Experience should carry Ravens in Super Bowl
Super Bowl prediction: Ravens 24, 49ers 23.
I just have a feeling Baltimore will eke out a narrow win, and this isn't meant as any disrespect to San Francisco.
If nothing else, Super Bowl XLVII should be a well-played, competitive contest. Perhaps one of the reasons I'm leaning slightly toward the Ravens is that kicker Justin Tucker has been a lot more reliable this year than David Akers.
If the game comes down to a field goal -- especially one more than 40 yards -- my money would be on Tucker.
I'm also wondering if 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will come back down to earth a bit.
He is only a first-year starter, and just took over for Alex Smith midway through this season. I have to give a ton of credit, though, to San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, who kept Kaepernick as his quarterback even when Smith was fully recovered from a concussion.
It wasn't as if Smith had played poorly early in the year; in the fact, the reverse was true, but Harbaugh felt Kaepernick -- through his arm, legs and leadership ability -- gave the 49ers a better chance to win going forward.
And even if they don't become Super Bowl champs this year, I think he's been proven right.
n I'm hoping that new Eagles coach Chip Kelly is taking his time choosing a defensive coordinator because the guys he's targeting are with the two Super Bowl teams, and not because his top choices are unavailable.
The names I've seen mentioned recently are San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell and Baltimore linebackers coach Ted Monachino.
Donatell has vast NFL experience, having previously served as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers. Monachino's never called defensive plays in the NFL, but is considered an up-and-comer.
Monachino -- whom All-Pro Terrell Suggs credits with helping him become one of the league's best defensive players -- is an intriguing possibility, but given that Kelly has zero NFL experience, it may make sense to hire more of a defensive veteran like Donatell.
Actually, either one would be fine with me. I'm just anxious to see Kelly fill out his staff so they can develop a comprehensive strategy for the draft, when the Birds have the fourth overall pick.
That selection (like Donovan McNabb was in 1999) could be the cornerstone for the team's future success -- if the Eagles choose wisely.
n Speaking of the draft, I've decided if the Flyers are going to stink in this lockout-shortened, 48-game season, at least they're doing so in a year with a deep amateur draft.
The top two picks likely will be center Nathan McKinnon and defenseman Seth Jones.
I'd love to see a guy like Jones in an orange-and-black jersey. If there's one thing the Flyers need in the worst way, it's an elite, puck-carrying defenseman.
General Manager Paul Holmgren must recognize that, too, or he wouldn't have tried to sign Ryan Suter and trade for Shea Weber in the offseason. Both moves failed, and the team couldn't re-sign Matt Carle (who wasn't exactly my favorite, but at least he could skate), so the Flyers are left with one of the slowest defensive corps in the league.
Holmgren's trade of promising young winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn was a dumb move, too, that'll likely haunt the Flyers for years to come.
Paula Wolf is a staff writer for the Sunday News. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also blogs about sports at lancasteronline.com/blogs/wheelchairqb.