By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will square off in the Super Bowl. Both teams play extremely physical during every single play. This game will come down to who can execute their gameplan the best. Here’s a look at five keys to victory for the Baltimore Ravens.
Contain Colin Kaepernick
The Ravens’ defeated two of the greatest pocket passers in the league in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but they’ve struggled this year against quarterbacks that can move the ball down the field with their legs. The key for Baltimore will be to force Kaepernick to stay inside of the pocket. He’s shown that he is extremely comfortable if forced to do so, but the 49ers are most effective when he’s running with the football. Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger will have to make sure he doesn’t slip by off the tackle into open space.
Ravens’ Defense Must Force Turnovers
If the defense can get Kaepernick to stay in the pocket, the young quarterback will throw against a defense with playmakers all over their secondary. It’s likely Jim Harbaugh will stress to his quarterback the importance of keeping the ball away from Ed Reed. The gameplan hasn’t worked too well for Brady and Manning; both took Reed out of the game and they still found themselves on the losing end of the contest. This is where Kaepernick’s youth may become advantageous for Baltimore. Though he’s an extremely poised quarterback, Colin hasn’t seen a defense with this wide variety of looks. It could lead to some big turnovers.
Protect Joe Flacco
Flacco is the man that got the Ravens up to this point. With a defense as ferocious as San Francisco, the Ravens will need to keep Flacco as clean as possible. The offensive line has made huge strides since they moved Michael Oher to the right tackle spot. He appears to be comfortable in that role. The offensive line has played against pass rushers that rival that of the 49ers and succeeded. They’ll need to continue that strong play in the Super Bowl. If Flacco is comfortable in the pocket, good things happen for Baltimore.
Don’t Abandon the Run Game
In the first half of the AFC Championship game, Baltimore played a little too conservatively. New England was able to shut down the run game and it threw off the rhythm of the offense. The Ravens may fall into a similar situation with the 49ers. San Francisco has a strong front seven, but the Ravens must not abandon the run game. Get Ray Rice the ball on a consistent basis. Change the pace with Bernard Pierce and you’ll keep the defense honest. The Ravens can’t afford to be one dimensional against a defense this talented.
Make Big Plays Early and Often
The Ravens have one of the fastest offenses in the NFL. They’ll have a good chance to showcase that speed against a defense that has given up big plays in the past. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones will need to be on their A-game on Sunday. The ball will be flying their way in this contest. If Flacco can connect on a few deep shots it’ll create bigger running lanes for Rice and company.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.