NFL Game of the Week: 49ers vs. Ravens
As we now reach the final stretch on the road to the postseason, this battle of giants could qualify as the game of the year. Both teams are coming off blowout wins against good teams in primetime games, and both teams are at or near the top of their respective conferences and have been playing amazing football this season. Although the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens played each other in the Super Bowl just six years ago, both teams look like they are on a crash course for a rematch.
Starting out in the Bay Area is a team that went from the second-worst record in the league to Super Bowl contender almost overnight. The 49ers defense has been one of the scariest and most underrated units in the NFL, putting up numbers identical to those of the highly touted Patriots. Nick Bosa has turned into a rookie phenom with eight sacks so far on the year. On the offensive side of things, the 49ers finally found their identity. The offense is mostly dominated by the ground game with guys like Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson all stepping up in that department. Head coach Kyle Shanahan also finally has his quarterback healthy for a whole season, and it’s paying dividends, as Jimmy Garoppolo has kept the offense rolling, putting up two touchdowns and a 70% completion rate in Niners’ last win against the Packers, which San Francisco absolutely destroyed on Sunday Night Football 37-8.
Even though the 49ers’ opponent has one less win this year, the Baltimore Ravens have shown that they should definitely not be taken lightly. In fact, the Ravens are actually favored in this game by six points. The Ravens have been the hottest team in football, most recently destroying the Rams on Monday Night Football. They also have dominant wins against both the Seahawks and Texans while also defeating the AFC-leading Patriots. Lamar Jackson has shined as an MVP candidate both through the air and on the run. He leads the league in passing touchdowns and is also ranked inside the top 10 in rushing yards this season. Jackson got some help this offseason with the additions of Mark Ingram and Hollywood Brown, who have both been great offensive weapons for the second-year quarterback. The Ravens also traded for former Pro Bowler Marcus Peters midseason, who recorded a pick-six against the Seahawks and another interception against his former team, the Los Angeles Rams.
With both teams being on fire right now and stacked on both sides of the ball, this game could be the hardest one to pick so far. The defenses of both teams may end up canceling each other out, and the game could depend on which quarterback is more capable of getting the win. As the Ravens are playing at home, and Lamar Jackson has been on fire, recording five touchdowns last week, it’s a safer bet to trust him rather than the still-unproven Garoppolo in what could be a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Baltimore 20, San Francisco 14
Logan Bourandas is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Freshman / Broadcast Journalism