And it all comes down to this. After 17 weeks of regular season play and three rounds of playoff action, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will face off this Sunday for the right to call themselves Super Bowl Champions. Here at FFTS, we have been predicting the games all season long, and now here we are with our final pick of the season:
[box_dark] Zane “The Train” Heiple – Playoff Record: 4-6 [/box_dark]
While these playoffs haven’t been the most exciting of all time, the two remaining teams have interesting storylines on how they got here.
The Ravens limped their way into the playoffs, which resulted in the firing of their offensive coordinator and we all know about the team rallying around Ray Lewis in his final NFL season. If that sounds familiar, see the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and Jerome Bettis. After winning their Wild Card game at home, they went on the road and took down two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Now they must deal with one of the more exciting QB’s in the league.
San Francisco turned to Colin Kaepernik after Alex Smith was sidelined with a concussion. Since that change, the 49ers have been cruising along in their first trip back to the Super Bowl since Steven Young was throwing the ball to Jerry Rice. San Fran took down Green Bay at home, and then came back from 17 down to win the NFC over Atlanta.
When it comes to picking this game, let it be known that I am a Steelers fan, which means I hate the Ravens. Say what you want about the 49ers tying the Steelers’ Super Bowl number, but to me that doesn’t matter because Green Bay still has a healthy lead over both teams in NFL Championships. What I want to see is Ray Lewis lose, that is what I will be cheering for. I think this will be a good game to watch with neither team ever really taking control of the game and a down to the wire finish.
Prediction: SF 24 Bal 21
[box_dark] Chad Carlson – Playoff Record: 5-5 [/box_dark]
This has been a truly remarkable NFL season, which will be captivated on Sunday in New Orleans. We’ve all heard the storylines an absurdly annoying amount of times, from Ray Lewis to the Harbaugh brothers to Randy Moss declaring himself the greatest receiver of all time…blah blah blah.
Here in Pittsburgh, we have been hearing about how this is the worst Super Bowl of all time. Do we root for the Steelers’ arch rivals, or do we cheer for a team who would tie Pittsburgh for most Super Bowl victories?
Before the playoffs began, there were a handful of teams that looked like they had a serious chance of making it to the Super Bowl…the Baltimore Ravens were not one of them. They had stumbled across the finish line of the regular season, but thanks to mediocre finishes by the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, they had still managed to win the AFC North and clinched a home playoff game. Then came Ray Lewis’ retirement announcement….which was followed by their convincing victory over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. They followed that up with back to back wins against Peyton Manning in Denver and Tom Brady in New England. And now, Steelers’ fans, here they are…in the Super Bowl. Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh and all the rest of them that we, in Pittsburgh, love to hate.
San Francisco, on the other hand, has been one of favorites to emerge from the NFC following their run last year, eventually falling to the New York Giants in the Championship game. They’ve had an impressive playoff run as well, beating Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan to get to New Orleans.
The media-created storylines leading up to this game have been dreadful…but one of them in particular is spot on: this is going to be bloodbath. Incredibly physical. But don’t expect a 13-10 finish. These offenses can score. And they will score. Both have plenty of weapons, and their coaches are smart enough to expose the slight weaknesses the opposing offenses have. This will be an exciting game between two hard-nosed, highly competitive teams.
I REALLY hope I’m wrong about this pick….
Prediction: Balt 21 SF 20
Be sure to check back here to see how we faired with our predictions on Sunday after the Super Bowl.