10 Sleeper Super Bowl XLVII MVPs
History shows that either San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick or Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco are the favorites be named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII.
Twenty-five of the 47 players to win the award played quarterback. (Dallas Cowboys defenders Randy White and Harvey Martin shared the award in Super Bowl XII.)
Thirty-eight players on the offensive side of the football have won the trophy as opposed to only eight from the defense. Green Bay Packers kick returner Desmond Howard was the lone special teams player.
Then there are players that defied convention all together. Those are the players who no one expected much from in the Super Bowl, let alone to be named MVP.
Dallas Cowboy cornerback Larry Brown had two interceptions in Super Bowl XXX. Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson won the award in Super Bowl XXXVII with two interceptions as well.
Baltimore’s linebacker Ray Lewis did not even put up great statistics to win the Super Bowl XXXV MVP. Lewis had five total tackles and four passes defended.
Here is a list of 10 unlikely yet talented players who could win the Super Bowl XLVII award. Granted, each would need to play the game of his life, but as the examples above prove, anybody can have their best day in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers WR Randy Moss
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Once considered the best receiver in football, Randy Moss has fallen off in recent years.
But Moss still is sneaky fast, and if the Ravens look to double-team Crabtree in the secondary, Moss should see plenty of one-on-one matchups. Moss has played in plenty of big games, so the stage will not be too large for him.
Moss could end up being targeted by quarterback Colin Kaepernick quite a bit. If Moss can call on the fountain of youth one last time, the future Hall of Fame receiver could add a Super Bowl MVP to his list of accomplishments.
Baltimore Ravens TE Ed Dickson
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Tight end Dennis Pitta is the only Raven to have scored in last season’s matchup between these two teams, so he would have been the easy choice to pick here.
But the 49ers know Flacco and Pitta have a special relationship. Whenever Flacco is pressured in the pocket, the former Delaware Blue Hen looks to the former BYU Cougar to bail him out.
Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell knows and understands this as well, so look for him to use Pitta as a decoy over the middle. As the 49ers linebackers and safeties descend on Pitta, Ed Dickson can find the holes in the secondary outside the hashes to pick up critical yards.
Dickson was hurt a majority of the season, but when healthy, he is one of the better young players in the NFL.
In 2011, Dickson had 54 grabs for 528 yards. In 16 games played in 2012-13, the former Oregon Duck secured 25 catches for 278 yards. Dickson is an outside-the-box pick but a viable one for MVP.
San Francisco 49ers RB/KR LaMichael James
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LaMichael James is a change-of-pace player for full-time starting running back Frank Gore. While Gore is the power of the 49ers rushing attack, James is the speed and flash.
James operated in an offense much like the one the 49ers use now while at Oregon. He is very crafty at finding the open hole and using his quickness to get into the secondary.
In the past six games, James has rushed for 180 yards on just 35 carries, and he is averaging 6.9 yards a rush in the playoffs. He has also caught five passes for 40 yards.
His play time has increased, and James is now a viable part of the 49ers game plan. On top of his place in the 49ers offense, James has taken on a key role as a kick returner for the 49ers.
James has 14 returns for 417 yards. He is a long shot for MVP, but with his increased role with the 49ers, anything is possible.
Baltimore Ravens RB Bernard Pierce
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Everyone knows running back Ray Rice is the bell cow of the Ravens offense, but since Week 15 when Jim Caldwell took over the play-calling duties from fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Bernard Pierce’s carries have increased.
In 13 games before Caldwell took over, Pierce had 40 total carries. In the six games since, Pierce has 68.
Pierce actually has a higher average per carry in the playoffs than Rice (6.3 to 3.9). While Rice is a more patient runner, Pierce hits the hole with explosiveness and continually drives his legs on contact.
Heading into the Super Bowl, Pierce has 701 yards on 108 rushes.
Pierce will get his share of carries in the Super Bowl to spot Rice, and if he can rip off a couple long runs versus a solid 49ers defense, Pierce could run home the unlikely winner of the MVP trophy.
