Super Bowl week is even more painful when your team isn’t in it.
Normally, we’d have primary focus on the Patriots heading into Sunday, but a more laissez-faire interest in the Super Bowl this year between the 49ers and Ravens truly exhibits the inanity of it all. Nobody likes to celebrate itself more than the NFL, even as controversy over just how dangerous the game may be for its players lingers into the offseason.
But it’s not only that, the whole week is a reminder of just how secondary the game is on a national basis to a litany of commercials that celebrate corporate America. Kate Upton may be hot, but her Mercedes commercial is awful. I’ve been to Super Bowl parties in the past where there were requests to stay quiet during the ads, not during the game itself. These are parties I no longer attend.
By the time the game starts, we’ve already been pounded over the head with enough endless analysis, product placements, and he-said/she-said bickering between players, that the spectacle tends to take over. Harbaughs! Ray Lewis! Go Daddy! Antlers!
When your team is in it, it’s easy to ignore the noise. This, unfortunately, is not one of
Ravens-49ers Super Bowl picks:
Globe and Boston.com staff: Eight out of 13 pick the 49ers. Greg A. Bedard writes, “The 49ers are simply a more talented football team from top to bottom, and also have the better coaches. The evolving offense with Colin Kaepernick gives them more ability to bring something unexpected to the game plan. The Ravens are fairly straightforward. They need to go hurry up to win this game.”
Baltimore Sun staff: Five out of six pick the Ravens. Edward Lee writes, “Few defenses have been able to decipher the read-option offense, and the Ravens won’t have many answers either. There will be a lot of Kaepernicking and tears from Ray Lewis as the Ravens’ leader rides off into the sunset without a second Super Bowl ring.”
Sports Illustrated staff: Five out of seven pick the Ravens. Peter King writes, “The deep arm of Joe Flacco, paired with the revived defense of the Ravens in the playoffs, wins it for a Baltimore team that seemed left for dead in December.”
ESPN.com staff: Nine out of 12 pick the 49ers.
More ESPN staff: 13 out of 25 pick the 49ers. Chris Berman writes, “One of the great Super Bowls we’ll talk about for decades.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: 49ers 26, Ravens 20. “Get ready for two weeks of hype for the Bro-Bowl. Get ready for two weeks of seeing Ray Lewis on the pulpit, talking a much better game than he plays. Get ready for read-option mania, Joe Flacco-has-arrived talk and tons of interviews with Papa Harbaugh. It’s Super Bowl XLVIII, Ravens vs. 49ers. There will be no Tom Brady. No Peyton Manning. No Aaron Rodgers. It’s Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, one trying to prove he’s elite the other trying to win a Super Bowl in his first year as the starter. We have two defensive-oriented teams, but the Ravens finished the season ranked 17th in total defense and the 49ers just allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 395 yards and three scores and seemed like they would never stop him if he didn’t stop himself. The early line has the Ravens as 4 1/2-point underdog. The 49ers fans might not want to heat this, but the early lean is to the 49ers. … After seeing Colin Kaepernick up close for the first time, I came away impressed. He can run it. But he can throw it, too. That will be key against the Ravens’ defense. They’ve played well against Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But on that fast track in the Superdome, I look for a big game from Kaepernick — through the air. The San Francisco defense will not play as poorly as it did against Matt Ryan when it faces Joe Flacco. In the end, I like the 49ers line against the Ravens front. The 49ers get it done and Jim Harbaugh beats his brother, John.”
CBS Sports.com staff: Seven out of eight pick the Ravens against the spread (49ers – 3 1/2).
The Guardian staff: Six writers split.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Ravens 24, 49ers 21. . “As great as the 49ers defense is (and it is), Flacco has the vertical passing game to open things up a bit for Ray Rice. And then I keep getting back to Lewis, the old Cane. The preamble to Sunday found him talking about — of all things — deer antler velvet extract. The next time we hear him he’ll be on the field thanking God after the game and probably weeping after having ended his career the right way, in storybook fashion.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Ravens 24, 49ers 23. “The Ravens also have the emotional edge. They’ve been revved-up ever since Lewis said this would be his “last ride.” For other older players such as Reed and Terrell Suggs, there’s a sense of urgency with their proverbial windows closing. Also, Lewis’ impending exit has led Flacco to take possession of the leadership torch.”
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Ravens 30, 49ers 27. “The Ravens defense will need to contain Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore. The concern is that, if the Ravens figure out a way to solve the read-option in a way that keeps both from burning them, Kaepernick will pull the ball back out and fire a pass to Randy Moss, who will lollygag off the line of scrimmage before sprinting down the field.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: 49ers 28, Ravens 17. “When San Francisco has the ball, the running of Frank Gore and LaMichael James is going to pose big problems for the Ravens’ defense. (And the running of Colin Kaepernick will be a nice bonus for the 49ers.) When Baltimore has the ball, the San Francisco safety combination of Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson is going to make it tough for Joe Flacco to do what he likes to do best, attack opposing secondaries deep downfield. I do expect Baltimore to have a decided special-teams advantage in this game, but I don’t think that’s going to produce enough game-changing plays to make the difference. The 49ers are the better team, and they’ll hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.”
USA Today staff: Seven out of eight pick the 49ers.
Yahoo! Sports staff: Two out of three pick the Ravens.
Ed Asner: 49ers 21, Ravens 14. “Because I know a winner when I see one!”
Ozzy the Grizzly Bear: Ravens.
Eli the Orangatan: Ravens.
Captain Skipper: 49ers.
Madden simulation: 49ers 27, Ravens 24.
It says here: 49ers 37, Ravens 17. Sal Paolantonio rushes the field to give Ray Lewis a comforting hug.