Super Bowl Preview: Super Sunday in Miami

It’s all come down to this.  Super Sunday, the most important football game of the year.  And looking out my window seeing the two-plus feet of snow, to me Miami looks like some kind of Eden.  A sunny, drunken Eden full of football and car commercials.  That’s what the Super Bowl should bring.  Oh!  And the commentary.  The magnificent media commentary we receive before, after, and during the game, whether it’s from Golic, Van Pelt, Young, Berman, or any of the numerous other pundits on TV should be……….well repetitive.  “Peyton is the best ever.”  “Peyton playing against his childhood team.”  “Probably something about Brett Favre.”  It should be relatively repetitive banter between most commentators, saying very similar things.  But what about the game?  There should be a game happening between the hours of commentary if tradition holds.  And speaking of commentary, what’s my take on the game?

The Offense:

Colts: The Colts offense has been rolling on all cylinders this season.  Marvin Harrison’s absence has not caused any drop off in production and Reggie Wayne is a more than qualified first option.  Manning’s having maybe the best season of his career and I’m sure he will have a great showing in the big game.  Grade: A+

Saints: The Saints offense is good at putting up points.  They have a stellar quarterback with a rocket arm and they use him to his utmost ability.  They run a great offense with excellent execution and they should be expected to put up at least a few dozen points if they make the right play calls.  Grade: A

The Quarterbacks:

Colts: Manning is playing maybe the best football of his career and that is saying a lot.  Superstar quarterback, shouldn’t get a lot of sacks or interceptions in this game.  Grade: A+

Saints: Drew Brees has arguably the best arm in the league.  Watch out for the big play. Grade: A+

The Running Backs:

Colts: The Colts running game is not what the team is known for but can be guaranteed for a couple of big plays.  Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown have made for a respectable running duo.  Grade: C

Saints: The Saints have found the missing piece, a running game.  Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas have combined for a respectable 1,820 yards from the line of scrimmage.  Thomas is more of an every down back whereas Bush is a special situation guy.  The Colts cannot ignore Bush, but don’t need to worry too much about him.  Grade: C+

The Wide Receivers:

Colts: The Colt’s wide outs will only be as good as their QB, which means they will be unstoppable.  The AFC Championship showed us that all Peyton needs is a receiver who can catch the ball and the Colts will have success in the air.  If you cover Wayne, you leave Collie and Garcon open.  And if you leave Wayne open…….well you’re in trouble.  Dallas Clark is a superstar tight end and will have some big catches.  Grade: A+

Saints: The Saints receivers are elusive but not necessarily dangerous.  Marques Colston and Devery Henderson make for a very good one-two punch and can be counted on for a couple of touchdowns each.  Brees is a good enough passer to find Moore and Meachem on occasion as well.  This batch of receivers are reminiscent of the receiving core in Arizona.  Grade: A

O-Line:

Colts: The Colts have one of the top offensive lines ever.  With Jeff Saturday at the helm, the Colts line had only given up two sacks to the mighty Jets D.  Manning will have plenty of time to throw the football on Sunday.  Grade: A+

Saints: The Saints offensive line is very solid.  They should give up some sacks on Sunday to a Colts defense that can apply some serious pressure.  Over all, the line should hold up fine.  Grade: B+

X-Factor: The X-factor in this game is Devery Henderson.  If he has a great game (over 100 yards a couple of TDs) the Saints have a much better chance of winning.

The Defense:

Colts: The Colts defense will need to play a great game on Sunday.  The Saints can punish you with a big throw or run you over all game.  Indy has a strong defense and a capable defense.  If Freeney is healthy it allows the Colts to breath a little easier.  Grade: B+

Saints: The Saints D is a real good squad when they show up to play.  They showed up to play for most of the season and I think they will on Super Sunday.  The Colts’ passing game is destructive to defenses and if the Colts can mix it up every once in awhile with a run they can be virtually impossible to stop.  The Saints have their work cut out for them.  Grade: B-

The D-Line:

Colts: It will be all about Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney (if he’s healthy) on Sunday.  If they can get pressure on Brees it will be a different game.  I think Freeney will be good to go today but if he can’t the Colts defense has to step it up.  A good line over all.  Grade: A-

Saints: The Saints’ line is solid but is going to have matchup issues against a very strong Colts O-line.  Will Smith needs to have a good game; if the Saints can’t get to Manning they are in deep trouble.  Grade: B

Linebackers:

Colts: Wheeler, Session, and Bracket make for a real strong trio of LBs.  Bracket has been around for a while and knows what it is to be a Super Bowl champion.  The Linebackers are going to be a force on the blitz.  Grade: B

Saints: The Saint’s Linebackers are a very talented bunch.  Jonathan Vilma has 110 tackles this season and Scott Fujita has 2 forced fumbles.  They can be a dangerous trio if they can get past that line.  Grade: B+

The Secondary:

Colts: The Colts secondary is not the same without Bob Sanders playing safety, but it’s still very solid.  Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea have picked up the slack nicely.  They are a solid secondary but might struggle against the Saints’ wide outs.  Grade: B-

Saints: The duo of Harper and Sharper is a strong one.  Darren Sharper is a star on defense and the heart of the Saints D.  The CBs are impressive as well.  Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter are more than adequate NFL cornerbacks. The main problem for the Saints secondary will be Manning’s ability to find open receivers.  Manning can just pick apart a defense.  Grade: B+

X-Factor: The X-factor on defense is Gary Brackett.  Brackett can disrupt the Saints offensive production by confusing the Saints defense.  The LBs need to pressure Brees and add some protection in the secondary.

The Coach:

Colts: Jim Caldwell has done well as a rookie head coach.  Granted, he was trained for years under Tony Dungy but he is a very talented coach and seems to handle the players real well.  Grade: A+

Saints: Sean Payton has had pretty constant success as the Saints head coach.  This season has cemented him into a pretty sweet gig as the head football coach.  Real smart guy, not afraid to take risks.  Grade: A+

The Verdict:

The Colts will take the lead by 10 points just before the half and will not look back.  The Saints will keep it close but will not have enough on defense to keep the Colt’s offense at bay.  Manning will win his second Super Bowl MVP award and his second Super Bowl.  The end score:  Colts 34, Saints 24.

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