Super Bowl XVVII Preview

OUR JIM SEZ SUPER BOWL XLVII PREVIEW IS HERE - WE BREAK DOWN AND DISSECT THE RAVENS - 49ERS SUPER CLASH IN NEW ORLEANS

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By Jim Hurley:

Tell us the truth: Have you quite had enough of all the talk about the Harbaugh family, LB Ray Lewis and his "Last Ride" and this silly bit of "Kaepernicking"?

You got it right ...It's high time to tee it up and get you Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans - the city that's set to host its 10th Super Bowl (that's tied with Miami) - figures to get a real doozy of a game if you're of the mind-set that the passing game will reign supreme here.

No doubt that's the pre-game buzz as the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens sport one of the hottest slingers ever to enter the Super Bowl stage as QB Joe Flacco has 8 TDs and 0 INTs through playoff game wins against Indianapolis, Denver and New England.

Conversely, the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers have their own wonder-guy at the quarterback position as second-year pro Colin Kaepernick comes off a conference championship game in which he completed 16-of-21 passing attempts while averaging an amazing 11.1 yards per completion when operating from the pocket!

The Super Bowl preview is below in today's Jim Sez ... now are you ready for some football.

Sunday, February 3
SUPER BOWL XLVII
Superdome - New Orleans, LA

BALTIMORE (13-6) vs. SAN FRANCISCO (13-4-1) - 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS

For anyone that wants to tell you that it "seemed like only yesterday" when the San Francisco 49ers won a Super Bowl, better inform him/her that you have to go back to January 29, 1995 to find the last time the proud Niners organization hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy - and you can go back to January 28, 2001 to find the last time the Baltimore Ravens won it all.

Yes, it's been awhile but both teams darted into Super Bowl 47 the hard way:

The 49ers overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to snag a 28-24 win in Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game two weekends ago while the Ravens were busy outscoring New England 21-0 in the second half of the 28-13 win against the host Patriots - so both clubs earned their way into this ultimate gridiron game but only one of these guys is gettin' out alive here:

No doubt San Francisco - a 4-point betting favorite at press time - has strutted its offensive stuff ever since Kaepernick was named the starter some nine games ago as San Fran's averaged a hefty 28.6 points a game - and Kaepernick's strong/accurate arm remains more important than his legs although odds are the Niners will need him to move the chains a couple of times with his read-option rushes.

Baltimore, meanwhile, is flying high with this potent offense ever since head coach John Harbaugh canned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in favor of Jim Caldwell: The Ravens would love for QB Flacco to stay hot here and keep in mind this San Francisco defense did yield a whopping 477 offensive yards to the Falcons just two weeks back.

Okay, for argument's sake let's just say Kaepernick versus Flacco is your basic flat-out draw - than what's gonna be the real "diff" here?

The Ravens truly need to be balanced with Flacco chucking it 30-plus times and those "chunk" or "home run" plays that we discussed in this column space earlier in the week must happen whether it's WR Torrey Smith or WR Anquan Boldin or maybe even TE Dennis Pitta making the plays on the other end of the aerials plus Caldwell has to get Rice's hands on the ball for 25-or-so rushes.

You can expect hard-charging RB Bernard Pierce to "steal" a few of Rice's carries in the second/third quarters but Baltimore needs to get a major push up front along what's been the best O-line in the playoffs and so time of possession is a key here. Tell us right now that the Ravens will have the ball for 35-or-more minutes and we'll whisper in your ear who will win.

In short, keep Kaepernick off the field for chunks of time and break his rhythm - simple as that, folks.

The Niners must not lose sight of who they are: While Kaepernick's star is surely on the rise and the passing game is clicking - TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree combined for 11 receptions worth 163 yards with 1 TD in the conference title game win in Atlanta - the Niners must mirror Baltimore and make sure their top back gets plenty of "touches" here. Veteran RB Frank Gore had a 21-carry, 90-yard rushing game against the Falcons but we believe he needs it 25-or-more times via the ground route here and the key is whether or not the 49ers' jumbo-sized offensive line can knock DT Haloti Ngata off his pins here. Ngata has a great opportunity to wreck this game providing he can stampede his way into Gore before he gets started and so keep a close eye on those doings.

Finally, let's examine three in-game strategies:

#1 - Will either team show much of a pass rush after both clubs have been strangely silent in this regard this post-season? We're waiting to see if sackmeister LB Aldon Smith of the Niners can "get his act together here" as he been sack-less for the past five games but what about Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs - is he healthy enough to wreck havoc on Super Sunday? Maybe both clubs blitz more early on with the hope of getting a big negative yardage play and/or a key turnover.

#2 - Which Harbaugh brother will be inclined to go for broke and trot out a trick/gimmick play or two? It's likely San Francisco boss-man Jim Harbaugh will keep Kaepernick under wraps with a more conservative style when he's on his side of the field but expect the Niners to utilize a halfback option pass or a double reverse to counter the Ravens' defensive intensity while Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is more apt to try a trick play on special teams where the elder Harbaugh looks to "steal" some of that hidden yardage stuff that we've always been talking about in post-season play.

#3 - Last but not least, the red-zone calls figure to win - or lose - this game and odds are the Ravens will let Flacco chuck it high to glue-fingered Boldin in a game-on-the-line scenario while the 49ers will bank on TD-maker Gore getting to pay dirt. What defense counters the other offensive strength - from let's say inside the 10-yard line - likely will tell the tale here.

