By now, there is a good chance you know how I feel about the offensive x-factors on both the Ravens and Niners, so I wanted to also take a look at their defenses. I actually think this is the most interesting side of the football for this particular game.
With his retirement after a long, illustrious career, Ray Lewis is dominating the news. But we already know about him and Ed Reed, so let’s look at a lesser known player who has to step it up if he wants to get a ring.
This honor falls to the Ravens cornerback, Cary Williams. He needs to have his best game of the season against Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree. He has been picked on by opposing quarterbacks for most of the year, so there is no doubt that Harbaugh is drawing up some plays just for him.
The real test is seeing if Colin Kaepernick will be able to take advantage of these opportunities. Williams is coming off of a nice performance against the Patriots where he picked off Tom Brady, which is never an easy thing to do, so I expect him to be playing with some confidence. Actually, he has been playing well as of late, with 2 interceptions so far in the postseason. With the way his team has been playing as a whole, I wouldn’t be surprised if he played like a shutdown corner on Sunday.
Smith. Justin Smith. The 49ers have many talented players on defense, including another Smith you might know about, but Justin Smith is almost like the man behind the scenes. He is known, but he never gets the credit he deserves, and people rarely talk about how important his impact really is. It’s easy to look at his sack total this season and forget about him, but the man is a beast. Most fans notice Aldon Smith getting all the sacks, but they fail to notice he is the one creating that. Aldon Smith is a freak of nature, but Justin Smith plays selflessly, which is amusing to think of a defensive player like that.
When you play 18 NFL games in a few months time, you are bound to be hurt in some way in the final one. Whether your body is worn down, or you are feeling the effects of all that physicality, you are never 100%. Justin Smith is playing much less than that. He tore a tendon in his left triceps, which is not going to make tackling or moving lineman any easier. He is probable to play, though, and given it is the Super Bowl, he is going to play harder than ever.
Unfortunately for Smith and the 49ers, so is Cary Williams These two teams pride themselves on their strong defense, which makes this battle even more entertaining to watch. I guess we will just have to watch and see who has the final edge in Super Bowl XLVII.