Final Super Bowl Notes & Analysis



By Jim Hurley:

The San Francisco 49ers are 5-and-oh in their Super Bowl history.

The Baltimore Ravens won their lone Super Bowl bash back in the 2000 season.

Yeah, yeah. So something's gotta give, we know.

But while some neat stats spill out this week - we love the one that says Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh and little brother Jim Harbaugh, the boss-man of the San Francisco 49ers, are a combined 9-0-1 SU (straight-up) in their post-bye games in their post-bye games - has it really/truly dawned on anyone that five of the last seven Super Bowl champs had to play a game in the weekend's Wild Card Round (including the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers the past two years) or that both of these teams had to beat their conference's #1 seed on the road during this SB journey?

The fact of the matter is the Ravens have overcome all kinds of odds to get to the NFL's ultimate game - switching offensive coordinators late in the year from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell, playing much of the season without an injured LB Ray Lewis and not getting the max from QB Joe Flacco until Week 16 and then beyond - and they sure played some close ones against teams from the NFC as Baltimore beat Dallas by two points while losing to Philadelphia by a single point and dropping a 3-point overtime verdict against Washington (okay, the Ravens also slugged the aforementioned Giants 33-14).

On the flip side, the Niners beat the AFC East teams four straight and won by a composite score of 147-to-50 - now that's not to say that San Francisco's now gonna beat the Ravens by some 3-to-1 scoring margin here but you can't ignore what SF did in these interconference affairs that included a 41-34 win at New England and so the Ravens and 49ers have that in common, i.e., a win in Foxborough.

Now, here's a few things to keep any eye on here in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII showdown: Will either team "abandon" the ground game if either it is down two scores or simply not gaining four-or-more yards per rushing attempt?

We'll weigh in here and say what we've been saying for the better part of the past two weeks: The star backs - Baltimore's Ray Rice and San Francisco's Frank Gore - have to be right around that 25-carry mark for either side to feel comfortable;

Secondly, will the kicking game be as what folks expect here?

In other words, if you have listened to all the so-called experts, than you get the sense that Baltimore rookie PK Justin Tucker (see 30 made field goals in the regular season and 2-of-2 made FGs this post-season) will be just fine while everyone in Niners Nation worries about erratic veteran PK David Akers (29-of-44 FGs in the regular season and 1-of-2 FG makes this post-season) but who's to say that nerves won't finally get to Tucker here on the very big stage of a Super Bowl and that maybe the two-week layoff gave Akers some much-needed time to gather his thoughts and fine-tune his game. Now wouldn't it be ironic if Akers kicked the game-winning field goal here after the younger Harbaugh brought in kickers to challenge him late in the year?

Final point here:

More than a few Super Bowl games have swung one way or the other based on a single play that was made - or wasn't made.

Take last year's 21-17 win by the Giants over the 3-point favored New England Patriots who could have virtually iced that win had a QB Tom Brady-to-WR Wes Welker third-down pass been completed (hey, we still blame Welker less for his "drop" and place more of the blame on an inaccurate Brady).

Don't be surprised if this game is won (or lost) because a potential INT was dropped or because there was a third-down holding penalty in the red zone.

In what many folks figure to be a one-score game, it's one play here or one play there that could determine the outcome. Keep that in mind late in case someone botched a play earlier.



Hey, the college basketball world is buzzing this weekend as the Big 10 "Game of the Year" is on tap tonight in Bloomington"

#1 MICHIGAN (20-1, 7-1 Big 10) at #3 INDIANA (19-2, 7-1 Big 10) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Lights, cameras, action ... okay, so you may wish to "mute" ESPN's Dick Vitale a time or two here! The Big 10 takes center stage with this titanic tilt in the Hoosier State but can host Indiana beat the new numero uno team in the land?

Consider all the media attention for a Michigan team that has not been #1 since 1992 and than realize this here-and-now Wolverines bunch ranks second in the conference in points (averaging 78 ppg) and third in the Big 10 in scoring defense (allowing just 58.6 ppg) and there are some in-the-know folks who claim that there are as many as four first-round NBA draft picks on John Beilein's squad this 2012-13 hoops season ... starry stuff, indeed.

If Michigan G Trey Burke (17.9 ppg and 7.1 assists per game) can drive-and-dish without getting worried about serious body contact in the paint, than the road team could be too tough to stop here but remember that the maize-and-blue has three other players averaging twin-figure scoring including Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15.5 ppg) and this is not exactly his first rodeo either!

Indiana head coach Tom Crean - the notable brother-in-law of John and Jim Harbaugh - sports the highest-scoring team in Big 10 land at 84 ppg and no doubt that 96-60 throttling of in-state rival Purdue the other night injected the Hoosiers with some well-timed confidence while also giving IU a fourth straight win.

No question that Indiana big man Cody Zeller has gotten his offensive groove back on after a recent slump - he finished with 19 points and 11 boards in that win against Purdue - but if Indiana is gonna swipe the first of the two meetings between these clubs here (they will meet again March 10th in the regular-season finale for both teams) than Crean's crew must make noise from downtown one game after drilling a dozen three-pointers and the free-throw shooting must stay solid (see 19-of-20 made FTs against the Boilermakers).

See, there is another "big game" on the sports docket this weekend!

NOTE: Catch our Super Bowl XLVII post-game analysis in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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