I feel the need to preface this short column by noting that, though I live in Indianapolis, the Denver Broncos are my favorite team, and have been for a quarter-century.
Therefore, while I do support the Colts, I’ve only resided here four years, and neither bias nor subjectivity should be taken into account with any of my information or predictions about the Colts. In fact, I have been as honest and critical as anyone in this city toward the home team over the past month.
That said, I picked the Colts to easily beat the Ravens and Jets the past two weekends (almost on the numbers), and was correct. I will do the same for the February 7 game in Miami for similar reasons: the Colts are just a better team than the Saints right now.
The media may somehow avoid this topic, but I don’t know what has happened to New Orleans since their incredibly impressive November 30 Monday night win over New England made them 11-0, but they’ve looked beyond pedestrian the past seven games — many of those against less than stellar opponents too: Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, etc. Their defense may create turnovers, but has been scored upon to the tune of roughly 24 points per game during that time as well.
The offense looks, for lack of a better term, mediocre. It’s hard to fathom saying that, since this was a team with one of the best 11 game offensive performances in NFL history coming into December. In the past seven contests however, they’ve “only” put up 24 per game (low by their lofty standards), and if you exclude the Arizona playoff game, it’s just 20 per game.
This Drew Brees-led offense only had 257 yards Sunday night, which included overtime. The Saints were also aided by sloppy penalties on the Vikings, inconsistent officiating, coin tosses, turnovers and so on. “Opportunistic,” as the Saints’ defense is incessantly called by the same lazy studio guys (Strahan, Johnson, Carter, Bradshaw, et al) who mutter 2005 clichés about the Colts’ run defense, is often a code word for “lucky.”
Minnesota was perhaps the better team, though congrats to the Saints for making the plays (or to the Vikings for not making them, which Peyton Manning certainly will) when necessary. Of all papers, the Wall Street Journal — not generally known for its sports coverage — may have had the best recaps yesterday.
If the great Peyton Manning threw for nearly 400 yards and put 30 points on the board (could have easily been 42 as on three occasions Indy was inside the ten and settled for field goals) against arguably the NFL’s best defense, what will the NFL’s best signal caller do against the Saints and their lackluster defense, whose main boast is that they can knock a 40 year-old quarterback down a lot? Potentially forty-plus points on the scoreboard, in my view; just as Minnesota would’ve put up that many had the Vikes not turned the ball over five times.
And if the Saints offense struggled — and everyone saw it — against Minneapolis, how can they score enough against the Colts’ splendid defense that’s allowed just 20 total points in two playoff games? Naturally, the media will still ignore how solid Indy’s defense is, but the numbers don’t lie, and it’s why the point spread has been steadily rising in Indianapolis‘s favor the past 24 hours. Remember, the Colts are 16-0 this season when playing their starters a full game.
Reiterating: Indianapolis, like they were with respect to their last two opponents, is just a better football team. They also have the experience factor on their side. The Colts were the NFL’s best in 2009, and this game truly has the potential to be a blow out. We’ve had two great super bowls the past two seasons, so don’t complain. At least there are “storylines,” and not all involve the Crescent City and Hurricane Katrina either.
What do you think?
Who will win Super Bowl XLIV?
- Indianapolis Colts (47%, 988 Votes)
- New Orleans Saints (53%, 1,123 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,106
* – Peyton Manning photo credit: Achievement.org via SportsMonarch.com