The Super Bowl is set and the Ravens will have to find a way to bottle up an offensive scheme that gave them problems when they faced the Washington Redskins.
1. You hear people suggest that, "Nobody gave us a chance" all too often in sports. In this current postseason, however, the Ravens were counted out well before the kickoff of their meeting with the Broncos in Denver. Even after Jacoby Jones had gotten behind Denver's secondary for the score that would send the game to overtime, I was still only convinced they had a very long shot of winning. Since then, they have left Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in shock as Baltimore prepares to compete in the Super Bowl that not many people thought they had a chance to make.
2. Once again, there is a team in the Super Bowl that fell to the Redskins during the regular season. I know Kevin covered it a couple of weeks ago, but the Ravens would be the latest squad to hoist the Lombardi Trophy after taking a loss to the Redskins in the regular season (the Giants and Packers achieved the feat most recently). If this trend continues, Washington actually becomes more of a contender. After all, we beat ourselves at least once or twice a year in dramatic fashion.
3. It is going to be very hard for the Atlanta Falcons to shake the perception that many NFL fans have of them today. Nobody doubts the ability of that offense. The Falcons defense is good enough to make Matt Ryan's offense stand up. Yet, the lasting image continues to be of a team that can't win the big one. It has gotten to the point where you turn on the TV to watch a Falcons playoff game in that dome and you almost feel like you are watching a game you have seen before. Despite being able to dispense the Seahawks a week earlier in dramatic fashion, Atlanta had no killer instinct in the game against San Francisco. They built a lead with stunning efficiency and execution and they were unable to make it stand against a 49ers team that refused to give up on the run.
4. I will miss watching Tony Gonzalez suit up on a weekly basis...but not until 2014. That's right, I simply don't see him retiring after this season, and it is not because the sting of being that close will eat at him. Sure, he got as close to the big dance as he ever has in his career, but the real reason he won't hang them up is because he knows that he is likely still the best in the business. With Matt Ryan throwing the ball, and Julio Jones and Roddy White stretching the secondary to give him room to operate, he has the opportunity to add to his legend. It is possible that he could determine that there is nothing more he can do in the league, and that it is time to move on with his life. This is rarely the case with professional athletes in his class. Surely he knows how dominating he was this season from the tight end spot. Surely he knows that he could do it again and that it could get him back to the NFC Championship game again.
5. Get ready for a steady diet of people comparing the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick to Washington's Pistol scheme and Robert Griffin III. While I hate to hear that there is a legitimate comparison out there for our other-worldly quarterback, the fact is that Colin runs a mean Pistol. He is big, strong, fast and fun to watch. He throws the ball accurately and can take it to the house from anywhere on the field with his legs. Except for his bigger size, he is very much like our #10--though I would take RG3 in a footrace. I thought Atlanta did a good job of forcing Colin to hand it off on the read option plays out of the Pistol formation, but they were still beaten on and by those plays with the running back going for two touchdowns. There is nothing more gimmicky these days than calling the Pistol and the read-option "gimmicky." Based on the success of a team like Washington in the regular season, and the Super Bowl run of San Francisco in the postseason, is there any doubt that this scheme has true validity? I feel like the question need not even be asked. There will be more and more guys coming out of college with the skills to run this offense and coaches will be more and more willing to install it as the primary scheme. Defenses will catch up eventually, because that is how this league works, but if you have a guy like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin, you will always have an advantage that defenses will be hard-pressed to neutralize.
6. Now that Baltimore has made it to the Super Bowl, I would like to kick off a discussion regarding who we are rooting for--we as in Redskins Nation. Please vote in the poll and join in the comments section. As Rekka accurately pointed out recently, I do wish that there was more of a rivalry between the Ravens and Washington teams. I think we should be playing each other every single year. Unfortunately, we don't play every year and there is no real league rivalry between the two cities. If there was, it would be easier to suggest I was rooting for "Whoever plays Baltimore," as I do each week when looking at who Dallas plays. I heard at least a handful of times over the weekend from Ravens fans that they "would never root for the Redskins, no matter what." Is that right? Why? I did not root against the Ravens in the playoffs at all. I may have been pulling for a "good game" against Denver. Against New England, I found myself far more in the tank for the Ravens. Still, the Super Bowl offers an interesting dilemma. Most years, I find myself pulling for the NFC team. This year, I am wondering where my heart will lie. Above all else, I want to see a good game, but will the Maryland state flag pull my heart to the purple side of the field?
Which team would you rather see win the Super Bowl?
San Francisco 49ers (192 votes)
Baltimore Ravens (228 votes)
420 total votes