NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly Wednesday column featured on TJRsports.com. Allen and The Ace are big time NFL junkies and are Falcon and Packer fans, respectively. Each week the guys will ask questions and TJRsports.com editor-in-chief, John Canton will also ask a question for both guys.
Ace: Well…here it is, the final article before the season is over, sort of a bittersweet time of the year. 20+ weeks of NFL action comes down to this weekend. The NFC representative beat our favorite teams in consecutive weeks in the playoffs and the AFC representative won three games defeating a future star quarterback in Andrew Luck and two future Hall of Famers in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in their own backyards. I’m excited for this matchup, the 49ers haven’t been in the Super Bowl since Steve Young got the monkey of his back in 1995 and the Ravens haven’t been here since the 2000 season. I’ve mentioned that I own about a dozen Packers jersey’s and one of the few non-Packer jersey’s I own is a #52 Ray Lewis jersey, not trying to spoil my pick too early…
Allen: Despite still being extremely bitter, I’m going to watch this with an open mindset. It’s a pretty compelling storyline even though I personally dislike both Harbaugh’s. I’m not really interested in the whole brother battle, they are both excellent coaches but they don’t come off as likeable people. Another storyline is the Ray Lewis’ road to glory, which has made him become a prophet. I’m looking forward to Lewis being on the gospel channel on Sunday mornings at some point in 2013. Wait I said I was coming into this with an open mindset? I meant just for the game itself, not the ridiculous storylines. Let’s talk about football please.
Ace: Last week against the Falcons Colin Kaepernick was held to 21 yards on two carries.
Do you see Kaepernick having a big game on the ground against the Ravens or will Baltimore be ready after seeing the film on the mistakes that Green Bay made and the pressure Atlanta put on him?
Allen: I’m not sure how Atlanta exactly put pressure on him, but nevertheless I don’t see him running wild. The crazy stat about his performance against the Packers was that he had 174 yards before contact. That is pretty insane and I’d be pretty embarrassed if I’m a defensive player on the Packers. Kaepernick will be contained on the ground; don’t expect him to really explode. The Ravens have a fast defense, but they also have holes in the secondary. Many people like to talk about Kaepernick’s feet before his arm, which is understandable but he can throw. He has proven that he has an arm and has cemented himself as a quarterback. He’ll have success running because he’s so athletic and Frank Gore has been productive all year, but you won’t see any major highlight reel runs.
Ace: I have a feeling that if anyone will have a big game on the ground it will come down to Ray Rice and/or Frank Gore. I think that we’ll see a bigger passing game between the two quarterbacks who’ve been nearly perfect in the postseason.
Allen: Vernon Davis came alive last weekend for the 49ers and they looked more efficient when getting him involved.
Do you think they should continue to make him the focal point of the passing game or is Michael Crabtree still the go-to guy?
Ace: Why not both? I have a feeling that Crabtree will be Kaepernick’s deep threat, along with maybe a long toss down field to Randy Moss, but Vernon Davis has emerged as Kaepernick’s safety blanket in the postseason, thanks for getting him involved after fantasy football is over too, I appreciate that. I have a feeling that if one guy gets double or triple teamed the other guy will explode. I don’t think this will be as big of a defensive matchup as some people might be thinking. There will be a lot of passing yards in this Super Bowl. It wouldn’t surprise me if combined there’s 550+ yards between Kapernick and Flacco.
Allen: You are really selling both defenses short with that last statement. That being said, you do make a good point about having both. I’m still leaning towards Crabtree being the main guy because they’ve been clicking ever since Kaepernick came in. He didn’t have a great game against Atlanta mainly because Asante Samuel can still cover, but he had his moments. With the Ravens not really having any great cornerbacks, it could lead to Crabtree having a more productive game compared to two weeks ago. I still think Crabtree is going to be the main guy but Davis is still someone that can really torch a defense similar to what he did against Atlanta.
Ace: With all the hype surrounding Ray Lewis' final game it has over shadowed some other players that could very well be playing their final game. Randy Moss returns to the Super Bowl looking for his first ring, Matt Birk was drafted the same year by the same team that Randy Moss was drafted by and this is his first Super Bowl and Ed Reed makes his first trip to the Super Bowl as well.
Other than Lewis, which one of these guys has the biggest impact on the game this Sunday: The guy snapping to Joe Flacco, Matt Birk? The guy catching passes from Kaepernick, Randy Moss or one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game, Ed Reed?
Allen: Matt Birk is going to have a tough assignment leading the Ravens offensive line against the vicious front seven of San Francisco, but I’m still going to pick Ed Reed. Reed has been shockingly quiet for the most part in the playoffs, but being quiet isn’t always a bad thing. You can be heard from, but it could be because you are allowing big completions like Champ Bailey. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before you say there is Ed Reed with another interception. He’ll have a major responsibility covering Vernon Davis, along with other passes downfield that Kaepernick likes to throw. Birk is going to have a major responsibility as well, but Reed is going to have to make the biggest impact for the Ravens to contain Colin Kaepernick. Randy Moss is one of my favorite players of all times, but he’s just a role player at this point. He may pop up and score a touchdown, but that’s about it.
