Super Bowl 47 is inching ever closer and I have been charged with covering the Baltimore Ravens as the big game draws near. Yesterday I gave you player and team props and today we will breakdown the Raven's offense. A bit little later we will take a look at their defense.
Some players say it’s the balance Jim Caldwell has brought to the offense. Some say it’s the way that Caldwell’s found a way to consistently incorporate all of the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive playmakers. Some say it’s the way Caldwell’s prepared the offense in the week leading up to games. And some, even more so than anything specific Caldwell has done, talk about how much more comfortable, confident and in rhythm quarterback Joe Flacco is now than what he was under former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. But whatever it is that Caldwell’s done, it’s working.
The Ravens run what might be considered a traditional, pro-style offense. They often feature two- and three-receiver sets and a tight end and/or fullback. Before the midseason firing of former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, they ran more three and four-receiver sets and called passes more often. Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday will be Caldwell’s seventh game as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator after replacing the fired Cameron Dec. 10.
Quarterback: The underrated Flacco has thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions with a 114.7 passer rating so far in this postseason. The only signal-callers in NFL history to finish a full postseason with at least nine touchdown passes and no interceptions are both former 49ers, Steve Young after the 1994 season, and Joe Montana, who threw 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the playoffs after the 1989 season. Flacco also set a single-season career high in passing yards with 3,817 yards during the regular season, while connecting on 40 completions of 25-or-more yards, which set a Ravens' season record and led the NFL.
Running Game: A strong running game opens up that play-action for Flacco, who throws one of the best deep balls in the NFL. Rice is the bell cow, totaling 1,621 yards from scrimmage, the NFL's ninth most. He was one of three players to post 1,000 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards. Rice ranked second in the NFL in catches by a RB (61) and fourth in receiving yards (478), marking his fourth straight season with at least 1,600 yards from scrimmage. Dating back to 2009, Rice owns an NFL-high 7,506 total yards from scrimmage (5,066 rushing & 2,440 receiving), including a league-best 39 games where he's gained 100-or-more total yards. Rice has also got help this time around with rookie Bernard Pierce, who ran for 532 yards as a team-leading 4.9 yards per carry, giving the Ravens a nice compliment.
Receiving Corps: Anquan Boldin has been a beast in the postseason for the Ravens, snaring 16 catches for 276 yards and three TDs, averaging 17.3 yards per catch and 92.0 yards per game. Since becoming a Raven in 2010, Boldin has totaled the NFL's most playoff receiving yards (512) and is deadlocked with Niners tight end Vernon Davis for the most receiving TDs (five) over the last three years of postseason play. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith is one of the top vertical threats in the league, ranking fourth in the NFL with a 17.4 yards per catch average, posting a career-high 855 yards on 49 receptions. Fleet-footed return specialist Jacoby Jones is the third option for Flacco and another big play threat, albeit far less consistent. Pitta (Tight End) posted career highs of 61 catches and 669 receiving yards and seven TDs and has a knack for finding the soft spot in a zone. He isn't the best blocker in the world, however, leaving that for Ed Dickson, who is basically just an outlet receiver in the passing game. Veteran Billy Bajema is also around to move the pile in the running game.
Offensive Line: Bryant McKinnie was once a Pro Bowler in Minnesota and although he's seen his better days and lives an undisciplined lifestyle, he's a natural left tackle, enabling Michael Oher to move back to where he's far more comfortable -- the right side. Rookie Kelechi Osemele also kicked over to left guard where his size and strength makes a big impact, especially in the running game. Veteran pivot Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, could join Ray Lewis in retirement after the Super Bowl. Like Lewis, he's a natural leader who makes all the right protection calls on the line of scrimmage. The other starter is right guard Marshal Yanda, Baltimore's best offensive lineman. Yanda is a road-grader in the running game and mirrors in pass protection well.
PlaceKicker: Rookie Justin Tucker recorded 132 points in his rookie season, the third most in Ravens history. Tucker made 30-of-33 field goal attempts overall in the regular season for a 90.9 percent success rate. Tucker hasn't had many chances in the postseason, converting the a 47-yard game-winner at Mile High in the second overtime against Denver and his only other chance, an easy 23- yard attempt, making him a gaudy 32-of-35 overall in his first year as pro.
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Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore vs. San Francisco Betting
Everything you need to know about betting the Side, Total and Props in Super Bowl 47 between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (2/03/13) -- with free picks by Pregame.com's Steve Fezzik, Vegas Runner and Bryan Leonard.