Ravens safety Earl Thomas seems rather confident his team will be participating in the Super Bowl come February, and if history tells us anything, he has a 50-percent chance of being correct.
Sunday's game between Baltimore and San Francisco will mark the third time since the NFL merger in 1970 that a team averaging more than 35 points per game (the Ravens) will face a team averaging fewer than 15 points allowed per game (the 49ers) in Week 13 or later. In each of the two previous instances, one of the competing teams advanced to that season's Super Bowl.
In Week 14 of 2007, the 12-0 Patriots, averaging 39.1 points per game, hosted the 9-3 Steelers, who were averaging 12.9 points allowed per game. New England prevailed 34-13 and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl, where the Patriots saw their perfect season ruined by Eli Manning, David Tyree and the New York Giants.
In Week 15 of 2012, the 10-3 Patriots, averaging 36.3 points per game, hosted the 9-3-1 49ers, who were averaging 14.2 points allowed per game. San Francisco raced out to a 31-3 lead at Foxboro and held on to win 41-34. The 49ers then advanced all the way to Super Bowl XLVII, where their dreams were dashed by the Ravens.
It's fitting then, that San Francisco and Baltimore meet on Sunday. The Ravens have the NFL's highest-scoring offense with an average of 35.1 points per game, while the 49ers have the league's best scoring defense, allowing an average of 14.8 points per contest. They've arguably been the two most impressive teams in the NFL this season, so it would not be surprising if either or both advanced to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
But based on history, whoever wins Sunday will have a better chance of doing so.