Super Bowl XLVII is upon us.
So who’s it going to be? Will Colin Kaepernick walk out of the Superdome as the 2013 Super Bowl MVP?
Will it be Joe Flacco who grabs the honors and finally silences his critics? Can he break into the elite quarterback category with a career-defining performance in the NFL’s biggest game?
Ray Lewis could certainly end up as the top player, as he has put his team on his shoulders since returning from a midseason injury. He’s already made 44 tackles this postseason and could set some records with a huge Super Bowl performance.
There are other viable candidates for the Super Bowl MVP award. Let’s take a look at Kaepernick, Lewis, Flacco and some other projections for their performance in the Big Game.
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Lewis is playing his best football and it couldn’t come at a better time. His 44 postseason tackles lead the league, by far. A big performance from the 17-year veteran could be enough to emotionally charge Baltimore to its second Super Bowl victory in its brief franchise history.
Expect Lewis to be everywhere, flying to the ball and shutting down running lanes in the middle of the field.
Projection: 15 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one pass deflection
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are going to need Colin Kaepernick to play efficiently and mistake-free if they hope to beat the veteran defense of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s shown he can do that (no turnovers in the NFC Championship against the Falcons) to this point, and more, and should perform well in both the passing and rushing game, where he logged a quarterback record 181 rushing yards against the Packers in the playoffs.
In the end, it will be the threat of Kaepernick running the football that enables other things to open up. It help him take pressure off him in finding Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and running backs out of the backfield in the flat to keep the 49ers’ drives alive.
Projection: 24-of-32 passing, 245 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; seven carries, 53 yards, one touchdown
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco has found himself at a critical juncture in his career and he’s going to need to throw the ball a lot for the Ravens to be able to move it consistently against the 49ers staunch defensive front. Luckily for the Ravens, he is playing some of his best football and should be able to find some of his big-play targets throughout the game.
However, despite the numbers, the 49ers will continue to do a great job at keeping them out of the end zone as they did to teams all season. Flacco’s mistake-free football (no postseason interceptions) will also come to an end as the pass rush of the 49ers will be bearing down on him all night and will force at least one mistake by the QB.
Projection: 33-of-49 passing, 321 yards, one touchdown, one interception; three carries, nine yards
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco got away from running the football in the early going of the NFC Championship Game. They’re not going to make the same mistake twice. Pounding Frank Gore early and often should open things up later in the game for the play-action passing game.
Gore will get the majority of snaps out of the backfield, but the 49ers will likely mix in LaMichael James and more designed runs by Kaepernick (just 2 rushes for 27 yard in the NFC Championship) in order to meet the team’s rushing goals.
Projection: 26 carries, 119 yards, one touchdown; two receptions, 17 yards
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
The San Francisco 49ers have struggled with physical running games at times this season, allowing several big days on the ground against the likes of
Baltimore doesn’t have the same physically imposing offensive line it has boasted in previous years, though and have to shift their lineup around throughout the season. Still, Rice’s impact will still be felt as he finds space to run thanks to his small frame and his ability to evade tacklers and find creases in the defense.
His biggest contribution will come through the air after he breaks a couple of big runs after the 49ers let him slip into the flat uncovered.
Projection: 24 carries, 96 yards, 1 touchdown; six receptions, 43 yards