
Smith is a big-time player, and big-time players show up in big-time games. There is no bigger game than the Super Bowl, so it shouldn't surprise you on Sunday when Smith has a majestic performance.
I expect Smith to break the 100-yard receiving mark in helping the Ravens to a Super Bowl title.
Tackles: NaVorro Bowman
I will admit that this prediction will likely come down to how generous the official scorers are to Ray Lewis, who has somehow managed to accumulate 44 tackles in three postseason games.
Still, I'm going with NaVorro Bowman, who is actually underrated because he plays next to all-world linebacker Patrick Willis.
For those of you up in arms over my pick of Bowman over Willis and Lewis, check the numbers. Bowman recorded 149 tackles in the regular season, 29 more than Willis.
He's a critical cog in the 49ers' outstanding defense, and I believe he'll start to get the credit he deserves after the Super Bowl, where he'll record double-digit tackles.
Sacks: Terrell Suggs
If you're a Ravens fan, you have to love what Ravens coach John Harbaugh said recently about Terrell Suggs' physical improvement.
If the Ravens win on Sunday (and I believe they will), Suggs will need to make an impact. He will.
Suggs has been getting healthier since returning from his offseason Achilles injury, and was very active in the Ravens' AFC Championship Game victory over New England, recording seven tackles.
With an additional two weeks of rest and an opportunity to shine on the grandest stage of them all, there's little doubt in my mind that the bombastic Suggs will bring his "A-game" and will get to Colin Kaepernick.
Interceptions: Ed Reed
Ravens safety Ed Reed has authored a Hall of Fame career, intercepting 61 passes and winning defensive player of the year in 2004. But, this is his first trip to the Super Bowl.
If you don't think Reed is ready to have the game of a lifetime, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to send you.
There's no denying that Colin Kaepernick has been extremely impressive in his first nine starts, but that's just it—it's only been nine starts. I expect the veteran Reed to capitalize on Kaepernick's inexperience, and make at least one game-changing interception.
Most Field Goals: Justin Tucker
I think that the battle between Ravens kicker Justin Tucker & 49ers kicker David Akers is the most underrated story of Super Bowl XLVII.
What makes it so fascinating? One kicker, Tucker, is playing with confidence. The other, Akers, isn't.
Akers was the worst placekicker in the NFL this season, missing a league-high 13 kicks. His missed field goal against the Falcons in the NFC title game nearly cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl. After the miss, Akers looked like Ron Burgandy strolling through the streets of San Diego in a robe. All that was missing was the scraggly beard and carton of warm milk.
Conversely, Tucker has been supremely clutch, having drilled the game-winner against Denver in double-overtime in the divisional round.
When it comes down to it, who do you expect will make the clutch kick, Tucker or Akers?
It isn't even close.