SUPER BOWL XLIV Preview

The day has come.  Super Bowl Sunday.  The day when friends and families will gather together and toast the end of another great football season.  The day when kids play catch in the backyard dreaming that one day THEY will be playing for the NFL title.  The day when heroes and champions are made.  With the  smell of barbecue thick in the air and the sight of ice cold beer in the cooler wecelebrate the great game of football.  Football played at the highest level.  It’s bittersweet.  After 5 months, we will finally crown a champion.  At the same time, we will mourn the loss of another season and the long wait until next September.  But today is OUR day.  The day when the world will watch in amazement.

So let’s begin.  Super Bowl XLIV, on paper, has the making of a dream matchup.  Two of the games best quarterbacks, receivers a plenty, and numerous game changers.  If it all plays out correctly, we should be talking about this game for years to come.

Spread: -5   Colts

I expected the Colts to be favored for this game.  They’ve been there before (literally).  The scene of their last Super Bowl title was Miami.  New Orleans is the newcomer.  The fly in the ointment.  Will they spoil Peyton Manning’s accent into greatness?  If I were a betting man I would take the Colts.  I think that the Colts handle pressure situations, away from home, better.  Will the Saints be able to push through the nerves and the pressure of the situation?  That is the answer that will aid you in picking who will win this game.

Outlook: The New Orleans Saints need to weather the storm.  The Colts know that the Saints will be nervous and I think Peyton Manning will try to exploit that early with a few shots down the field.  How the Saints DB’s handle the pressure will set the tone for the game.

I expect the Saints to try and manage the game on offense.  Manage the game?  Yes, their greatest threat is Peyton Manning.  So keeping the ball out of his hands and putting together some long drives on offense will be imperative to a victory.  The Saints will have to find a way to run the ball.  Using Reggie Bush in a few creative ways can help make this happen.  Screens, draws, and swing passes should keep the Colts guessing and neutralize the Colts pass rush (Dwight Freeney’s specialty even with an ankle injury).

The Colts are going to be the Colts.  They will play their game and won’t stray.  The key to their victory is slowing down the Saints offense and putting them in 3rd and long situations.  If they can accomplish that, then they should get a few 3 and outs.  Short drives put the ball back in Mannings hands, which is where their advantage lies.

The Saints will try and make Peyton Manning uncomfortable.  Defensive coordinator has stated this week that he would like to put some “remember-me” hits on Manning.  But one problem, Manning knows that is coming and will get rid of the ball early.  I see Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon as big targets for quick hit passes early on.   If successful chipping away at the Saints defense, Indianapolis will take some calculated shots downfield to Wayne on posts and Clark over the middle.

One intangible……..The HEART of the New Orleans Saints.  They have so much support across the country, its almost their destiny to win this game.

Prediction: I think the Colts get out to an early 10-0 lead before the Saints get going.  The Saints battle back and go into halftime with just behind or with a slim lead.  In the second half I think the Saints get a few big plays from a turnover or special teams play.  But, Manning is the ultimate competitor and will find a way in the end.  I think this game comes down to a final drive by the Colts.  This game will end with a defensive play by the Saints or a offensive play by the Colts.  I love the story of the New Orleans Saints, but I’ve watched Manning in these situations too many times.

Final score:    Colts   31     New Orleans  27

Side note- I really like both of these teams and won’t be disappointed with any outcome.  I’m just going to sit back, watch, and toast the end of another great football season.  Where’s my beer?!!

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