Super Bowl Extra Large Intravenous Therapy (XLIV, or 44 for those that don’t speak Roman Numerals) will kick off in just a few days. Here’s a super-duper breakdown of the NFL’s biggest game.
To begin, I hate the Super Bowl. Two weeks of hype and hyperbole are too much for me. I don’t care if Peyton Manning’s brother is friends with Drew Brees. I don’t care if the Mannings’ rooting interests are torn. I’m not even interested in the 9,629 different ways a reporter will ask Dwight Freeney about the medical treatment he’s receiving and whether or not he’ll play. It got so bad this year that I avoided the endless barrage of Super Bowl content by resorting to the movie, Gamer (a mistake I unfortunately cannot reverse). After twelve days, I think I’m ready to delve into the Super Bowl festivities. Join me.
A quick disclaimer: I will be as unbiased and fair in my Super Bowl breakdown as possible, but I want to make clear that I absolutely hate the New Orleans Saints. We’re talking Ali-Vienna of The Bachelor hate. Yeh, it’s that bad. To the breakdown…
Last Week: 2 – 0 – 0
Postseason: 4 – 6 – 0
Sean Payton is numero uno on my “reasons I hate the Saints” list. Unfortunately for me, he’s a great coach and approaching “offensive genius” status. He’ll find ways for Brees and the offense to be successful, especially with a limited pass rush from Indy.
Jim Caldwell’s approach is nearly identical to his predecessor’s; quiet yet effective. Sadly, Caldwell is a victim of the “riding Tony Dungy’s coattail” talk. Let’s not forget Caldwell has the Colts in the Super Bowl in his first year after Indianapolis went one-and-done in the playoffs the past two years. He, like Payton, is an excellent coach. The deciding factor will be sideline decorum. Caldwell is stone-faced, Payton has that ghastly smirk. ADVANTAGE: Colts.
I know I’m flying solo here, but I think that Peyton Manning kid is going to be a heckuva quarterback someday. He just needs a little more time. ADVANTAGE: Colts
If a single back rushes for more than 100 yards, I will be shocked. New Orleans hasn’t received a 100 yard game from a back since week three. The Colts haven’t had a back surpass the century mark since week 11 … of the 2008 season. In depth analysis that can only be found here: these teams like to throw the football.
Reggie Bush is the wildcard. His touches were limited in the NFC Championship but the Saints will need his explosiveness to keep pace with Manning. Last time the Colts were in the Super Bowl a running back should have won the MVP. Maybe Joseph Addai will give us an encore. ADVANTAGE: Push
The Saints have burners in Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore, and Marques Colston gives them size across the middle. As deep as their unit is, the Saints receivers looked shaky in the NFC Championship game. Colston dropped some passes, Brees completed less than 55% percent of his throws for the first time all year, and the receivers struggled against Minnesota’s physical corners. The Saints need big plays in the passing game for their offense to reach its full potential. The Vikings successfully took away the deep pass and held the Saints offense to under 200 yards passing. (Yes, the Saints still won, but only because Minnesota handed the Saints the game via five turnovers.)
The Colts, on the other hand, employ a more methodical passing attack. Exploiting mismatches and capitalizing on opportunities make this offense unstoppable. When your quarterback can move defensive players like chess pieces, the receivers can focus entirely on catching the football. The Saints secondary can’t match up here. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Pierre Garcon will surpass 300 yards, again. ADVANTAGE: Colts
While he’s as creepy as ever, Jeremy Shockey isn’t the player he once was. Shockey and New Orleans’ other tight end, David Thomas (not that one) combined for 17 fewer receptions, 181 fewer yards, and 4 less touchdowns than Indianapolis’ Dallas Clark. The better quarterback has the better weapons. This could get very ugly. ADVANTAGE: Colts
Both lines are exceptionally good. Brees was sacked a total of 19 times this season. Manning was sacked on ten occasions. Ten is less than 19. ADVANTAGE: Colts
The punters may be irrelevant if the offenses march up and down the field. If there are more punts than expected, Reggie Bush could be the difference.
Field goals, both missed and made, have been significant in the 2010 playoffs. Indianapolis’ Matt Stover is a proven kicker where as Garrett Hartley is in only his second year. I’ll take the tested veteran. ADVANTAGE: Colts
Terrell Owens was the last injured player to play and contribute in a Super Bowl. A defensive end that relies heavily on his speed will absolutely be hampered by a bum wheel. There’s no way he’s the same player on Sunday. Without Freeney at 100%, the Colts pass rush will suffer and the Saints will remain in striking distance for most of the game.
The New Orleans front line put a whipping on Brett Favre and Kurt Warner over the past month. Don’t expect Manning to absorb the same blows. Manning has proven he’d rather look like a sissy than get his clock cleaned. His health will be a significant reason he’ll finish as the greatest ever. Peyton knows taking senseless hits won’t win games. A healthy body and clear mind will. Without Freeney in top shape, the Saints get the edge. AVANTAGE: Saints
Would you rather chase Dallas Clark around the field, or contain Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas on screens? Neither will be easy. ADVANTAGE: Push
You can imagine the restless nights these young men have experienced over the past two weeks. Manning and Brees don’t make life easy on opposing defensive backs. The Colts are young at the corners and will probably be without their usual pass rush. That’s not good news for Colts fans. However, the Colts have more depth in their secondary than the Saints, and safeties Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea are as talented as any safety tandem in the league. The Indy secondary also has the luxury of knowing their offense will score points, allowing them to play more aggressively on defense.
The Saints secondary shares this luxury, but baiting Manning into mistakes is significantly different than baiting Favre. Favre will roll the dice and challenge a defensive back. Manning strings the DB along just long enough to burn him. I know Darren Sharper tried to convince us the Saints will deliver a few “remember me” hits on Manning. I’m inclined to believe Manning will deliver more “remember who I am” throws though. Why insult Peyton by pretending you don’t know if you’re playing Eli or Peyton? I mean seriously. You don’t wrap yourself in beef before camping in Yellowstone do you? I would love it if, after throwing for 350 yards and 4 TDs, Manning finds Sharper at midfield, puts out his right hand and says, “I’m Peyton by the way, and you are?” ADVANTAGE: Colts
Alright, the final tally comes to Colts-7, Saints-1, Push-2. Obviously, I failed to leave my partiality aside. Sorry. I can’t support a city that jumps on a team’s bandwagon only when they’re winning. I didn’t see the Super Dome sold out at the end of the 2008 season, did you? Didn’t think so.
There isn’t much for a fan like myself to root for in this game. The game is being played in Miami. Both contestants are dome teams. The team colors don’t do anything for me. All I have is my hatred for the Saints, my man crush on Peyton Manning, the commercials, and token shots of the Kardashian’s pretending to know what is happening. No, I’m not a fan of the Super Bowl, especially this one. The thought of Sean Payton hoisting the Lombardi Trophy gives me nightmares. It would be equivalent to giving Gerard Butler the Oscar for Gamer.
If I were Charles Barkley…
Speaking of the Round Mound of Rebound… Basketball season is in full swing. This can only mean one thing: More Charles on a regular basis. I couldn’t be happier. On Thursday’s broadcast, Chuck had this to say when asked if the Boston Celtics could get healthy: “Old people don’t get healthy, they die.” Classic. I love the NBA on TNT.
New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts (-5)
Last Week: 2 – 0 – 0
Postseason: 3 – 7 – 0
New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts Over 56.5
Last Week: 1 – 0 – 0
Postseason: 2 – 1 – 0
(Lines as of 2/5, 5:10PM ET, from bodog)