Super Bowl 2013: Why Harbaugh Brothers Will Face off in New Orleans

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJanuary 14, 2013

Jim Harbaugh looks to make it to his first Super Bowl as a coach.
Jim Harbaugh looks to make it to his first Super Bowl as a coach.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This year is going to be different. The Harbaugh brothers will face each other in the Super Bowl.

For the second straight year, we're one week away from the pair meeting in the big game. By winning their conference championship games, they will become the first brothers to meet as head coaches in the Super Bowl.

For this to happen, both teams have to hit the road and face tough opponents.

John's Baltimore Ravens will face the New England Patriots for the second straight year in the AFC title game. The Ravens came close to pulling out a win last year but lost by three points.

Jim's San Francisco 49ers lost by three points in overtime last year against the New York Giants. This year they'll face the Atlanta Falcons, who needed a last-second field goal to beat the Seattle Seahawks.

So what factors will contribute to the brothers meeting in the Super Bowl?


Defensive Pressure

There's no question the Ravens and 49ers can bring pressure.

Baltimore has six sacks in the postseason and got to Peyton Manning in more ways than one on Saturday.

After only sacking the quarterback 37 times in the regular season, the Ravens have already gotten six sacks in the postseason, which is why they've been successful.

San Francisco only recorded one sack against Green Bay, but they have been known to put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks.

Atlanta allowed the seventh-fewest sacks during the regular season, but most will attribute that to a weak schedule.

The 49ers won't give Matt Ryan the time he's used to and will be in his face all game.


The Arm and the Legs

When it comes to the quarterbacks for the Ravens and 49ers, they couldn't be any different.

Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league, as evidenced by the throws he made under duress against the Broncos.

As ESPN's Ron Jaworski says, "He has the strongest arm in the NFL."

The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It's all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.

For Colin Kaepernick, it has to do with his legs.

Like the Falcons experienced with Russell Wilson on Sunday, they get that (and then some) against Kaepernick.

He rushed for 181 yards on 16 carries against the Packers and gives the 49ers a threat that the Falcons have to look out for.

Unlike the Seahawks, who only had Zach Miller as a legitimate receiver, the 49ers have multiple threats where the Falcons won't be able to key in on Kaepernick.

With Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, the Falcons will have their hands full. Throw Kaepernick's legs into the mix, and it's going to be a long day for Atlanta.


Won't Be Easy

It's not going to be easy for either team. San Francisco comes in as a 3.5-point favorite, while the Patriots are favored by nine points. Then again, the Broncos were heavily favored last week.

The thing that must be remembered is that there's no number that can be put on the possible last game of Ray Lewis. You know the Ravens won't go down without a fight.

For the 49ers, there may be confidence with Kaepernick at quarterback, but let's also remember he's had his struggles this year. He struggled against Seattle and St. Louis this year, as those defenses owned him in those games.

It could happen again.