OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Earl Thomas isn’t shy about where he thinks the Ravens will end the season. It’s just who he thinks the Ravens will play.
Ahead of one of the NFL’s most anticipated matchups of the season, the Ravens and 49ers are set to play for bragging rights as potentially the league’s best team.
And the possibility of a February matchup is still in everyone’s minds, even as they’ll kick-off December at M&T Bank Stadium.
"You think the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl?" Thomas began on Wednesday. "It could be. Let's see. ... When the Super Bowl comes, whoever we play, they're going to be in trouble."
With rain in the forecast, two of the NFL’s best teams will matchup on a wet afternoon in Baltimore.
The Ravens enter at 9-2, the 49ers at 10-1.
“Big matchup,” Marlon Humphrey said. “Their resume speaks for itself. They’ve definitely been going through teams pretty easily, and they have a really good defense and a really good offense. I think it will be a good game.”
The forecasted rain likely favors neither side, as the Ravens and 49ers rank first and second, respectively, in rushing offense.
The Ravens average just over 210 yards per game, while the 49ers are at 145 yards per game.
“We practiced with wet balls yesterday, and our equipment staff did a great job of soaking those things pretty good,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Really, it affects the footing, obviously, for every player on the field. That can work as a positive or a negative to anybody, really. I don’t think it’s specifically harder on the defense.”
But the biggest aspect of Sunday’s game is the possibility that the two teams will meet in the Super Bowl.
The Ravens have won seven-straight games and been dominant during that stretch, outscoring teams 202-62. The 49ers have lost just once this season, a loss in overtime to the Seahawks.
No matter the stakes, the Ravens are reiterating, publicly, that they’re taking the season one game at a time.
“It’s definitely humbling, but right now, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” Willie Snead IV said. “We know the potential that we could have. We know the matchup. The last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, it was huge. But right now, the whole reason that we’re in this position is [because] we’ve taken it one game at a time.”
And led by their quarterback, who mentioned the Super Bowl on his first night as a Raven, that’s still the larger prize.
“Every team wants to chase the Super Bowl,” Lamar Jackson said. “That's why we're playing the game. Not just, 'Oh, I want to win this game.' Win one game and go 1-15 – that's not a goal. Everyone wants to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, but it just takes us a long time to get to it.”
The 49ers enter with likely the best defensive line the Ravens will face all season long, and one of the only running games comparable to the Ravens in the NFL.
Sunday’s game, no matter the result, will go a long way in setting a tone for which team cements themselves in the top two of the league.
“I feel like we have to continue to take that approach, and everything that everybody is talking about will come up,” Snead said. “It’s just going to take some time, and we can’t look too far ahead, because we have the 49ers in our face.”
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