Friday, February 1, 2013

Chopped...Super Bowl Edition

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For those of you who have ever watched the Food Network program Chopped you will know the contestants must use strange and unorthodox ingredients to prepare restaurant quality dishes. 

They have high pressure timed rounds and they go through three levels of courses. 

Appetizer.  Entree.  Dessert. 

This is not unlike the different levels of the NFL Playoffs and the course of the game the teams must go through to reach their ultimate goal.

Each one of the teams representing their respective leagues, Baltimore and San Fran, have used some strange and unorthodox methods to go through their levels of play.  Like Baltimore amazingly scoring the game tying touchdown with 31 seconds left  in regulation against Denver or San Francisco benching their starting quarterback after injury in favor of an inexperienced athlete named Colin Kaepernick to run the show.
No matter what road you traverse anyone who reaches the Super Bowl belongs to be there.   

It was way back on August 23rd when I gave my predictions on how this year would go in the NFL.  I made a few bold predictions, some went wrong, and if you haven't noticed I was pretty accurate on one tiny tidbit.

Baltimore versus San Francisco in the the Super Bowl. 

Please, please, enough with the applause.  It is just what I do.

I have to believe this Super Bowl will be one for the ages due in part by the off-into-the-sunset story of Ray Lewis and the historical value of brothers John and Jim Harbaugh coaching against one another.  It sets up to be a classic.

I chose the Ravens to be this years champion and I am not changing my pick at this time either.  I felt in the beginning of the year, after last years all-to-close AFC loss, they had their eye on the prize and that Joe Flacco would silence his critics.

Flacco has the Ravens flying high this postseason.
He has shown through the season to be solid once again in all facets of the game.  He is never going to be mistaken for Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but he knows who he is.  He is confident in his abilities and super confident in his abilities in the playoffs.
Flacco (5) has increased his quarterback rating (QBR) from 87.7 in the regular season to a playoff best 114.7.  He has out dueled Manning and Brady this playoffs and should feel very good about how he has gone about doing it.  He has thrown 8 tds and thrown no picks.  Turnovers are the name of the game in this business.

And he has been as secure as Fort Knox in that department. 

He and his main man RB Ray Rice are doing a good job keeping the ball in their hands and not in the opponents hands.  Rice leads all running backs in rushing yards during the playoffs (247) and this is key when winning games in the postseason.  You need to be able to run the ball and eat clock.

Ray Lewis is pure emotion on and off the field.
You can't overlook the experience factor the Ravens have also.  This team is riding the Ray Lewis retirement train and it is on a crash course with destiny.  Lewis is arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history.  He is unquestioned when it comes to motivating his teammates and maximizing their potential.  He missed a huge chunk of this season with a Triceps injury and the team struggled a bit until he returned. 

He just makes a difference not only on the field, with fellow future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, but off the field as well.  I just don't see him being denied that storybook ending to his career by a kid who has started only 9 games in his NFL life.

This kid I speak of is obviously QB Colin Keapernick, as mentioned before.  The young juggernaut who has captured this sport by storm.  He runs like a gazelle, as evidenced by the 180 yards he ran on Green Bay, and he throws like a pitcher, which makes sense due to the Chicago Cubs drafting him a few years ago.

He doesn't seem rattled by what goes on around him.  He has a very calming way about him and almost seems like he is just sitting on his couch playing Madden rather than running away from guys like Ray Lewis.

His coach should take a great deal of credit for his confidence.  Jim Harbaugh saw something in this kid and benched their former #1 draft choice, Alex Smith, for what everyone felt was a crazy decision.  It takes huge guts to make a decision like that, especially when you are in a position to potential win a Super Bowl.

Coach Harbaugh & QB Kaepernick
This is what separates coaches from legendary coaches.  The ability to make tough decisions and stick with your gut feeling.  To this point Jim Harbaugh should be playing all state lotteries because he is coming up magical.

I do feel that magic has to end sometime.  As good as Kaepernick has been the magnitude of the moment has to get to him sooner or later.  This Baltimore team just feels like a team of destiny.  Things happen for a reason and you don't escape Denver with a win like that without a little divine intervention.  I just feel like the pressure of the Ravens defense will rattle Kaepernick early and when he runs, which can be tough to handle, he will get hit over and over.  How he responds to these repeated hits on the worlds greatest stage will determine how this game ends.

I realize the 49ers defense, led by super stud Patrick Willis, has been tremendous.  They have a solid unit and have been good all year but I just feel it just isn't their time yet.  Their defensive front is great but their secondary is their weakest point.

Flacco has one of the strongest arms and prettiest deep balls in the game.  He should be able to stretch the defense and force San Fran to open up and this will allow Ray Rice to gain valuable yardage and move chains. 

The Harbaugh family will be celebrating a Super Bowl championship this Sunday after one of their sons will be chopped. 

The Ravens have the ingredients for the appetizer of throwing the ball deep to clear space.

The Ravens have the ingredients for the entree of running the ball to milk the clock. 

And finally the Ravens have the ingredients for the sweet dessert of claiming the Super Bowl Trophy.

Ravens 29 - 49ers- 26

MVP - Ray Lewis - 15 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception



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