A few days ago Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, tweeted that he wouldn’t be partaking in the Super Bowl festivities, or even watching it at all. Understandably, many that don the purple and black won’t be bothered with this year’s match-up as the AFC Championship Game loss still looms large on the minds of Ravens nation.
But, as they say: the show must go on. Whether or not we, as Ravens fans, like it, there will be a new Super Bowl Champion crowned tonight. Taking a wild guess, I would say that most Ravens fans, and even team members, will loathe watching the Super Bowl knowing that they came so close to being part of the greatest sports game of the year. So, what I propose is this: every fan get decked out in their Ravens gear! Join me to show support of the team that we all love by wearing our jerseys, hoodies, hats, or whatever piece of Ravens apparel you wish. Although we didn’t get there this year, take pride in knowing that the Ravens will be right back in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy a year from now.
For those of you who are still at least slightly interested in tonight’s big game, follow along after the "Jump" for some of the key match-ups that will decide who becomes this year’s Super Bowl champion.
Football is a game of match-ups, and in each contest there can be several that will decide the overall outcome, and tonight’s ultimate game is no different. Here are some of the key match-ups to watch tonight:
Wide Receiver Victor Cruz vs. Patriots secondary: Cruz has only been in the league since 2010, but in that time he’s gone from being an un-drafted no-name to a star wide-out in the largest media market in America. This guy can straight up play. This season he broke out with: 82 catches, 1,536 yards, and 9 TDs in regular season play. He has quickly become Eli Manning’s favorite target and if the Pats secondary can’t contain him, they’re in for a long night.
Vince Wilfork vs. Giants Offensive Line: Wilfork has been leading the charge on the Patriots’ rejuvenated defensive line. He’s one big, powerful man. In order for Eli Manning to find his targets, his line is going to have to protect him from Wilfork plowing straight up the middle.
Eli Manning vs. Patriots Secondary: While the center of attention in the quarterbacking world will always center on Tom Brady, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Eli has been on this stage before, against the same team, as the underdogs, and pulled out what everyone said was impossible. With an array of targets to choose from and a good running back tandem in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Patriots secondary and defense as a whole will have their hands full as a unit that ranked 31st in passing yards allowed per game, 17th in rushing yards allowed per game, 31st in total yards allowed per game, and 15th in total points allowed per game. Just as the stats express, the Patriots will have to tighten up even more in the red zone against a red hot Giants offense.
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Wes Welker vs. Giants Defense: Tom Brady has already cemented himself as one of the all-time greats. Was it even possible for him to get better? Yup, it was. Rob Gronkowski has been an absolute monster this year for the Patriots offense. Even though he’s just getting out of a walking boot that he was put in by Ravens strong safety, Bernard Pollard, he is expected to play and he’ll still be one of Tom Brady’s go-to guys. No team all year has had an answer for the versatile TE, and Pollard proved that the only way to slow him down was to hit him really, really hard. The Giants will have their hands full covering Brady’s two main targets in Gronkowski and Welker.
Add your match-ups that you’ll be watching in the comments section below. (Try to) enjoy the game and have faith that the Ravens will be right here contending for the ultimate prize next year.