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February 2, 2013

The Daily Star Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

(Continued)

The Ravens have had a magical run to the Super Bowl. They started the playoffs by dominating a young Colts team at home. They then went on the road and won back-to-back games as 9 1/2-point underdogs. In the AFC Championship game, they rallied from a six-point halftime deficit, outscoring New England by 21 points and shutting out Tom Brady and the NFL’s top-ranked offense in the second half.

In the NFC, the story of the year has been talented, young quarterbacks running modern, run-and-gun offenses that have befuddled one defensive coordinator after another. Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson were brilliant, leading their respective teams to playoff berths, but neither has shone as brightly as San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, who took over the job as starting quarterback for the Niners after Alex Smith suffered a concussion in a week 10 tie versus the St. Louis Rams.

Since taking over for Smith, Kaepernick has led San Fran to a 7-2 record that includes two playoff victories. At home in a divisional playoff game against Green Bay, Kaepernick ran for ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns, throwing for two more scores. A week later, Kaepernick and the Niners overcame a 17-point deficit to take down the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta.

Throughout most of Super Bowl week, I have been leaning toward picking the Ravens, mostly because I have trouble believing that Kaepernick, in his second year out of Nevada and in his 10th career NFL start, can continue playing Hall-of-Fame caliber football. However, as stories started emerging from New Orleans about Baltimore practices being disrupted due to weather and construction at their Tulane University practice facility, and Ravens players started having to answer questions about their emotional leader, Ray Lewis’ alleged use of liquefied deer antlers, I started leaning more toward the 49ers.

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