Superbowl XLVIII will potentially be one of the most anticipated in recent years due to a number of factors. Brother versus brother as opposing coaches have brought out the term “Harbowl” with Jim Harbaugh coaching the San Francisco 49ers and John coaching the Baltimore Ravens. The odds of this happening at the start of the NFL season were a juicy 60-1.
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John has been with the Baltimore Ravens since 2008 and has taken them to the playoffs each season. They seem to improve each season and last year only missed out on a Superbowl appearance on a missed field goal.
Jim became head coach of the 49ers in 2011 and took them to the NFC Championship game in his first season losing to eventual Superbowl Champions the New York Giants. They have met before in the NFL regular season, in the 2011 Thanksgiving fixture whereby John’s Ravens were winners over Jim’s 49ers 16-6.
The 49ers are already early favourites being given a 4.5 point start. Second year coach Jim Harbaugh has turned this underachieving franchise around and they will appear in the big game for the first time since 1995. Led by new starter at Quarterback Colin Kaepernick the 49ers have come from behind twice in playoff games to beat Green Bay and Atlanta respectively. Kaepernick has only started 10 NFL games however he seems to thrive on each opportunity. This will be his biggest test. The San Francisco Giants are the current MLB champions as well after their come from nowhere form to easily beat the Detroit Tigers in the finals. San Francisco has the opportunity to become the new “Title Town” – something rare in terms of both NFL and MLB championships, the most recent being Boston.
Two weeks ago the Baltimore Ravens were 18-1 to win Superbowl after losing 4 out of their last 5 regular season games and making the playoffs. A home win against the Colts and an epic win away to the Broncos set them up with a game against the heavily favoured New England Patriots. Going into the game as 4-1 underdogs they put on 21 unanswered points in the second half and won easily. The Ray Lewis retirement factor is only one of the motivating factors for the plucky Ravens team who thrive on adversity. A number of key injuries and personal tragedies is part of the will that could drive this Superbowl underdog on. Quarterback Joe Flacco has one of the best records in terms of post season wins in NFL history – surprising considering the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady seem to be eternally playing at the business end of the season. This is his first trip to the Superbowl.
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