We are just a few days away from finally seeing our Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49'ers in Super Bowl XLVII and the excitement is building with each passing hour. Today I will examine the five Ravens that will determine the outcome of the Super Bowl for Baltimore.
I know that any player at any time can ultimately decide the football game with one play, just ask Lee Evans, but here are my top five players that will determine Super Bowl XLVII for the Ravens on Sunday.
- Justin Tucker – I had left him off the list this entire postseason, but I believe his role in this game grows astronomically for two reasons. First, there are not many Super Bowl's that are blow outs, and the big game almost always seems to come down to the fourth quarter. Thus Tucker's ability to remain practically automatic is going to be a huge factor in this game. Honestly, I would love to see the Ravens have to kick a field goal early, so Tucker can go out there and shake the nerves before the game really gets tight. Secondly, San Francisco's kicker, David Akers made less than 70% of his field goal attempts this season, so the kicking game is a huge advantage for the Ravens and Tucker will need to keep it that way.
- Bryant McKinnie - Odds are McKinnie is going to be going up against Aldon Smith, who was second in the NFL this season with 19.5 sacks, so Bryant is going to have to find a way to keep Smith from getting to Joe Flacco and keeping him upright. If McKinnie can keep up the great play he has had this postseason, he will help the Ravens raise the Lombardi Trophy.
- Ray Rice – Rice has been pretty quiet during these playoffs, and he is going to have to step up in this game if Baltimore wants to have a chance to win the Super Bowl. Rice's ability to run the ball effectively and be that constant outlet for Flacco in the passing game is going to go a long way in keeping the potent 49'ers pass rush at bay and perhaps open up the deep ball down the field via the play action pass. Another important factor in this game will be Ray's pass blocking ability while in the backfield as San Francisco loves to rush the passer and if Rice can pick up that extra man for Flacco, Joe will have the time to pick the 49'ers defense apart.
- Dannell Ellerbe – I have a hunch, and I can't stress enough that this is just a hunch I have and has not been confirmed by the Ravens whatsoever, that Ellerbe may be a permanent spy on 49'ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick most of the game. His ability to play disciplined football and always keep the football in front of him will go a long way in slowing down the read option and forcing Kaepernick to throw the football to beat Baltimore. If Ellerbe can maintain Kaepernick, Baltimore's defense could end up dominating this football game.
- Joe Flacco – I feel bad every time I do this list because Flacco is always included, but let's face it, this is a quarterback league and his play is going to be the ultimate deciding factor in this football game. Flacco will basically have to do the same thing he has done this entire postseason for the Ravens, be efficient, do not turn the ball over and keep hitting receivers over the middle of the field. If Joe can have a solid game of let's say 250 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers, I honestly do not see how Baltimore can lose.
Believe me, this list was not easy as there were several other players that nearly made the list such as Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Chykie Brown and Corey Graham, but I believe the five players mentioned above will be the ultimate deciding factors in this football game and whether or not Baltimore will be having a parade next week.
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