The big game is almost here.
Super Bowl XLVII is only one day away. On Sunday the eyes of the world will be glued to their televisions as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers battle for the right to lift the Lombardi Trophy as NFL champions.
As each team begins their final preparations for the biggest game of their lives, here's a look at the latest news and injury updates.
With this being the Super Bowl and all, now isn't the time to let a nagging injury keep you off the field, and that's reflected in the Baltimore Ravens' final injury report.
In fact, all the players nicked up for the Ravens are listed as "probable," and you can rest assured that each and every one of them will be available for the game.
WR Tandon Doss (ankle)
LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe, back)
CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
RB Vonta Leach (knee, ankle)
LB Ray Lewis (triceps)
LB Albert McClellan (shoulder)
DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)
DT Haloti Ngata (knee)
RB Bernard Pierce (knee, thigh)
TE Dennis Pitta (thigh)
WR David Reed (thigh)
S Ed Reed (shoulder)
CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)
LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles, biceps)
Much like the Ravens, all of the San Francisco 49ers injured players are listed as "probable," and it's a near certainty that all of them will play.
However, the injury news for the 49ers is a bit more foreboding.
As 49ers pool reporter John "Hey Mom, I'm done with my segment" Clayton noted via The Sacramento Bee, linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith were limited in practice for a third consecutive day Friday.
Both players are expected to suit up, but if either player is hampered in the game that's a significant blow to the 49ers defense.
Joining Brooks and Smith on the injured report are:
LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
TE Garrett Celek (foot)
S Dashon Goldson (foot)
RB Frank Gore (shoulder, ankle)
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
G Mike Iupati (shoulder)
RB LaMichael James (finger)
RB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow, triceps)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder).
Peter King of Sports Illustrated is the pool reporter assigned to cover the Ravens. According to Pro Football Talk after interviewing Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, King reported that the Ravens are raring to go after a great week of practice.
“It was an A-plus. A-plus-plus,” Harbaugh told pool reporter Peter King of the Super Bowl week practice sessions. “We’re at the stage where we’re clicking on all cylinders and practicing very, very well. We’ve had a few assignment errors, but they’ve been corrected right away. I’m very pleased with how the week has gone.”
King also reports that while Harbaugh closed Friday's practice by thanking his players for their hard work all season, he also cautioned them that they've come too far to take their eyes of the prize now.
“Family, we love ‘em, but they’re not playing in the game. Only the players are, and they need to be at their best Sunday at 6:30,” Harbaugh said.
As I stated earlier, John Clayton is covering the 49ers this week, and according to Clayton, head coach Jim Harbaugh's goal this week was to keep things as "normal" as possible.
Clayton reports via the San Francisco Chronicle that Harbaugh not only feels his team accomplished that goal, but that the team also cut their Friday practice 15 minutes short.
“We got everything done we normally do,’’ Harbaugh said. “There were only one or two repeats. The whole tempo was good in and out of the huddle and that might reflect that the most. There was good attention to detail and a crisp tempo.’’
The team practiced indoors Friday to simulate the environment inside the Superdome, going so far as to pipe in crowd noise for all facets of the game.
Harbaugh said that was a first.
“Normally, we would use the noise for just one side of the ball,’’ Harbaugh said. “If it’s a home game, we’d use it for the defense. If it’s a road game, we’d use it for the offense and special teams. But this is a neutral site.’’
Finally, Harbaugh took a moment to single out quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who Harbaugh said is as cool and collected as ever headed into the pressure cooker that is starting a Super Bowl.
“Exemplary,’’ Harbaugh said of his quarterback. “That’s the way he always is since we’ve known him. This is always the way he handles himself — A plus, plus. He’s very focused on the game plan. He’s ready to go.’’
It's the Super Bowl, so of course there have been hundreds of predictions as to how this game will unfold, from blowout to nailbiter.
Here's what some of the folks at ESPN had to say.
Tom Jackson: "In the critical area the front line on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball I think the 49ers have an edge." 49ers 24-21
Ron Jaworski: "Explosive plays will be the difference." Ravens 27-24
Adam Schefter: "Two throwback teams playing a throwback game in which two undrafted free-agent kickers, David Akers and Justin Tucker, could decide the world championship." 49ers 17-14
Over at Sports Illustrated opinions were just as divided.
Peter King: "The deep arm of Joe Flacco, paired with the revived defense of the Ravens in the playoffs, wins it for a Baltimore team that seemed left for dead in December." Ravens 27-23
Don Banks: "The game will be competitive for the first three quarters, but the Ravens will get Kaepernick-ed in the final 15 minutes, because San Francisco simply has too many different ways it can beat you these days. On the Superdome's fast track, the 49ers offense will thrive." 49ers 31-20
Jim Trotter: "A compelling case can be made for either team, but I'm going with the Ravens for no other reason than they were my preseason pick to win it all. It doesn't hurt that Joe Flacco is playing the best football of his career, or that the defense is as healthy as it has been all season and has allowed a total of just four touchdowns in three playoff games." Ravens 27-24
It would appear that celebrities are just as torn over who's going to win Super Bowl XLVII as the experts, at least if the annual poll conducted by the Scripps-Howard News Service is any indication.
Jesse Williams (actor, "Grey's Anatomy"): "The Ravens will struggle to find the end zone more than once or twice, but will be able to kick themselves in it. Ravens won't be able to contain Kaepernick on the ground for four quarters as long as Crabtree and Davis can keep the secondary honest. Gore is a seasoned vet. If Ravens were to win, it would be on the back of Ray Rice, who they routinely underuse." 49ers, 27-22
Don Rickles: "Baltimore will win 28-14. The Ravens' energy seems to be peaking at the right time and the fact that it's Ray Lewis' farewell will give them great motivation. I also think that under this kind of pressure, Flacco will prove to be the stronger QB." Ravens 28-14
Bill O' Reilly (Fox News host): "49ers' offense will move the ball and control the clock. Ravens will turn the ball over twice." 49ers 24-17