The Baltimore Ravens have won three playoff games. They didn’t win them because fate loves Ray Lewis. They won them because Joe Flacco was the best quarterback on the field. He was better than Andrew Luck, better than Peyton Manning and better than Tom Brady. That’s extraordinary work right there.
No matter how good Flacco is Sunday, however, he’s unlikely to be enough to upset favored San Francisco. The line opened at 5, almost immediately fell to four and has held at 3½ since.
The 49ers are faster and more athletic and they have a quarterback, too. Rally to beat Green Bay at home and Atlanta on the road, beneath the dome, and you can beat anybody. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been sensational.
I love the 49ers’ offense. They've been running a fast break since the playoffs began. Against the Packers and Falcons they employed their zone option, the Pistol, on almost half their offensive plays. They run off it, pass off it, score off it and win off it.
The Pistol gets publicity. The blockers do not. But San Francisco’s offensive line has improved markedly as the season has gone on.
The Ravens have enough offense to compete, as Manning and Brady will attest. Yet one popular reason to pick Baltimore is because is because Ray Lewis will conclude his farewell tour in Super Bowl XLVII. The tour only feels as if it has been going on since 2009. I’ve read that because of Lewis' pending exit Baltimore is a team of destiny.
Last week, however, I broke the story that destiny does not exist. Lewis likes to invoke religion, but that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to favors from fate.
So, here’s what happens Sunday in New Orleans, site of the game: A lot of people wake up with a hangover and a smile.
Also, Flacco plays another strong game, Ray Rice shrugs off tacklers as if they bore him and Baltimore leads by three at the half.
Then the younger, faster and more talented team is unleashed. Kaepernick picks up 24 yards on one scramble in which he jukes a lineman, two linebackers, a cornerback and destiny.
San Francisco wins 33-27.