I still have a shot. I predicted a 49ers Super Bowl title (albeit over the Texans) in my Sept. 7 preseason forecast. You’d be excited, too, had you correctly picked only two Super Bowl winners — San Fran in 1994, Green Bay in 2010 — in 22 seasons of NFL predictions. Misfired on the Patriots in the conference championship round but did better against the spread. Had Baltimore with the points, while the Niners game pushed. Now to the dilemma: Do I root for my preseason pick (49ers) or my SB prediction (Ravens)? Optimist’s attitude: Either way, I win.
SUPER BOWL XLVII: RAVENS (13-6, No. 4 seed) vs. 49ERS (13-4-1, No. 2 seed)
I get why the 49ers are favored. Better record, higher seed, probably more talented overall. The Super Bowl, more than other games, runs on emotion, though, and the epicenter of that Sunday will be the dramatic farewell of the Ravens’ Ray Lewis — from pregame squirrel dance to postgame sermonizing. The emotion factor of the Bro Bowl is evenly split, with one Harbaugh per sideline, but San Fran has nobody to duplicate the maniacal want that Lewis will infuse in the Ravens. Beyond intangibles, I also feel like it is Joe Flacco’s time. He has been very, very good in the postseason (114.7 rating), and he also has won more playoff games away from home (six) than any other quarterback ever. Flacco is more prepared to take the next big step than his counterpart, Colin Kaepernick, who has stirred the imagination but remains a second-year guy closer to a rookie in terms of experience. I think it also counts for something that Baltimore got here more convincingly and impressively (over New England) than San Fran did in needing a comeback to get past Atlanta. As great as the 49ers defense is (and it is), Flacco has the vertical passing game to open things up a bit for Ray Rice. And then I keep getting back to Lewis, the old Cane. The preamble to Sunday found him talking about — of all things — deer antler velvet extract. The next time we hear him he’ll be on the field thanking God after the game and probably weeping after having ended his career the right way, in storybook fashion.