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Superbowl XLVII: Will Flacco or Kaepernick be elite?

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The Superbowl is different from every other game because 100 million pairs of eyes are on your every move.

Either the Baltimore Ravens’ Joe Flacco or the San Francisco 49ers’Colin Kaepernick will soon be a Super Bowl champion, a member of the NFL’s most elite fraternity. In the last 11 Super Bowls, the Vince Lombardi Trophy has been passed around among seven quarterbacks. New England’s Tom Brady has three and the New York Giants’ Eli Manning andPittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisbergereach has two titles. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers each has one, along with former Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson.

These are the names that either Flacco or Kaepernick will soon join, and as the Ravens and 49ers tear through the playoffs, it’s difficult to know who has the early advantage.

“He just competes like a maniac all the time, in practice and in games,” Kaepernick’s coach, Jim Harbaugh, said Sunday. “It’s always the same when I’m looking in through the face mask.”

Flacco has been criticized and questioned throughout his five-year career. Is he elite or not? Can he lead his team to greatness, or will he always fall short? Flacco was nearly perfect in Sunday evening’s 28-13 defeat of the Patriots for the AFC title, and he’ll likely need a similar performance against the 49ers if he is to take on membership in the fraternity of championship quarterbacks.

Both men will, of course, be asked to carry a heavy burden. This is the reality of the Super Bowl and today’s NFL. One will emerge as a clutch leader, a champion who has been waiting for his day, and the other will fall short. Questions will follow the loser, and future postseason appearances will come with added pressure.

In the modern football landscape, playoff winners and Super Bowl teams score a lot of points. Defenses no longer win championships, but they give their offenses a chance to make something happen. The 49ers averaged more than 36 points in their two playoff wins, and the Ravens averaged 30 in three victories to reach the title game.

The days are gone of a suffocating defense consistently holding an opponent to a touchdown or two. These days, it’s about making that one stop or getting that one turnover to change the arc of a game. In the NFC championship game, Atlanta and San Francisco were in a race to see who erred first. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s interception and fumbled snap turned that 28-24 victory by the 49ers, the biggest reason it’ll be Kaepernick and not Ryan chasing his first championship.

Hard to believe Kaepernick has only had 9 starts in his whole NFL careers.

Even rookies RG3, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck have more starts.

Welcome to the club, Colin.