49ers vs. Ravens: 5 Reasons Harbaugh Bowl Was Super Bowl Preview
Thanksgiving marked the first time NFL fans were treated to the Harbowl, and it was quite a game.
The 9-1 San Francisco 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh, were heading into Baltimore to take on the 8-2 Ravens, coached by John Harbaugh.
It was a great defensive game that saw both teams fight until the end. At the final whistle, the Baltimore Ravens were victors.
Although this was the only scheduled meeting of these two teams, it wouldn't be surprising to see them meet up again in the NFL's final game of the season.
What You Need to Get to the Super Bowl
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To get to a Super Bowl, a team either needs a great offense or an outstanding defense.
A team with a great offense can score points, but if that offense doesn't have a competent defense to back them up, it will get nowhere in the playoffs.
If a team has an outstanding defense, a decent offense will do the job. The best example of this would be the San Francisco 49ers.
Jim Harbaugh got the 49ers off to a 9-1 start by solidifying the defense and turning the offense into an effective and decent tool.
The Niners don't have a high scoring attack, but they don't need one because their defense limits their opponents.
Teams with no defense cannot win the Super Bowl. We saw the Patriots collapse against the New York Giants, and their inability to stop the Giants led to their eventual loss.
In the NFL playoffs, defense wins games, not offense.
San Francisco 49ers: Defense
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The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best defenses in the nation, and it has been the key to their success this season.
The Niners have allowed their opponents to score 20 or more points in just three games this season.
They boast the league's best run defense. Teams average just 75.5 yards on the ground per game against the 49ers.
Their pass defense is not great, but it comes up big when it needs to.
San Francisco has forced 24 fumbles and recovered 11 of those. Both of those totals are league highs.
They hold their opponents to 14.6 points per game, which is better than any other team.
The San Francisco 49ers defense is tenacious and explosive, and it has been a big key to their success in the 2011 season.
Baltimore Ravens: Defense
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The Baltimore Ravens defense is one of the most famous defenses in the NFL.
With notable names like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, it is no wonder the Ravens do so well on the defensive side of the ball.
The Ravens allow their opponents 16.5 points per contest, which is second best in the league.
Against the Ravens, quarterbacks average a 67.8 QB rating. That gives the Ravens the third best quarterback defense in the league.
The Ravens defense is one of the best in the NFL, and they can shut down any offense on any day.
San Francisco 49ers: Offense
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Jim Harbaugh has come in and made Alex Smith one of the most effective quarterbacks in the NFL.
Smith's stats aren't the best in the league by any stretch of the imagination, but he does what he can and his team is 9-2 because of it.
Frank Gore has been instrumental in the 49ers attack this season. San Francisco average the sixth-most rushing yards per game in the NFL with an average of 128.7.
The efficient machine that is the San Francisco 49ers offense is enough to get them to a Super Bowl as long as their defense plays at its highest level.
Baltimore Ravens: Offense
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The Baltimore Ravens do not have as good of an offense as the San Francisco 49ers do. However, both offenses play the exact same role for their teams.
Joe Flacco's job is the same as Alex Smith's job—to not make mistakes.
In Torrey Smith, the Ravens have a deep threat that adds to their attacking abilities. This extra dimension makes the Ravens a bit more dangerous, however the Ravens win games with their defense.
Ray Rice is an effective running back that can muscle the ball into the end zone.
The Baltimore offense relies on its defense. If the defense does its job, the Baltimore offense usually does enough to get the Ravens a victory.