Five keys for Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII

Posted by Vic Carucci on February 1, 2013 – 12:03 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

NEW ORLEANS – Here are five keys for the Baltimore Ravens as they prepare to face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII:

>>Quarterback Joe Flacco has to maintain his red-hot hand. The Ravens are in this game largely because Flacco is playing the best football of his NFL career. He and the rest of the team have been on a tremendous role since late in the season, and that’s why they’re here. Not only is Flacco throwing the ball exceptionally well, but he also is showing remarkable patience and poise in the pocket. Additionally, Flacco is doing an excellent job of evenly distributing the ball to his receivers.

>>Wide Receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, and tight end Dennis Pitta need to take advantage of holes in the 49ers’ secondary. The Atlanta Falcons found a great deal of success through the air in their loss to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers allowed Julio Jones and Roddy White to combine for 282 yards in receptions, while tight end Tony Gonzalez added 78 receiving yards. Smith is a game-breaker, while Boldin will make difficult catches in traffic and keep the chains moving. And Pitta can do plenty of damage underneath the coverage.

>>Ray Rice must be his typically effective self as a runner and a receiver. It won’t be easy against the 49ers’ stout defensive front, but the Ravens have to find a way to get Rice going on the ground. At the very least, the Ravens must present the legitimate threat of the rush to slow down that ultra-intense San Francisco pass rush. It will help that two other members of the Ravens’ backfield who have been injured, Vonta Leach and Bernard Pierce, have had extra time to heal. Rice also should catch his share of passes in Baltimore’s balanced air attack.

>>The defense has to figure out a way to manufacture a pass rush. The Ravens didn’t sack Patriots quarterback Tom Brady once in the AFC Championship Game. And that was with Brady attempting a staggering 54 passes. Nevertheless, you can count on the Ravens to be creative with a variety of coverages and blitz packages in an effort to rattle and confuse young Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick. For the record, Baltimore has generated six sacks during three its last three postseason games.

>>The special-teams play needs to be up to the lofty standards created during the regular season. The Ravens do a much better job than San Francisco at kicking the ball, and if the game is tight, the Ravens would be extremely comfortable putting the outcome on the foot of rookie placekicker Justin Tucker. The same can’t be said with the 49ers, who have shaky veteran David Akers. The Ravens also must tighten their kick coverage, which allowed two scoring returns in the divisional-round game against the Broncos, and do a much better job at returning kicks than they did against the Patriots.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.


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