Football fans are in for a treat this Thanksgiving, as this year’s Thanksgiving Day NFL games actually feature legitimate matchups.
Fans will be treated to a great game featuring the Packers and Lions in the afternoon, followed by the Cowboys and Dolphins, which could turn out to be a decent game, and then the best game of the day will be at night when the 49ers head into Baltimore with many storylines in tow.
The most hyped storyline surrounding this game has to do with the coaches involved: the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John.
They are the first pair of brothers to be head coaches in the NFL, and therefore the first to face eachother in a game.
Both brothers have been in the coaching ranks for many years, which stems from their father Jack Harbaugh, who spent the majority of his career at Western Kentucky. Jim even served under his father as a recruiting assistant while he was still a quarterback in the NFL.
The storyline mirrors that of the Ryan brothers, with the exception of Rob Ryan not being a head coach. The other difference is that the Harbaugh brothers are generally liked by the public. It also helps that their teams are both second in their respective conferences.
San Francisco 49ers
Some analysts still refuse to believe in the 49ers as a Super Bowl-caliber team, but it is tough to ignore their 9-1 record, which puts them one game behind the undefeated Packers in the NFC. They also clinch their division with a win and Seattle loss.
They can clinch their division in November!
The NFC West, besides the 49ers, is atrocious, but clinching any division that early is still impressive.
The 49ers’ offense has been improving under Smith, but the defense is what is so special about this year’s team. The 49ers lead the league in average points allowed, as they only allow 14.5 points per game, which is more than two better than the next closest team in Houston. The most points they have allowed all year is 27, which came in their Week 2 loss to Dallas in overtime.
As mentioned before, the offense under Alex Smith has seen a rebirth under the guidance of Jim Harbaugh. This can be attributed to Harbaugh being an NFL quarterback himself, and who better to teach an NFL quarterback than a former NFL quarterback.
Smith has 13 touchdowns on the year, with only 4 interceptions. For perspective, another quarterback only has 4 interceptions on the year…and his name is Aaron Rodgers. Smith is also helped out by his stud running back Frank Gore, who is expected to play in this game after having a knee injury.
The 49ers will have to mix up the run and pass, as the Ravens are among the best in the NFL in both categories. It will be very interesting to see how Alex Smith fares against the Ravens’ defense, as he has not played an elite defense, except maybe the Lions, this season.
The Ravens are coming off of a well-deserved win against the Bengals, which gave them the lead in the AFC North. They have the same record as the Steelers, 7-3, but the Ravens’ two wins over the Steelers gives them the tiebreaker.
John Harbaugh has been very consistent, leading the Ravens to the playoffs in his first three seasons as head coach. He definitely wants to beat his brother and prove that he is the coach of the better team at this point in time.
The Ravens are capable of beating the 49ers, as long as their offense doesn’t slip up.
In their three losses, which have come against the Titans, Jaguars, and Seahawks, the Ravens have scored 13, 7, and 17 points. In these games, which follow a familiar pattern, the Ravens get down early and resort to the pass. They stop handing the ball to the reliable Ray Rice and force Joe Flacco to continue throwing the ball, which usually results in interceptions. The Ravens must keep it close so they can establish the run game early, and keep it going throughout the game.
The Ravens’ defense should get a boost, as Ray Lewis is expected to come back after missing last week’s game against the Bengals. His presence will help boost the Ravens’ fifth ranked rush defense, and seventh ranked pass defense.
The build-up to this game will be very intriguing, with the only negative being that the game will be televised on NFL Network. If you do not have NFL Network, NFL.com always broadcasts the games online, with special commentary throughout the game.
The Ravens and coach John Harbaugh have had success in the past, and will continue to carry that success into this year’s playoffs. However, Jim Harbaugh and his up and coming 49ers will get the best of his brother’s team.
The Ravens are prone to having bad games, and this week they will simply be overpowered by the 49ers, who are looking for a quality win to prove themselves.
A win by the 49ers and loss by the Packers would tie the two teams for the lead in the NFC, with the 49ers having the advantage as their schedule is significantly easier than the Packers’ down the stretch.
49ers: 27 | Ravens: 21
What do you think?
San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens Game Info
- 49ers-Ravens Date, Time, and TV: Thursday, November 24th at 8:20 ET on NFLN
- 49ers-Ravens Announcers: Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock
- 49ers-Ravens Point Spread: Ravens -3.5
- 49ers-Ravens Over-Under Odds: 38.5