Monday, February 1, 2010
Well, friends, here it is: Super Bowl Week.
On the "Dave in the City" podcast, I begin a series of podcasts about why I think the Saints are the team which will bring home the Lombardi Trophy.
There are long odds, to be sure. The Colts are a 5.5 point favorite, Peyton Manning is the reigning NFL MVP, and Indianapolis has Super Bowl Experience to boot! Even so, I am undeterred in my pick. Here's why:
1. Dwight Freeney means more to the Colts than we know, and he won't be 100%. We learned earlier today that Dwight Freeney has a torn ligament which may be more severe than we think. Freeney will play, but he'll be only half as effective on the pass rush.
2. The Colts appear to be the superior offense, but look at the teams they played against. They faced an up-and-down Baltimore Ravens squad and a mediocre (at best) New York Jets team led by Rookie QB Mark Sanchez. It's easy to look like a good offense when the other team can't score points.
3. Defensively I give the edge to the Saints. The Colts have the aforementioned Freeney, but with or without him, the D looks slow and overmatched. This would be the first time, I think, the Colts secondary has faced multiple competent receivers. Baltimore featured only Mason. New York featured only Cotchery. With New Orleans, you get Colston, Moore, and Henderson. I'm not about to say the Saints defense is a picnic, but I'd be more confident placing a bet on their pass coverage vs Indy's pass coverage.
4. The "Chip On Their Shoulder". The Saints are almost universally panned as a Super Bowl contender. Most experts believe they "can" win the game, but almost everyone I know has given the edge to the Colts. Just about everyone has roundly criticized New Orleans for their lackluster defensive performance in the NFC Championship game. The Saints couldn't put the game away. The Saints gave up the ball too many times. The Saints had an awful passing performance in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Yet, I honestly think the Vikings had more to do with this than the Saints inherent problems "closing games." Come now, this isn't baseball! If you're good, you're good!
I've seen the Saints go toe to toe with many of the league's best teams this season: The Patriots, the Jets, the Cowboys (in a loss), and so on. Who's to stop them from keeping it close with Indy? And WHO, dare I ask, is to stop this Saints team from taking it all? In the end, I think the better defense wins, and if you ask me, that defense lies in New Orleans. Sharper and Co. will make it happen.