Baltimore 27 49ers 24
As a 49ers fan this pains me to write but I have good reason to believe the Ravens will be holding the Vince Lombardi trophy in New Orleans.
For 49er fans the good news is that Favorites have covered in seven of the 10 playoff games this season and Colin Kaepernick has been playing the quarterback position better than anyone could have expected. Kaepernick combined for nearly 500 yards throwing against Atlanta and Green Bay, rushing for another 202 yards (5 TD). His QB rating is well over 100 since becoming the starter. Jim Harbaugh chose Kaepernick due to his unique set of talents and in retrospect it seemed like an easy decision however this could have easily been a disastrous season for the 49ers.
Kaepernick has elevated the game of everyone around him, Michael Crabtree is a legitimate first option receiver and LaMichael James, with his speed, is a dangerous offensive back. Frank Gore continues to play consistent and can be depended on to finish drives. This 49ers team has all the pieces to win the Super Bowl and remain a force in the NFC.
Now for the Ravens, the past two weeks they eliminated two of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, in successive weeks on the road! That can not be downplayed and you have to believe that trend could continue. This is Ray Lewis’ last NFL season and that seems to be a great motivational factor that has this defense out of their early season slump and playing at a high level. The Ravens are 5-5 without their defensive leader and they are 8-1 with his leadership on the field. Not only is the Ravens defense playing at a high level, Joe Flacco is showing people why he is an elite quarterback. Flacco outplayed Brady in last year’s AFC title game in Foxboro and again outplayed him in this years AFC championship game. He also outplayed Manning at Denver in a season which the Broncos were heavily favored to win it all.
Flacco has been great on the road, but how great exactly? Flacco has won six road playoff games which is more than Montana, Bradshaw, Aikman, Favre, Brady, Young and Manning. His quarterback passer rating is 125.6, 116.2 and 106.3 during this postseason.To put this in perspective, Aaron Rodgers who led the NFL in quarterback passer rating had a rating of 108. Flacco is an elite quarterback that must be respected.
Overall, the Ravens are on a roll, they have beaten two AFC powerhouses as underdogs by more than a touchdown. Being Ray Lewis’ last season this is sure to bring the best out of the Ravens. In a close game I am taking the Ravens due to the play of Flacco as well as the ineffectiveness of 49ers kicker David Akers. Akers who was a top kicker last year has missed 13 of his 42 field goal attempts, including a 38-yarder in Atlanta. In a close game you have include this in your handicapping analysis since a field goal can make or break your bet. Good luck on your bets and I hope this quick article reaffirms or makes you rethink your decision.