Super Bowl XLIV Preview: Colts vs. Saints

The greatest football game of the year–the Super Bowl. We’ve been blessed with a great match up in the New Orleans Saints versus the Indianapolis Colts. My self-imposed sports media boycott over the past two weeks has led me to avoid the hype and form my own opinions on how this game will play out. Let’s look at the teams first.

Saints

I love Drew Brees. I think he’s definitely proven that he belongs as a top tier quarterback and his pregame huddle breakdowns are awesome. But Brees’ success can also be attributted to his great receiving core and the play-calling of Sean Payton. I thought the Saints were way too conservative against the Vikings and should have thrown the ball more, especially off play-action. I think Colston and Meachum are better on the outside than the Colts’ defensive backs and Shockey up the seam against a linebacker will be easy pickings all game. If they balance the run with Pierre Thomas and get solid play from their special teams, the Saints will score points.

They have a ball-hocking defense that forces turnovers. D Coordinator Gregg Williams likes to dial up the blitz, but I don’t know how effective that will be. I think if they go with the same game plan that helped them beat the Patriots during the season, they will minimize Peyton Manning. Double Clarke and Wayne, make them run the ball and throw underneath. Make open field tackles. Hold the Colts to field goals.

Bottom Line
The Saints’ offense will need to be firing on all cylinders. The WRs can’t drop passes and they’re going to need at least one huge play from Reggie Bush–whether it be a punt return or long screen pass. The Colts D is fast so Bush will need to make decisive runs with no more than one cut. Take the three yard gain rather than the seven yard loss. You know they’re going to bust out a trick play at some point, but it better be well timed and it better hit for a touchdown. They’ll probably only get one shot at it. The Jet’s proved it can be done. If the D can bend, but not break, the Saints have a chance. And if they wear their all-black uniforms, their chances of winning goes up by eight percent.

Colts

I think the Colts have reached a point where they’re almost so good, that they’ve become boring. Sure, they could have gone undefeated but who cares now? They’re healthy and in the Super Bowl. For the Colts, the only storyline in Peyton Manning. Dude is a beast. Manning would rather watch game film than be naked with Diora Baird while eating lobster and holding the winning Powerball ticket. He’s a machine sent from the future with his only mission being to win football games. Even when it looked like Manning was flustered in the first half of the Jets game, he went back in at halftime, looked at some tape, adjusted and came back out to dominate. If Manning wants to win, he will.

Look for Garcon and Collie to have opportunities if the Saints pay extra attention to Wayne and Clarke. Garcon could have another huge day against the nickle. I don’t think the running game will be a factor. Addai and Brown may get a few carries early but this is Peyton’s game.

The big story this week for the Colts’ defense is Dwight Freeney’s ankle. Look at it this way, even if he plays, it’s hard to imagine him having an impact on one leg. And if Freeney plays and sacks Brees during the game, I’d cut the left tackle on the spot and make him leave the stadium.

Bottom Line
In Manning we trust. He prepares so much and is so dedicated that anything less than an MVP performance would be shocking. Manning however, is only one man. If his receivers drop passes or special teams shits the bed or the defense is caught over-pursuing, it could get interesting.

Prediction

Two dome teams playing outside in Miami? Not a factor. Maybe there’s some early jitters from the younger players, but that will wear off by the second quarter. With all the offensive over hyping, I think we may be looking at a lower scoring first half. Both team may play it conservative on the first few possessions to feel out the opposing strategies. I think we’re looking at like a 14-10 or 13-6 first half score. Second half, the gloves come off and both Brees and Manning say ‘fuck it.’ It will be hard to top last year’s drama, but if the game is close midway through the third quarter, look out.

I truly want the Saints to win. It would be great for their franchise and city and we could finally just call them a great football team rather than “the team of destiny.” BUT,  I think the Colt’s pull it off in similar fashion to the Jets game–a tight first half, maybe a few big plays by New Orleans, but the Colts hang around, then BOOM before you know it, they’re up by 14.

So, final prediction: Colts 31, Saints 20.

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