Super Bowl XLVII is sure to be dominated by defense, therefore it will be the game's offensive stars who make the biggest difference in the end.
Both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers boast talented quarterbacks and elite running backs. Together the four stars are sure to produce a boatload of yards, points and highlight reel plays.
Here we'll project how each will fare on Super Bowl Sunday.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, RB
The Niners' Frank Gore has been nearly as unstoppable as a speedy dump truck this postseason, rushing for 209 yards and three touchdowns in two playoff wins over Green Bay and Atlanta.
If he can run with the same power and agility on Super Sunday that helped power San Francisco into Super Bowl XLVII in the first place, then the 49ers will have a fantastic shot to move the ball consistently on the Ravens' defense. Baltimore has been surrendering 128 rushing yards per game this postseason, which bodes well for Gore, but not some much if consider the Ravens' trend in that area.
After giving up 152 yards on the ground to Indianapolis in the Wild Card round, Baltimore held Denver to 125 and New England to just 108 in its most recent victory.I like Gore to finish with a stat line close to his playoff average.
Projection: 20 carries, 95 yards, one touchdown
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, QB
Baltimore Ravens field general has been the best passer this postseason and therefore enters Super Bowl XLVII with high expectations.
The fifth-year NFL quarterback has been sensational with the season on the line this winter, leading the Ravens to three straight playoff wins (two in a row on the road) while throwing for 853 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.
On Super Sunday I'll be looking for Flacco to pick up right where he left off in Foxborough two weeks ago, confidently leading Baltimore's offense down the field with his strong right arm. He'll likely see around 35 pass attempts against San Francisco, and considering he thrives on the deep ball, look for a low completion count.
Projection: 20-of-35, 260 yards, two touchdowns
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers, QB
San Francisco's second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick has looked like a seasoned veteran this postseason, using both his arm and legs to lead the Niners into the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.
He's averaging 248 yards passing and 101 yards rushing per game in these playoffs, but accounted for only one touchdown in the NFC Championship Game after scoring four in the NFC Divisional round. I expect Baltimore to keep Kaepernick looking human on Super Sunday, rather than allowing him to break free for record-breaking yardage.
Like Flacco, Kaepernick's completions typically come farther down field, so I expect no more than 14 or 15 against Baltimore's stout secondary. He's too talented not to score at least once, though.
Projection: 15-for-25, 225 yards, one touchdown, five carries, 45 yards
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, RB
Ray Rice is rarely used as often as he should be in the Ravens' offense, but he's still almost always a lock to pick up around 100 total yards every game. Rice is averaging 82 rushing yards per game this postseason and has scored a touchdown on the ground in each of Baltimore's last two playoff victories on the road at Denver and New England.
Rice will certainly struggle to find the end zone this weekend as he gets set to go up against a fearsome front seven that excelled at shutting down the run during the regular season and has only given up 185 rushing yards total in two playoffs wins.
Look for Baltimore to feed Rice consistently and do its best to get him 20-plus touches on Sunday. He should surpass the 100 total-yard mark in Super Bowl XLVII, even if he doesn't score.
Projection: 18 carries, 80 yards, four receptions, 35 yards
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