Super Bowl XLVII Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers 6 p.m. ET, Sunday, Feb. 3 Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana When the Ravens have the ball : During the regular season, the Ravens were right in the middle of pack offensively, ranking 16th in total offense, 11th in rushing and 15th in passing and were 29th in time of possession. The Ravens fared no better in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics , ranking 13th in offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) with their rushing offense (seventh) outpacing their passing offense (15th). The Ravens offense began to flounder late in the season, resulting in Harbaugh making a change at offensive coordinator. The team fired Cam Cameron and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, even though the former Indianapolis Colts head coach had no play-calling experience at the professional or major college levels. “It wasn’t like we made many significant changes in terms of what we’re doing from a schematic standpoint, because we were too far down he road for that,” Caldwell said on Wednesday. “What we did was, do the things that we knew how to do well and try to crystalize it. I also want to make sure that you understand that there is no way that I take credit for any of that. We have players that are very good players and have been in the system for four or five years that are maturing and getting better as time goes on. It just so happened that towards the end of the season things were really starting to come together. We’d shown flashes all through the year, but we just had some ups and downs a little bit here and there. “Obviously, we’ve played a little more consistently since we’ve been in the playoffs and that’s worked well for us.” The Ravens have been better in the post-season, averaging just under 425 yards of total offense per game and 30 points per game, the latter figure reflective of an 80 percent success rate in the red zone. Baltimore’s offense runs through quarterback Joe Flacco, who, despite an average completion percentage, has thrown for 853 yards and eight touchdowns this postseason. Most importantly, Flacco has largely played turnover-free football, losing just one fumble during their run to Super Bowl XLVII with zero interceptions. Flacco’s preferred target this postseason has been Anquan Boldin, who has 16 receptions (on a team-high 26 targets) for 276 and three touchdowns, including two in their AFC championship game win over the New England Patriots. The Ravens like to move Boldin around before the snap to create mismatches and will likely be trying to find nickel cornerback Chris Culliver, whose homophobic comments served as a distraction during the team’s preparations this week and could have him off-balance on Sunday night. No. 2 receiver Torrey Smith has just nine receptions this postseason, but is the team’s deep threat and has the talent and skill-level to go off at any time. Quiet in the wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts, Smith had three receptions for 98 yards in the double overtime win over the Denver Broncos, including two long touchdowns against future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey. Tight end Dennis Pitta has caught 10 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns this postseason and has caught the attention of the 49ers’ secondary. “Pitta is starting to emerge as a top guy for them,” 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. “He’s getting behind the defense, he’s scoring in the red zone, and he’s becoming just a reliable, all-around guy for them. Developing into a top tight end in the National Football League. It’s hard to jam him, so we’ll have to be physical with him. He’s pretty good.” The Ravens are expected to involve running back Ray Rice more in the passing game, though that will be difficult against a 49ers defense that, according to Football Outsiders, ranked eighth defending opposing running backs in the passing game and have allowed opposing running backs to catch three passes for 16 yards this postseason. A 1,629-pound factor in Flacco’s success is an offensive line that was reshuffled at the start of the postseason. The Ravens moved left tackle Michael Oher back to right tackle, 2012 second-round pick Kelechi Osomele was shifted from right tackle to left guard and veteran Bryant McKinnie stepped in at left tackle after playing in just 11.73 percent of the offensive snaps during the regular season. This reshuffled unit has allowed just four sacks of Flacco this postseason and will face a 49ers’ pass rush that has cooled over the last few weeks. Over their last four regular and postseason games, the 49ers have just five sacks and outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who had 19.5 sacks in the regular season and was voted the team’s MVP, has been held without a sack since Dec. 9. Rice handles the bulk of the duties in a running game that has averaged 175.2 yards per game over the last five regular and postseason games. Rice has received around 21 carries per game this postseason, gaining 247 yards and two touchdowns, but is not the only team’s only option. 2012 fifth-round pick Bernard Pierce has the speed to pick up big gains if he’s able to get outside the tackles and turn up the field. The Ravens’ production in the ground game has decreased the last two games when they faced Broncos and Patriots defenses that were solid against the run throughout the season. The Ravens may run into more trouble against the 49ers, who were the NFL’s No. 2-ranked run defense , according to Football Outsiders’ advanced metrics as Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman may be the two best inside linebackers in the entire NFL.
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