The point spread is currently giving the San Francisco 49ers a four-point advantage in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII (according to Bovada), but the Baltimore Ravens are anything but true underdogs after their remarkable postseason run.
Both participants in the NFL's penultimate game of the 2012-13 season are in the game for a reason, and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball that can break it for six at any time. That being said, Las Vegas is giving a ton of credit to both the coaches and defenses, keeping the spread at just four points with the game only a day away.
We've seen 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick break an NFL record for rushing by a QB in a playoff game, and Ravens WR Jacoby Jones catch a 70-yard pass to help send his team to the AFC Championship Game.
Four points may show some major respect to both teams, but someone in Super Bowl XLVII will break the game wide open. After listening to all the predictions, storylines and stats to look out for on Sunday, it's time to get back to basics.
Here's a look at three guys that will help blow that four-point spread clear out of the water.
Baltimore RB Ray Rice
History doesn't look good for Rice on Sunday.
For starters, the 49ers have one of the best run defenses in the league, and last year he ran for just 59 yards on 21 carries in a 2011 regular season win against the 49ers.
Still, Rice is picking up steam after a two-fumble performance against the Indianapolis Colts in round one of the playoffs, including a 130-yard day against the Denver Broncos and a touchdown against the New England Patriots in the big win.
Since moving Bryant McKinnie back to left tackle and Michael Oher to the right side, the running game has been opening up bigger holes and giving Rice more room for creativity—and it's shown so far in the playoffs.
Throw in Joe Flacco's resurgence as a down-the-field passer, and Baltimore might have to lean heavily on Rice to maintain balance and keep the 49ers from leaving extra guys in pass coverage. It could be a big day for Rice both professionally and in helping Baltimore show the world how dangerous it can be.
San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree
Crabtree has come alive in the second half of the season and the playoffs, coinciding with Kaepernick's insertion into the starting lineup.
As noted by Pro Football Focus, Crabtree has a phenomenal relationship with Kaep on the field right now, but even Alex Smith was rewarded when throwing him the ball:
Alex Smith and Kaepernick have a 119.5 QB rating throwing at Crabtree this season. That beats all bar 3 WRs league-wide— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 1, 2013
In the past 11 games, Crabtree has 66 receptions for 913 yards and 10 TDs—those numbers constitute a great season for many WRs in the NFL. Crabtree quietly had a Pro-Bowl caliber year as he continues to prove that he's on his way to figuring it all out.
Against a beat-up secondary that will be keying on Kaepernick and the read-option running game, Crabtree will see plenty of single coverage and his QB will look his way early and often.
Crabtree has 18 targets in two postseason games, and the new security blanket in San Francisco is not TE Vernon Davis—it's the WR from Texas Tech that would have been a much higher pick if we re-drafted his class.
San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick
It's the most obvious selection of the group, but Kaepernick has been the catalyst of the San Francisco offense all season, and his ability to make big plays is likely the biggest part of the defensive gameplan that Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh and his staff are putting together.
Still, gameplans have been futile against the 49ers' new attack—just ask the Green Bay Packers. The option forces certain players to make decisions, and sometimes those decisions are destined to be wrong.
If those decisions turn out to be wrong in the Super Bowl, it wouldn't be any surprise to see Kaepernick run for between 10 to 12 yards per carry. If he does that, it will open up the entire San Francisco offense to bigger and better things in the play-calling department.
We've seen what Kaepernick can bring to the table for the 49ers. He's the favorite to win the Super Bowl MVP award, the catalyst for the offensive explosion of the Niners this season and the biggest threat to blow the game wide open on Sunday.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.