LOS ANGELES, January 29, 2013—As Super Bowl (47) XLVII approaches, the media is obsessed with the “Harbowl.” Yet brothers Jim and John Harbaugh are doing everything to keep the focus on the football game itself. The 49ers and Ravens are taking the field, with nobody named Harbaugh playing. That is how it should be. So here are the top ten real storylines that will affect who wins the Super Bowl
10.) Pregame parties. None of these players were able to play in the Pro Bowl. They missed out on partying in Hawaii, where one Pro Bowl player got injured in a nightclub, causing him to miss the game. Partying in the Big Easy is even more perilous. The late Oakland Raiders legend John Matuszak was able to roam Bournon Street before Facebook, Twitter, and You-Tube existed. Nowadays players who party too hard before the game hurt their team. The best thing the players can do is obey curfew.
9.) Randy Moss. The future Hall of Fame receiver played on the two greatest teams to not win a Super Bowl, the 1998 Vikings and the 2007 Patriots. The 2012 49ers are nowhere near the conversation of best of all time.
Being the best of 2012 will be fine for Moss. He is only a role player now. He was not the reason the other teams lost and he would not be why this team wins. Yet he still knows how to stretch the field, and a couple deep balls could open up the running game.
8.) Kickoff returns. The NFL is actually thinking of abolishing kickoff returns. This would be terrible for the league. The 2000 Ravens won their only Super Bowl over the Giants in a game featuring consecutive kickoff returns for touchdowns. The Ravens Jacoby Jones this year tied the NFL record with a 108 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Field position will be big in a game between two tough defenses.
7.) Will anyone score? Speaking of the defenses, they are both stout. The 49ers have Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith. The Ravens have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs. These teams met last year and only one touchdown occurred as the Ravens ground out a hideous 16-6 victory in Baltimore.
6.) The Quarterbacks. That is always a storyline, but more than usual in this case. Joe Flacco has been treated as a “game manager” by those not understanding football. He led the miracle comeback over Denver a couple of weeks ago when it seemed all was lost. As for Colin Kaepernick, the second year phenom started only nine games this year and is now on the biggest stage. Both quarterbacks say they are loose and relaxed. That will be tested once they get their cages rattled.
5.) The Pistol Offense. Is it a gimmick, or the next new innovation of the football future? Kaepernick has been running it very well, but now the 49ers face a defense that knows how to decapitate quarterbacks.
4.) David Akers. The former Philadelphia standout kicker has been struggling this year. He missed the tying field goal last week that almost cost the 49ers the game. He does have a share of the NFL record for longest field goal with a 63 yarder, but he has also missed the most field goals of any kicker this year. Will he be Adam Vinatieri or Scott Norwood?
3.) Jim Caldwell. He reached a Super Bowl as head coach of the 2009 Colts and has revitalized the Ravens since taking over as offensive coordinator only a few weeks ago. He has opened up the passing game and unleashed Flacco. After a tight first half last week, he again opened it up as the Ravens crushed New England.
He is one of the most respected offensive football minds coaching today, and he leads the chess match against the 49ers defense. In a side note unrelated to football, Jim Caldwell is the most stoic man in football. The cameras will focus on him to see if he for the first time in his life makes a facial expression.
2.) Ed Reed. While much of the focus will be on his teammate, he is perhaps the greatest ball hawk of all time. Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady would certainly say that the Baltimore safety is the best.
The greatest offensive minds of all time specifically game plan to know where Reed will be all the time. He sometimes pretends to be out of position to bait quarterbacks into making throws that they regret the moment Reed makes his break. Colin Kaepernick is talented but inexperienced, and Reed will be testing him early and often.
1.) Ray Lewis. Is there any doubt about this? This game should be renamed the Ray Sugar Bowl. After 17 years, this will be Ray Lewis’ final ride. He announced his retirement three weeks ago, and the team has rallied around him. The crowd will erupt the minute he does his dance on the field. His teammates will explode the minute he screams, “Any dogs in the house?” Football is about emotion and knocking your opponent’s block off. That is Ray Lewis. If he leads his defense, the Ravens win. If he is neutralized or even limited, the 49ers take home the Lombardi Trophy.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.