Super Bowl XLIV may be held in South Florida, but there is a distinctive New Orleans feel to this year's championship contest.
Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans looking to rid the team of it's rough quarterback history and lead them to the promise land after the city has gone through so much since Hurricane Katrina.
This has to be one of two situations that has the Manning clan rooting against Archie Manning's beloved Saints. History is important, but family ties trump all, even in football.
With the story lines set, the 16-2 Colts take on the 15-3 New Orleans Saints. The Colts are looking for their second Super Bowl victory in four years, while the Saints are looking for their very first.
This match up features two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the National Football League.
Manning's ability to run his fast pace offense is legendary, but it was Brees and the Saints that produced the No. 1 offense in the league during the regular season.
Brees put up exceptional numbers, passing for 4,388 yards with a 109.6 rating. The Saints' productive rushing attack, averaging 131 yards per game during the regular season, provided them with a powerful and balanced offense.
That offense has seen a hit in terms of yardage, but is averaging 6.5 more points per game at 38.
Manning's fourth MVP season produced 4,500 yards and a 99.9 quarterback rating. His effort improved during the post season, putting up 30 more yards a game.
The rushing attack, however, has maintained its lower profile, averaging 71.5 yards per game on the ground during the playoffs.
While the offenses, particularly the quarterbacks, will take center stage, it is up to the defenses to try to slow down the other attack for the chance at a Super Bowl ring.
The Colts' defense has put up exceptionally better numbers in the post season, giving up 10 less yards per game and 9.2 less points per game. The Colts are hopeful that injured defensive end Dwight Freeney will be able to participate.
The Saints' defense has held steady in terms of points per game, but is giving up 60 yards more per game in all.
Both teams are known for their powerful offenses—in particular the passing attacks—and Super Bowl XLIV should provide fans with yet another offensive show. The Colts' defense is playing better, but they haven't faced an offense like New Orleans in the playoffs.
The key for either team is going to be to slow down the other's passing attack, as stopping either has proved nearly impossible.
Both teams would like to use their running attack for balance, but the Saints are more dependent than the Colts on this factor. It sets up as a game that will be a shoot out, and won on the strength of the quarterback's arm.
While the Colts are favored, it is a close match up. However, New Orleans has the karma factor going for them. A party in New Orleans sounds better than one on Indianapolis, too.
Saints: 35–Colts: 31
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