I am already on record picking the Colts to win Super Bowl XLIV. I feel relatively comfortable that this is what will happen on Sunday night, but on a confidence level scale from 1 to 100, I would say that I’m at about a 50.
The reason is that it is the Super Bowl we are talking about here, a game that sometimes goes exactly as we think it will (Indy spanking the Bears a few years ago) and that, conversely, sometimes goes exactly how we think it won’t (the Giants beating the Patriots in ’08 and the Patriots beating the Rams in ’02).
The truth is that anyone who tells you they know what will happen on Sunday night is full of crap. We all just think we know a bunch of stuff that will probably happen might not actually end up happening.
So, since I haven’t really challenged my own initial gut instinct that Indy would win, I’ve decided to explore the Saints-Colts Super Bowl matchup and find a few reasons why the Saints, not the favored Colts, can win.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to do.
This one has been discussed ad nauseum already…and it’s only Wednesday. I also addressed it earlier this week in our Dwight Freeny injury update. The reason everyone is making a big deal about Freeney’s injury is because a) he’s an All-Decade player an impact position and b) the Colts small, fast defense revolves around Freeney and Robert Mathis pressuring QBs from the ends.
New Orleans has a lot of trouble over the past month keeping good defensive ends out of the pocket. The battle between the Saints’ O-Line and the Colts’ dynamic duo of rushers looked to be a huge advantage for Indy. If Freeney is out or hobbled, that advantage shrinks. The result will likely be more time and comfort throwing the ball for Drew Brees, and he’s deadly against any defense when he has time.
The Saints can run.
The Saints have least some semblance of balance, whereas the Colts do not. New Orleans finished the regular season ranked a surprising #6 in rushing yards per game (131.6). Indianapolis notoriously finished dead last, a full eight yards behind San Diego (80.9).
Clearly, the greatness of Peyton Manning makes for this discrepancy. The NFL is also a passing league now, so an inability to run does not equate to an inability to win. Regardless, this is an advantage for New Orleans, and I am sure that they will try to control the ball on the ground as much as possible to minimize the number of times Peyton can get on the field.
The Saints’ defensive strength is forcing turnovers.
New Orleans does not have a great defense. What they have is a decent defense that is great at forcing turnovers and being opportunistic. Amid all the gushing about Peyton Manning’s greatness – and it is warranted – people are overlooking the fact that Manning is not immune to throwing interceptions, even untimely ones.
On the season, Manning tossed 16 passes to the other team. The Saints defense, despite giving up the 26th most passing yards in the league, intercepted a whopping 26 passes, which was 3rd in the league.
For the Saints to win, they will need to get one or two interceptions. If they can then turn those INTs into immediate points, which Darren Sharper has proven to be so good at this season, the Saints will get a big boost both on the scoreboard and in momentum.
Remember the Ravens game just a few weeks back? Indianapolis had the Baltimore on the ropes in the second half when Ed Reed picked off two Peyton Manning passes and seemed to give his team one last breath of life. Unfortunately for Reed and the Ravens, he fumbled one right back to Indy and the other was negated because of a penalty. The point is that even the great Peyton will throw an untimely INT; New Orleans needs him to do it on Sunday.
Meaningless historical trends favor New Orleans.
Did you know that NFC teams are 6-2 in Super Bowls pairing #1 seeds? It’s true. Wikipedia says so. Also, the last three Super Bowl winners by conference went AFC, NFC, AFC. Now, I’m no genius, but the next one in the pattern would seem to me to be NFC.
How can anyone pick against the Saints with trends like these overwhelmingly in their favor?
God might be rooting for the Saints.
There is a good chance that God does not care about football. Even if he does, I would have to assume that he is like Roger Goodell and stays as impartial as he possibly can be.
On the off chance that God is a football fan and does allow himself to be swept up into storylines (you know, like the rest of us) you have to think that he’ll pull a few strings for New Orleans.
I could not believe in a God that doesn’t feel at least a little bit of guilt over Katrina. Maybe the man upstairs is waiting for Sunday to start making amends?
Obviously the answer is probably not, but it’s at least worth mentioning isn’t it? On the off, off, off chance that He is rooting for the Saints on Sunday night, well, not even Peyton Manning can overcome God…I don’t think.
Also, just to state it for the record, I do not believe that God nor Jesus looks like Drew Brees. I also differ from many of you New Orleans fans who actually consider God, Jesus, and Drew Brees to be the new Holy Trinity.
I’m a big fan of Drew Brees, but I have to let all of the Saints fan in on a little knowledge that they may not have if they didn’t grow up in Indiana. Drew Brees went to Purdue, and there is no way that any relative or incarnation of God is a Boilermaker. (But if you also went to Purdue, give back!)
I think that there are plenty of compelling reasons – and many more than what I’ve listed here – to believe in the Saints’ chances Sunday night. Still, t’m sticking with my original prediction. I think the Colts win but the Saints cover the spread, which now ranges from 4.5 to 6, depending on where you look.
Who do you think is winning Sunday night?
Who will win Super Bowl XLIV? Total Voters: 2,106
Who will win Super Bowl XLIV?
Total Voters: 2,106
For all of the New Orleans supporters out there, I know that there are plenty of legitimate pro-Saints points that I left out. What did I forget?
The comment section is yours to state your case for why the Saints will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.
* – Dwight Freeney photo credit: Matt Kryger via The Star
* – Darren Sharper photo credit: iSportsWeb
* – Drew Brees photo credit: This Saints blog
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