Baltimore Ravens (14-6) - Previously: #2 - An awesome Super Bowl victory by the Ravens for the following reasons:
1. The power outage ruined Baltimore's momentum and gave the 49ers life. I was set to have an excuse for my wrong pick, but the Ravens were able to overcome that and make me proud.
2. The Ravens were underdogs in three of their four playoff games. No one believed in them for the most part. I started to after their victory in Denver because I realized how much better they were with Bryant McKinnie starting, Paul Kruger seeing a greater role and Haloti Ngata being healthy for a change. They were simply a completely different team than the one that lost to Charlie Batch.
3. O.J. Brigance, obviously. Why don't they have a cure ALS yet? It's 20-freaking-13.
4. The Ravens managed to keep two great betting streaks alive:
- The team that is the better seed (if applicable) is now 1-13-2 against the spread in the Super Bowl since 1996.
- Teams that played in the wild-card round and advanced to the Super Bowl are now 8-0 ATS since 2003.
5. It was nice to see Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and the other great Baltimore veterans win a ring.
6. Sure, Ray Lewis won again, but I felt more compelled to root against Chris Culliver. I wrote how unjust it was that Culliver was playing in my Live Super Bowl blog, but maybe Roger Goodell was punishing the 49ers by letting Culliver take the field. He was awful, and it was glorious. He was beaten on Jacoby Jones' long touchdown and whistled for a crucial pass interference in the fourth quarter. And does anyone find it convenient that the official with a lisp threw the flag on the homophobe? Not that there's anything wrong with that.
San Francisco 49ers (13-5-1) - Previously: #1 - Colin Kaepernick was asked why his team performed so poorly in the red zone during the post-game press conference. He didn't really give a concise answer - probably because he was so flustered after losing that game. What he should have done was credit the Ravens. They had the league's No. 1 red-zone defense.
Speaking of Kaepernick, I couldn't believe one of the CBS analysts suggested during the blackout that Jim Harbaugh should insert Alex Smith into the lineup. Really? The 49ers wouldn't have even been in the Super Bowl if Smith were the starter during the playoffs. Smith is done in San Francisco. Going back to him would have been disastrous. Kaepernick is the future. And the future is very bright. The 49ers will contend for the Super Bowl quite often over the next decade.
Let's close this out with some thoughts from a San Francisco fan on NFL.com's GameCenter:
Run Defenses, Pass Defense, Pass Protection:
Something new this year - I'm keeping track of precise run defense, pass defense and pass protection rankings in Excel. The benefit to this is that it'll be broken down by week. Here are the download links: