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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Flacco, Kaepernick excel at accuracy

By ESPN Stats & Information


AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezOnly 12.5 percent of Kaepernick's attempts fall incomplete due to an over- or underthrown pass.
When the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers meet in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3rd in New Orleans, it will be the 10th time the Super Bowl has been held in the city, tying the Miami area for the most Super Bowls hosted by any city or region. While the venue is familiar, it will be new territory for both starting quarterbacks, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick.

An advanced look at how they got here and where they both excel:

Joe Flacco

Much of Flacco's success this season stemmed from his downfield passing. Flacco has the most pass attempts more than 20 yards downfield this season (101) but has yet to throw an interception on those throws. Since the start of 2008, no quarterback has finished a season with more than 58 attempts without an interception (Brett Favre, 2009).

Flacco, however, did not attempt a pass thrown more than 20 yards downfield against the 49ers in Week 12 of the 2011 season. In his career, Flacco has only four games without such an attempt, two of which came in Week 17.

What's more, his downfield attack is becoming increasingly potent. Flacco completed eight passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield in his first nine career postseason games, but has 10 completions in three games this postseason.

The Ravens, however, have been more run-heavy with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator. Prior to Caldwell, the Ravens were rushing on 40.4 percent of plays, but under Caldwell that percentage has increased to 48.5.

Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick, meanwhile, has improved against added pressure during the postseason, primarily because he is making quicker decisions. He held onto the football for 3.8 seconds before passing, taking a sack or scrambling in the regular season when facing five or more pass rushers (league average: 3.4 seconds). That has dipped to 2.8 seconds in the postseason, and the result has been a 98.9 Total QBR (out of 100).

In addition, Kaepernick hasn’t been breaking the pocket as often this postseason, with 49 of his 52 attempts (94.2 percent) coming from within the pocket. In the regular season, 78.9 percent of his attempts came within the pocket, second-lowest in the league (Russell Wilson, 73.3 percent).

His accuracy has been another huge asset. Kaepernick has seen only 12.5 percent of his pass attempts fall incomplete due to an over- or underthrown pass. When Kaepernick is off-target, the result is almost always an overthrow, as only four of Kaepernick’s 101 incompletions (including playoffs) have been a result of an underthrown pass.

Super Bowl XLVII is certainly a matchup of varying experience. Flacco's 62 wins in the regular season and postseason are the most by a QB in his first five seasons in the Super Bowl era, while Kaepernick has just nine career starts including the playoffs.