Feb 4, 2010
Not that I think many people are sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for my Super Bowl pick – especially since my picks have been shaky this post-season (although I did pick Ind and No to meet in the big game), but I’m taking the Saints in an upset.
Colt QB Peyton Manning has been fantastic this year, as usual, and the progression of WRs Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie has been incredible. But despite the fact that Indy damn near went undefeated, this hasn’t been a dominant team. They’re obviously very good, but their OL and running game has been average (Manning makes the line look so much better than it is) all year. Their secondary is vulnerable, and with DE Dwight Freeney likely limited or even out, their defense could be in trouble.
I wound up being wrong about the keys to the Viking-Saint game, and I know why. Not only was QB Drew Brees off in the game (that might have been his worst game in two years), but their offense was totally constricted due to protection issues. It was literally night and day compared to how they usually run their offense. I think they played things too conservatively in the game too concerned with protection, and it should have cost him, but it did not. Protection on the edges is easily this team’s biggest weakness, but if Freeney is not himself that is a HUGE factor because New Orleans should not have to devote an extra guy to block, meaning they can send more receivers out running routes. If the protection issues are minimized, then Brees should be able to consistently move the ball against this defense.
Now, the Saint defense has some issues as well, but their strength is in their secondary, which works in their favor this weekend. Some people don’t remember because it was two months ago, but when New Orleans’ secondary was at full strength earlier in the season, it was arguably the best in the league. Their starting CB tandem was arguably the best in the league – and S Darren Sharper is such a huge factor. Their run defense has been shaky, but I’m not sure the Colts and their mediocre running game can take full advantage.
Obviously, the Colts could certainly win the game, but when I look at both teams over the course of the full season, I view the Saints as more of a championship team. It’s very close, but I give the Saints a slight edge. I picked them to win the Super Bowl in mid-October after seeing this team in action for 5-6 weeks, and I’m sticking with that prediction.
I’ll be at the game, so predictions aside, I’m just hoping for a good game. That shouldn’t be too much to ask given this marquee matchup.