Fans of offence, rejoice! Saints, Colts figure to pile on the points
move the chains.
Indianapolis (16-2) offers Peyton Manning, the only fourtime MVP, throwing to a deep group of targets led by two 1,000yard receivers: Reggie Wayne and tight-end Dallas Clark.
And while the Colts’ D has been stingy in the playoffs and the Saints force lots of turnovers, this could be a matchup that wears out the scoreboard at Sun Life Stadium.
Indy, winner of the last Super Bowl here three years ago, is a fivepoint favourite.
“We have to be balanced and mix the run and the pass,” Brees said. “We have to have a plan for their pass rush, because we know how they can rush the passer. Take care of the football, try to keep Peyton and that offence off the field as much as possible and take advantage of the opportunities when we get them.
“ You can’t be one-dimensional against these guys, because they are too smart for that. You have to be able to do both. If you can do it efficiently, possess the ball, convert third downs, keep them off the field, eat up the time of possession — all of those things that you talk about as an offence, that’s the key for success.”
Except that’s not necessarily what the Saints do best. They are not a grind-it-out team. New Orleans had explosive plays this season from 75, 68, 66, 55, 54, 41, 37 and 36 yards. The Saints ranked sixth in yards rushing in 2009, but they went 15-3 because of their passing prowess.
New Orleans allowed just 20 sacks during the season, but that’s seven more than Indy’s QBs made. With DE Dwight Freeney, the Colts’ primary pass rusher, ailing with ankle ligament damage, it could present Brees more opportunities to throw.
The matchups of Colts DBs Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey against Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Shockey, Thomas, Bush and Pierre Thomas will be intriguing.
Still, the key to the game will be Manning against a vulnerable New Orleans defence. And that’s the difference.
When Darrelle Revis, the best cover cornerback in the league, blanketed Wayne in the AFC title game, Manning looked elsewhere. Youngsters Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie were unstoppable. The Saints don’t have a Revis, and their defence doesn’t come close to matching what Indy faced from the Jets and Ravens.
Bottom line: Manning may be playing the best football of his sensational career — certainly good enough to win the Colts’ second NFL championship in four seasons. COLTS, 37-27. ——— RECORD: Versus spread, 2-0 (110-133-3 season); Straight up, 2-0 (173-83 season) Best Bet: 6-13 Upset Special: 10-9