Saturday, February 2, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Preview: Baltimore Ravens

     The Baltimore Ravens were surely doubted entering the 2012 postseason, some even predicting them to be knocked off in the first round by Andrew Luck and the Colts. The road did not get any easier, as Baltimore looked to upset Denver, and then New England, both on the road. Somehow, the Ravens defied all odds, beating Peyton Manning in overtime, and then upsetting the big, bad, New England Patriots in Foxborough. Much of Baltimore's energy appears to coming from their star linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced he will be calling it quits by the end of this season. So will Ray Lewis retire as a two-time NFL champion, or will he watch as San Francisco celebrates their sixth Super Bowl title? In this post, we will analyze Baltimore's offense and defense as the Ravens wait patiently for tomorrow's big game.

Offense: One question many people have been asking throughout media week relates to Joe Flacco, and whether or not he is an elite quarterback in the National Football League. Many critiqued Flacco for his inability to lead his team through the playoffs. Now, the young, talented Ravens teams will be fighting for their second Super Bowl ring, so Flacco has opportunity to quiet the critics. There is no disputing Flacco's arm, as he is capable of bombing a ball deep downfield with surprising accuracy. Many believe Super Bowl XLVII will come down to the wire, so if necessary, Flacco may need to show off his arm strength late in the game.  It will be interesting to see how John Harbaugh plans to play against San Francisco; will he be conservative and run Ray Rice 30-plus times, or will he let Joe Flacco throw deep despite the risk of a costly interception. Anquon Boldin, a Baltimore Raven with wide receiver speed and tight end size, may give this San Francisco secondary trouble. However, the difference maker in Sunday's game will be Torrey Smith, Baltimore's wide receiver who averaged 18.3 yards per catch during the regular season. In my opinion, Flacco ought to wear down the San Francisco secondary with deep pass after deep pass, occasionally handing the ball off to Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
Grade: B+/A-

Defense: After Baltimore took down Tom Brady and the Patriots, it seemed as though nothing could go wrong for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis. Television could not stop talking about Ray Lewis and his amazing story as he looks to win Super Bowl XLVII, concluding his 17 year career. Shockingly, a report was released by Sports Illustrated, connecting Ray Lewis to deer antler spray, a spray that contains hormones made illegal by the National Football League. Unless more details were to be released within the next 24 hours, it appears Lewis will be playing in tomorrow's game. But will this new controversy affect Lewis' play? Lewis is the unofficial captain of this team, so if the future Hall of Famer does not show up to play, this defense as a whole will falter. On the other hand, if Lewis plays with ferocity, players like Terrell Suggs will feed off of his energy. Suggs returned from an Achilles injury in Week 7, and even though it is Lewis gaining all the attention, Suggs deserves most of the credit for Baltimore's defensive success. Baltimore is 8-3 with Suggs in the starting lineup, allowing 20.8 points to opposing team's with Suggs, compared to 21.5 points without him. Baltimore's defense lacks the intimidation seen from San Francisco's defense, but they are still able to get the job done.
Grade: B+/A-

No comments:

Post a Comment