Though those in the NFL with local ties have long ago wrapped up their respective seasons, much like the rest of the world, the impending Super Bowl is still drawing plenty of interest in Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and beyond.
Within the coming week of build-up, myriad story lines will receive even more press as kickoff for Super Bowl XLVII between the favored San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in New Orleans approaches.
Colin Kaepernick, with his strong arm and fleet feet, has captured headlines and victories after becoming the 49ers’ starter down the stretch. But the Frank Gore-led running game and the tenacious defense centered by all-world linebacker Patrick Willis have made the NFC West champions contenders all season.
The AFC North-champion Ravens have upset the top two AFC seeds on the road, as future NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who has announced his pending retirement, has captivated his teammates and nostalgic fans. Running back Ray Rice, having emerged as one of the best at his position, and quarterback Joe Flacco have breathed life into a once overlooked offense.
And of course there’s the two men manning the sidelines, as Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh are set to match wits in a brotherly battle for the prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Will the 49ers win the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl behind a fiery coach and a rookie signal-caller? Will the underdog Ravens bestow one of the greatest middle linebackers of all-time a fitting send-off?
The Glendale News-Press staff, along with local football coaches and players offer their predications.
Grant Gordon, Glendale News-Press Sports Editor: “Overall, the San Francisco 49ers are a better team. They have a phenomenal defense and a grind-it-out offense that can also make the big play. Thus, my head tells me the 49ers will win, but for some reason, my gut tells me the Baltimore Ravens. So, behind a Super Bowl MVP performance from Ray Rice and some costly turnovers from Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the Ravens beat the 49ers, 31-24.”
Andrew Shortall, Glendale News-Press Sports Writer: “The Baltimore Ravens have had a number of breaks so far this postseason, particularly in Denver. It looks like they might be the team of destiny this season, but the San Francisco 49ers are playing better football, especially after overcoming a 17-0 deficit in Atlanta. I don’t see San Francisco’s secondary letting Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco throw deep, and I think rookie signal-caller Colin Kaepernick proves yet again he’s not afraid of the big stage — 49ers 23, Ravens 13.”
Charles Rich, Glendale News-Press Sports Writer: “Special teams plays a huge role for Ravens, who see Ray Lewis end his career hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Ravens 27, 49ers 23.”
Jeff Tully, Glendale News-Press Sports Writer: “With a number of upsets in recent Super Bowls, I’m almost tempted to go with the underdog Ravens. Baltimore has found a way to win in the playoffs and it has been lifted with the whole Ray Lewis motivation business. But conventual wisdom has me thinking otherwise. The switch by the Niners to Kaepernick during the season has paid off and San Francisco is just the better team. 49ers 35, Ravens 14.”
Andrew J. Campa, Pasadena Sun Sports Writer: “The Atlanta Falcons had a decent-enough plan to take away Colin Kaepernick's big-play running ability and force him to throw. If the Ravens can do the same, hold the 49ers to 28 or less points, they should win. San Francisco has the best offensive line in the league and has the luxury to double-team Haloti Ngata. Can Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger hit Kaepernick? That will be a big question. It should be a great game. I'm going with the Ravens, 31-28.”
Jim Bonds, St. Francis High football coach: “Niners Baby! I have to go with the Niners for a few reasons. Jim Harbaugh is a QB. I met him while he was still playing for Michigan and they were prepping for the Rose Bowl at Mt. SAC. I like his approach. He is the younger brother and the younger brother is always the best! San Francisco 31, Baltimore 27.”
Antonio Harrison, Flintridge Prep football coach: “My head says 49ers, but my heart wants to see Ray Lewis go out with a Super Bowl victory. Forty-niners are too good though. San Francisco 38, Baltimore 24.”
Andrew Policky, Hoover High football coach: “I like Colin Kaepernick to be the difference in a close game. 49ers 31, Ravens 28.”
John Rome, Glendale Community College football coach: “A winning head coach will be a Harbaugh. The play of Joe Flacco tips the scales for the Ravens. Ravens 31, 49ers 28.”
Paul Schilling, Crescenta Valley High football coach: “The Ray Lewis retirement factor. Ravens 26, 49ers 21.”
John Tuttle, Glendale High football coach: “I'm going to go with the 49ers. I just think they're a complete football team, [49ers win] 24-17. … Defensively, they play solid and offensively Kaepernick causes matchup problems.”
Chadd Cosse, Flintridge Prep senior linebacker/tight end and All-Area/All-CIF selection: “It’s a tough one, but I am feeling the Ravens on this one. Ray Lewis and all his accomplishments, him getting that ring will be the X-factor. I think it’s going to be a close one — come down to a last-second field or a touchdown — but I think the Ravens pull it out, 24-21. Joe Flacco has been amazing, too.”
Davo Hakobyan, Crescenta Valley sophomore defensive/offensive lineman and All-Pacific League honoree: “San Francisco because Colin Kaepernick is on fire and their offensive line is the biggest in the league. 49ers 20, Ravens 17.”
Collin Keoshian, Glendale Community College sophomore running back and All-Western State Conference pick: “Since Ray Lewis announced his retirement, the team is pumped and wants to go all out for him. Ravens 28, 49ers 17.”
Jared Lebowitz, St. Francis High senior quarterback and All-Area Football Player of the Year: “I am taking the Ravens winning by a score of 23-17. My team is the Patriots and my back-up team is the Ravens. … I have two Ray Lewis jerseys. I guess I’ll have to bust one of those out. [I think] Ray Lewis’ magic will kind of escort them to the Lombardi trophy.”
Christian Osorio, Glendale High senior running back/defensive back: “I am going to go with the 49ers on this one. They have a better team all around, defensively and offensively, and Colin Kaepernick is a great quarterback. It is going to be a close game, but I am going to go with [49ers] 21-14, it's just going to be a battle.”
Colin Roach, Hoover High senior outside linebacker and All-Pacific League pick: “The defense, led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, will lead the Ravens. Defense wins championships. Ravens 21, 49ers 7.”
Final score: By the slimmest of margins, our team of prognosticators has Baltimore defeating San Francisco, with nine votes to eight.