Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

Sunday February 3, 2013

***Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers: 6:30 PM ET (CBS)***

Brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, head coaches of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively, will lead their teams into Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans Feb. 3rd.

Both the Ravens and 49ers had to win on the road against the No. 1 seed, Baltimore at Denver and San Francisco at Atlanta. Both edged the top dog by less than five. Maybe more impressive is the gauntlet of quarterbacks each team has faced.

The Ravens defense has faced and stopped Andrew Luck (consensus future great), Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Likewise, the 49ers defense took down Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

Both quarterbacks, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, are playing in their first Super Bowl and have much to prove.

For Flacco, winning the Super Bowl would finally silence his critics. Even with the most road playoff wins of any NFL quarterback besides Eli Manning (tied for most), Joe has taken most all of the “Flacc” for the Ravens lack of Super Bowl visits in his 5 years at the helm. No doubt, Flacco is looking to follow Eli Manning’s pathway to respect.

For Kaepernick, winning the “Big Game” would mean “Kaep”-ping off one of the biggest success stories of the season. From day one, all eyes have been “Kaep” and Coach Harbaugh for the risky decision to replace 7-2 starter Alex Smith after he suffered a concussion. Making it to the Super Bowl alone has certainly cemented Colin as San Francisco’s man for a long time.

To answer the question of “Who will win this Super Bowl?” one must first answer another simple question: Which offense will be more successful against the other’s elite defense?

I believe the answer will be that the 49ers offense will be much more successful than the Ravens will be against the other’s “D.”

Baltimore’s offense is geared towards setting up the run, stable tight end play and airing out deep bombs when available. The 49ers defense is built to stop this exact method. With one of the best, arguably the best, “front seven” in the NFL, no team has comfortably run on the 49ers. The back end of that seven, lead by Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman are some of the best coverage line backers in the league and can hold the Ravens’ TE Dennis Pitta in check. Tony Gonzales’ numbers from last week are not indicative of what to expect as Baltimore does not have a Roddy White/Julio Jones tandem to cover as well.

The Baltimore defense, specifically its own “front seven” is also no joke. Anchored by Haloti Ngata, the Baltimore line is more than capable of stopping the run and rushing the QB with stand-out Paul Kruger, Hall-Of-Famer Ray Lewis, and beast Terrell Suggs. Fortunately, the 49ers offense has no holes, least of all in the O-Line.

Prediction: Last season, the Harbaugh brothers faced off in Baltimore, where the Niners’ offense struggled to put anything but 3 points on the board in a 16-3 disappointment. You can bet the Niners’ bolstering their offense in the postseason had a lot to do with games like this. Younger brother gets the last laugh. San Francisco wins 35-20.

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

***(4) Baltimore Ravens at (1) Denver Broncos: 4:30 PM ET (CBS)***

The Baltimore Ravens handled their business against the Indianapolis Colts at home Sunday afternoon, winning 24-9. With Ray Lewis spotlighted in an emotional return, after tearing his left arm triceps muscle mid-season, the Baltimore defense shined most brightly, allowing zero touchdowns and 3 field goals.
This week the Ravens travel to Denver to play perhaps the one team no one wants to face: the Broncos. Denver is well rested, enjoying a much deserved first round bye. Considering they played the Kansas City Chiefs in their season finale, they really have been off for two weeks.

Prediction: Because the Ravens played such a stellar game against the Colts, they will likely play the Broncos down to the wire. That said, Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. Denver wins 27-21.

***(3) Green Bay Packers at (2) San Francisco 49ers: 8:00 PM ET (FOX)***

The Green Bay Packers rolled over the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field Saturday, winning 24-10. The score of this game doesn’t explain much about how it went. The Vikings put the first points on the board with an early field goal, but fell behind 17-3 by halftime. Green Bay managed just one more score in the second half, going up 24-3 in the third quarter. Minnesota capped the game with an essentially meaningless touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Standing in the Packers way this week are the San Francisco 49ers, perhaps the remaining NFC team most feared. The 49ers beat the Packers on the road in Week 1, however, both teams are far from where they were. The “Niners” are led by a different quarterback, altogether.

