It is difficult to pick against the San Francisco 49ers but that is going to happen. Right here.
The casual thought for most of the last two weeks has been that the 49ers are simply the better team and the better team usually wins. No great stretch or insight there.
But despite all of the Colin Kaepernick fascination, the Baltimore Ravens have the better quarterback. And quarterbacks have been the MVP’s in five of the last six Super Bowls. Point being: The team with the better quarterback wins most Super Bowls.
No shortage of game story lines here. Frank Gore vs. Ray Rice. Defenses. Receivers. And so on.
But repeating, the Ravens have the better quarterback. Because of that, they will win Super Bowl XLVI.
San Francisco defensively is good enough to blunt Flacco, or pretty much any quarterback. But the 49ers have not rushed the passer effectively through the postseason, really since Justin Smith was injured late in the season. Flacco has been sacked only four times in Baltimore’s three playoff games, and that includes playing the Denver Broncos with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, the NFL’s No. 1 sack team, in Denver.
Flacco has thrown zero interceptions in the playoffs, and that includes going against the New England Patriots, tied for fifth in interceptions this season. He has put up a passer rating of at least 106 in the last four full games he’s played and threw his last interception in mid-December.
And the 49ers have intercepted just 14 passes all season.
Notably perhaps, the Ravens have one fewer interception that San Francisco and one less sack than the 49ers’ 38. But Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are facing a quarterback with just seven regular-season and two playoff starts.
Flacco would have had his team in last year’s Super Bowl but for a dropped TD pass and missed field goal and he is working on a run of never missing the playoffs in his five NFL seasons. He has been criticized for perceived failures or marginal performances through his career.
But the message there is that Flacco can win even when he doesn’t play his best. Kaepernick? Maybe, maybe not. And coordinator Jim Caldwell has taken Flacco to a new level.
That level will be good enough to win a Super Bowl.
Prediction: Baltimore 24, San Francisco 20