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Tim McDonald

Super Bowl XLVII: Um, What About the Football?

By February 2, 2013

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Jacoby Jones

You are to be pitied if you are looking for actual news coming out of New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII. You know, something about the actual football game.

We've had to endure Beyonce's lip-synching scandals, gays in the NFL, the healthiest Super Bowl snacks, deer antler spray, all about halftime shows, predictions from orangutans and of course the hot, hot, hot Super Bowl commercials.

And I'm not sure I would be ready for the big game if I hadn't learned what Jude Law's plans were for Super Sunday.

Anyway, let's think about an aspect of Sunday's game that has been largely overlooked: Special teams.

Special team play can and often do decide football games. Field goals have decided four Super Bowls, for example.

The Baltimore Ravens have a huge edge when it comes to placekickers, one of their few advantages in my opinion.

Justin Turner missed only three field goals all year, going 30 for 33, and he was four for four from 50 yards and beyond.

For the San Francisco 49ers, David Akers had a terrible year, missing 10 of 19 tries from at least 40 yards.

However, San Francisco has one of the best punters in the league in Andy Lee, who tied for the highest net punting average. Lee rarely out-kicks his coverage and is very accurate, often settling his kicks down delicately inside the opponents' 20-yard-line.

Both teams have good kick returners, but Baltimore's Jacoby Jones is probably the best in the league. His 30.7 yards per kick average is the best in the NFL among those who have returned at least 16 kicks.

On the other hand, the Ravens, who were generally solid in special teams coverage, have lapsed in the postseason, surrendering two touchdowns on long kick returns by Denver's Trindon Holliday in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

Prediction: The 49ers will try earnestly not to kick to Jones, but he will still manage to have at least one game-changing return.

I'm sticking with my prediction, though, of a 49ers win.

- Getty Images



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