Prediction: 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is under a major microscope this week, as his decision to swap Alex Smith out for Colin Kaepernick was a hot topic. If Green Bay beats San Francisco when Smith beat the Packers earlier this season…don’t check your email/texts/mailbox Jim. San Francisco wins 35-20.

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

***(5) Seattle Seahawks at (1) Atlanta Falcons: 1:00 PM ET (FOX)***

The Seattle Seahawks are the only wild card team left in the playoffs and are rolling. In Washington D.C., the Redskins went up early 14-0 in the first quarter and looked to be in control when Robert Griffin III suffered another knee injury and wasn’t the same.
The Atlanta Falcons have the NFC’s best record (13-3) but seemingly have yet to earn a consensus respect the #1 team usually commands. With an unmatched passing attack, Atlanta will put up a formidable test for Seattle’s gritty secondary.

Prediction: Seattle needs to make sure they don’t get behind to Matt Ryan or they might not escape again. That said, Seattle wins 28-24.

***(3) Houston Texans at (2) New England Patriots: 4:30 PM ET (CBS)***

In a less than stimulating opening game, the Houston Texans held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 at home to slip into the divisional round and must now face the Patriots in Foxborough, MA.
The Patriots have wonderful memories of facing the Texans in Week 14 in their house to the tune of 42-14.

Prediction: Expect a similar outcome to Week 14, as the Patriots will be itching to get back to the Super Bowl. New England wins 38-17.

“I think you show them that we’re not backing down. We’re not scared of them, them and their $180 million payroll, we don’t care.”

These comments came from Orioles‘ relieving pitcher Kevin Gregg during his post-game interview.

The events leading up to these comments? Well, for starters, let’s look at the reason why Gregg was a part of the game in the first place. The Red Sox put up 8 runs on the Orioles in the first inning, clearly warranting a pitching change and leading to Baltimore’s decision to go “NHL” on Boston.

As hockey fans know, when one team gets a sizable lead on the other and loses control of the momentum, a fight is comin’. Not only will a fight pull attention from the game, giving the losing team a chance to steal back the momentum, it’s also a great way to take some frustration out on the opponent.

Well, with designated hitter David Ortiz at the plate in the bottom of the 8th, Boston up 10-3, Gregg throws 3 straight pitches inside (with the third pitch clearly thrown at Ortiz’ body). Ortiz took exception to that third pitch, approaching the mound, pointing angrily at Gregg and inciting a mild clearing of the benches. Both Ortiz and Gregg received warnings but were allowed to remain in the game.

Then came the fourth pitch.

Ortiz popped the fourth pitch up and Gregg took it upon himself to waive Ortiz down the first base line, upset that Ortiz didn’t sprint to first on a weak pop fly (apparently Kevin has never seen “Big Papi” make a less-than-100% effort in running to first). You can guess what happened then.

Ortiz charged the mound and the two men shoved each other a few times before Gregg threw the first actual punch (which missed). The benches cleared for real this time and Ortiz took a swing right back at Gregg (which also hit air), and both teams shoved and grabbed and yapped.

In the end, four players total were ejected from the game and Boston went on to win 10-3.

The post-game comments were anything but subtle or kind.

Gregg, as referenced earlier, focused his comments on Boston “…think(ing) they’re better than everybody else,” and that the Red Sox’/Ortiz’ reaction to his inside pitching was only his exercising his “…right to play the game here.”

Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett clearly saw things differently, calling Gregg’s actions retaliation for going down 8 runs in the first inning. I think there’s something to that.

You pitch way inside three straight times on a star slugger to compensate for lack of success in the game and then mouth off to him after he pops out, you can’t justify venting your loser frustrations after the game too.

The Orioles may not be scared of the Red Sox or their $180 Mil. payroll, but they sure do care, ‘cuz I’ll bet ya none of the Red Sox know what the Orioles’ payroll is, or care about how the Orioles’ players will spend their time while not playing in the playoffs.