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Super Bowl Picks 2013: Key Matchups That Will Decide Football's Grand Finale

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after a touchdown ran by Ray Rice #27 in the second quarter against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIFebruary 2, 2013

All the action from the 2012 NFL season has built up to Super Bowl XLVII, and both the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will be focusing on crucial matchups.

The year’s marquee sporting event will put a tremendous amount of pressure on every player. Those who are able to excel on such a grand stage will go down as heroes to their fanbases.

The storylines about Harbaugh brothers and Ray Lewis’ last ride will take a back seat after kickoff, and the teams will be attempting to execute their game plans successfully.

Here are the key matchups in this year’s Super Bowl.

 

Ravens Defensive Line vs. 49ers Offensive Line

While it has become cliché to say football games are won in the trenches, this saying rings true for this contest.

The 49ers offensive line cleared the team’s path to the Super Bowl, and Jim Harbaugh will be expecting one more fine performance from his blockers. But the Ravens defensive line will not be easily pushed around, and there will be fascinating battles up front.

San Francisco’s big men are used to being bigger and more athletic than the lineman they are blocking. But that will not be the case when Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata comes rushing at them.

Ngata is one of the NFL’s elite lineman, and the Ravens will need him to have a significant impact on this game in order to have a chance at victory.

 

Anquan Boldin vs. 49ers Secondary

Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin formed an unstoppable connection in the AFC Championship Game. Boldin caught five passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots. Both of his scores came when Flacco recognized single coverage and just put the ball up for grabs.

The 49ers will have to find a way to contain the Ravens wide receiver.

The veteran wideout’s strength allows him to be an extremely effective red-zone target, and Baltimore will look for him when it gets near the goal line. If San Francisco is unable to keep Boldin out of the end zone, the Ravens will have a clear advantage in this game.

 

Both Quarterbacks vs. Super Bowl Jitters 

Seven quarterbacks have played in the last five Super Bowls: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner.

At this point in their careers, Flacco and Colin Kaepernick do not have résumés that measure up to these elite passers. While both players are talented, neither is in the top tier of players at his position, and both are making their first Super Bowl appearance.

Nervousness will be a concern heading into this game, and a crucial mistake from either quarterback could cost his team a championship.

The passer who is able to best deal with the pressure in this game will win the Super Bowl.

  

Prediction: Ravens 27, 49ers 24

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