Super Bowl XLVII: Joe Flacco v Colin Kaepernick - who will win in the Superdome?
By Paul Higham in New Orleans - Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 31/01/13 6:55pm
They're the stars of the team, the big earners in the NFL and the men who attract more focus than anyone else on the field - even in this game where a certain Ray Lewis is bidding his farewell to the game, make no mistake all eyes will be on the quarterbacks.
Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco both had a lot to prove for different reasons during the play-offs, but both men have done exactly that in getting their teams one better than both did last year.
Flacco avenged last year's AFC title defeat in New England by outplaying Tom Brady at Foxborough, even though he was not the reason the Ravens lost last year he laid to rest any lingering doubts about his big-game temperament - and also ensured he will bag a huge contract this off-season.
Kaepernick had to prove not only himself but prove coach Jim Harbaugh was right to ditch Alex Smith in favour of the second-year man - and after losing to the Giants last year ONLY a run to the Super Bowl would do that.
For all his ability, it's still a bit of a surprise that the San Francisco 49ers are 4/7 favourites for the Super Bowl with a quarterback making just his 10th NFL start in the biggest game of all, but then again of the four previous first or second-year QBs who have started a Super Bowl, three have won and two have been MVP!
The quarterback position is always under the most scrutiny so if looking for a bet on that particular market these two men could be the way to go - Flacco is 11/8 with Sky Bet for that while Kaepernick is unsurprisingly shorter at 11/8, give his ability to score touchdowns as well as supply them.
Flacco has a big arm, and the Ravens have finally started to allow him to unload and take the big shots down field, notably because of Torrey Smith's breakaway speed and Anquan Boldin' strength and catching ability.
Flacco is also highly accurate, he is looking to break Joe Montana's post-season record after throwing seven TDs without an interception so far, and although he will sit in the pocket and not try and take off with his legs, teams have still found it hard to stop him.
Kaepernick is a freak, according to his coaches, he is big and strong, can run like the wind but also has a bullet of an arm that looked like giving him a career in baseball before he turned to NFL. He has thrown for over 230 yards in his last four games which is the longest streak for a 49ers QB since 2004, and after finally clicking with tight end Vernon Davis his numbers will only grow over time.
For this game though, Flacco looks to have more of a chance of piling up the yards, mainly as Kaepernick may feel the pressure and try and run as often as possible.
Colin Kaepernick: Strong arm and legs
Let's be frank, this category is basically just for Kaepernick and not for poor old Flacco, who can move some for such a lanky specimen but is nowhere even in the same league as the former Nevada man he lines up against.
Put it this way, Michael Vick had three 50-yard rushes in his 10-year career, Kaepernick has three already in his last seven games! Kaeperneck has run for 615 yards and seven touchdowns in his short career - Flacco has managed seven TDs over his career and 509 yards.
No surprise then that Kaepernick is 6/5 to score a touchdown at any time in the Sky Bet market, while Flacco is a fanciful 5/1 shot, although he did find the end zone only in December against the Giants and had three TDs this season - plus a cheeky receiving touchdown back in 2008 which is well worth a watch!
Why not give Flacco a fighting chance with a handicap rushing yards match bet, where he gets a 41.5 yard head start of his more mobile opposite number. At first glance you'd think Kaepernick would walk that, since Flacco averages just 2.1 yards a carry over his career.
However, Kaepernick has failed to get over 42 yards in six of the nine games he's started this year, and although he had a record 181 yards in the play-offs against the Packers, the Ravens defence hate any player running on them, let alone a quarterback!
With the teams so well matched, it was no surprise to see both men lead their teams to comeback victory in their respective Championship games, with the 49ers producing a record-breaking 17-0 deficit to win the NFC title game in Atlanta, while Flacco out-performed Brady to come from behind against the Pats.
Both teams will know this, and even if one bounces out to a big lead there will be no complacency given those comebacks and any hint of one will have defences starting to panic. Given that end, 29/20 looks a decent price for a team to go behind first but still come back to win.
Flacco is a different player to the one that only managed 161 yards against the 49ers last season, and his big-play receivers mean that cracking the 250-yard mark (10/11) is within his grasp this time around, but you'd have to proceed with caution given the defence on show.
Kaepernick, as mentioned, has gone beyond 230 yards in his last four games, and making that five is also a 10/11 shot if he has to try and use his arm rather than his legs to beat the Ravens.