We are now down to four teams fighting it out for the right to play in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb 3. For a father and mother in California they better get ready to choose sides because the their boys will be playing against each other for the second time, but this one will be for all of the marbles.
Jack and Jackie Harbaugh have their two boys John, Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens and his younger brother Jim, Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers one win from the game they always wanted to coach in, but probably never wanted to face the other to get it. Both were in this same spot a year ago, but both failed in their attempt to make the Super Bowl
John will have his Ravens ready to go back into New England and to try and take what should have been theirs last year but a dropped pass by Lee Evans and a wide left field goal miss by Bill Cundiff prevented them from going to the dance. This year they have the motivation of unseating the Patriots and to showing everyone that the victory earlier in the season (week 4 they beat the Patriots in Baltimore 31-30) was no fluke and that the Vegas disrespected them with the point spread (Patriots favored by 9.5 points) for this game.
Additionally they can keep the career of soon to be first ballot Hall of Famer Ray Lewis moving forward, instead of turning in his shoulder pads for a suit and microphone. I don’t think Ray Lewis wants to the Super Bowl for a tryout for next year. He would rather end Tom Brady’s season, like he ended Peyton Manning’s season last week.
The Ravens have the offense in Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and their line as well as in their defense with Lewis, Ed Reed , Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata to look the Pats across the line and make them second guess decisions. They are not the Texans who looked nervous and somewhat apprehensive last week, Baltimore is ready and more than willing to line up and deliver or take the first hit, and then get back up.
Like John’s Ravens, Jim has his 49ers rolling into Atlanta as they go up against the #1 seed, 13-3 Falcons in their building, but the 49ers are the favorites (line has them as 4.5 point favorite) in the NFC Championship game. The big reason for the momentum is QB Colin Kaepernick and his amazing game last week vs. Green Bay where he accounted for 344 yards (263 passing and 181 rushing) and four touchdowns.
Also another similarity that John has with Jim is he also was at this point last year but due to two costly special team fumbles, he ends up watching the game as the NY Giants defeat the Patriots for the second time in five years.
If Jim can get the 49ers scoring and build a lead early and make the Falcons desert the running game will lead them to victory. Matt Ryan throwing the ball and trying to play catch up is what led the Falcons to their two losses this season (the team rested people in the final season loss to Tampa). In both games they got behind by more than 10 points causing Ryan to throw over 100 passes combined in these games (52 in the Saints game and 49 vs. the Panthers). The team needs to balance their attack and get near 100 yards on the ground to go along with Ryan’s yardage will keep them into the game, if not the spread will b e a little light.
John and Jim Harbaugh most likely had the thought about what it would be like playing each other in the Super Bowl, but both were disappointed after their last season ending losses. Well they had better start thinking about it again, because after tomorrow, it will be happening.
AFC - Ravens 28 Patriots 27
NFC – 49ers 35 Falcons 24