Tomorrow, yes tomorrow, we will finally get Super Bowl XLVII underway as the Baltimore Ravens will attempt to bring home their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history as they face the San Francisco 49'ers who will be attempting to bring home a record tying sixth title. It has been a long two weeks leading up to this game, but the time is almost here.
As is the case in any game, there are several key matchups to watch for that will go a long way in deciding Super Bowl XLVII.
- Bryant McKinnie v Aldon Smith – Although it may not be an exclusive matchup the entire game, these two will be battling it out on the left side of the line a lot in this Super Bowl. McKinnie has played extremely well this postseason when he was inputted into the starting line-up, thus moving Michael Oher to right tackle. If McKinnie can keep Joe Flacco off of his back and give him time in the pocket to look down field, I would not be surprised to see Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin catch a couple bombs during this game.
- Ed Reed & Bernard Pollard v Randy Moss & Michael Crabtree – A lot of talk has been going around these past two weeks about Reed's future with the Ravens after this season, and I will admit, I do believe we will not only be watching Ray Lewis's final game, but Reed's final game in a Ravens uniform as well. Reed has been fairly non-existent this postseason, but with the dual deep threat of Moss and Crabtree, Reed and Pollard are going to have to be on their "A" game and on the lookout for the deep ball. The toughest challenge for both Reed and Pollard will be not getting sucked into the running aspect of the option offense as they must stay disciplined.
- Ravens pass rushers v Colin Kaepernick – This is a key matchup to watch for, but not for the reason you would think. The Ravens pass rushers can succeed if they do not sack Kaepernick one time as long as they never, and I can't stress that enough, never get past the football when rushing the quarterback. If they can keep the ball in front of them, they will undoubtedly frustrate Kaepernick to the point he will start trying to do too much if those running lanes do not open and he is getting hit every time he decides to run the football. Disciplined football by the Baltimore pass rushers will be a huge factor in this game.
- Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce v 49'ers run defense – San Francisco was one of the best run defenses and overall defenses in all of football this season and the success of Pierce and Rice will be huge in this game for a number of reasons. First, if Rice and Pierce can consistently pick up positive yardage on first and second down and give Baltimore third and shorts, rather than third and longs, this Ravens team is going to be much more successful. Secondly, if Rice and Pierce can break off some double digit yard plays and really make the 49'ers defense focus on the Ravens running game, Flacco and the passing game could see a lot of holes open up.
- Joe Flacco v the mistake – Flacco, "Joe Cool" has been as composed as anyone in these playoffs, and really since he came into the league, but he has yet to have a turnover in the playoffs this year and if he were to commit one in the Super Bowl, it will be interesting how he responds. I have no doubt that Flacco will do his normal thing and shake it off and go right back out there and let it loose, but he has also never had to face a turnover in a Super Bowl, so his ability to stay cool will be big in the big game.
Of course there are several other key matchups to watch for in Super Bowl XLVII, but I believe the aforementioned matchups will be the most vital and most game determining matchups to watch for. Tomorrow is finally the day we have all been waiting for, and of course, today will drag on and on.
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