Who will prevail in the 49ers and Ravens matchup in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday in the Big Easy? National Review Online asked for some predictions.
Given that the NFL inflicted the death penalty on the Saints this year by taking our coach away along with key defensive players, I simply couldn’t bear to watch this season. I therefore have no feel for the teams in the Super Bowl (even though it’s in my home town of New Orleans). The only thing that has me excited is the facelift that the Super Bowl money has made possible for our historic and recovering City — especially to the airport. So my prediction is this: Winner: City of New Orleans. Loser: City of New Orleans.
— Dorinda C. Bordlee is vice president is chief counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund.
EdWArd John Craig
The outcome of Sunday’s game shouldn’t really be in doubt.
The Ravens defense — led by ball-hawking safety Ed Reed, first-ballot Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis (did you hear about this being his last game?), and mountainous Haloti Ngata down in the trenches — are perennial standouts and now get to face a rookie quarterback . . . in the Super Bowl. They have one of the league’s most dynamic and versatile running backs in Ray Rice. They have the speed on the outside in Torrey Smith to stretch the field on San Francisco’s lanky cornerbacks. And a sizzling-hot quarterback in Joe Flacco who has arm enough to get the ball to Smith once he pulls away. I expect the Ravens to make 49er QB Colin Kaepernick beat them from the pocket (like the Atlanta Falcons did, only better) while taking away TE Vernon Davis.
All of which spells 28–17, Ravens. And yet . . .
It only takes one play to change a game. A forced fumble by Patrick Willis. A big return by Ted Ginn Jr. A gadget play to speedy LaMichael James. A pass-interference penalty drawn in the endzone by Randy Moss.
Hey, what about that Randy Moss? Like Ray Lewis, he’s a shoo-in for Canton, despite the fact that, unlike Lewis, he’s not yet won a Super Bowl. And while he has a reputation (deserved or not) for being a selfish player — a locker-room cancer, even — at least he’s never been charged with murder.
Forget what I spelled out above. If Colin Kaepernick can pick up three first downs with his legs, the Niners win.
— Edward John Craig is managing editor of NRO.
The 49ers must and will win.
To be honest, I don’t care much for the Niners or the Ravens, but now’s not the time to lament the fate of my abysmal Tennessee Titans. This Super Bowl is about the future of football, specifically the run-and-gun, mobile quarterback. Don’t believe me? Heed the words of an NFL executive. Two years ago, a leading executive in personnel for an NFC team paused to consider a quarterback class that included great athletes such as Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Colin Kaepernick, and Tyrod Taylor.
“You can have all those guys,” the exasperated scout finally exclaimed. “When one of them wins the Super Bowl, then I’ll go to one of those spread-offense guys. Until they do, I’m sticking with the Sam Bradfords.”
Imagine the Niners’ Kaepernick as the Magic Johnson of the NFL, leading his west-coast version of the Lakers against the east-coast Joe Flacco (Larry Bird) and the smash-mouth Ravens (Celtics). Think there’s little difference between Kaepernick and Flacco? In one partial season, Kaepernick rushed for almost as many yards as Flacco has in his entire four-year career.
It’s high time for a championship quarterback to put the fun back in the NFL. We need “Showtime” on the gridiron.
— David French is a senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice and co-author of Home and Away.
On paper, the 49ers have the advantage. They’re young, fast, and ascendant. But the Ravens have what pickup-basketball players call “old-man game,” especially on defense. Jim Harbaugh will be relying on athleticism, deception, and the occasional shot down the field to score. But what grizzled old Ray Lewis is lacking in speed he makes up for with 17 years of refined instincts and what is probably the best first step in the league. Coupled with their talent and smarts along the line of scrimmage, I don’t think Baltimore is going to let Colin Kaepernick gouge them too badly on the ground. And when the San Francisco quarterback is forced on the run and starts taking big shots down the field, expect the Ravens wily old safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard to, by turns, pick a couple off and deliver a few hits.
On the other hand, the Ravens offense and Joe Flacco are going to need to take shots down the field early and often. Flacco has elite arm strength, great deep threats in Boldin and Smith, and a 49ers secondary that has shown itself in the playoffs to be the defense’s only fallible unit. Connecting early on a few big plays will force the Niners’ dominant front seven to back off and give Flacco breathing room to look to the sure-handed Pitta and jack-of-all-trades Ray Rice. I’m an AFC fan (the Jets, but don’t tell anybody), a Rutgers fan (Ray Rice’s alma mater), and saw Joe Flacco play at Delaware when my girlfriend was going to school there, so a Ravens upset is also in my rooting interest. I’ll call it 24–20.
