Tampa Bay Sports Day

A Different Kind of Super Bowl Preview

I have been listening for two weeks how the Colts have this one wrapped up by about 25 points. Even though I’m picking Indy to win, not so fast on the blow out people. This is going to be closer then any one imagines, at least for the first three quarters.

Both teams are powerhouse offenses, but they arrive there by different measures.

The Saints offense does it’s very best to pass you to death, and run when they have to. Lots of pundits who think they need glorification see the New Orleans squad as the remake of the 2007 Giants or the 1999 Rams. I say they are neither, although they carry elements of both squads. Look deeper. Their offense does move the ball through the air like “the greatest show on turf”, but the Rams had almost no weaknesses of offense except for Kurt Warner’s own health. The Saints have a few more “holes” then that. Dew Brees was surely rattled in the NFC title game in more then one instance. Any NFC team with a strong front seven group of pass rushers would have found a way to “Stunt Blitz” the Saints Offensive line. As good as they are, they can’t protect Brees forever. They will have to run the ball for at least 130-150 total “in game” yards to be successful and have a shot at the win.

By “in game” I mean meaningful yards. I mean Bush/Thomas between the tackles, we are going to clear out the Colts front defensive line yards. Can they really do that? Will they be able to take advantage of Freeney’s injured ankle and possible limited mobility? Or will Freeney pull himself if he feels he will hinder the team’s ability to stop the New Orleans offense. I spoke with one reporter I know well this week who has covered the Saints in the past and I asked him if what I thought were three keys to the game for the Saints were accurate.

A)    Will Jon Vilma and Darren Sharper get Manning and company off the field quickly enough to make a difference? He felt that was the main key for the Saints defense, to be able to contain if not stop the Colts numerous offensive weapons.

B)    Could Shockey be dependable enough to be an escape valve for Drew Brees if the receivers are constantly jammed at the line? He felt that  “J-Shock” could be as tough as a “G-Shock” watch if it comes to it, but the Saints have to worry about him getting jammed at the line as much as the wide outs.

C)     Finally, Do the Saints really believe enough in who they are that they belong there playing against Peyton Manning. “That’s the 64K question” he said.

For Indy, it’s much more simple. Manning has to be Manning. He must lead the Colts on 5 to 7 minute drives each possession, keeping Drew Brees off the field. He must spread the ball to all his options, especially Dallas Clark, who moves better in space then any other player on either team with the ball or without.

If Manning gets Clark the ball at least 6 times, the Saints can pack it in and get ready for Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. But, if they limit Manning’s ability to pass, and force Addai and Brown to shoulder the load on offense, then you have a different game, a game that comes down to the last offensive possession.

Of course, everyone forgets the guys in the trenches, the Offensive linemen. It’s also going to come down to which front five outplays the other’s defensive unit, who will pass protect better, who will run block better.

My prediction: Colts 34-Saints 24, but it’s going to be close until the 4th quarter.