By Will Case
Green Bay, Wis.(WDUZ)- Its ok if sometime over the next few days you start getting really tired of hearing about the Harbaugh vs Harbaugh matchup, or the "harbowl" , or whatever analysts are going to come up with. You’re not alone.
One angle of the script of Superbowl XLVII that many people won't notice is the "passing of the torch" from one generation of linebackers to another.
I'm not talking about the Ravens linebackers vs. the 49ers linebackers matchup.
I'm talking about Ray Lewis, win or lose, leaving the game and allowing the next generation to take over. As a fan of the game...it's going to be fun to watch.
Let's face it, for more than a decade Ray Lewis has ruled the NFL. He has passionately dominated offenses and is easily the best linebacker of his generation. But as the years went by, this generation of linebackers has quietly gotten old. Fans are so used to Lewis and Suggs, Urlacher and Briggs playing every week that they forget that at some point, they have to be done. The game is changing and it requires the next batch of dominant defenses; Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman will be able to pick up right where they Lewis and company leave off. If this game turns out to be a thriller, analysts will talk about Lewis' going away party for years to come.
My prediction: Ravens 27 49ers 21
So how will this score come about?
This will be a defensive game. The Atlanta Falcons defended the read-option offense as well as possible. Kaepernick wasn't allowed to run wild like he did against Green Bay. Atlanta forced him to throw by setting the edges and not allowing him to run to the outside. Unfortunately that opened up some lanes for Frank Gore to run between the hash marks. The Ravens will have to take it a step further by forcing turnovers.
On offense, the term 'high-powered' has been used to describe Baltimore. They haven't set any offensive records or dazzled fans with their air show this year. But when they needed to be, they were effective. They have come through when they absolutely needed to every single time. That's enough to drive a defensive coordinator crazy. Ask Jack Del Rio how he felt at the end of regulation in the divisional round. If Baltimore's offense can get a big enough lead, San Fran isn't making up 14 or more points against the Raven's defense.
As for San Francisco, if Colin Kaepernick ever needed to study a defense, it’s now. The Ravens need to plant doubts in his mind with a couple turnovers. Ed Reed feasts on rattled quarterbacks...especially when they work against the clock.