Super Bowl XLVII: X-Factors That Will Decide Heated Contest
If you have been in a complete media blackout for the past few months and haven't heard, Super Bowl XLVII will take place on Sunday between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
The 2013 edition of the Super Bowl comes between two similar teams who are red-hot right now. It is so difficult to pick which team will win this game that the best we can definitively do is list the factors that will decide the winners.
These are those X-factors.
The Ravens have one of the best deep threats in the NFL with quarterback Joe Flacco and second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith.
We've seen these two connect for long touchdowns all season, including twice against the Denver Broncos in the postseason.
However, those two scores against Denver remain his only ones in three playoff games, and now he is either due for another touchdown or is struggling against tough cornerbacks.
Smith is only averaging three receptions per game in the playoffs this year, but those three catches go for 66.0 yards per contest.
When Smith is burning secondaries he also opens up underneath routes for his teammates, and takes pressure off of Anquan Boldin.
Smith will likely have to matchup with either Carlos Rogers or Tarell Brown, and keeping him contained will be key for the 49ers.
Colin Kaepernick's Legs
San Francisco's new quarterback has been incredible this year, and that hasn't changed in the postseason.
Kaepernick is averaging 299.0 total yards per game in the playoffs, and has scored five touchdowns compared to just one interception.
What makes Kaep so dangerous isn't necessarily his arm, however, but it is his dual-threat nature.
Kaepernick's ability to get outside the pocket and either throw on the run or take it himself makes him deadly. The Green Bay Packers learned just how deadly in the divisional round, as Kaepernick ran for 181 yards and two scores.
What's even more dangerous about his legs is that the read option that the 49ers have been running makes teams watch for three different outcomes, and can ruin even the best preparation.
The Ravens need to contain Kaepernick's mobility in this game and force him to make tough throws, making his legs the 49ers' X-factor on offense.
There is no player in the NFL who can provide an emotional boost like Ray Lewis can, and playing in his final game will give him and the Ravens incredible motivation.
Lewis' issues with deer antler spray aside, this is his last ride, and the Ravens will be playing to send their leader out in style.
Lewis' play and motivation will be key in this game, and we'll have to keep an eye on him throughout the night.
The Turnover Battle
As cliche as it is, nothing decides a close game like turnovers.
Neither team has had much of a problem with interceptions in the postseason, as Flacco hasn't thrown one in his last five games, while Kaepernick has only thrown one in his last three.
The difference could be Baltimore's ability to hang onto the football. The team has lost three fumbles in the postseason alone, and San Francisco will be looking to poke the ball out.
Odds are that neither team will turn the ball over much, but whichever team can capitalize on mistakes will win this game.
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