Super Bowl XLVII: Ray Lewis vs. Patrick Willis

Al Bello

The two defensive leaders for the two teams in Super Bowl 47 will not be lining up against each other on the field, but we will line them up for comparison purposes.

The highest compliment any player can get is to be compared to one of the all-tine great in the game. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will be in the discussion fro not only the greatest linebacker in the game, but one of the best players in NFL history, regardless of position.

Since he came into the league six years ago, San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis has been compared to a younger version of Lewis. Not only do they wear the same uniform number, but are built virtually the same, both listed at 6'1" and 240 pounds.

Comparing their stats in the 2012 regular season is a tough one, as Lewis only played six games while Willis played in all 16. Ray had 57 tackles, one pass defensed, one sack, one forced fumble. Willis had 120 tackles, 9 passes defensed, two picks, two forced fumbles and a half of a sack.

The 2013 post season is a better indication, although Lewis' Ravens played three games while Willis;' 49ers only had to play twice to get to the Super Bowl. Lewis led all players in tackles (44) while Willis led all linebackers not wearing Ravens jerseys with 19 tackles. Lewis averaged almost 15 tackles per game, while Willis averaged almost ten in his two game.

Looking back over the past six seasons since Willis first entered the league, he's had 812 tackles in 92 games over that span, averaging around 8.8 tacles per game. Over that same length, Ray has had 662 tackles, but only in 80 games, averaging just a little less than Patrick, 8.3 tackles per game.

It's tough to compare these two guys, as one is in the prime of his career while the other is playing in the final game of his 17th season. However, both will be among the best in the discussion of the top linebackers of their respective eras.

Sunday's Super Bowl will showcase their talents on virtually every play. Once the game is over, the torch will be passed from the legend to perhaps the legend-in-the-making. You don't have to be a fan of either team to see the incredible talent these two players have and you should relish the final opportunity to see these two in the same kind for only the third time in their history, but more importantly, the final time.

See another Ravens-49ers comparison in a previous story on Baltimore Beatdown, titled, Super Bowl XLVII: Flacco vs. Kaepernick.

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