Super Bowl XLIV: Saints Face Colts' Defense and Freeney's Ankle

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 8:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a sack during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 20-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Well, it came from the horse's mouth. Dwight Freeney says his ankle is feeling good and that he'll play come the big game on Sunday. Call me cynical, but I don't believe it. Freeney had to say that he is feeling A-OK for Sunday's game, but he has no choice.

He is by far the most feared weapon on Indianapolis' defense and one of the keys to the Colts' success the past several years. He forces offenses to prepare for him; Freeney is the equivalent of Lebron James. Your entire scheme has to be changed to account for a pass rusher of Freeney's caliber.

Along with Raheem Brock on the other side of the line, they wreak havoc on offensive lines and cause offensive coordinators and quarterbacks to lose sleep. Indianapolis' pass rush is the motor that makes that defense run and without their motor, they will be less explosive, less aggressive, and less flexible to do all they can to confuse Drew Brees.

This is so important for the Saints for one reason: Jerome Bushrod, who has had a good season, but has also been shown to be vulnerable against elite pass rushers like Demarcus Ware and Jared Allen. 

Brees was harried by both Dallas' and Minnesota's pass rush. New Orleans' offense was not its normal, dynamic self under those circumstances, allowing Brees to face steady pressure, which certainly slowed them enough to make games close and Dallas actually won that Saturday night match-up.

So if Bushrod doesn't have to face Freeney, and the Colts' pass rush is rendered one dimensional with only Brock playing, the Saints will be more likely to take advantage of the Colts' pass defense.

If Freeney doesn't play or isn't at 100 percent, the Saints will be able to seize that opportunity and possibly win the game.

My prediction for the record is New Orleans Saints 35 Indianapolis Colts 31.