Super Bowl 47 is almost upon us and I have been covering the Baltimore Ravens as the big game draws near. yesterday I went over some player and team props and earlier today i broke down the Baltimore Raven's offense. Now we will take a look at the Ravens defense.
There's an old saying in the National Football League that "defense wins championships." Sure, quarterbacks may get all the glory and offense may generate the plays that get the majority of "oohs" and "aahs," but it's the teams that make the big plays on defense that more often than not end up hoisting the Lombardi trophy when all is said and done. The Raven's come in ranked 17th in yards allowed (350.9 ypg), 17th vs the Pass (222.8 ypg), 20th vs the Run (122.8) and 12th in points allowed (21.5 ppg). Below are a position-by position breakdown of the Baltimore defense.
The Baltimore and San Francisco defenses are similar. Both use a 3-4 scheme with one stalwart on the defensive line and a linebacking corps filled with playmakers. Haloti Ngata is the anchor of this group. He is a tremendously strong player who engulfs blockers. Ngata teams with nose tackle Terrence Cody, a difference maker with limited snaps, and Pernell McPhee, a solid if unspectacular edge player. Ma'ake Kemoeatu also gets significant repetitions inside and is just a tad behind Cody as a run stuffer. We are really pretty young, expect for those two guys," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said when discussing Ngata and Kemoeatu. "One thing they bring is in the classroom is the experience of how to be a pro, how to study, how to watch film, how to do all those things, plus that -- Then you add onto that their physical ability.
Lewis, who will be calling it a career after this game, belongs on the Mount Rushmore of linebackers. Although not the player he once was, the leadership he brings to the field had been sorely lacking from the Baltimore defense. His running mate inside is the underrated Dannell Ellerbe, who was second on the team in tackles this season and can create havoc with his penetration skills. Rookie Courtney Upshaw brings youth and explosion to the unit while Paul Kruger has developed into a more than solid situational pass rusher, amassing a career-best and team-high nine sacks, 7 1/2 of which came in the Ravens' final eight games. Terrell Suggs is the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who missed the first six games of the season after tearing his Achilles in the offseason and has also struggled with a biceps injury, He's not the same explosive guy who has 84 1/2 sacks since entering the NFL in 2003 but Suggs is still more than capable of contributing, although his biceps could make it difficult to hold the edge, especially in the read-option.
It took quite awhile before Baltimore recovered from the loss of its best corner Lardarius Webb to injury (ACL). Former first round pick Jimmy Smith simply hasn't developed but the unheralded duo of Corey Graham and Cary Williams have combined to settle things down on the outside. Neither player is going to conjure up visions of a shutdown corner but they've done their part. Ed Reed, a Louisiana native and the eight-time All-Pro, would love to garner his first Super Bowl crown in the Bayou. Reed has 61 career picks in his 11 pro seasons, including 4 thefts for 78 return yards and a TD during the 2012 campaign. Reed's running mate, Bernard Pollard, is a big hitter and intimidator. The AFC Championship Game swung dramatically in Baltimore's favor when Pollard blew up Pats running back Stevan Ridley with a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Ridley cold before he hit the ground, causing a fumble. Like most safeties who bring the wood, however, Pollard struggles in man-to-man coverage.
Baltimore's Sam Koch is looking forward to matching his skills against one of the best in the NFL, San Francisco's three-time Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee. Koch recorded a career-high and franchise-record 47.1 gross punting average this season and also set a team record by producing a 40.8 net average.
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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.