NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans braces for Super Bowl XLVII, the first Super Bowl in that city since the horrific storm Hurricane Katrina. This is the 10th time the NFL has brought the world stage of the Super Bowl to New Orleans; the last Super Bowl held here was Super Bowl XXXVI, New England 20—St. Louis 17.
Much of New Orleans is not happy with the NFL, because the league came down so hard on their beloved Saints with the now-famous bounty gate scandal. Commissioner Roger Goodell should carefully go about his business this week with security watching his back.
The Saints missed the playoffs this year, finishing 7-9. That did not stop quarterback Drew Brees from leading the NFL in touchdown passes with 43.
This Super Bowl will have two brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, born 1962 and 1963 respectively, coaching against each other with a World Championship on the line. Imagine the range of emotions the parents and other family members of the Harbaughs will go through this week.
This week’s Super Bowl will be the 32nd Super Bowl that have covered. I’ll never forget Super Bowl XLIII, Pittsburgh vs. Arizona; the Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl 27-23 in one of the most exciting games ever.
My son, Cardinals star Larry, Jr., scored two touchdowns in that the game. I became the first sports writer in history to cover his own son in the Super Bowl. Last year, both Baltimore and San Francisco narrowly missed reaching Super Bowl XLVI. Both teams lost their conference championship games.
So both teams were fueled to take the next step, and because it we will witness the brothers Harbaugh — all-in-the-family history again. Two years ago, the brothers coached against each other on Thanksgiving night in prime time. The Ravens won 16-6, sacking 49ers QB Alex Smith nine times.
This season, both head coaches made bold moves that changed the dynamics of their teams and sparked their runs to the Super Bowl. The 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, switched quarterbacks, benching Smith and replacing him with second-year backup Colin Kaepernick, a mobile and multi-dimensional talent.
The Ravens’ John Harbaugh fired his offensive coordinator in December and replaced him with Jim Caldwell, former Indianapolis head coach. Both moves have worked like magic and appear to be just what each team needed to kick their offenses into high gear. Both moves were also quite risky and could have backfired.
The 49ers have won five of their last six games; the Ravens have won four of five and three in a row. This game also features the 37-year-old great Ray Lewis, one of the outstanding middle linebackers to ever play the game for the Ravens, playing his his last game. He is the lone member of the Ravens’ only Super Bowl Championship team of Super XXXV, when the Ravens dominated the New York Giants 34-7.
Vikings fans will be caught in the middle of this game, also pulling for ex-Viking stars like Randy Moss of the 49ers and Matt Birk and Bryant McKinnie of the Ravens. Both teams, the Ravens and 49ers, beat their conferences’ No. 1 teams — Denver and Atlanta — 13-3 on the road to reach Super Bowl XLVII.
If the 49ers win, they will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins, six. The NFC dominated the AFC during the regular season 39-25 head to head. San Francisco was 4-0 vs. AFC teams while the Ravens were just 2-2 vs. NFC teams.
Quarterback Joe Flacco of the Ravens has bested Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to reach the Super Bowl. Kaepernick has been a sensational quarterback for the 49ers. He has beaten Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan while guiding the 49ers to their first Super Bowl since 1995.
Both teams are outstanding defensively, loaded with stars and veteran leadership like Patrick Willis, the great linebacker with the 49ers. Both teams have explosive running games. The 49ers’ Frank Gore rushed for 1,214 yards; Ray Rice ran for 1,143 for the Ravens.
Both passing games are good with deep threats like Moss who can stretch the field and good tight ends. This should be a great Super Bowl. The 49ers are three-point favorites; however, the trend of late has been the hottest team carrying that momentum through the Super Bowl.
Last year, the Giants went 4-0 to win the Super Bowl in the playoffs. Green Bay two years ago did the same thing, going 4-0 as a Wild Card and winning it all.
Will the Ravens make it three teams in a row, going 4-0 and capturing the Super Bowl? We will soon see.
Fitz Super Notes & Quotes
The Vikings with seven Pro Bowl players helped lead the NFC stars to victory 62-35 over the AFC stars in the 43rd Pro Bowl game. Tight end Kyle Rudolph was the game’s MVP with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Goodell put the heat on both teams, warning them to play hard this time or the game might be canceled.
Rudolph worked out this summer with Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. in his seventh career Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald grabbed his eighth career touchdown in the Pro Bowl game Sunday, the most all-time.
Fitzgerald is a finalist this week for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Remember to catch my daily Super Bowl reports on KMOJ-89.9 FM, 8.25 am, 5.30 pm Monday through Friday. Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show will feature Beyoncé!
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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