— Daniel Foster is news editor of NRO.
The last five Super Bowls have featured seven teams, and the 2012 Super Bowl matchup of the New York Giants and New England Patriots was a rerun of 2008. So it’s refreshing to see some new faces in the title game; this year marks Baltimore’s first appearance since the 2000–2001 season and San Francisco’s first appearance since 1994–1995.
The media has their most convenient pre-packaged storyline ever (brother against brother), and both teams look evenly matched, so we’re unlikely to see a blowout. Neither team is a how-did-they-end-up-here fluke like the 2007 Cardinals, 1995 Chargers, or 1986 Patriots.
My rooting interest will be with the 49ers. If Baltimore wins, the salutes to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will be gushing and effusive, and all of us will be asked to avert our eyes from Lewis’s January 2000 Super Bowl activities, where somebody wound up murdered. (In a plea agreement he pled guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for testimony against two other defendants, who were acquitted.)
Madison Avenue has been in a rebuilding stage for Super Bowl commercials for several years now, so hopefully we’ll see that losing streak end.
— Jim Geraghty writes The Campaign Spot blog on NRO.
I predict Eli Manning will handily best his older brother Peyton in passing stats — oh, wait, wrong NFL brothers. Okay, how about this for a bold prediction? Harbaugh will coach his team to victory. But wait, there’s more: In overtime.
The conventional wisdom is that the Ravens, with the veteran Flacco calling signals, are a killer second-half team, and that the 49ers need to build a first-half lead. I predict the opposite. Colin Kaepernick will display his rookie nerves in the first half — probably throw an interception — but in the second half he’ll start to outrun the aged and tiring Ray Lewis. Forget overtime: 49ers by ten. Or if it does go to overtime and neither team can score, we’ll settle it by having the Harbaugh brothers arm-wrestle for the Lombardi trophy.
— Steven Hayward is author of the two-volume Age of Reagan.
I come into this Super Bowl with a lot of bias, not a conservative one but a Steelers one. I look at this Super Bowl, as I do much of life, through the eyes of my unfailing devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On the one hand, I suppose this means that I should root against the Ravens — or such is the conventional wisdom. The Ravens are the Steelers’ new arch-rival, replacing the Cleveland Browns, who, frankly, stink. Thus, it’s hard to see the Browns as much of a rival. I often cheer for the Browns (when they’re not playing the Steelers) simply to keep the rivalry going, but, alas, they usually lose. The Ravens have easily replaced them.
What about the 49ers? Well, if they win, they will tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins, the most Lombardi trophies. That is something I could not stomach. So, I must root for the Ravens. Besides, imagine how much better the Steelers–Ravens rivalry will be if both Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have won a Super Bowl.
Okay, so that explains my sympathies (such as they are), but which team will win? I’m predicting the Ravens based on their heart and experience on defense and with the expectation that Ray Rice and Joe Flacco will step up on offense. Rice will. The key is Flacco. The key is also turnovers — as the Steelers learned against Green Bay.
I say Ravens, 24–20.
— Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He is author of the new book The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.
If there is any trend that has become clear in this football season, it’s that the progressive wing of American politics is feeling emboldened from the destruction of Hostess Twinkies™ to the defiance of the Obama administration in the face of last week’s slap-down on recess appointments.
Football is a proxy for America’s politics: rough-and-tumble, both about using blunt force and occasional finesse to win.
So we have to review this year’s Super Bowl match-up within that prism . . . two teams from two progressive states going head-to-head . . . and when viewing it within that prism, it is clear who the winner is going to be . . . it’s going to be the state that is at the cutting-edge of this progressive wave . . . the state where the realities of economics and policy impacts truly do not apply . . . where machine cronyism is a cherished way of life. And that state is . . . MARYLAND!
Maryland, which has been far bluer, far deeper, for far longer than California. Where Governor Martin O’Malley has taken his lessons from ol’ Jerry Brown, refined them, and is doing his best to outdo California on a whole host of metrics . . . spending, debt, cost of doing business, tax flight, etc . . .
Ravens win. 31-27, ‘hon!
— Andrew Langer is president of the Institute for Liberty, based in Maryland.
JOHN J. MILLER
The Baltimore Ravens are named after a poem that was first published in 1845. The San Francisco 49ers are named after the gold-rush pioneers of 1849. Four years separate the namesakes. On Sunday, four points will separate the teams: 49ers 28, Ravens 24.
— John J. Miller is national correspondent for National Review, director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, and the author of The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football.
