NFL Nation: 2013 Super Bowl Quick Take

Quick Take: Ravens vs. 49ers

January, 21, 2013
Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVII, in which the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3:

1. Historic family reunion: When John Harbaugh's Ravens battle Jim Harbaugh's 49ers in the Super Bowl, it will mark the first time that siblings face off as head coaches in any major U.S. professional sports championship. This will be the second game in NFL history between head coaches who are brothers and the first since the Harbaughs met when the Ravens beat the 49ers, 16-6, on Thanksgiving night 2011. The Harbaugh brothers both lost in the conference championship games last season and both watched their teams rally on the road to make it to the Super Bowl this year. Both made risky decisions during the season that propelled their teams to the NFL title game. John fired his offensive coordinator with three weeks left in the regular season, and Jim changed starting quarterbacks in November.

2. Small-school quarterbacks hit big time: The Super Bowl features two quarterbacks who didn't come from major programs. The Ravens' Joe Flacco was drafted in the first round in 2008 out of Delaware. The 49ers' Colin Kaepernick was selected in the second round in 2011 out of Nevada. Both quarterbacks, though, have shined in the spotlight this month. Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.7 in the playoffs. Kaepernick has averaged 248 yards passing and 101 yards rushing in the postseason. The Ravens have to figure out a way to contain Kaepernick's big runs, and the 49ers have to stop Flacco's big pass plays.

3. Deceptive defense: When the Ravens went to the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, they had one of the best defenses in league history. Baltimore wasn't as dominant on defense this season, finishing 17th in the NFL in the regular season. Still, the Ravens have been playing solidly in the postseason. Baltimore's defense held Peyton Manning to three touchdowns in a double-overtime win in the AFC divisional round and shut out Tom Brady and the Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens became the second team to beat Manning and Brady in the same postseason, joining the 2010 Jets. The 49ers boast the NFL's third-ranked defense, but the Ravens shouldn't be overlooked on that side of the ball.

4. Phenomenal four seed: The Ravens became the seventh No. 4 seed to reach the Super Bowl since the current seeding system was introduced in 1999. This is nothing new to the Ravens, who won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season as the fourth seed. There were two other No. 4 seeds who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy: the 1997 Broncos, who beat Green Bay, 31-24, and the 2011 Giants, who edged the Patriots, 21-17. The Ravens, who have already knocked off the top two seeds in the AFC, have to beat the NFC's second seed to win the Super Bowl.

5. Last dance for Ray Lewis: The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been the emotional rallying point for the Ravens ever since he announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Lewis' "last ride" will come in the Super Bowl in New Orleans, where teammates have talked about sending the 17-year veteran out on top. But Lewis isn't just along for the ride. After missing 10 weeks following surgery on his torn triceps, he has led the Ravens in tackles in each of the three playoff games. His 44 tackles top the NFL this postseason. All eyes will be on Lewis when he comes out of the tunnel at the Superdome, where he'll perform his signature pregame dance one last time.

Quick Take: 49ers vs. Ravens

January, 20, 2013
Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVII, in which the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3:

1. Family affair: The coaching Harbaughs, Jim and John, will of course be on opposite sidelines when Jim's San Francisco 49ers face John's Baltimore Ravens for the Lombardi Trophy. Let's get some of the specifics out of the way early. John turned 50 on Sept. 23, the day his Ravens played New England in a Sunday night game. Jim turned 49 on Dec. 23, the day his 49ers played Seattle in a Sunday night game. John played defensive back at Miami of Ohio. Jim played quarterback at Michigan before a 14-year career in the NFL. Their father, Jack, played at Bowling Green. Jack Harbaugh coached high school ball in Ohio before coaching at Western Michigan and Western Kentucky. And don't forget about Jackie, wife of Jack and mother to the coaching brothers.

2. What's new this time: The Ravens handled the 49ers, 16-6, when the teams played during the 2011 season. Much has changed since then, particularly for the 49ers. Alex Smith, sacked nine times in that Ravens game and 75 times in his past 28 games overall, is no longer starting at quarterback. His successor, Colin Kaepernick, has taken five sacks in his past five starts, counting playoffs. The 49ers should also be much more rested this time than when they traveled across the country on a short week to face the Ravens in that Thanksgiving game last season.

3. Passing the torch: This Super Bowl matchup features two of the most dominant inside linebackers of their eras. San Francisco's Patrick Willis counts Baltimore's Ray Lewis as a friend and mentor. The two have combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances and 12 first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections. Lewis plans to retire after this game. He has called Willis a worthy heir to his throne as most feared linebacker in the game.

4. The option option: Kaepernick handed off on each of the 49ers' 13 option plays against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. A week earlier, Kaepernick kept the ball seven times on option plays and gained 99 yards on them against Green Bay. He had 181 yards rushing against the Packers overall. The Ravens have faced the option in one game this season. Washington had 15 option rushes for 93 yards against Baltimore in Week 14, but Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III finished that game with his fourth-lowest Total QBR score (42.6) of the season, counting playoffs. Griffin left that game with a knee injury.

5. Three in a row: The 49ers have won three games in a row for the first time all season. They are looking to become the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl without posting three or more consecutive victories during the regular season. The Ravens had two four-game winning streaks during the season. They've won three in a row during the postseason after losing four of their final five to close the regular season.