In order for the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl, it’s going to be less about a game plan and simply about execution: Joe Flacco playing just as well as he’s have so far in the postseason, and the defense figuring out how to get around that massive offensive line the San Francsico 49ers bring to the table.
Joe Flacco spreading the ball – The Atlanta Falcons proved to be quite a challenge in the NFC Championship game, but only in the passing game. Roddy White and Julio Jones were very hard to handle early in the game, but once the San Francisco 49ers understood that Michael Turner wasn’t going to do much damage, they simply brought the additional defensive back to handle the Falcons’ receivers.
The Batlimore Ravens have a better running game than most teams; Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Vonta Leach. Joe Flacco will need to do a great job in getting them involved in the passing game as well, with screen passes that should open up the field for bigger plays and passes to Torrey Smith and Jacboy Jones, who aren’t that good in physical matchups. Anquan Boldin, who has been terrific in the postseason, will have an easier time handling the pressure.
Getting to Kaepernick – There’s no way around it. On paper, from what we’ve seen in the postseason so far, it’s going to be very hard to disrupt the San Francisco 49ers’ offense; Colin Kaepernick makes it very difficult to predict what happens next, and over-committing to stopping him getting outside the pockets leaves a lot of opening for Frank Gore to run through and Vernon Davis/Michael Crabtree a lot of space on the second level.
It’s just got to be execution, less about game plan. The Niners have a massive offensive line which will have to be beaten. Haloti Ngata will have to draw two men on him as he pushes forward, but the ability of Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger to rush the edges is probably the most important of all. The read option and the pistol formation, like any other offensive alignment, isn’t bulletproof. Kaepernick is very close to the center, and just as it is hard to see what’s he planning to do with the ball, it’s hard for him to see blitzes and that sort of thing coming.
A lot of disguises in the formations along with a quarterback spy, bringing surprising blitzes from unpredictable positions will be the only way for the Ravens to really slow down the 49ers’ offense, which struggled with Kaepernick at the helm in the losses to the Rams and the Seahawks, who both have physical defenses with a hard to stop pass-rush.