As the saying goes, defense wins championships, and that will be the case when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens meet in Super Bowl XLVII.
Each team has the kind of quarterback—Joe Flacco for the Ravens and Colin Kaepernick for the 49ers—who can take over the game. Both have had phenomenal playoff runs leading up to the biggest game of the season.
Grounding Flacco and the Baltimore air attack will be the main goal for the 49ers. On the other side, the Ravens will be looking to neutralize Kaepernick and his running ability.
While each of the defenses will need to have good games, here are three players whose performances will be a tad underwhelming.
Ray Lewis, ILB, Baltimore Ravens
There's no doubt that Lewis has been great during this postseason. He's been able to inspire the Ravens with both his impending retirement and on-field performances.
He'll likely have a good game but nothing that would warrant the kind of attention and hype he's been getting. Bovada has him at 15-2 odds to win MVP. Those are a tad too high.
While Lewis has done well in the postseason, he hasn't faced the kind of mobile quarterback that Kaepernick is. Lewis will be doing everything to try to prepare for how to handle the second-year star, but he doesn't have the physical gifts he once did.
He could have a very hard time containing Kaepernick should the QB get past the line of scrimmage.
Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers
After finishing second in sacks during the regular season, Aldon Smith has been relatively quiet this postseason. He's now failed to register a sack since Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins.
Smith hasn't been helped by the health and ineffectiveness of Justin Smith. Smith's 3.0 sacks in 2012 were a little less than half of his total from 2011. As he's struggled, offensive lines have been able to give more and more attention to Aldon Smith.
The Ravens' pass protection has been pretty solid so far in the postseason. Baltimore has only given up four sacks in the three rounds leading up to the Super Bowl.
Smith is one of the premier pass-rushers in the league, but he'll have a hard time getting after Joe Flacco.
Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
2012 has been the worst season of Terrell Suggs' career. Injuries limited him to only eight regular-season games. In those eight games, Suggs recorded only two sacks.
His best asset is his ability to get after the quarterback. That's the kind of trait that will not serve him well against a mobile quarterback like Kaepernick. Kaepernick's got the kind of speed to get past the initial rush and exploit the space in the defense.
The Ravens will have a hard time keeping Kaepernick in the pocket, so they would be best served by limiting him in the secondary and ensuring he doesn't get much past the line of scrimmage.
Suggs doesn't figure much in that game plan.