Super Bowl XLVII is battle of Harbaugh brothers

Jan 29, 2013 3:00 AM

Welcome to Brother Bowl I!

Both the Ravens and 49ers lost in the conference championship games a year ago, but won this season to set up a fascinating Super Bowl of Harbaugh brothers coaching against each other.

Back in August the Ravens were 8-1 and the 49ers 4-1 to win the Super Bowl. We had been in a golden age for the AFC for a while, almost as if the pendulum had swung. During the 1980s and much of the 90s, the NFC dominated, winning 15 of 16 Super Bowls, including 13 in a row.

That changed in 1998 when Denver upset Green Bay, 31-24. Since then, the AFC has won nine of the last 15, though the Saints, Packers and Giants have won the last three.

These are two fierce defensive teams, which is quite a triumph since in 2004 the rules were changed by the NFL to favor offense. That includes enforcing the 5-yard rule to help wide receivers get down field with less hindrance and the Tom Brady rule, which protects quarterbacks.

When the top-ranked offenses met three years ago, following the pass-happy Arizona Cardinals’ surprising run to the Super Bowl the previous season, many wondered if offense was now the way to build a title team.

But let’s face it: Defense is still King. The Giants won two titles with great defense, topping the pass-happy Patriots, and now the Ravens and 49ers got here with physical, punishing defenses, topping finesse teams in the conference championships.

The underdog is 8-3 ATS the last 11 Super Bowls, winning five times. Here’s a look at what to expect at America’s unofficial national holiday.

What Ravens want: They would prefer a balanced offense with RB Ray Rice, but the fact is QB Joe Flacco has carried this offense in the playoffs with 8 TDs and no interceptions. He’s in a contract year, a free agent after this game, and is now 8-4 as a playoff quarterback. The offense wasn’t that impressive during the regular season, No. 15 in passing with 233.7 yards per game, 11 in rushing (118.8), which prompted the firing of OC Cam Cameron in favor of Jim Caldwell. The air attack will probably have to lead the way again with WR Anquan Boldin (112 catches, 921 yds) and speedy WR Torrey Smith (855 yds).

The defense has a punishing, physical style that forced two second half turnovers against the Patriots in the AFC title game. Run stuffer Haloti Ngata is joined by veterans Ray Lewis and DE Terrell Suggs, but the key will be figuring out a way to stop the 49ers read option. For the final three quarters, the Falcons were at a complete loss responding to read-option fakes. The Ravens are 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff games, a 4-1 run under the total in the postseason.

What 49ers want: They hung 45 on the Packers, then trailed 17-0 at Atlanta but didn’t panic, rallying for a 28-24 win. The San Francisco offense is fourth in rushing (155.7 yds pg) behind second-year QB Colin Kaepernick (10 TDs, 3 INTs, 62.4%, 415 yards rushing, 6.6 ypc) and RB Frank Gore (1,214 yds, 4.7 ypc). But don’t ignore the passing game with WR Mike Crabtree (1,105 yards), TE Vernon Davis (548) and WR Randy Moss (434, 15.5 ypc).

Then there is the defense, No. 4 in pass yards allowed (200 yds pg), four against the run (94.2) where six of their nine Pro Bowlers reside. The OVER is 5-0 in 49ers last five against a team with a winning record and the team is on a 25-11-1 ATS run. Over the last 36 years, the OVER has gone 21-16 in Super Bowl play, but UNDER is 6-2 in the last eight.

Super Bowl Over/Under for 36 yr.
SB
Teams
O/U
46
NYG 21, NE 17
U 51
45
GB 31, PIT 25
O 46
44
NO 31, IND 17
U 56
43
PIT 27, ARI 23
O 47
42
NYG 17, NE 14
U 52
41
IND 29, CHI 17
U 49
40
PIT 21, SEA 10
U 48
39
NE 24, PHI 21
U 47
38
NE 32, CAR 29
O 38
37
TB 48, OAK 21
O 43
36
NE 20, STL 17
U 53
35
BAL 34, NYG 7
O 33
34
STL 23, TEN 16
U 48
33
DEN 34, ATL 19
O 51
32
DEN 31, GB 24
O 49
31
GB 35, NE 21
O 52
30
DAL 27, PIT17
U 52
29
SF 49, SD 26
O 53
28
DAL 30, BUF 13
U 50
27
DAL 52, BUF 17
O 44
26
WAS 37, BUF 24
O 49
25
NYG 20, BUF 19
U 40
24
SF 55, DEN 10
O 48
23
SF 20, CIN 16
U 48
22
WAS 42, DEN 10
O 47
21
NYG 39, DEN 20
O 40
20
CHI 46, NE 10
O 37
19
SF 39, MIA 16
O 53
18
OAK 38, WAS 9
U 48
17
WAS 27, MIA 17
O 36
16
SF 26, CIN 21
U 48
15
OAK 27, PHI 10
U 37
14
PIT 31, STL 19
O 36
13
PIT 35, DAL 31
O 37
12
DAL 27, DEN 10
U 39
11
OAK 32, MIN 14
O 38
10
PIT 21, DAL 17
O 36
9
PIT 16, MIN 6
U 33
8
MIA 24, MIN 7
U 33
7
MIA 14, WAS 7
U 33
6
DAL 24, MIA 3
U 34
5
BAL 16, DAL 13
U 36
4
KC 23, MIN 7
U 39
3
NYJ 16, BAL 7
U 40
2
GB 33, OAK 14
O 40
1
GB 35, KC 13
NL

 

Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Reach him at [email protected]

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