The day we’ve been waiting for all season long is finally here. After 20 weeks of football we’ve reached the epic conclusion of the season, but we still have two teams standing. Everything about this Super Bowl suggests that it’s going to be one of the most memorable Super Bowls in recent history. From the Ray Lewis storyline, to the rise Colin Kaepernick and the battle of the Harbaugh Brothers, Super Bowl XLVII has as much narrative pumping through it as it does talent.
But the question is, how will everything play out? Will Ray Lewis go out on top or will the 49ers add yet another Super Bowl to their trophy case? Our panel of experts discuss what they think will happen before, during and after Super Bowl XLVII kicks off.
1. What’s your favorite storyline heading into Super Bowl XLVII?
Patrick Allen: I want to say Ray but the media has hammered it so much since the playoffs began that I am kind of sick of it. I like the under-cover Randy Moss lose cannon storyline. This could be his last game and I am hoping against hope he does one more ridiculous on field antic to send himself off in style.
Josh Hill: It seems like a cop-out but I love the Harbaugh storyline. I remember playing my little brother in Madden ever year before the Super Bowl and this is essentially the real deal. Everyone everywhere who has a brother knows what it’s like to be competitive with them, and to imagine coaching against them in the Super Bowl is just too awesome to even imagine. The Harbaugh’s are living ever backyard football fantasy or game of Madden anyone has ever played against their sibling and that’s so awesome.
Josh Sanchez: I love the Kaepernick storyline. It was great to see Jim Harbaugh put everything on the line by benching his starter with an unproven quarterback. Kaepernick has been nothing but spectacular this season — he has so much Randall Cunningham in his game — and really looks like he will be the future of the quarterback position. Forget RG3, forget Russell WIlson, Kaepernick is the man who can create an insane legacy with a win in this year’s Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see how people praise or trash Harbaugh for his decision to stick with Kaepernick depending on the outcome of this game.
2. Are we in store for a defensive battle or will this be an offensive shootout?
PA: No, I think it will be a shootout. These things always end up going the complete opposite of how everyone thinks they will. The offenses will come out with all kinds of new tricks up their sleeves. I don’t think the defenses will be able to adjust in time. I expect the first quarter will be a little slow and then all hell will break lose.
JH: It’s going to be a shootout and it’s going to stand as a testament to how good both of these offenses are. Normally, when the 49ers and Ravens meet, we’d expect a defensive battle but the fact that they won’t hold up against these offenses is pretty incredible. One of these defenses will get it together but it’s all about who has the bigger explosion of points in the first half.
JS: Offensive shootout. Both of these teams have offenses that have big play capability. On the flip side, both defensive units are impressive as well, but the offense will benefit more from the added preparation.
3. Setting aside your game prediction, which Harbaugh would you rather see win the Super Bowl?
PA: Does it make a difference? I guess John because he has been trying longer and has had the Ravens consistently in the playoffs. Plus I want to see Ray Lewis go absolutely insane when they win. It will be great TV.
JH: I’d love to see John Harbaugh win the Super Bowl. To be honest, the probability is pretty high that the brother that doesn’t win today will eventually win one, I’ve just always been partial to John over Jim. Plus he’s the older brother so naturally I’m going to pull for him — I know, really deep and sophisticated analysis.
JS: Jim, because he was never able to win a ring as a player. He may have been a Big Ten Player of the Year, Fiesta Bowl champion and a Pro Bowl player but he was never able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
PA: Joe Flacco. Eat it, haters.
JH: If the Ravens win, Ray Lewis is going to win it just because that’s the only thing that can happen.
JS: Colin Kaepernick. Did you see my favorite storyline? Okay, maybe I have a bit of a man crush.
5. Is Ray Lewis going to do something crazy during the game?
PA: I loved the SNL skit where Keenan Thompson as Ray said he was going to ascend straight into heaven from the 50-yardline. So I am hoping for that.
JH: Well, it’s Ray Lewis so what do you expect? We could see anything from him ascending into heaven like on SNL to unfortunately seeing more Lewis butt-crack. I really want to see what happens if he loses, that might actually be more entertaining since we’re all preparing ourselves for him to win the game and give birth to the second coming of Jesus or something.
JS: It’s Ray Lewis. Of course he will do something crazy. Whether it is getting drunk with the spirit of smashing fools on the gridiron, I can’t wait to see what Ray Ray has in store for this game — as long as he doesn’t grow any antlers.
PA: The Baltimore Ravens. What the 49ers have done is remarkable but I think in the end, Kaepernick’s lack of experience will catch up to him. His only hope is that he is so green that he can’t fully appreciate how nervous he should be so he will play lose. Still, I think the Ravens get it done.: Baltimore 27, 49ers 24
JH: This Ravens thing is exactly the formula we see every year in the eventual Super Bowl winner. Every year we all say someone just needs to get hot at the right time and that’s exactly what the Ravens are doing. The whole Ray Lewis thing really inspired this team, and that’s not something to take lightly. Talent is one thing, playing with a purpose and a belief is something else.
JS: Ray Lewis is playing in his final game and Ed Reed could be close to calling it a career, too. Because of that, I am going with the 49ers. Wait, what? Yes. The Ravens defense is a bit older and slower and they will not be able to keep up with the youth and speed of the 49ers offense. I expect an offensive outburst from San Francisco. Score Prediction: 31-17.