From Katrina to Canton
This is a Super Bowl preview that was originally published in The Concordian on February 2nd, 2010.
There’s an old saying in journalism that there should be no “cheering in the press box.” That means that no matter how long you have loved your team, journalists are encouraged to remain objective in their writing.
On that note, let me begin my Super Bowl preview by allowing you full disclosure; I’ve hated the Indianapolis Colts since the day I started following football.
How can you expect an objective article on a team that essentially lifted a middle finger to NFL history by sitting most starters in the second half of a week 16 game that let the Jets fall ass-backwards into the playoffs, eliminating my Texans from the playoff picture, while killing their own shot at an unprecedented 19-0 season?
With that said, here’s why the underdog New Orleans Saints will silence doubters in winning their first Super Bowl in the team’s 42-year history:
The Saints have one of the most explosive offenses in recent memory
True, the 2007 Patriots had more yards and more points than this year’s Saints, but that was due largely to Randy Moss’ out-of-nowhere 23 TD explosion. The Saints don’t really have a game-breaker of that calibre, but quarterback Drew Brees has an excellent supporting cast and almost anyone on the team is a threat to enter the end zone. The Saints use an impressive running game featuring Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to balance out their explosive passing game.
They finally have a defense to back up that offense
Though their defence does tend to give up some yards, the resurgent unit led by Gregg Williams has kept pace with the offense by forcing the third highest amount of turnovers in the league (41). Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Darren Sharper led the league with nine interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. They’ll need to force a few turnovers from Peyton Manning and company to stay in this game, and they will.
Some may argue that the Colts have the momentum. But then some people may be wrong. The Saints and their fans have endured a lot of hardship in the past, routinely ranking as one of the worst teams in the NFL. Because of their astonishing turnaround in the last five seasons, the Saints have become one of the league’s most beloved teams. So while a Saints victory seems all but inevitable relying solely on the information above, you can’t completely ignore the Indianapolis Colts. Here’s why:
The son of Saints legend Archie Manning and brother of Super Bowl winner Eli Manning looks like he could be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time once he hangs up his cleats. He already has a record number four regular season MVP trophies to his name. He already shook the “can’t win the big one” label with a Super Bowl win over the Bears three years ago. It seems that Peyton has done everything, so why predict his demise now?
Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, et al
The Colts have one of the best receiver-tight end combinations in the league with the aforementioned Wayne and Clark. Though their running game has struggled lately (especially with a banged-up Joseph Addai), the Colts do have the firepower needed to tally up yards and put some points on board.
It seems they have the necessary tools to put up points and win this game, yet one thing primarily stands in their way. And that is…
Flashback to Week 16. The Colts head into their game against the Jets with a record of 14 wins. Two more wins and they become only the second team to ever finish 16-0. With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, the Colts took out Manning and put in Purdue rookie Curtis Painter. On only his second drive, Painter fumbled the ball (and the game) away, allowing the Jets to take a 16-15 lead they would never relinquish. The questionable decision to bench Manning in the midst of such a historic opportunity sent shockwaves around the league. It also allowed the Jets to clinch a playoff spot the next week, which they eventually parlayed into an AFC Championship game against the Colts.
So how is letting the Jets fall into the playoffs going to come back and bite the Colts in the ass? Easy. After Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark were essentially shut down last week, Peyton proved that Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon were not mere afterthoughts, opening up this idea to Gregg Williams and the Saints defence.
Though no team that has lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (as the Saints did week 16) has ever gone on to win the Super Bowl, the Saints should become the first. The key to any football game is winning the turnover battle, which the Saints will due thanks to safety Darren Sharper and linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Look for Drew Brees to capture his first Super Bowl MVP trophy while leading the Saints to an inspired 38-30 victory.
One last thing: the opening coin toss WILL be tails.