An analysis and prediction for Ravens at 49ers, Sunday (4:25), a game both 1-4 teams need to win desperately:
Why the Ravens could win:
1. They should move the ball against the 49ers’ porous defense.
San Francisco is ranked 31st overall, next-to-last, in total defense. Generating offense has not been the problem for the Ravens. Quarterback Joe Flacco and company could be looking at another 30-point plus game.
2. The Ravens should be able to pressure 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
Only Alex Smith of the Chiefs (sacked 22 times) and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks (21) have been sacked more than Kaepernick (16). If Kaepernick can’t set his feet to throw, he often struggles to throw accurately.
3. Important road games often bring out the Ravens’ best.
Their only win came at Pittsburgh, and during Flacco’s time in Baltimore, many of his best games have come on the road. This will feel like a road playoff game, and the Ravens seem to embrace that kind of atmosphere.
Why the 49ers could win:
1. Kaepernick is coming off his best game of the season.
If Derek Carr of the Raiders and Josh McCown of the Browns are capable of carving up the Ravens’ defense, there is reason to believe Kaepernick can do the same. Kaepernick regained some confidence Week 5 against the Giants (23 completions, two touchdowns, 107.1 quarterback rating). Meanwhile, his mobility gives the Ravens another dimension to worry about.
Said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, “I think he has converted more third downs with his feet than he has his arm, and that’s scary. If he gets loose, he’s a nightmare.”
2. Wide receiver Torrey Smith can take the top off the Ravens’ defense.
The former Ravens’ receiver will be stoked for this game, and the Ravens have struggled with other speed receivers like Amari Cooper (Raiders) and A. J. Green (Bengals). Smith is going to test the Ravens’ secondary, and the result may be a few game-changing plays.
3. Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (back) may not be 100 percent, if he even plays.
Smith’s toughness is well-documented, but if he plays, he’ll be making a speedy recovery from micro fractures in his back. If he’s not 100 percent, that will help a 49ers defense which struggles against the pass.
PREDICTION: Look for another close game, but this time, the Ravens find a way to win it.
RAVENS 23, 49ERS 20
Prediction record this season: 2-3