49ers vs. Ravens: Why Jim vs. John Harbaugh is Marquee Matchup of Day

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIINovember 24, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers instructs his team before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 25, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
John Grieshop/Getty Images

There's an important game in the NFC North on Fox for the first game today, but the last game of the day is the marquee game.

Never before has two brothers faced off in an NFL matchup. Jim Harbaugh will lead his division leading 9-1 San Francisco 49ers to Baltimore to take on John Harbaugh's 7-3 division leading Ravens.

San Francisco has a lot more to play for than just to win one for the "gipper." The 49ers can clinch the NFC West division already with a win and solidify a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Baltimore is currently leading the AFC North due to a tiebreaker by sweeping the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. The Ravens need to defend their home turf and stay ahead of the Steelers, as Pittsburgh faces a struggling Kansas City Chiefs team on Sunday night, and with a Steelers win and Ravens loss, the Ravens lose the division lead.

Both teams are also playing for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

The 49ers are currently one game behind Green Bay for the top spot in the NFC, while Baltimore is currently tied for the top spot in the AFC. A loss would set both teams back.

With all those factors you can expect this game to be close and physical. Both teams are very physical on both sides of the ball.

The Ravens are a run-first team and the 49ers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since October 7, 2007. The Niners also haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all season.

This will be a huge matchup.

On the 49ers offensive side, quarterback Alex Smith is showing he can actually play in this league. Smith, is ranked seventh in the NFL in passing with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He faces a tough task tonight in facing the league's fourth-ranked defense.

The Ravens though may have some troubles with running back Frank Gore. Gore is only 61 yards away from moving into the top spot all-time in San Francisco rushing yards history. Baltimore allowed Bengals running back Cedric Benson to score twice last week. Expect Gore to have a big effect on this game.

Either way this will be a defensive game. Both teams rank in the top five in the league in certain categories and should make this game very entertaining in both coming off of short weeks.