This Super Bowl has been full of interesting news. This is to be expected from any Super Bowl, especially when there is a two week layoff from the last playoff game. I’ll highlight some of the most intriguing story lines and give my take on each.
Ray Lewis PED Allegations:
This has to be the biggest non football story line this week. The owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) is claiming that he gave Lewis a certain deer antler spray that contains a banned substance, IGF -1. Lewis has vehemently denied the claim, but of course it just adds another distraction to Lewis and the Ravens. Of course, Lewis has been the most publicized player that is in the Super Bowl. His heavily followed “last ride” has drawn opinions from people across the country. His raw emotion is matched by nobody, especially in these last few weeks. And of course, when Lewis is put on the big stage, his murder trial of over a decade ago has to be brought up. The timing of this whole report is very sketchy. Also, as Ray Lewis has pointed out, the credibility of this company is severely lacking. The biggest part to me, Ray Lewis will never fail a test for this substance. Right now, only blood tests can reveal this substance, and the NFL is not currently testing for it in blood tests. There are some people that will never forgive Lewis based on this claim, but more than likely this will be brushed off after the Super Bowl when Lewis is retired.
Colin Kaepernick’s First Super Bowl
Well it is many players first Super Bowl. What makes Colin so special is that he will the starting QB for the Niners after starting his first game mid season. He will have started the third least amount of games going into the Super Bowl of any QB. It is a whole new level of inexperience. Of course, Kaepernick has already won two playoff games in his career (one more than Matt Ryan), so he has shown poise thus far. The Super Bowl is a whole different monster, though. Baltimore is arguably the best defense he has faced in this playoffs, and they have been revived after an injury plagued regular season. Kaepernick will be up to a huge test on Sunday.
Ed Reed’s Last Game as a Raven?
It sure seems like it. Baltimore simply does not have the money to hold onto Reed next season without making some major changes. Joe Flacco is now reportedly demanding more than $20 million per year in a new contract. A franchise tag seems more likely, but Baltimore also has to spend on impending free agents like Danell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and less likely Cary Williams. The point is, Reed doesn’t seem likely to take a home town discount, and the Ravens may be better off getting younger on defense and letting Reed walk. He has already stated he would enjoy playing under Bill Belichick where he has been widely speculated to be a good fit. That would be a tough pill to swallow for Ravens fans, but it is clear he is not the player he once was.
Ravens Revamped Line
This is not a big story in New Orleans, but it is no secret to Ravens fans that a major reason for their late season surge is their changes on the offensive line. Bryant McKinnie made his first start of the season against Indianapolis, which forced Osemele inside and Michael Oher to the right side. Joe has played lights out since then and a big reason for that is that he has stayed upright. Looking back to the regular season game against Denver, Flacco had no shot at throwing the ball on seemingly every drop back. He was under constant pressure. That has not been the case since the playoffs started, and most of the credit has to be given to the improved play of the offensive line.
Rematch From Last Thanksgiving
These two teams have played fairly recently, just last year on Thanksgiving. I remember the game well, and I’m sure most of you do as well. Baltimore won that low scoring affair with their relentless pressure on Alex Smith. San Francisco was held to just 6 points after Baltimore recorded an astounding 9 sacks. The Ravens offense wasn’t especially stout, but a late 4th quarter drive led by Joe Flacco gave them the 16-6 victory. The biggest change for San Francisco is at the QB position, with the more elusive Kaepernick now under center. However, if the offensive line is as porous as it was last year, it won’t matter who is taking the snaps.
Only a few more days until the Super Bowl kicks off, and I made this entire post so far without mentioning the brother coaches. The coverage of this Super Bowl might seem painful to some, but I love hearing the national media speak about our favorite team from Baltimore.