Although many matchups will potentially decide the outcome of the Super Bowl this Sunday, the most important could very well be: Colin Kaepernick vs. the Ravens Defense.
Better yet, Colin Kaepernick vs. Ray Lewis/Ed Reed.
For years, this combo of Lewis/Reed has terrorized the best of quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning and especially Tom Brady. The reason? Hint: it has very little to do with the physical aspect of the game.
As the “quarterbacks” of the defense, Lewis and Reed have often “out-guessed” opposing quarterbacks because of their experience and knowledge of the game. Will they be able to do the same against 1st year starter Colin Kaepernick though?
After all, Kaepernick is not something the Ravens—or anyone for that matter—has really seen in the NFL until this year. Better passer than any mobile quarterback we have seen and more mobile than anyone else with an arm as big as his. How will that change the complexion of the game?
Do Lewis and Reed still have the edge because of experience? Or does Kaepernick’s unique skill set negate his lack of experience. After all, the Ravens defense has managed to force 5 turnovers in 2 games against pocket passers Manning/Brady, while Kaepernick has continued his unlikely immediate success that included a comeback win on the road in Atlanta last week.
At this point, it is really hard to see either one of these sides giving in. The Ravens defense, inspired by the impending retirement of Lewis, and the high-powered 49ers offense run by Kaepernick are both rolling merrily along.
The more I look at the numbers and matchups in this game though, it appears to me that it will be incredibly important for Lewis, Reed, and the rest of the Ravens defense to force young Kaepernick into a couple mistakes. If they are unable to though, I think it will be extremely difficult for Baltimore to win this game.
Also, I’m sure I am not the only person who feels that way. I can almost guarantee you that Ray Lewis is looking at it the same way too.
In fact, if we know anything about Ray Lewis, it’s that he wants that kind of pressure.
He wants that kind of motivation.
He wants to control the destiny of his own swan song.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson