- Tom Carpenter, Fantasy and Insider
As we noted earlier today, Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens' rushing attack will have their work cut out if in order to have a big game on the ground against the stout San Francisco 49ers run-stoppers. If they want to win the Super Bowl, they will have to get Rice, et al, ramped up, but the big plays that could decide the game likely will have to come via the passing game.
Football Outsiders' Vince Verhei thinks that the Ravens specifically will need to attack deep, especially when they are in Niners territory:
"Regardless of pass distance, most of San Francisco's coverage struggles came when its opponents were in scoring range. Inside their own 40-yard line, the 49ers allowed opponents to complete 66 percent of their passes, with nine touchdowns and no sacks or interceptions. And finally, it's worth noting that the 49ers played their worst in the first quarter, when opponents completed 69 percent of their passes for 8.7 yards per attempt.The lesson of all these figures? The Ravens would be wise to let Joe Flacco loose early, and especially after they cross midfield. And if they're fortunate enough to get Torrey Smith matched up with Culliver (which will likely happen at some point, because San Francisco often uses Rogers in the slot in its nickel defense), that could be their best bet for a big play."