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Dipping into a Super Bowl prediction

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Dipping into a Super Bowl prediction

One prediction for Sunday’s game that is certain to be right: Americans will eat lots of guacamole. The avocado marketers project 79 million pounds of the product to be consumed today. As for the rest of this Super Bowl prognostication, we’re much less sure.

Just as you have to slice up avocados to make your guacamole for the Super Bowl, to win the game, the Ravens or 49ers will have to slice up the defense with their running game.

In trying to predict Sunday’s Roman-numeraled Ultimate Game, we should consider that the Ravens are likely to be able to contain quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s running, having proven they could do so against the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III during the regular season, at a time when Baltimore’s defense wasn’t playing nearly as well as it has through the postseason. So that means the 49ers’ ground game will depend on the capable Frank Gore. And a key to stopping those runs will be defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who has healed from nagging injuries and played at his normal high standard throughout the playoffs.

On the other hand, the 49ers’ important man inside, defensive tackle Justin Smith, is playing with a torn triceps suffered in the middle of December, an injury that will need surgery after the season. This could reduce his effectiveness and give the Ravens some room to maneuver with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Expect the 49ers to give the Ravens problems in the intermediate passing game with tight end Vernon Davis. But if the Baltimore defense can clamp down on Gore, it could do enough bending not to break, which is how it has played so often this season. So when 49ers drives stall, they will rely on what has been the unreliable kicking of David Akers.

The Ravens likewise will take the underneath passes, particularly to Anquan Boldin. You have to figure the 49ers will make it a priority not to let Torrey Smith get over the top for a big play. Ever since the return of Bryant McKinnie to left tackle, the Ravens offensive line has given Joe Flacco safe haven in the pocket. It will be a challenge for that to continue on Sunday, however.

If the Ravens bottle up Kaepernick as a runner and are able to make the 49ers settle for field goals, at some point San Francisco’s young quarterback may actually act like a young quarterback. That could mean a big interception for safety Ed Reed.

Even if Jacoby Jones doesn’t break a return for a touchdown, the Ravens need him to give them a short field at least a couple of times.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying: Ravens 23, 49ers 20.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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