Tuesday, February 2, 2010

For the Colts to win the Super Bowl...

Over the next few days, I will be putting together a preview of this Sunday's Super Bowl between the Colts and Saints. I will start with the keys to victory for the Colts.

-Protect Peyton Manning
The Saints, much like the Jets, like to bring the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Gregg Williams is one of the league's most aggressive defensive coordinators and it's unlikely he'll get conservative in the biggest game of the season. New Orleans has forced a postseason-high 7 turnovers in their two playoff games after finishing the regular season third in interceptions and leading the league with 8 defensive touchdowns.

Peyton Manning is not one to make those big mistakes. The Jets held Manning down for 28 minutes, but he took over in the final 32. That could happen again this week as Manning works early to figure out how to counter the Saints' blitzes. He tends to get the ball out quickly and has been sacked only 14 times all season; twice against the Jets' blitzing scheme last week.

The real question is whether the Saints will be able to force Manning into any mistakes at all, something the Jets were unable to do. One or two turnovers could create points for the Saints offense, get Manning off the field and make the difference in a Saints victory. Anytime you can take the ball out of Peyton Manning's hand you need to take advantage.

-The health of Dwight Freeney
This one is pretty obvious; the presence of Freeney and Robert Mathis at defensive end allows the Colts to pressure opposing quarterbacks with just a four-man rush. They sit back in coverage, keep the play in front of them, make the tackle and most importantly, they prevent big plays: the specialty of the Saints offense.

Raheem Brock is no slouch off the bench, but he's also no Freeney. The Colts would likely have to blitz more to create pressure on Drew Brees, potentially exposing their secondary to the deep ball with Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.

A torn ankle ligament is a serious injury, and one that would sideline Freeney is any game besides the Super Bowl. If he plays, he will surely be limited and might be more effective playing only on passing downs, as the Saints would likely test that ankle by running at him on early downs. If he manages to play and can still get pressure on Brees, it will be a huge boost to the Colts' defense.

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