Posted: 1/24/2013 1:04:46 PM
I am viewing this game more along the lines of a traditional divisional matchup. More like Steelers-Ravens or Seahawks-49ers. The 16-6 game they played last year lingers in my mind. There is, no doubt, significant bilateral knowledge of each team and coaching philosophies given the sibling connection. Shakespearean intimacy. I don't think this aspect is being fully integrated or appreciated as far as the total goes. The Harbaugh brothers are keenly aware of each others' personnel and perhaps certain foibles or deficiencies. How could they not be? I have little doubt they have each watched the other's entire slate of contests. Two full weeks to prepare will only enhance the already substantial knowlege they both possess. Will this lead to more offense? Not in my view. A defensive oriented game is what I envision.
The Ravens defense has only given up 34 points, on the road, the last 2 weeks to arguably two of the most complete offenses in the NFL. Their D has played on remarkable energy and emotion these playoffs given the lopsided number of plays they have been on the field. Now they will be rested. They are riding a wave of health on D and veteran leadership abounds. Colin K presents a vastly different type of QB, but also one with the most limited overall experience and not in any way comparable to Brady or Manning as far as adjusting plays. Kaepernick will be facing the best and most prepared defense he has seen this season, imo.
Out of a bye, the Ravens D has done extremely well under John H, giving up 11.2 ppg:
2008--won 28-10 against Cleveland
2009--won 30-7 against Denver
2010--won 26-10 against Miami
2011--won 29-14 against Houston
2012--won 25-15 @ Cleveland
I do not foresee Kaepernick having a smooth game on a national stage. Far from it. He is entering a situation where he will be thoroughly analyzed and prepared for by a savvy core group of defenders.
On the other side, Flacco has been stellar the last 3 games. Zero picks and his highest 3 game stretch of QB rating in his whole career. I don't think it will sustain itself against a very tenacious SF D. He is due for some regression to the mean. Not necessarily picks, but I just don't see him and Boldin/Smith/Pitta having miraculous types of catches. There have been some amazing catches the last 3 games, and Flacco is not an amazing QB.
Rice and Gore will be utilized. The QB's will not shine as bright as they have been lately. Defense prevails.
Under 48. Good luck.