Super Bowl 2013: Final Predictions for Ravens vs. 49ers Clash

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta #88 in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

One of the great things about the Super Bowl matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers is the variety of ways both teams can win a game. 

So many teams in the NFL rely on one specific aspect to win games that it is too easy to figure out what they will do. The Ravens and 49ers are two chameleons able to adapt and blend in to the way the game changes over the course of 60 minutes. 

It is what makes this one of the most compelling Super Bowls in a long time. You can talk yourself in and out of which team will win several hundred times between now and kickoff. 

Here are the things we think we know about the Ravens and 49ers heading into Super Bowl XLVII


Joe Flacco will make his first mistake of the postseason

If you go through Flacco's career, for all the struggles he has had with consistency, turnovers have never really been a part of his game. He has never thrown more than 12 in a season, and he has thrown 10 touchdowns with no interceptions in his last five games dating back to the regular season. 

However, there have been moments this postseason where Flacco has gotten away with mistakes that he shouldn't have. There were a handful of throws against Indianapolis and Denver where he just tossed it up and hoped his receivers could get it. 

Because Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith are so big, they were able to pull the ball down out of traffic. That strategy won't be as successful against a 49ers secondary that is going to hit you as soon as you get the ball. 

Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner will be there to grab any throws that Flacco lobs up for his big receivers. 


Randy Moss will be the most important wide receiver in the game

When I say important, I am not saying that he will have the most impact or even the best game of any receiver in the Super Bowl. 

I am saying that for the 49ers to move the ball down the field, Moss needs to have a big game. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree will likely have more yards and catches, but no one on the roster has the kind of big-play ability that Moss does when he is on. 

If the 49ers are able to work in a few plays specifically designed to go to Moss on the outside, it will be hard for the Ravens to contain this offense. 

If the Ravens can shutdown Moss, and I mean make it so we never hear his name, the 49ers are not going to be able to take up big chunks of yardage because everyone can zero in on Crabtree and Davis. 

Moss wants to say that he is the greatest receiver of all time. That is a high bar to set for yourself, especially when you are playing for the same team that Jerry Rice made his name with. This is Moss' moment to shine. 


Haloti Ngata has to be the best Ravens defender

Ray Lewis is going to get all the air time on Sunday night for the Ravens because this is his final game. But the star of the defense, and the reason Lewis has racked up 44 tackles this postseason, is Haloti Ngata. 

Ngata has the unenviable task of going up against a 49ers offensive line that does not appear to have any weakness. It is a big group of powerful punishers who will surprise you with how fast they can get out in open space to block. 

In order for the Ravens to keep Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore in check, they have to get penetration from the defensive line and set the linebackers up for those tackles. 

The man in the middle tasked with doing all the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively, will be Ngata. He has to be so dominant that the 49ers are forced to use multiple linemen to contain him. 

Even though Ngata won't get all the recognition in terms of sacks and tackles, he is going to be the most valuable player for the Ravens defense if Baltimore wins this game.