The two Super Bowl teams, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, are fairly well matched. They both feature efficient offenses and hard-hitting defenses.
Both teams have quarterbacks and running backs that are playing extremely well. Each of those guys are capable of putting up big numbers and helping their teams win. Add in each team's tough defense and this matchup looks fairly close.
The outcome of this game will come down to a role player having a big day and helping to push his team over the edge. Here are some potential options for the X-factor in Super Bowl XLVII.
While attention will be given to Torrey Smith and his ability to get deep, Boldin needs to play well in order to keep the chains moving for the Ravens. Boldin has been on a tear in the postseason, and has been a big reason why the Ravens are playing in the Super Bowl. He has averaged 5.3 catches, 92 yards and a touchdown per game in the playoffs. Boldin's three postseason touchdowns are just under the four he had throughout the whole regular season.
Flacco will need Boldin to be a legitimate threat in the intermediate game to give Smith chances to get past the 49ers secondary. If Boldin can come up with more than five catches, 100 yards and a score, the Ravens will be in great shape.
He was the 49ers' X-factor last week, and he was a huge reason why they were able to come back against the Atlanta Falcons. He finished the game with six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. In addition to racking up yardage, he gave Colin Kaepernick a safety-valve and allowed him to get settled.
Davis' presence in the middle opens up the rest of the field for Kaepernick and the offense. Likely matched up against Ray Lewis, Davis has an opportunity to force the Ravens to help out. Taking away players from the secondary to play Davis only makes it that much tougher for the Ravens on the outside.
Lewis will get more than his fair share of attention leading into the Super Bowl. He's had some tough weeks on the football field, but if he can find one last solid performance, it could lead the Ravens to victory. As mentioned above, Lewis needs to do a solid job in coverage against Davis to allow the Ravens more flexibility on defense.
In the run game, Lewis needs to stay disciplined and can't afford to miss his assignments. Against the talented group of Kaepernick, Frank Gore and LaMichael James, Lewis needs a vintage performance. If Lewis plays well, the 49ers will have one less option to attack.
Justin Smith and Aldon Smith
The two players haven't been the same since Justin Smith's injury late in the regular season. They have struggled to get to the quarterback as consistently as they were prior to the injury. If they can win their one-on-ones and get in Flacco's face, the 49ers have a great chance to win the game.
Flacco has been unbelievable with regard to taking care of the football with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The 49ers need to get constant pressure and force Flacco into making some mistakes with the ball.