The Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar goes for his fifth consecutive correct prediction on the winner of the Super Bowl both on the field and against the point spread, including having the exact score of the 2009 game.
RAVENS vs. 49ers
Where • Superdome, New Orleans.
When • 5:30 p.m., Sunday.
Line • 49ers by 4. Over/under • 48.
Synopsis • A fine matchup with many story lines, including the first brother head coaching matchup in Super Bowl history. John Harbaugh’s Ravens come in on a roll, following their impressive victory in New England in the AFC title game following their big comeback win in Denver — all after closing the regular season with four losses in their final five games. San Francisco didn’t have any significant lulls all season, and roared back to beat Atlanta for the NFC crown after an impressive performance in dispatching Green Bay.
Defense usually is a key in games of this magnitude. The 49ers were far superior in that department to the Ravens in the regular season, finishing third in terms of yards allowed (294.4 per game) compared to the Ravens’ 17th-place finish (350.9 yards/game). However, SF allowed 352 yards in its victory over Green Bay then a whopping 477 in its NFC title game ouster of Atlanta. Baltimore’s defense has been much healthier in the postseason than it was for much of the regular schedule. However, even though it blanked New England in the second half of the AFC title game the Ravens’ “D” was ripped for 458 yards in the contest — the Patriots imploded with many mistakes. And Baltimore has given up an average of 415 yards in three playoff outings.
On offense, San Francisco has the top-rated unit during the playoffs of the 12 teams that have participated, averaging 476 yards. Baltimore is No. 5 (424.7 yards). In the regular season, SF was 11th (361.8 yards/game) and Baltimore was 16th (352.5).
The take from all of this — both teams’ offenses are clicking and the defenses are struggling, which would suggest a high-scoring game in an indoor facility.
Bottom line/pick • Enough of the blubbering about Ray Lewis’ retirement and the “destiny’’ of the Ravens. The 49ers simply have a better team and with both defenses struggling they get an edge because their Colin Kaepernick-led offense is more dynamic than Baltimore’s — and the SF defense seems more likely to take a big leap forward than does the Ravens. 49ers 31, RAVENS 24.
CAESAR’S RECENT SUPER BOWL RECORD
4-0 straight up and vs. point spread last four years
2012 PICK • Giants 27, Patriots 23 (Patriots favored by 3)
FINAL SCORE • Giants 21, Patriots 17
2011 PICK • Packers 24, Steelers 17 (Packers favored by 2½).
FINAL SCORE • Packers 31, Steelers 25.
2010 PICK • Saints 34, Colts 30 (Colts favored by 5).
FINAL SCORE • Saints 31, Colts 17.
2009 PICK • Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 (Steelers favored by 7).
FINAL SCORE • Steelers 27, Cardinals 23.