Mercifully, we’re about an hour away from kickoff. If you’re still wavering on your pick and how you’ll wager your next eight paychecks, here are some stray stats, followed by a hold-ish prediction.
- Justin and Aldon Smith have hit the quarterback twice in their two playoff games, according to Rotoworld’s Mike Clay. Twice.
- Over his last 11 games, Michael Crabtree has 66 catches for 913 yards and 10 touchdowns.
- Randy Moss has 10 postseason touchdown catches. The only players with more are Jerry Rice (22), and John Stallworth (12).
- Sure, Justin Smith’s injury was massive late in the season, and it’s still been a concern throughout the playoffs. But injuries in football are random, violent events, and sometimes sheer luck leads to avoiding that randomness on a long playoff drive. According to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco starters missed a league low eight games. If they win tonight, the 49ers will then be the first team since 1993 to win the Super Bowl with a man games lost total in the single digits.
- Getting to the 49ers’ goal-line is difficult, and actually scoring once you get there is also the extreme opposite of easy. The 49ers have allowed a touchdown on 15.2 percent of goal-to-go rushes this season, the best rate in the NFL according to Cecil Lammey.
- But as Lammey also notes, that presents a strength vs. strength matchup deep in the trenches. This year Ray Rice was one of 11 running backs to attempt 20 or more goal-to-go rushes, and he scored on the highest percentage (43.5 percent).
- Joe Flacco is one of just six quarterbacks to throw at least six touchdown passes and no interceptions during a postseason. The other five all won the Super Bowl, and were named the game’s MVP.
- When Colin Kaepernick throws, he throws deep. Of his 136 completions during the regular season, nearly a quarter of them (23.5 percent) resulted in receptions of 20 yards or more. Flacco, meanwhile, completed 18.9 percent of his passes for +20 yards.
- During a six-game stretch between weeks 12 and 17, Vernon Davis had only six receptions for 61 yards. That’s an average of 10.2 yards per game, and now during the 49ers’ two playoff games he has 150 yards on six catches, a run that’s included two +30 yard grabs.
- Bernard Pierce is averaging 6.3 yards per carry during the postseason, over a full yard better than his average during the regular season (4.9).
- Torrey Smith has another fun/scary Ravens offensive average. During the post-season he’s averaging 22.0 yards per catch, which includes touchdown catches of 32 and 59 yards against Champ Bailey.
Bold-ish prediction: Yeah, this isn’t very bold at all, really. Earlier this week Rob Pizzola predicted a somewhat high-scoring game, but a close game nonetheless with the 49ers prevailing. Although the sample size is clearly small, the 2012 Ravens have demonstrated that they can at the very least limit a mobile quarterback who operates out of the read-option, most notably containing Robert Griffin III back in Week 14.
The difference between Washington and San Francisco, though, lies an ability to stretch the middle of the field when the edges are fastened off to keep Kaepernick in the pocket. We saw that two weeks ago in the NFC Championship when Kaep had only 21 rushing yards after setting the single-game record for QB rushing the week before (181 yards), but then he adjusted by averaging 11.1 passing yards per attempt, his highest rate as a starter.
That game also featured Vernon Davis’ boom. The tight end finished with 106 yards, which was an abrupt step up after he had 40 or fewer yards during 10 of his previous 11 games. We already know that Davis and Delanie Walker present a highly unfavorable matchup for the Ravens’ linebackers. Combine that with a versatile and dynamic running game against the 20th ranked rush defense during the regular season that gave up 122.8 yards per game, and the offensive advantage when the 49ers have the ball is far too great.
Final score: 49ers 31, Ravens 27