Gridiron Guide Super Bowl prediction: Ravens 27, 49ers 24
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RAVENS (10-6) vs. 49ERS (11-4-1)
49ers by 3 1/2; O/U: 47 1/2
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9), 6:30 p.m.
Mom and Dad were right. Sometimes they would tell us: It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
We usually heard that after we flunked a test early in the school year, burned the first batch of brownies we ever tried to make or were shot down after asking a girl to the prom. This old-fashioned logic can be carried over to the Super Bowl.
Before the 2012 season began, would you have had either Joe Flacco or Colin Kaepernick in your list of top 10 NFL quarterbacks? Heck, I would have had to check to see which roster Colin Kaepernick was on. He saw action in only three games in 2011 and was 3 of 5 passing for 35 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and minus-2 yards rushing behind starter Alex Smith. Last season, Flacco was ranked 18th in QB passing rating (80.9), which was nine slots behind Smith (9th, 90.7).
Again, it's all about the finish. And the finish to the 2012 season could very well be a classic with two balanced teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy.
If San Fran (7-4 against the spread last 11 games) does get to hug the Super Bowl hardware, it may be because of the decision coach Jim Harbaugh made to replace the injured Smith with Kaepernick, and keep it that way once Smith was well enough to return.
Kaepernick has completed 63 percent of his passes (169-for-270) for 2,310 yards with 13 TDs and four INTs since coming in for Smith on Nov. 11. He's also rushed for 617 yards and seven TDs since becoming starter.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh made the tough choice to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with three weeks left in the regular season. The move has seemed to work for Flacco, who has thrown 12 TDs with only one INT in the six games since the change (the Ravens are 7-4-1 ATS in their last 12 games).
I think this will be a great game that comes down to the final minute. If the placekickers decide this one, I'll take Ravens rookie Justin Tucker (32 of 35 on FGs, 92 percent) over former Eagles and current Niners kicker David Akers, who has missed 8 of his last 20 field goals.
Take the points here, and if your Super Bowl final score boxes are Baltimore 7 and San Francisco 4, send me a cut! Ravens 27, 49ers 24.
THE PICK: Ravens
Super Bowl Sunday is like no other sports day. Just look at all the proposition bets. Here’s seven — touchdown! — of our favorite from pregame.com and the Las Vegas Hilton with predictions by our Gridiron Guide.1) Length of postgame handshake/hug between Harbaugh brothers: over/under 6 seconds
2) How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing national anthem: o/u 2 minutes, 5 seconds
3) Number of times “Harbaugh” will be said during game: o/u 22 1/2 times
4) Color of Gatorade dumped on winning coach:
49ERS 6) Who will have more: Total points by Islanders’ John Tavares vs. Total scores in final two minutes of first half?
TAVARES 7) Who will have more: LeBron James points + rebounds + assists vs. Ravens + 49ers total points?
RAVENS + 49ERS TOTAL POINTS