If there’s one game in sports where your interest level and general knowledge is tested, generic it’s the Super Bowl. You may not care in the least bit about the Harbaugh brothers or about Ray Lewis’ swan song, mind but for 3 1/2 hours on Sunday, look February 3rd, as an American (or at least as a somewhat social being) you are expected to.
We’re pretty confident that if you are reading this, you’ve got Super Bowl plans. So why not show up to the party with more than just a fabulous 3-layer dip? Sure, your crafted sporty-chic look will impress them at the bar, but know what will guarantee you free drinks and a solid SB viewing experience? Actually knowing the key components of this mega matchup, and that means more than knowing just about the Harbaugh bros.
There’s a ridiculous amount of info, analysis and story lines that go into the final match-up of the season, but we’re trimming the fat and giving you the critical details – the talking points that are sure to surface throughout the game. Not good at names? Print this sucker off and pop it into your bag to brush up during a bathroom break.
In order to be Super Bowl proficient, you need to have a decent understanding of both teams: the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams have ‘explosive offenses’ and stellar defenses, so rattling off one of those statements isn’t going to cut it.
The Baltimore Ravens
How they got here: The Ravens were the #4 seed in the AFC after finishing the regular season 10-6. They beat Andrew Luck and the Colts in the Wild Card round, then Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Divisional Round and finally Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. This is the Ravens’ first time back to the Super Bowl since 2000 and QB Joe Flacco’s first.
Who you need to know/watch for:
- Quarterback, Joe Flacco: The more experienced QBs of the two teams, Flacco’s got an incredible arm and can bomb long passes down field pretty accurately. Flacco has been playing at a much higher level during the post season with 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Flacco will have to play an error-free game on Sunday though to get past the Niners. For more on Flacco, check out our QB profiles HERE.
- Running back, Ray Rice: Rice will be in control of the ground game
- Wide Receivers: Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin – both have been hauling in passes with amazing ability all post season.
- Right Guard (from the Offensive Line): Marshal Yanda – the 2x Pro Bowler out of Iowa is a beast and is in charge of keeping Flacco upright
- Linebacker: Ray Lewis – if you remember ONE name from the Ravens, make sure it is Ray Lewis (and do not confuse him with running back Ray RICE). After spending 17 seasons with the Ravens, this is Lewis’ final season before retirement making this run on the Super Bowl that much more storybook for the flamboyant, outspoken, spiritual linebacker. Lewis was injured mid-season but since his return in the first playoff game, the team has been on a roll – and many attribute it to Lewis’ leadership and inspiration.
- Linebacker: Terrell Suggs – actually more dangerous than Lewis, he’s the primary reason for the Raven’s stealthy defense.
The San Francisco 49ers
How they got here: After sitting out in the Wild Card round of the playoffs with a bye, the #2 seeded 49ers who went 11-4-1 (yes 1 meaning a tie game) beat the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round and then the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. This is the 49ers first trip back to the Super Bowl since 1994. Up until last year, when Coach Jim Harbaugh took over and led them to the playoffs in his first season, the Niners were horrible.
Who you need to know/watch for:
- Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick– easily the most exciting player to watch on the field on Sunday, Kaepernick is only in his second year in the NFL and took over the starting QB job mid-season from starter Alex Smith. Kaepernick’s story is a MUST KNOW and will be one of the biggest story lines on Sunday. For the full scoop on this exciting QB, check out our Super Bowl quarterback profiles HERE.
- Running back: Frank Gore –besides Kaepernick, this guy is the biggest threat on the ground for the Niners
- Wide receiver: Michael Crabtree – Crabtree is having a breakout year and has been Kaepernick’s favorite target
- Tight End: Vernon Davis
- Wide Receiver: Randy Moss – one of the best receivers the game has seen, this is probably Moss’ last season in the NFL and his last chance at getting a SB ring – after playing with New England in his prime, but never on a winning SB team.
- Kicker: David Akers – (technically special teams) – normally one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL, Akers is having a crummy season missing a league high 13 field goals.
- Defensive End: Justin Smith
- Linebackers: Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman
Buzz-worthy story lines:
- Ray Lewis and his comeback from injury this season to lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl. The future Hall of Famer Lewis ALAWYS gets the last word on camera and is known for his ceremonial celebratory dance. The story of Lewis leading his team in his final NFL season will be exhausted during the Super Bowl. This Tuesday on NFL Media Day, Sports Illustratedbroke a story that Lewis used a banned substance while rehabbing during his latest injury. Lewis and the Ravens deny it, but the story is still lingering and will be a topic of conversation on Sunday for sure.
- The Harbaugh Brothers: the first time in NFL history that two brothers have coached in the NFL at the same time and against one another in the Super Bowl. John Harbaugh, the older bro has been coaching the Ravens since 2008. Little bro Jim (they are only 15 months apart – !!!) took over as head coach of the Niners in 2011.
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith and the tragic motorcycle death of his little brother mid-season. Less than 24 hours after the tragedy, Smith came back to have one of his best games of his career scoring 2 touchdowns in the Raven’s win over the Patriots in the regular season.
Final notes: The Niners are favored but only by four points. San Francisco is given the edge because of their better defense, incredible offensive line, and the dual-threat of Colin Kaepernick. Expect a close and exciting game.
Download the PDF/printable version of this cheat sheet HERE. Super Bowl XLVII CHEAT SHEET
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