1. Manning being Manning
Not too long ago Peyton Manning was known as one of the biggest “chokers” in professional sports, but those days are long gone. He has six playoff wins in the last four years.
Brett Favre, by comparison, has just four in the last 12 years. Since 2007, his playoff QB rating is 99.9 (it was only 70.5 in his Super Bowl ’06 postseason). Peyton’s also playing behind the best offensive line of his career. Manning was sacked a career-low ten times during the regular season.
2. Third down makes a difference
Two weeks ago, the Saints’ defense allowed the Minnesota Vikings to go 7-for-12 in converting on third-down. It won’t get any easier for New Orleans this week. The Indy offense led the league in third-down-conversion efficiency at 49.2 percent.
3. It all comes down to discipline
In the postseason, the Saints have been penalized 15 times for 132 yards, while Indy has been hit just five times for a minuscule 30 years. The Colts also had the second fewest offensive penalties during the ’09 regular season.
4. Conference dominance (and lack there of)
Since 2004, Manning and the Colts are 21-4 against NFC teams (including their Super Bowl XLI victory over Chicago). The Saints meanwhile, are a marginal 9-7 against the AFC since 2006, the year the New Orleans’ “renaissance” began with the arrival of Drew Brees, Sean Payton, Reggie Bush, and Marques Colston.
History tells us that if the Colts are going to win, they’ll also cover the point-spread (they’ll accomplish both feats tomorrow, trust me). Since 2003, the Colts have won seven playoff games they were favored to win. They’ve covered in six of them.
The two best teams during the regular season are actually playing in the Big Game. It’s important to note just how rarely that actually happens. This is the first Super Bowl between a pair of No. 1 seeds since 1993.
And I must say that I have tremendous respect for the Saints and all they’ve accomplished on and off the field in the past four years. But anyone who picks New Orleans over Indy here is clearly thinking with their heart, not their brain.
Colts 34, Saints 23