Ace: I really like all these guys equally. Both Matty Birk and Randy Moss have Minnesota ties with both guys coming into the league in the same draft. Birk has been all class and Moss is nothing short of one of the greatest receivers of all time. I think Ed Reed will make the biggest impact, I can already see #20 jumping a pass and taking it for 6 points.
Allen: Joe Flacco has emerged in the playoffs and has put together some terrific performances. He hasn’t faced a defense quite like San Francisco’s yet.
What do you think is the biggest concern for Flacco especially since the 49ers run defense is ranked 4th in the league, which could lead to the Ravens passing more than they usually do?
Ace: I think the biggest concern will be an ineffective run game from the Ravens. Flacco has put up some great passing numbers this postseason but he’s also handed the ball off to Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce or Vonta Leach 95 times in their three games for a total of 446 yards on the ground. It’s been proven you can run against the 49ers but it is very tough. The Ravens need to establish the run game or at least come out trying to see if they can break through the 49ers defensive front. I’m expecting to see a decent amount of screen passes from Flacco to Rice. Like I said earlier, I think that there’s going to be a lot of passing yards in this Super Bowl.
Allen: Flacco will have his chances to connect on some deep passes. The 49ers defense isn’t as vaunted as it once was. The issue for Flacco is if he can truly carry the team if the running game isn’t working. I haven’t really seen that from Flacco yet if he can truly do that. Once again he made some great throws against the Broncos, but it was lucky that his throw to Jacoby Jones wasn’t picked off. If Flacco has to throw more than 40 times, can he make plays? This is another major test for him and it will be another game where he’ll have to prove the skeptics wrong like me.
Both teams have All-Pro running backs in Ray Rice and Frank Gore. What team's running game will have the more impactful game?
Allen: This is an easy choice for me and that’s Frank Gore. The Ravens run defense is 20th in the league and the 49ers running game haven’t really been stopped this season. They don’t shy away from the run and they consistently use different misdirection plays to keep the defense unbalanced. Another thing San Francisco does better than Baltimore is that they don’t forget about their running back. Ray Rice is an excellent back, but they forget about him at times and don’t use him properly. Frank Gore is constantly getting carries and San Francisco doesn’t shy away from giving him a heavy dose of carries. Overall those two factors make this an easy pick for me that Gore will have more of an impactful game, even though Rice could some damage from screen passes.
Ace: I love Frank Gore in the most heterosexual way possible. He’s one of my favorite players in the NFL because he’s such a complete beast. I agree with Allen on the point that Balitmore does not utilize Ray Rice correctly. Gore will have the bigger game because once the Ravens can stop Kapernick, they have another weapon to stop and his name is Frank Gore.
Ace: This is the final week of our ‘Elite Football Mind Challenge’. There’s no way I can win, but hopefully we disagree and I can gain one more game to make it respectable. Allen leads me 62-33 to 57-38 and if I only could of picked against my Packers a couple times this season this would be for all the marbles. Enjoy your marbles, Allen.
SUPER BOWL XLVII: San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Ace: I didn’t give Baltimore a chance against Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning and on Macho Men Radio before the AFC Championship game I said ‘There’s NO WAY Baltimore loses this game.’ This is going to be a very fun game to watch because both teams have played at an elite level and at a not so elite level. I’m going to be happy with either outcome. If the 49ers win, Frank Gore and Randy Moss get Super Bowl rings and Moss will probably walk away from the game for good. If the Ravens win, Ray Lewis goes out on top and Matt Birk and Ed Reed also get Super Bowl rings. It will be close, maybe even the first overtime Super Bowl in history. I think Joe Flacco will have a monster game and win the MVP
Ace’s Prediction: Ravens 33, 49ers 27
Allen: My prediction hasn’t changed and I’m going with the 49ers. Even though Baltimore continues to prove me wrong, I’m just not sold on Flacco and the defense is going to have a difficult time stopping the 49ers. They have played better but San Francisco’s read option and realizing that Vernon Davis is still on the team has really made them more explosive. It has been a nice run for Baltimore, but they have caught some breaks. The breaks end here.
Allen’s Prediction: 49ers 28, Ravens 13
Allen: Well this is it, everyone has been waiting for this and everyone is super pumped for this. It should be a good first half, but eventually I’m expecting Baltimore to crack. It won’t be the ending that Ray Lewis deserves, but he had a fun ride that nobody predicted this season. Instead Randy Moss will win his first Super Bowl and thirty people will probably realize that. I’d love for someone to ask him, how does it feel to win one and he replies saying “Straight cash homie”. That would be priceless, other than that it should be a nice physical matchup.
Ace: Deep down, Allen, I really want Moss to have like 10 receptions for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns so he wins MVP and we get to hear him talk after the game. It would be amazing. I hope we don’t see Jim and John Harbaugh’s parents 7,000 times during the game and I hope we have a really fun game to watch. This has the makings to be an epic matchup and I hope it is. Check out last night’s Macho Men Radio with C-Mac and I as we preview the Super Bowl and we’ll be back next week for a season wrap up and the offseason plans for our article. As always, we appreciate you reading and most importantly, if you’ve read all of our articles this year you must either really like us or feel bad for us, but regardless you’re an NFL fan, so enjoy the biggest Sunday in the NFL Season!