5 on 5 NFL Roundtable: Super Bowl Edition
It’s about that time.
1) Which brother do you prefer? Jim or John?
Zach Schotz: I have to go with Jimbo. He went to high school in the best state in the country and then went on to become a Michigan Man. Not a bad start. He’s worked his way up the football ranks from Western Kentucky to the Niners. He’s a complete players’ coach and he gets the people going! Most importantly Jim developed one of my favorite players of all-time….Marques Tuipasopo.
Eric Huberman: I must first point out, that I despise Jim Harbaugh. Jim is arrogant to begin with and you can tell he really is a sore-loser. He hates talking to the media and has missed two straight interviews following a victory in the NFC Championship game. There is also the debacle he had with Jim Schwartz, even though I absolutely hate that little guy. On the other hand John Harbaugh is a nice guy, and does not create big scenes. John has done a hell of job this year by getting the Ravens back to the AFC Championship Game despite their aging defense, and limited offensive weapons. At one point it did not look like the Ravens would make the playoffs, but John rallied his troops and made an incredible run. His big move this year was the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron late in the season, and the promoting of Jim Caldwell. Although the move came fairly late in the year, it is the main reason why you are seeing Baltimore in New Orleans on Sunday. My pick is John Harbaugh.
Jason Weingold: John. I don’t really have any preference between the two, so I’ll go with the team I’m rooting for in this situation. I think John has done more with the Ravens group of players than his brother has with the Niners. Being a Philadelphia Eagles fan, on top of this, I have to root for John because he was a defensive backs coach for the Eagles as well as the Special Teams coach for nine years. John has had coaches like Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano serve under him. I also do not agree with the way Jim handled the Smith/Kaepernick situation, no matter how well it worked out in the end. John is also the older brother – you have to love seniority.
Patrick Keenehan: I prefer Jim. Ever since he had the confrontation with Jim Schwartz, I realized how much of a competitor he truly is. What player doesn’t like having a coach with as much desire to win as him? I’m sure not many. He motivates his players as good if not better than any coach out there. A 24-8 record in his first two seasons as the head coach of the 49ers doesn’t hurt either, compared to a 33-47 record over the course of the previous five seasons before he became the coach. Plus, Jim made one of the best decisions with his starting quarterback by playing Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith. No disrespect to John Harbaugh as he as a great coach as well, but I prefer his brother.
Seth Goldberg: Jim. He shows a little more fire and is a little more controversial. But the more important thing is that he inherited a truly bad team and made them great right away. John didn’t inherit a team that was bad; yes they were 5-11 the year before John Harbaugh took over, but the season before that they were 13-3. The Ravens had pieces to work with; while when Jim took over the 49ers, it was widely assumed that the NFC West winner would come in under .500 as they had the year before. It was almost a fact that the 49ers would not win the division. They had no quarterback, a tight end with potential, an injury-prone number one wide receiver and an average defense. Jim made Alex Smith a legitimate quarterback, got the potential out of Vernon Davis, worked with Michael Crabtree and helped creat a top-notch defense.
2. Is Joe Flacco worth the $20 million dollar contract he is going to request this offseason?
Zach Schotz: The answer is quite simple: Maybe not $20 but very close to it. Trough Flacco’s first four years (he’s now in his 5th), no QB in the history of the NFL has won more football games with a whopping 44. But Zach he’s had an amazing team that stat is so misleading! Yes he’s been blessed with a great defense and Ray Rice but at the end of the day Flacco has truly led the team. In the past four seasons the Blue Hen product has thrown for at least 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. He might not always be fun to watch, and he might not be picked early in fantasy, but he clearly wins games and gets the job done. And if you want to talk about earning a contract, so far in these playoffs he’s thrown for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and zero picks while taking his team to the Super Bowl. As far as I know the Baltimore Ravens pay their players to win and I won’t be surprised by any contract they give him.
Eric Huberman: When I heard that Joe Flacco was planning on asking for a contract that would pay him $20 million a year I almost fell off my chair. To think that the only guy in the NFL next year that will be paid $20 million is Peyton Manning, it is almost illogical to think Flacco deserves this contract. Now are there other QBs out there that are deserving of such a contract? Well, one would think Aaron Rodgers new contract this offseason will be around that number, and Tom Brady is certainly deserving of such a dollar amount, but Flacco? There is no doubt in my mind that Flacco will get a long term deal, and I think he will get around $15 million a year, but to tell me this guy deserves the same amount as Peyton Manning is just absurd.
