San Francisco brings a new element of offense into this contest and one the Ravens’ defense has not seen all that often. With Colin Kaepernick taking over for Alex Smith midway through the season, the 49ers now have a potent spread option attack suited to Kaepernick’s play. The option may cause some problems for the Ravens’ defense if they are not disciplined on their reads.
The 49ers also have some explosive players surrounding Kaepernick. Frank Gore makes defenders respect the option with his potent rushing attack and with the emergence of Michael Crabtree at receiver, teams must respect the pass. San Francisco also has a stable of other good receivers including Randy Moss.
With the use of the spread option against a defense that is aging and hasn’t seen it often enough to truly prepare for it, I give the advantage to San Francisco.
But even going with San Francisco on both sides of the ball, it would not surprise me for this contest to come down to a field goal kicker late in the game.
If that is the case, I wouldn’t bet on either one of them making it. San Francisco brought in former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff right before the playoffs to test shaky kicker David Akers. Akers has had a less than stellar year so far. Baltimore let Cundiff go after missing a field goal that would have sent last season’s AFC Championship into overtime. The Ravens brought in rookie Justin Tucker to fill that void. If the game comes down to Tucker making a field goal to win or tie, I bet his nerves get the best of him.
With all of that analysis out of the way, it’s prediction time and I’m going with the 49ers to win their sixth Lombardi.
— Jake Thompson is the sports editor for the Hendricks County Flyer and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.