Super Bowl Spread Notes - Super Bowl Betting Favorites are 22-21-3 ATS (against the spread) in the big game's rich history for a modest .512 winning rate while NFC Teams are 24-19-3 vig-wise in all Super Bowls past for a .558 winning rate. Note that the last NFC Betting Fav that won/covered a Super Bowl game was two years ago when the Green Bay Packers (- 2 ½) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Conversely, the last time an AFC Underdog covered a Super Bowl game was back in the 2001 season when the 14-point underdog New England Patriots stunned the St. Louis Rams 20-17 (see the Super Bowl chart, 2000-to-present below).

Now, here's a look at the game-by-game results this year for both the Ravens and the 49ers. Note all home teams are in CAPS below:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Week WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
#1 BALTIMORE - 7 Cincinnati 44-13
#2 PHILADELPHIA - 3 Baltimore 24-23
#3 BALTIMORE - 2.5 New England 31-30
#4 BALTIMORE - 12 Cleveland 23-16
#5 Baltimore - 6 KANSAS CITY 9-6
#6 BALTIMORE - 3 Dallas 31-29
#7 HOUSTON - 6.5 Baltimore 43-13
#8 Bye Week
#9 Baltimore - 3.5 CLEVELAND 25-15
#10 BALTIMORE - 7.5 Oakland 55-20
#11 Baltimore - 3 PITTSBURGH 13-10
#12 Baltimore PK SAN DIEGO 16-13
#13 Pittsburgh + 7 BALTIMORE 23-20
#14 WASHINGTON - 2.5 Baltimore 31-28 (ot)
#15 Denver - 3 BALTIMORE 34-17
#16 BALTIMORE + 3 NY Giants 33-14
#17 CINCINNATI - 6.5 Baltimore 23-17
WC BALTIMORE - 7.5 Indianapolis 24-9
DIV Baltimore + 9.5 DENVER 38-35 (2ot)
AFC Baltimore + 8 NEW ENGLAND 28-13

WC = Wild Card Game
DIV = Divisional Playoff Game
AFC = AFC Championship Game

Baltimore Ravens Pointspread Notes - The AFC champs rock-n-roll their way into Supe 47 on a season-best five-game spread winning streak and note that immediately came on the heels of a three-game spread losing skid in Weeks 13-thru-15. Overall, Baltimore is 10-8-1 odds-wise this year and that includes the three consecutive post-season covers. The Ravens are 6-3-1 versus the vig away this year including the playoff upset wins in Denver and New England and they're 17-10-2 ATS away the past three years. Also, Baltimore is 5-3 against the Las Vegas odds as dogs this year and a composite 19-13-2 ATS as pups during the John Harbaugh Era that started in 2008.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Week WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
#1 San Francisco + 6 GREEN BAY 30-22
#2 SAN FRANCISCO - 7 Detroit 27-19
#3 MINNESOTA + 7 San Francisco 24-13
#4 San Francisco - 4 NY JETS 34-0
#5 SAN FRANCISCO - 10 Buffalo 45-3
#6 NY Giants + 7 SAN FRANCISCO 26-3
#7 SAN FRANCISCO - 7.5 Seattle 13-6
#8 San Francisco - 7 ARIZONA 24-3
#9 Bye Week
#10 SAN FRANCISCO - 13 St. Louis 24-24 (ot)
#11 SAN FRANCISCO - 4 Chicago 32-7
#12 San Francisco - 2.5 NEW ORLEANS 31-21
#13 ST. LOUIS + 8 San Francisco 16-13 (ot)
#14 SAN FRANCISCO - 11 Miami 27-13
#15 San Francisco + 4 NEW ENGLAND 41-34
#16 SEATTLE - 3 San Francisco 42-13
#17 SAN FRANCISCO - 16 Arizona 27-13
DIV SAN FRANCISCO - 3 Green Bay 45-31
NFC San Francisco - 4 ATLANTA 28-24

DIV = Divisional Playoff Game
NFC = NFC Championship Game

San Francisco 49ers Pointspread Notes - The NFC champs zoom into Super Sunday at 10-7-1 spreadwise overall this season including a cover and a "push" in the playoff games against Green Bay and Atlanta, respectively. Note that the Niners are 5-3-1 ATS away this year and they are 8-6-1 versus the vig as betting favorites - go back to the start of the Jim Harbaugh Era in 2011 and you'll see the 49ers are 16-10-1 ATS as chalk sides and a nifty 22-12-2 against the pointspread overall (a .647 winning rate). The Niners own away favorite pointspread wins this season at the New York Jets in Week 4, at Arizona in Week 8 and at New Orleans in Week 12 play.

SUPER BOWLS, 2000-PRESENT

SEASON WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2011 New York Giants + 3 New England 21-17
2010 Green Bay - 2.5 Pittsburgh 31-25
2009 New Orleans + 4.5 Indianapolis 31-17
2008 Pittsburgh - 7 Arizona 27-23
2007 New York Giants + 12 New England 17-14
2006 Indianapolis - 6.5 Chicago 29-17
2005 Pittsburgh - 4 Seattle 21-10
2004 New England - 7 Philadelphia 24-21
2003 New England - 7 Carolina 32-29
2002 Tampa Bay + 4 Oakland 48-21
2001 New England + 14 St. Louis 20-17
2000 Baltimore - 3 New York Giants 34-7

NOTE: More Super Bowl 47 coverage plus College Hoops too in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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