I predict a 40-point victory for the Baltimore Ravens. They were vastly underestimated by the odds-makers in the past two games and that kind of disrespect gives them an edge. Ray Lewis is more than just a great middle linebacker, he is the type of man for whom every player on the Ravens will give 100 percent the entire game. The 49ers are a respectable team, and both teams have great coaches. Nonetheless, the momentum is all Ravens for this Super Bowl.
— Alex Mooney is chairman of the Maryland Republican party.
MSGR. CHRISTOPHER NALTY
The banner of this week’s Sports Illustrated asks the question “Does God Care About Who Wins The Super Bowl.” After Notre Dame’s loss in the BCS Championship, I am tempted to answer a resounding “NO” to God’s involvement in football. However, it’s highly possible that San Francisco de Asis might, indeed, care. Prediction: The 49ers by 6. Quoth: “Ray Lewis’s Ravens: nevermore.”
— Monsignor Christopher H. Nalty is pastor of Good Shepherd in New Orleans.
A prediction is easy compared to the gut wrenching decision of what team to root for. Let me explain.
I am a Steelers fan and we despise our chief rival, the Ravens. Steelers–Ravens games are more like steel-cage matches than games. Even though they are from our division, this is not college football where you cheer for teams in your conference in bowl games. Even if we did, Steeler fans would make an exception for the Ravens. Seems simple right? I will root for the Niners. Wrong.
The Steelers stand atop the NFL for the number of Super Bowls won with six, but right behind us are the Niners. We believe we are the best franchise in the NFL and we can back it up. It will require a few Iron City beers and I will not wear a stitch of purple or black, but every real Steeler fan will cheer for a Niners defeat.
I predict the game will be one where the Ravens are badly outplayed, but win because of numerous bad calls by the refs and fluke plays. Niners lose it on the last play of the game. With the ball on their own one-yard line Kaepernick takes a knee in a tie game, but trips and falls into the end zone for a safety. Niners 3 Ravens 5.
— Rick Santorum is former senator from Pennsylvania and author of American Patriots.
I believe I am in an exceptional position to prognosticate about the Superbowl, because until Time magazine approached me last week to discuss the sibling rivalry of the dueling coaches, I had never heard of them or their teams and had no idea that the game was this coming Sunday. I also have never seen a football game in my entire life. From a purely psychological perspective therefore, I vote for elder brother John. He was a less obnoxious kid than his relentlessly competitive younger brother, and has had to swallow a lot of normal envy of Jim’s superior athletic ability and meteoric rise as a coach after that. It’s payback time for him, and I bet he feels that on some level, despite their mutual disavowals of the slightest issue between them.
The odds of my winning aren’t bad: 50 percent.
— Jeanne Safer is author of Cain’s Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret.
WESLEY J. SMITH
Even though I live in the Bay area, I never root for any San Francisco team. I wish them to lose every game they play. I yearn for their hearts — and those of their fans — to be broken into shards. Why am I so bitter? Blame former San Francisco Giant pitcher Juan Marichal, who, on August 22, 1965, hit Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro with a baseball bat during a masterful game being pitched by Sandy Koufax. As a boy, growing up in Los Angeles, I was an extreme Dodger fan and all LA/SF games were televised to Los Angeles — a novelty in those days. I saw the incident and the resulting bench-clearing brawl on television, live. Koufax was so upset he lost his concentration and the game. I have never forgiven and never forgotten. I am, like Inspector Javert of Les Miserables, obsessed with seeing justice done! So, until and unless Marichal is arrested for assault and battery, I will root for all San Francisco teams to lose. Thus, Ravens by 9, although I don’t follow football and I have no idea which team is better. If the 49ers have the superior players, may the best team lose!
— Wesley J. Smith writes the Human Exceptionalism blog on NRO.
For native Baltimoreans with memories that antedate the Dies Irae, March 29, 1984, when the arch-fiend Robert Irsay stole our NFL team and replanted it in Indianapolis, this is not a simple business, for many of us still tend to think of the Ravens as the Browns, despite the Cleveland transplantees’ 16 years “on the shores of Chesapeake Bay,” as the National Boh’ jingle once had it. Irsay, we are confident, will be watching the game on some Purgatorial ledge (at best). But when your grandson knows nothing but Ravens, the mystic chords of memory linking me to Unitas, Berry, Moore, Mutscheller, and Marchetti retreat before a rising seven-year-old’s enthusiasms, so I’m going with the Ravens, 27–24, with the game won in the last two minutes. Johnny U, looking down on Irsay from his post-mortem perch among the blessed, will like that. So will Master William Joseph Susil.
— George Weigel is author of the upcoming Evangelical Catholicism.