Is It Over Yet?

SCI publisher Jim Wexell avoided the hype and vows that he won't watch the game, but he rationally predicts the winner.

Before I sat myself down with my bad attitude to write an even worse column, I typed the words "Super Bowl" into my TV's search engine, and this is what my TV spit back for the 7-10 p.m. time period on Friday:

"Super Bowl Live."

"Top 10 Super Bowls."

"Super Bowl Chronicles."

"Best Super Bowl Concerts."

"The Rich Eisen Super Bowl Special."

"Super Bowl Live."

Presumably, that final entry is to update us on what we might've missed in the previous two hours. Not that anything remotely live was going on at the Super Bowl at that time.

It should be noted that none of the above included any programming from ESPN, which we know to be non-stop Super Bowl hype.

I'm hoping – for the sake of your mental health in the dead of this winter – that you didn't watch all of it. I didn't watch any of it. Nor have I for the entirety of the two weeks leading up to the game.

I mean, I nailed it this time.

But I can't claim perfection.

No, the other morning, in the middle of a boot camp workout, my exhausted partner looked up at me and said, "I could really use some deer antler spray."

If I would've known it had anything to do with the Super Bowl, I wouldn't have asked him "What the hell are you talking about?"

But I did, and he told me, and it was at that point at which I too became afflicted.

"But how are you going to know who's going to win the big game?" my friend asked after I explained my poor attitude.

"How will you know the matchups?"

He said this in mock disbelief.

Yes, he was mocking himself, because he watches this stuff. He listens to the parade of experts on sports talk radio. It doesn't bother him that he's just being sold the Ray Lewis: Good or Bad? argument all in the name of selling cars and junk food and four-hour erection pills.

I think it's Ray Lewis's fault that I have this poor attitude anyway. Yeah, it was about eight months after his double murder that I witnessed his final appearance at Three Rivers Stadium.

The Ravens had just defeated the Steelers in the 2000 season opener and I was assigned the visitor's locker room. I waited on the field near the tunnel for the clock to hit zeroes, and a mob of Ray's purple-clad fans crawled down from the rafters and gathered in the seats over the tunnel to exalt him. He exulted in return. And I exhaled a stream of projectile vomit.

Not really, but I wanted to.

Let's just say I haven't looked at sports the same way since, so you had better believe me when I tell you I went about these last two weeks determined not to step into any of Rich Eisen's doo-doo. I just wished this game to be over.

What other choice do I have besides Ray Lewis's Ravens? The 49ers? Have you seen Jim Harbaugh's act lately? He's the only guy in America who could make you root for that idiot Jim Schwartz from Detroit in a post-game handshake scrum.

So, while I'll admit to you that yes I have been afflicted by the idiocracy of Super Bowl hype, I will tell you I'm not going to watch the game.

Now, I was just going to say that to be cool, and then watch it when no one was looking. I mean, Ed Reed covering Vernon Davis, and Mike Iupati blocking Haloti Ngata, those are some premium matchups.

But it turns out that I can't watch it because my daughter has a goalkeeping camp to attend that night. The coach normally cancels on Super Bowl night, but even he, I'm guessing, is afraid of vomiting at the sight of Ray Lewis doing that ridiculous dance of his in the middle of the field with the entire world watching.

Except, of course, for the soccer goalies and their dads. We won't – we can't – watch this ridiculous spectacle.

Who do I want to win?

Heck, I get asked this question every day and I've yet to come up with an answer. Today I answered it this way:

"I have to write a prediction column, so I'll root for whichever team I predict so that I can look smart."

Yes, I always want to look smart, even when I'm writing dumb things. But to make a truly accurate prediction, and look really, really smart, I would like to wait to hear what Scottie The Mush has to say.

Scottie's a local legend. Everyone at the party waits for him to get drunk and call his bookie, and then everyone calls their bookie with the opposite pick.

He's been the greatest predictor of Super Bowl losers in the history of the world. Rich Eisen should do a show on that. But you, a dedicated reader who's made it this far, can't wait for that last-minute text from Scottie's party. So let me get out my pad and pencil and crunch a few numbers.

Give me a minute.

---------------

OK. I'm back. Sorry it took so long, but I took a little nap, too. I like to have a fresh mind when I look at the raw data of the last five games. And I like to be surprised. So here's what I found in the three areas I deem critical:

* At the line of scrimmage (offensive yards per rush minus defensive yards per rush), the two teams are nearly even. The 49ers have a miniscule edge of +0.1 yard per snap.

* In the secondary, the Ravens have a distinct – and surprising –edge. In spite of their reputation for being soft on the back end, the Ravens allow only 10.4 yards per catch compared to 11.8 for the 49ers.

* And in scoring efficiency (defensive yards per point minus offensive yards per point), the Ravens have a slight edge of +0.6. (The numbers here also indicate a lower-than-expected final score.)

These numbers were recorded against near-equal opposition. The 49ers' last five games were played against teams with a .632 winning percentage; the Ravens' last five games were played against teams with a .659 winning percentage.

Now, I realize – particularly for those listening to all of the mumbo jumbo about matchups from the media this week – that these are just a bunch of numbers. But I like it that way. If I were to put a face to the analysis, I would inevitably steer the pick away from the ugly, self-glorified, egotistical grimace of Ray Lewis and his Ravens.

But I'm just looking at the faceless numbers, and, unless I hear otherwise from Scottie The Mush, I'm holding my nose and picking the Ravens, 24-20.

You'll have to tell me if I'm right, though. I'll be over at the big indoor field in Monroeville, watching soccer.

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