Will Ray Lewis send young Colin Kaepernick “back to school” in Lewis’ final appearance as a player in the NFL, or will Kaepernick — the young, athletic San Francisco 49ers quarterback — make it appear that it is indeed time for the Baltimore Ravens’ longtime star middle linebacker to hang up his cleats?

Who will claim the trophy in this edition of “HarBowl,” the battle between brothers as head coaches — John Harbaugh with the Ravens, or Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers?

These are just a couple of the bigger questions surrounding Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans today.  I’m going to hold off on my prediction on who’s going to take it until the very end of this article, and do it in a musical way.  But I’ll give this for a final score:  21-17.

Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

To me, the Kaepernick vs. Lewis matchup is the most intriguing of this Super Bowl.  Here we have Lewis — one of the more dominant, feared, intense linebackers to play his position in this generation — against Kaepernick, the do-everything young quarterback out of Nevada who was thrown into San Francisco’s coveted starting role mid-season thanks to a concussion suffered by previous starter Alex Smith, and Kaepernick hasn’t looked back ever since.

It’ll be intriguing to see if Lewis still has the wheels to keep up with a player like Kaepernick, or whether Lewis’ veteran instincts will give him an edge.  If Lewis can put some fear into Kaepernick, the tide could turn in Baltimore’s favor.

Colin Kaepernick | San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick | San Francisco 49ers (Photo credit: Football Schedule)

Kaepernick is part of the reason the Niners had the fourth-best rushing attack in the NFL this season.  His legs are capable of doing very good things when he takes off, and it’s his versatility that can keep defenses reeling.  When he’s not a threat to run the ball himself, he can throw it with great accuracy to some very good targets, or he can simply hand it off to workhorse running backs like Frank Gore to pound out yardage.

When Baltimore’s on offense, running back Ray Rice is the guy typically making things run more smoothly.  Joe Flacco can toss the ball a country mile, and he can move around a bit in the pocket.

For both teams, excellent offensive line play will be a must.  When you’ve got guys like Lewis and San Francisco’s corps of strong linebackers led by NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Lewis manning the middle along with some strong outside rushers for both teams, it can wreak havoc.

Defensively, San Francisco is in its prime right now.  The 49ers were third-best in the league defensively in total yards (Baltimore was 17th), fourth against the run (Baltimore was 20th), and fourth against the pass (the Ravens were 17th).

What it comes down to more often than not in Super Bowls is one of two things, or a combination thereof:  defense and controlling time of possession.  I see one team having a pretty clear edge in both categories.

The Ravens once had one of the most feared defenses in the history of the NFL, and it was players like Lewis and safety Ed Reed who helped make it that way.  Now, Lewis is in his final game, and if Reed continues to play beyond today it might not be with Baltimore.  It’s been the leadership of Lewis that’s helped to carry the Ravens this far this season, and it’ll be the intensity and leadership of Lewis that will help to make today’s game a close one.

In the end, I see the Lombardi Trophy going in this direction …

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One thought on “My Super Bowl XLVII prediction: Leaving you hanging ’til the end

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