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Posted by Feb - 3 - 2013 0 Comment
Photo courtesy of Daniel Schwen. Used the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Schwen. Used the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

So another Super Bowl has arrived sans our Cleveland Browns. I know…I am just as shocked as you are they didn’t make it this year. And while I patiently await the Bailey’s in my morning coffee to numb the pain in my brain over the Ravens making their second appearance now in their short history, my cranium courses with errant thoughts about this game. Peppered in are lamentations of my beloved Browns and their continues conspicuous absence from having ever participated in a single, solitary Super Bowl.

  • Today, the San Francisco 49ers attempt to win their sixth SB in franchise history. SIXTH!! That would tie them with Pittsburgh as the team with the most SB wins in the league. Should the 9ers prevail this evening, not only would they be a perfect 6-for-6, but that would then have more than a quarter of all Lombardi trophies issued to date tied up between two franchises.
  • Taking away the disdain for the Ravens, today’s match-up on the field is actually perfect for a prime time event. This game is strength on strength; the Ravens offense versus the 49ers defense. For the first time in a long time, the Ravens will not own the best defense playing in a big game. The Niners have that advantage today. The front seven for San Francisco is athletic, aggressive, and capable of making game changing plays. And regardless of the shameless self promotion of the soon-to-be-retired Ray Lewis and the loquacious Terrell Suggs, the best LB on the field is Patrick Willis. He can tip the course of a game the way Lewis did in his prime. Offensively, a lot of this week’s talk has been about the Niners read option and young wunderkind Colin Kaepernick.  However, the Ravens offense is by far the best in their short history and have made big plays at key moments throughout the playoffs. They are balanced and confident, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field via run or pass. Joe Flacco is playing out of his mind, and Ray Rice is as complete a back as you will find in the NFL (with apologies to Frank Gore). When the Ravens have the ball, I will be on the edge of my seat.
  • A Niners win will be extra sweet for Browns fans that are also Buckeye fans with 4 prominent Buckeyes on the 49er roster. WR Ted Ginn, Jr., OT Alex Boone, LB Larry Grant, and S Donte Whitner have made Buckeye fans proud over the years, and can do so again today with a win in New Orleans. Boone, Ginn, and Whitner are some of Cleveland’s favorite football sons, and I for one will be rooting for them to make a game changing play today. (Granted for an OT, Boone would have to do something extraordinary, but being a Buckeye, he’s capable of that!)
  • Speaking of Ginn and Whitner, both could have easily been Browns. Ginn did go to the Niners by way of trade (5th rd pick to Miami), but Whitner was an UFA who actually thought he was headed to Cincy (which would have sucked even more for the Browns) and tweeted as much. Both players have made an impact in San Francisco, and at positions that the Browns could have used the help. But since it would have either cost Tom Heckert a draft pick or salary cap space, they are Niners. And now in the Super Bowl.
  • Today’s game will not only be the last for Ray Lewis, but will likely be for S Ed Reed and LB Paul Kruger, both UFAs heading into the 2013 offseason. Reed is rumored to likely end up in New England. He hasn’t been bashful about his affection for Bill Belichick. Kruger, however, should be someone the Browns should target. While he struggled at times as a 3-4 DE, he has blossomed as an outside linebacker and has created havoc for opposing QBs all season. He is exactly the type of player that would excel in Ray Horton’s multiple front defense.
  • You probably couldn’t more contrast in the style of QB than you have in today’s matchup. Flacco is the quintessential pocket passer. Kaeprenick’s style has allowed him to not only set a record for rushing yards by a QB in a playoff game (181 vs. Green Bay) but yards for a 49er in a post-season game at any position. Both will face physically imposing defenses today and likely take more than a few hits. It will be interesting to see how the contact will affect each QB. Will the young Kaepernick lose his focus if he takes a couple Raven lids to the chest? Will frequent trips to the Ravens pocket by 49er defenders fluster Flacco, who has been virtually infallible throughout the Ravens’ playoff run? Both defenses are shark-like, and the first QB to start bleeding in the water will find it hard to rebound.
  • Joe Flacco is another Raven that will be without a contract when he wakes up tomorrow morning. Ozzie Newsome has said that the Ravens’ offer to Flacco will not be affected by his play in the Super Bowl. While the debate as to whether Flacco is an elite quarterback or not still continues despite his impressive post-season record, he certainly would be an upgrade here in Cleveland. If I am Mike Lombardi, I make a run at Flacco. You’re not likely to get him, and may do nothing more than irritate Ozzie and drive up the price on Flacco. But if by some small chance you could pry him from Baltimore and upgrade your QB situation while depleting the Raven offense, it is worth at least entertaining the idea.
Categories: Cleveland Browns, Featured

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