Jason Weingold: No. No disrespect to Joe Flacco, but he is not worth that value. The focus in Baltimore is on the skill players and defense. The Ravens could even be winning with Alex Smith at quarterback. Ray Rice deserves a huge chunk of money, as does many of the defensive stars. But the real reason Flacco has played so well this year has been the development of his receiving corps. Just look at Anquan Boldin. Boldin torched the Colts in the opening round of the playoffs for 145 yards, and was targeted eleven times against the Broncos. Torrey Smith has been the biggest success for Joe Flacco. Smith’s speed makes it easy for Flacco to throw it over the top, and his stats show it. But fans cannot forget about Dennis Pitta either. After being an unknown name, Pitta had a breakout season, hauling in over 600 yards. As well as Flacco has played; more credit has to be given to those that have helped him compile his numbers.
Patrick Keenehan: Joe Flacco is not worth the 20 million dollar contract per year that he is going to request after this season. No, I can’t take away the fact that he has lead the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, but I just don’t think he is worth that kind of money. In each of those seasons, Flacco has had a great running game to support him and an amazing defense to keep them in games. Flacco has not been a superstar that has dominated in games, and the teammates he has around him have been a big part to the teams’ success. He has been good with avoiding turning the ball over, but it always seems that he can’t put teams away very easily. He is a good quarterback, but he is not elite and does not deserve a salary similar to Drew Brees.
Seth Goldberg: No. There are maybe 4 quarterbacks worth $20 million: Brady, Peyton, Brees, and Rodgers. I would not give Flacco close to $20 million, I would give him somewhere around $12-14 million a year. I think that is a good amount. I do not think he is as good as Eli, Stafford, Ryan or Romo and I would not pay him like he is better than those 4.
3. Bold Prediction in the Super Bowl
Zach Schotz: The biggest hit in the game will come from not Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis but a security guard on a streaker. My backup prediction is that Beyonce has a wardrobe malfunction.
Eric Huberman: Alright so despite all of the criticism of late with his ineffectiveness David Akers goes 4/4 in field goal attempts including the game winner in the last minute.
Jason Weingold: My bold prediction is that the announcers during the Super Bowl on CBS will comment on the Harbaugh brothers being related more than 25 times throughout the game. This means calling them brothers, mentioning a “har-bowl” or anything of that sort. The publicity this is getting is just ridiculous. I don’t think I have heard anything on the news over the past couple days concerned the players, but rather just about the relationship of the two coaches. A coach can certainly influence a team and their style of play, but until I see them make plays on the field, Super Bowl Sunday is all about the players to me. Enough about the coaches, let’s just watch some football please.
Patrick Keenehan: My bold prediction is that the 49ers defensive will score two touchdowns in this game. I’m predicting a defensive battle in the Super Bowl, the 49ers arguably have the best defense in the NFL and the Ravens defense has been very solid thus far in the playoffs with Ray Lewis leading the charge. I think both teams will stick to their strengths on offense and run the ball as frequently as possible, but I think the 49ers will get a comfortable lead and will force Joe Flacco to throw the ball. Both quarterbacks in this game are very young, Colin Kaepernick has looked like a superstar this postseason and I don’t see that changing, but I do not see Joe Flacco being successful in this game. I think he will be under lots of pressure and the 49ers defense will have three interceptions by the time the game is over, two of which they will return to the house.
Seth Goldberg: Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis will all score touchdowns. I really like the matchup that Davis has against the Ravens linebackers. I think that Crabtree has really come in to his own, and Randy Moss is still fast, able to make people miss and make moves after the catch.
4. Who is your Super Bowl MVP?
Zach Schotz: Franklin Delano Gore will be the Super Bowl MVP. Gore is more than driven and steps up in big games; just the past two games he’s compiled 209 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. I expect Gore to once again get his touches, at least 20 attempts, and do some damage with some dump-off passes from Kaepernick. With CK being such a threat it will only help Gore thrive. And this season (including postseason) in games where Gore gets at least one rushing touchdown the 49ers are 8-1-1 (loss and tie from Rams).
Eric Huberman: It’s easy to say Colin Kaepernick if you think the Niners are going to bring home the title, but I’m going with Vernon Davis. This guy just seems to be everywhere and comes through during the most important times, and I think he does it one more time. Vernon is a tank and Crabtree and Moss drawing majority of the defense’s attention I believe Vernon finds pay dirt twice. I’ll predict eight catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns for this year’s Super Bowl MVP.