San Francisco 49ers OLB Ahmad Brooks
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An argument can be made that the best outside linebacker the last half of the 2012 NFL season was not Aldon Smith, but Ahmad Brooks.
Smith had four sacks in the last eight games, while Brooks finished with 2.5 sacks in that same period of time but also added an interception for a touchdown. Smith had 26 total tackles to Brooks' 21.
Brooks will be lined up with right tackle Michael Oher most of the game, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio loves Brooks for his versatility and will move him all around the formations. At times he will likely line up over the center Matt Birk or next to Aldon Smith on the right side over left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
Brooks is a solid blitzing linebacker, and if he can get to quarterback Joe Flacco for a sack or two, he could win the MVP. A turnover forced or recovered would go a long way in his name being craved on the trophy.
Baltimore Ravens OLB Paul Kruger
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Terrell Suggs is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, yet he is not even the top sack producer on his own team.
Suggs was injured early in the season, hurting his production, but Paul Kruger answered the call. Heading into the Super Bowl, he has produced 11.5 sacks on the season.
Kruger has played well in the playoffs. His performance versus the Indianapolis Colts produced 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pass defended.
With Suggs back healthy and taking pressure off the entire Ravens defensive line, Kruger will continue to see one-on-one rushing opportunities versus the 49ers.
Kruger is a good enough athlete to play in space, and if Utah star can corral Kaepernick behind the line of scrimmage, he could be named the game’s best player.
San Francisco 49ers CB Tarell Brown
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Tarell Brown does not get much fanfare in the media world, but he is one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Much has been made of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s deep ball all week leading up to the Super Bowl. If the Ravens decide to test Brown deep with receivers Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones, the 49ers cornerback will get plenty of opportunities to make plays on the football.
Brown enters the Super Bowl with three interceptions. If he can haul in at least one and keep Flacco from completing any deep passes, Brown can join fellow defensive backs Jake Scott, Larry Brown and Dexter Jackson as the Super Bowl MVP.
Baltimore Ravens ILB Dannell Ellerbe
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The former college free agent from Georgia is another example of the scouting prowess of general manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff. Dannell Ellerbe has taken advantage of every opportunity given to him this season and continues to make plays all over the field.
Ellerbe, a free agent who could command as much as $10 million a year, could not have picked a better time to have a career season. Not only did Ellerbe pass Ray Lewis as the best linebacker on the roster, but he may be playing the best of any Ravens defensive player heading into the Super Bowl.
Ellerbe was involved in three turnovers this past year and made quite a few plays at critical times for the Ravens defense.
While Lewis and 49ers linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis may have bigger names, Ellerbe is a perfect sleeper to walk away with the Super Bowl MVP.
San Francisco 49ers WR/PR Ted Ginn
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The Super Bowl has produced some unforgettable moments in the return games over the years.
From the Green Bay Packers' Desmond Howard’s 99-yard touchdown return to the San Diego Chargers' Tim Dwight’s 94-yard return to the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester’s opening kickoff for a score, the stage is set for another game-breaker.
Ted Ginn, the former first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins, has had and up-and-down career in San Francisco. He was one of the most feared returners in 2011 when he produced two scores on returns. This season, Ginn has 326 punt return yards on 32 returns.
While the Ravens' Jacoby Jones enters the game as the most feared returner in the NFL, Ginn has the ability to change the game as well.
If Ginn can break a couple long punt returns and produce at least one touchdown, the former Ohio State Buckeye will join Howard as the only returners to win MVP of the Super Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens CB Corey Graham
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The loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb to a knee injury early in the 2012 NFL campaign looked to deflate a very good Ravens defense. While the unit has not fully recovered from the loss, Corey Graham has stepped up his game and become a force in the Ravens secondary.
Graham, a former special teams ace for the Chicago Bears, has played particularly well in the playoffs, registering two interceptions and five passes defended. Always a sure tackler, he has 86 total tackles on the season and playoffs.
If 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick goes after Graham in the passing game, the opportunistic corner may snatch himself an MVP and Super Bowl trophy for the Ravens.