Niners v. Ravens (-4)
Sean: This line was at 3.5 all week and I was very confident in the Niners' ability to cover. It moved to -4 Sunday morning and makes things a little bit more complicated. However, the Niners are clearly the better team. Kapernick starting over Smith gets a lot of the narrative, but basically, this team has talent everywhere. They have a beast tight end, a freakish athlete receiver, the greatest receiver of all-time in Randy Moss, a still good Frank Gore, and a terrifyingly fast LaMichael James. They have sooooo many weapons on offense plus a quarterback who can throw it deep and run when things break down.
On defense, San Fran will be able to pressure Flacco better than anyone with the Smith brothers and can cover the dump off passes to Ray Rice with their two all-pro linebackers. The Ravens are basically going to chuck it deep when they get enough time and I think the San Fran defense is good enough to stop them.
Niners 28 Ravens 17.
Jon: For the life of me, I can't figure out why this line is so low. The Ravens' main offensive skill this year has been the long ball, which aside from the Falcons game, the 49ers have been pretty adept at stopping. Their pass rush has been lacking, as Aldon Smith may rely more on Justin Smith to create openings for pressure than seems likely, but the Smiths should be healthier and the 49ers shouldn't give Flacco enough time to develop plays downfield. Normally, the Ravens would check down to superstar Ray Rice, but he's looked pretty pedestrian in these playoffs and those check-downs would play right into the teeth of the 49ers defense, namely linebackers Willis and Bowman.
On the offensive side, the 49ers always throw a few wrinkles in that opposing teams will have to account for. If any team could guess the unpredictable tendencies of the Jim Harbaugh 49ers, it would be brother John Harbaugh's Ravens, but I don't see them being able to really stop the 49ers. The Ravens have shut down three teams with dominant, and predominantly immobile, pocket passers, whose main quirk is pace. The 49ers won't force the Ravens to stay in nickel but will try to exploit whatever personnel matchup they can. I think this game stays close for a half, but the 49ers pull away in the 2nd half.
Niners 30, Ravens 20.
Steve: There are so many reasons to root against the Ravens, and a few to root for the Niners. I would be devastated if Ray Lewis ended up like John Elway. Ray Lewis isn't even good anymore. He's slow as dick, most of the "tackles" he gets are fake, and he cannot cover anyone. He's in there on reputation and on antlers. And do I want a black quarterback to win the Super Bowl? YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! Even though Colin Kaepernick is only black because of the rules of race in our society, he counts.
People are talkin' about if the 49ers win, it'll mean that "running quarterbacks" can win the Super Bowl. But guess what...the Super Bowl is one game. If the 49ers lose the game by 2 points and Frank Gore has 3 fumbles lost, does that mean running quarterbacks can't win the Super Bowl? Of course not. There's nothing mystical about "winning the Super Bowl." The 49ers are clearly and obviously good enough to win the Super Bowl, just by virtue of being in the Super Bowl. Teams that have quarterbacks like Kaepernick can be good enough to win, because the 49ers are, by any reasonable measure, good enough to win the Super Bowl. Whether they win this one isolated game is more or less irrelevant.
That being said, they better fucking win.
San Francisco 49ers 31, Baltimore Ravens 10.