Jason Weingold: Ray Lewis. As cliché as this all sounds, and as obvious as it may seem, when looking at the numbers, one has to realize how ridiculous Lewis has played this postseason. Before kickoff, Lewis has 44 tackles through three playoff games. He had 13 against Indianapolis, 17 against Denver, and 14 against New England. Dan Morgan currently holds the NFL record for most tackles in a single postseason, when he collected 45 with the Panthers in 2003. That means Lewis needs only two more to break the record. Playing against a team with a strong running game, a big tight end, and a rushing quarterback, Ray Lewis might have his best game yet. Call it deer spray, call it heart – whatever the cause may be – Lewis is making the most of his last postseason.
Patrick Keenehan: My Super Bowl MVP is Colin Kaepernick. This second-year player (first year starting) has not looked his age out on the field at all this season. He has already broke the rushing record in a single postseason game, when he ran for 183 yards against the Packers. The Ravens have a pretty solid defense overall, but they have been terrible against the run for the better part of the season and I think Kaepernick will take complete advantage. He is going to be a very happy young man after he walks away from this game with a Super Bowl ring, and the MVP trophy.
Seth Goldberg: Well with all the passing touchdowns I predicted above, the MVP has to be Colin Kaepernick. I think he can throw for about 250 yards and 3 touchdowns, then add 50-60 yards rushing and if the 49ers win, I don’t see how he doesn’t win the MVP unless someone on the 49ers defense has two interceptions and a sack, or if the Ravens win.
5. Enough bullsh*tting, who’s your winner of Super Bowl XLVII?
Zach Schotz: In these “Roundtables” I’ve gotten every pick right except for three, all from picking against the Ravens. Well what can I say it was a great and well-deserved run over Adnrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady, but still I’m picking the Niners. You’re welcome Ravens fans, with my pick and Madden simulation it’s an automatic victory. The main reason I pick this team is because they’re hungry. They don’t come out soft or get pushed around, they go out and get it. Their rush attack is lethal and their defense is beyond intimidating. As great as Flacco has been, I don’t see him staying perfect. I think he’ll make mistakes and that interceptions donut will be removed while the 49ers take advantage. The Ravens defense is motivated, and as a unit they’re on the same level as the Niners, but they’ll have more trouble with a scrambling QB as they’re so accustomed to the pocket passers. The 49ers go on to win and stay a perfect 6-0 in Super Bowl appearances, and consequently Kaepernick will become ESPN-glorified for weeks to follow.
Eric Huberman: Two weeks ago when I went perfect in my championship games predictions I correctly chose the Ravens and 49ers to be in this very spot; and I also picked the 49ers to win it all. Well, nothing has caused me to change my pick so I’m going with San Fran. The unlimited ability of Kaepernick coupled with a string of fabulous receivers will lead to the torching of this Ravens defense and ruin Ray’s going away party. The 49ers defense will cause Flacco to choke under the big spotlight, and Ray Rice will be a non-factor. Jim gets the edge over brother John, and gets eternal bragging rights.
Jason Weingold: Baltimore. If you couldn’t tell by the tone of all of my answers, I just have this weird, destiny feeling about how the Ravens are playing. That, and also the fact that I’m going against my brain, which is telling me that, the 49ers will not lose. Since the first round, I have been wrong on pretty much every game, so going against my brain should help. But honestly, the Ravens are just playing fantastic football right now. They marched through the Colts, the Broncos, and the Patriots, three teams that they could have, and probably should have lost to. And if the New York Giants from last season taught us anything, it’s that momentum wins championships. The 49ers are coming off of wins against the Packers and the Falcons: teams not nearly as impressive as the Broncos and Patriots. Oh yeah, and Ray Lewis, I have to believe he is going to have an impact on this too. The Ravens just have everything going for them right now, and I can’t argue with that.
Patrick Keenehan: I’m picking the 49ers. I cannot see the Ravens able to put up points against the 49ers fierce defense. I think it is going to be a long day for Joe Flacco, and I think Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers run game is going to thrive. I do think it will be a close game, but ultimately will come down to Flacco, and I just can’t see him being the guy to carry his team in this game. Ray Lewis will retire with one Super Bowl ring, as I think the 49ers will pull this one out pretty easily.
Seth Goldberg: I think the 49ers win. I don’t even think it will be that close of a game. This is by far the best defense the Ravens will have played this postseason and I don’t think Joe Flacco will play that well. Also, I think the 49ers offense has too many weapons and is too athletic for the Ravens. San Fran will spread out the Ravens defense and between Frank Gore, Randy Moss, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, LaMichael James, and Colin Kaepernick there are just too many people to worry about on each play the 49ers run. I think 49ers win big, by 10-14 points.