Al Thompson
49ers DT Justin Smith has played 14 NFL season. He will play against the Giants this Sunday.

NEW ORLEANS: This year’s Super Bowl has all the makings of a classic matchup. Star power at virtually position, high-powered offenses, defenses that can impact the game at any time and passionate followings.

But only one team can win and here is who I think will win and why.

How the Ravens can win: Baltimore is healthy and will have all the intangibles going its way.

On offense, the Ravens interior line is outstanding with veterans Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda leading the way. Rookie guard Kelechi Osemele has played well. Tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher are as good as it gets.

This line will allow Ray Rice to have a big day and Joe Flacco to continue his incredible run as a passer in the playoffs. In three games Flacco has thrown eight TD passes and no interceptions.

The 49ers main pass rushers are hurting. Tackle Justin Smith has a partially torn triceps that forced the Pro Bowler to miss the final two regular season games. Smith has nine tackles in two playoff games but is not the menace he will need to be to put pressure on Flacco.

The other Smith, Aldon, has disappeared since game 13 of the regular season when he had 19.5 sacks. Aldon has not recorded a sack in the last five games including both playoff games.

Flacco will pick the 49ers apart with Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin if they can’t get pressure.

Defensively the Ravens have their Big Three: Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Reed will be the key as he will no doubt want to bait quarterback sensation Colin Kaepernick into mistakes.

This is the last game for Lewis and he will no doubt play like it.

Special Teams goes to the Ravens as Justin Tucker has been golden all year and hit the game winner in overtime against Denver in the Divisional Round.

How the 49ers can win: The 49ers, like the Ravens, will bring a shutdown defense. The 49ers will likely force the issue with more blitzing to make up for the injuries to the Smiths.

So far no has been able to solve Kaepernick and the Ravens will be hard pressed to do so. He can run like a deer and has an accurate cannon for an arm.

The Ravens will try to keep Kaepernick in the pocket like Atlanta did so look for tight end Vernon Davis to have another big day as he did against the Falcons.

Frank Gore has one of the best offensive lines in the game led by Joe Staley, Jonathan Goodwin and Alex Boone. Obviously Gore has to come up big to keep Flacco on the sideline.

Defensively DE/LB Aldon Smith must find his game and get into the backfield. He has no sacks in his last five games. If that streak continues, the 49ers will lose.

He will get help from LB Patrick Willis, who will need to outplay his boyhood idol, Ray Lewis if the 49ers want to keep the Ravens from repeating taking over the game like they did against New England.

The 49ers have done everything to create their own distractions and cannot allow those things to take away from the focus they’ll need to bring home the Lombardi Trophey.

Kicker David Akers could be the difference. Kaepernick bailed him out in the NFC title game, the 49ers can’t bank on that again.

Prediction: The 49ers defensive line is too banged up and that alone could be the difference. The Baltimore O-line will wear down the 49ers front seven and they will cave in by the end of the third quarter. Add in a shaky Akers and that will add up to a 31-24 Ravens win.

2 Feb 13 - NFL, Ravens - Al Thompson - No Comments