Super Bowl XLIV is nearly upon us. After almost two of the most drawn out weeks in the entire year, the annual showdown between the AFC Champions and NFC Champions is finally here.
This year’s matchup features the Indianapolis Colts versus the New Orleans Saints. Although I could write on and on about why the two week layoff between Championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday is entirely unnecessary, I’d rather just cut to the chase.
The Indianapolis Colts are going to be crowned Super Bowl Champions come Sunday. There is no doubt in my mind. I realize that the fairy tale ending would be a New Orleans victory considering how the city is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, but this is not March Madness folks; there will be no Cinderella story.
For the first time in 16 years, the two best teams from their respective conferences will face-off in the Super Bowl. Both teams are well qualified to be here and I think it will be a great game. The Colts are going to win, but that does not mean it is going to be a blow out by any stretch. New Orleans will put up a fight and be in it the entire way. Indy and No. 18 will be too much and come out victorious, 38-34.
Peyton Manning is simply the best that the game has to offer. I cannot see myself picking against him. He has not won four MVP’s for nothing and he has been on this stage before, performing extremely well. His performance in Super Bowl XLI against the Bears was good enough to earn him MVP honors and I feel he will bring that same kind of effort this year.
The Saints rank 25th in the NFL in total defense. Yes, they do create a lot of turnovers and play at times much better than a 25th-ranked defense, but 21.3 points per game and 357.8 yards is way too much to give the Colts' offense. Manning will pick apart that defense in no time. If New Orleans cannot get turnovers, Manning and the offense will be marching up and down the field.
Manning is too smart to turn the ball over as much as the Saints need in order to be successful. He has only been sacked 10 times all year and many of those were surrender sacks where he willingly gave himself up knowing he was going to take a hit. He gets rid of the ball quickly and is aware enough to avoid taking crushing blows. Crushing blows that New Orleans has used throughout the playoffs against Kurt Warner and Brett Favre, making them uncomfortable, forcing bad decisions.
The Saints will score. Indianapolis does not have the defensive ability to completely shut down Drew Brees and the offense. I don’t think anyone in the league has the capability to.
If it gets to be a shootout, my money is still on Manning and the Colts. He has proven time and time again that he is clutch and can pull out wins when it matters most. In games against Miami, New England and Jacksonville (all wins), Indianapolis was losing in the fourth quarter. In each contest, the offense scored with fewer than six minutes to go to take the lead for good.
The AFC has won seven of the last nine Super Bowls. A Colts' victory in Super Bowl XLVI will make it eight of 10 for the AFC in the NFL’s biggest game.