Finally! The Baltimore Ravens got their revenge on Sunday night as they rolled over the New England Patriots 28-13 and into the Super Bowl where they will face off against the San Francisco 49ers. Now I could sit here and spout out my rear about “Ray Lewis this” and “Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh that,” but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before (thanks ESPN for yet again completely over-saturating sports news). So instead, I will break down the Super Bowl matchup by the numbers.
155.7 – That number represents the rushing yards the Niners would rack up per game during the regular season, good for fourth best in the NFL. Baltimore wasn’t too far behind in 11th place with 118.8 rushing yards per game.
236 – That number shows how the 49ers have cranked up their ground game in the playoffs. San Francicisco has rushed for an average of 236 yards per game in the playoffs this year while Baltimore has rushed for 148.7, which is nothing to sneeze at.
0 – The number of interceptions Joe Flacco has thrown all postseason, the only quarterback who can make that claim.
8 – Flacco has thrown that many touchdown passes in the playoffs, tops amongst all quarterbacks in the playoffs. San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick has thrown three in his two games this postseason.
122.8 – This was the mediocre-at-best number of rushing yards the Ravens’ defense would give up on average during the regular season. That number was the 20th best in the league.
90.6 – This number represents how many rushing yards per game the Niners’ defense would allow during the regular season, good for fourth best. They have stuck to their guns on defense, allowing only 92.5 rushing yards per game in the playoffs while Baltimore has actually regressed, allowing 128.3 rushing yards per game.
322 – While showing the ability to stop the run, this number might represent San Fran’s Achilles Heel. The Niners have given up 322 passing yards per game this postseason, while Baltimore has allowed 286.7. Both teams have played great quarterbacks, with San Francisco facing Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, while Baltimore played Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady.
52 – Ray Lewis’ number. Sorry, I had to mention his name again somewhere in here.
44 – Actually, I could have used that Lewis reference here. Lewis has chipped in with 44 total tackles this postseason, his first action since coming back from missing 10 weeks with a torn right tricep. The next-closest person is Baltimore’s Corey Graham with 26. San Francisco’s Patrick Willis leads all non-Ravens with 19 tackles, and he only played in two games.
25 – This is a big number which we got to see on Sunday. Twenty-five represents the number of passes defensed by the Baltimore defense, the most of any team in the playoffs. We got to see how those batted passes can make a difference in the fourth quarter when Pernell McPhee got his hand on a Tom Brady pass that deflected it into the air where Dannell Ellerbe could swoop in for the interception. The Niners have defensed ten passes this postseason.
52.6 – That’s San Fran’s third-down conversion rate in the playoffs. Baltimore’s sits at 41 percent, which isn’t horrible, but in order for Baltimore to have a shot at winning, they need to get the Niners offense off the field.
22 – The Ravens have racked up 22 penalties this postseason, compared to 12 to the Niners. Baltimore will need to keep those yellow flags off the field.
+17 – The combined spreads the Ravens faced when playing the heavily favored Denver Broncos and New England Patriots (The Broncos were favored by 9 and the Pats by 8). Currently, the Ravens are four point underdogs to the 49ers. This is why they play the games folks!
No matter how you look at it, this should be a fun game. There are plenty of storylines which will be beaten to death over the next two weeks, but the game will certainly be a good one. If Baltimore has any shot of winning, they need to shut down Kaepernick, who has accounted for 349 total yards of offense per game this postseason. If they can do that, and Flacco can continue his run, the Ravens will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in two weeks.
by Andy Mindzak