As we now have almost two weeks to prepare and wait for the last meaningful football game of our lives for the next seven months, we’re going to have a few storylines that you’ll hear about ad nauseam and a few others that will deserve your attention.
- The HarBowl. (Good grief it’s Tuesday and it’s already getting on my last nerve.)
- Ed Reed will make his first appearance in the Super Bowl, in his hometown of New Orleans. (Ask most folks about this, and many somehow don’t realize that Reed wasn’t on the team in 2000. That all-world safety on that Ravens team was Rod Woodson.)
- The current king of middle linebackers (Ray Lewis) will square off versus the heir apparent king (Patrick Willis) in a battle of No. 52.
- Randall Gene Moss will make his second appearance in the Super Bowl. (There’s so much awesome potential in this.)
- The eerie similarities of the ’12 Ravens to the ’07 Giants, as there’s a QB (Joe Flacco) trying to prove he’s elite (like Eli Manning prior) and a defensive legend (Lewis) riding into the sunset (like Michael Strahan) in his final game.
We will all probably hate the Harbaughs by the time the game gets here on February 3rd, but those other four storylines? Good grief, this is going to be fun. Now, onto the power rankings.
1. Bernard Karmell Pollard aka Barn Boss aka One Of The Greatest Dancers From Ft. Wayne Ever: When Mike Tomlin referred to Bernard Pollard as a “Barn Boss,” that should’ve been your clue that Bernard Pollard was not to be trifled with. Yet, for some reason, the New England Patriots seem to get into Pollard’s crosshairs time and time again. First it was Brady, then Welker, then Gronkowski … the Barn Boss’s latest victim? Stevan Ridley. Got damn. If you listened to the postgame of the AFC Championship, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that the tackle won the game for the Ravens. If Pollard didn’t win the game for Baltimore on Sunday, he surely could’ve won a dance contest.
2. Joe Flacco: It’s still way too early to give Joe Flacco his elite card, but he’s one win away from having permanent access to an endless amount of elite credit at his disposal. Eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff games for Flacco is no joke, and it’s this type of performance that players like Blake, Grbac, McNair and Boller could never deliver for an elite Ravens defensive unit. This Ravens defense isn’t elite, but if Flacco plays like he has for the first three games, they’ll be elite in the history books.
3a. Dean Pees
3b. Vic Fangio
Go back and look at the box scores, and look at how many points the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots scored in the second half. Zero. Pees (Ravens) and Fangio (49ers) deserve some spotlight for what their defenses did against two phenomenal offenses in the second half of their respective conference championship games.
5. Frank Gore: The term “underappreciated” gets thrown around way too often when it comes to players deserving recognition for their talents, but I’m willing to say that there isn’t a more pure running back in the NFL better than Frank Gore. His footwork is immaculate, his vision is the best in the league and he’s way stronger and quicker than anyone gives him credit for. The 49ers were able to come back because the offense remembered to give Gore the damn ball, and when they did, the Niners started scoring points.
7. Anquan Boldin: Might be the slowest, greatest most physicalest wide receiver I can remember since Easy Ed McCaffrey.
8. Vernon Davis: Brother, we’re just glad to see that you are indeed, alive.
9. Julio Jones: The conversation of “best WR in the NFL” now has a new contestant, as Jones has done everything he’s needed to do to put his name in the hat. Is he THE best? Naw, but is he in the top 5? Top 3? I’m just saying …
15. Tony Gonzalez: The greatest Hispanic football player to ever put on shoulder pads is probably going to retire following the Falcons loss to the Niners on Sunday. Statistically, there is no better tight end in history than #88, and it’s a damn shame that he was unable to play in more meaningful games in his career. We’d love to see you come back for another year Tony G., but we understand if you don’t. Enjoy it either way sir, enjoy it.
33. Tom Brady: Sir Thomas Brady didn’t look like the regal golden boy quarterback we grew up watching decimate secondaries. He looked rather pedestrian against the Ravens on Sunday. Yes, maybe it was the wideouts dropping the ball on key 3rd downs. Yes, maybe the offensive line didn’t hold up like they usually do. Yes, Brady is going on 36 years old and looking like the exception versus the norm for the quarterback position. We expect more out of Brady, and for the first time in a long time, Brady was unable to deliver. In fact, he dropped a major dud.
57. Stevan Ridley: You got knocked the f*ck out dog, got damn. Hope you’re okay brother, good grief.
8585. The City Of Atlanta Fanbase: The Braves were on the wrong side of an infield fly rule in the playoffs in Chipper Jones’ final game, the Hawks lost Lou Williams for the season and have no idea if they’ll be able to keep Josh Smith, and now the Falcons find a way to trick off a 17-point lead in the first half and failed to score any points in the second half. Atlanta might not be the most hated sports city, but it’s definitely in the top 5 of most misery. I’m sure New Orleans Saints fans could care less, but it’s still crazy to see what’s happening. Did the city of Atlanta sell their soul to the devil or nah?