5 Bold Predictions for Harbaugh Bowl
5 Bold Predictions for Harbaugh Bowl
With the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens defeating the New England Patriots both teams advanced to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The Ravens are coached by John Harbaugh and the 49ers are coached by Jim Harbaugh making this year’s big game the first Super Bowl where both teams are coached by brothers. Because of this Super Bowl XLVII is becoming affectionately known as the “Harbaugh Bowl” or “Harbowl”.
As with every Super Bowl, there will be surprises in this game whether by an underdog winning or by individual performance that leads to a team’s win. Predicting postseason games is difficult because some players who perform at the highest level during the regular season struggle when the season’s on the line while others thrive under that pressure. That’s why so much is put on a player or coach’s postseason success. He can perform at a high level when there’s not much on the line but what can he do when the season is on the line.
This slideshow will look at bold individual predictions for Super Bowl XLVII. Who will come through in surprising fashion and who will struggle when the lights are brightest? Every game in this sport is important but it’s the Super Bowl where legends are born and that will be no different when the Ravens and 49ers line up. The following five slides are bold predictions for what will happen as these two teams attempt to win their sport’s ultimate prize.
Colin Kaepernick will rush for more yards than Ray Rice
In 2012 Baltimore Ravens starting running back Ray Rice broke the 1,000 yard plateau totaling 1,143 yards in 16 games. Four times in the regular season he broke 100 yards. He then continued his strong season into the postseason racking up 131 yards against the Denver Broncos in the divisional playoffs. But San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick also is a dangerous runner. He rushed for 415 yards in 13 games and achieved over 50 yards four times during the regular season. In the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick rushed for an incredible 181 yards and so far has 202 rushing yards through two playoff games.
Despite the fact that Rice was one of the league’s leading rushers in the regular season and Kaepernick is a quarterback, Rice only has 45 more rushing yards than Kaepernick this postseason and having played one more game. So far this postseason Rice has 247 yards while Kaepernick has 202. Also due to a lack of options for the Ravens offense, the 49ers will be focused on limiting Rice while the Ravens defense will have plenty to focus on other than Kaepernick tucking the ball and running. It’s not impossible but simply a bold prediction that Kaepernick will rush for more yards than Rice in Super Bowl XLVII.
Colin Kaepernick will throw for more yards than Joe Flacco
Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco has resurgence in 2012. After being criticized by teammates during last season’s playoffs, he came back strong. San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback to begin the year was Alex Smith. But Smith suffered a concussion during the season which forced him out. Colin Kaepernick stepped in and stole the show. He since has kept a stranglehold on the position and has led the 49ers to their first NFC title since 1994.
While Flacco has become a passing quarterback for the Ravens, Kaepernick has undoubtedly been more of a running quarterback. During the regular season, Flacco threw the ball about 33 times a game for 239 yards. While he’s thrown slightly less in the postseason, 31, he’s averaged 284 yards. Kaepernick only threw the ball 16 times a game during the regular season. This total has increased in the postseason as he’s averaged about 26 attempts a game. Kaepernick has also improved in the postseason. In the regular season he averaged just 140 yards a game through the air but this postseason has averaged 248 yards a game. Both quarterbacks have improved during the postseason but Flacco has still been more productive in the passing. That makes the prediction that Kaepernick would throw for more yards than Flacco in Super Bowl XLVII a bold one.
Ravens will not get a takeaway
Generally predicting that a team will not turn the ball over is not a bold prediction but that’s when they’re not playing the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately for the San Francisco 49ers they are playing the Ravens, a team that thrives on turnovers. Further, the Ravens defense tries as much as anyone to force turnovers rather than just stopping opposing offenses. While the Ravens offense has improved this longstanding defense has in the past had to win games on taking the ball away and that’s a habit that hasn’t been lost on them.
This year the Ravens forced 11 fumbles in the regular season which tied them for third with the Buffalo Bills. If the Ravens are to force a turnover that is likely the way because the 49ers had the fourth most fumbles with 11 in the regular season. The 49ers threw eight interceptions in the regular season which isn’t a lot and the Ravens defense had 13 interceptions which isn’t many for them. But the Ravens have intercepted five passes in their three postseason games. The Ravens are experienced at taking the ball away but the 49ers know this and will be focused on keep it safe. So while it’s a bold prediction that the 49ers would not turn the ball over, it’s not too unlikely.
49ers will gain more yards on kickoffs than Ravens
In 2012 the Baltimore Ravens had the best kickoff return team in the league. Led by returner Jacoby Jones, the Ravens averaged 27.3 yards per return scoring two touchdowns and had the longest return of 108 yards all of which led the league. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have a bad year returning kickoffs either averaging 24.8 yards per return with 94 yards being the longest return. The 49ers had three kickoff returners this year in LaMichael James, Kyle Williams, and Ted Ginn with James being the most successful of the three.
With two great defenses competing against each other in this year’s Super Bowl, field position could be a deciding factor. On kickoffs the Ravens will be expected to have the edge since they had the best unit in the game this season. But the 49ers special teams will be focused on stopping Jones which leads to this bold prediction that the 49ers will gain more kickoff yards than the Ravens.
David Akers will kick more field goals than Justin Tucker
Last year the Baltimore Ravens season ended when kicker Billy Cundiff missed the tying 32-yard field goal with just 11 seconds remaining. For the 2012 season the Ravens decided to replace Cundiff bringing in undrafted free agent Justin Tucker and so far it’s worked. Tucker finished the season sixth in field goal percentage going 30 of 33 hitting 90.9 percent of his field goal attempts. In the postseason he is 2 of 2 including a double overtime game winning field goal against the Denver Broncos.
Meanwhile David Akers who was a mainstay with the Philadelphia Eagles has struggled this season for the San Francisco 49ers. Akers was the second worst kicker in the NFL this year going 29 of 42 or only 69 percent. The postseason hasn’t been great either as he missed one of his two opportunities and has lost the confidence of his coaches. But while Tucker is a rookie playing his biggest game, Akers played in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots. With his struggles it is bold prediction to say that Akers would have a better game than Tucker but his experience will help him in this game.