Well, here we are on the eve of the Super Bowl and once again my Chargers are sitting at home (or in a strip club, knowing many of them) preparing to watch the big game. I would love to go on a rant about how the Chargers showed again that they are immature and don't get the responsibility that comes with the paycheck. I could go on and on about LaDainian Tomlinson asking for his release and how it seems star players never leave San Diego in a pleasant fashion, but rather they leave frustrated, angry, and disappointed (See AJ Smith and Norv Turner).
I could talk about those things, but I would rather just move on and focus my attention on the teams that had the talent, maturity, fortitude, coaching, and luck to make it all the way to Super Bowl Sunday!
Yes, the Saints and Colts will meet tomorrow to provide much of the world with something to watch between commercials. We have arguably the best quarterback of all time in Peyton Manning, versus one of the greatest emotional stories in the New Orleans Saints. This should be a barn burner to the end.
I must admit that I am having a hard time picking this game's winner. I have been successful so far in the post season with just three losses, but I think I have changed my mind on this game on a daily basis. Most days, I say, "I want the Saints and Drew Brees, but I expect the Colts and Peyton to win." Then other days it's, "The emotion of the Saints will take them to another level that the Colts won't be able to match. Not to mention, with Freeney being hurt, the Colts defense will be much more vulnerable to the pass and run. Hopefully, I will come to a decision by the end of this post.
Looking at the Colts, I see an excellent passing game, led by Peyton Manning. However, with the late week injury to Reggie Wayne, I could see that attack slowing down if the injury has much effect of Wayne's running or cutting ability.
The Colts have the worst running stats in the league. That is true, but I would not say they have the worst running game in football. That privilege goes to my Bolts thank you. The Colts don't run poorly, they just don't run often. Their reliance, and the success of their passing game, makes it hard to rack up too many yards for Indy running backs.
Defensively, the Colts are small and fast. With Freeney, they have a very good pass rush and with Bob Sanders, they have the ability to cover well and turn the ball back over to their offense. Without Freeney and Sanders, they are average at best.
Coach Caldwell, of Indy, has a ton of pressure on him this week. Not only is he a rookie coach, he is the coach who threw out a possible perfect season in order to rest up for the post season. If he wins, he is mostly vindicated. If he loses, his fans will regret missing out on the perfect regular season. Fortunately for Caldwell, he has a pretty good coach on the field in Manning.
As for the Saints, they have many things on their side. For instance, Drew Brees is no slouch in the passing game. He moves the ball down field with a strong vertical attack and has Reggie Bush to dump the ball off to if the defense shuts down the deep balls.
The Saints also can rely on a solid running game with Pierre Thomas and company. The Saints should try to move the ball on the ground in order to open up the passing game, slow down the rush of the Colts, and keep Manning off the field.
The Saints defense is interesting. They just gave up a little less than 500 yards to Brett Favre and the Vikings. That leads me to believe that the Colts should be able to carve them up for ridiculous yards and with Manning's ability in the "red zone", the Colts should be able to put points on the board. However, the Saints "D" also forced five turnovers against the Vikings. Every defender is trained to strip the ball from runners and the corners and safeties are not afraid to cut a route and try to intercept the ball. Manning has had days in the past where he gets a case of the picks, but not too often.
What it comes down to is, can the Saints D keep the Colts offense out of the endzone? Also, can the Colts D do the same to the Saints? I must admit that my mind says that the Colts will win this game with relative ease. My heart however, and that little voice in the back of my head, says that Brees and Co. will outscore Manning and the Colts and win the game by less that a touchdown. In fact, I see a last minute drive by the Colts actually falling short due to a Manning interception to secure the victory for the Saints. It will be the biggest play the Saints D makes all day.
Final Score: Colts 34 Saints 38
MVP: Drew Brees