Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV Prediction

Now that I've gone over what the Colts ( and Saints ( need to do to win the Super Bowl, I will give my game prediction.

It wouldn't surprise me to see the Saints jump out to an early one or two-possession lead, like the Jets were able to do last week. New York used the run early to set up a play-action touchdown to Braylon Edwards and had Brad Smith throw a pass out of the Wildcat. New Orleans likely won't need to use that kind of trickery to score on the Colts defense, but they will need to run the football.

The Colts have held both the Ravens and Jets under 100 rushing yards, but neither of those teams has enough of a passing game to deter Indianapolis from focusing on the run. And while the Saints march downfield against a beat-up Colts defense (along with Dwight Freeney, starting corner Jerraud Powers is now questionable as well), Peyton Manning will be dissecting the Saints' blitz for the first quarter or two.

Reggie Bush's impact will be key to a Saints victory. If he can make a big play or two out of the backfield or in the return game, it could make the difference in the Saints winning or losing this game. After exploding against Arizona he was held in check by the Vikings, a game the Saints deserved to lose if it weren't for 5 Minnesota turnovers. If Bush is bottled up again, New Orleans may have trouble keeping up with the Colts offense once Manning gets dialed in.

Even if the Saints grab an early lead, the Colts won't go away. Their offense is built for coming back and scoring quickly, while their defense is built to play with a lead. They drop back into coverage, keep the play in front of them and let Freeney and Robert Mathis play downhill off the ends. But with the health of Freeney in question, the Colts' defensive gameplan changes drastically, even with a lead.

The Colts are favored in this game, and rightfully so; they've done the job in the two playoff games so far and have been convincing in victory. I was taking the Colts to win before the news broke on Freeney, on the basis that the Saints would be unable to keep up with Manning and the Colts offense. Now, I'm not so sure. Even if the Saints fall behind, Brees should have ample time in the pocket to look downfield and make good decisions.

In the end, it comes down to the Saints. We pretty much know what we're going to get out of the Colts, which is 25-30 points and a defense that allows yards and not touchdowns. Stopping the Saints will definitely be more difficult without Freeney, even though Raheem Brock is an excellent backup.

Like I said in their keys to victory, if the Saints can run the football and pressure Manning into a mistake to flip field position and take possessions away from the Colts, they will win this game. It's hard for me to envision Manning making a mistake, but the Saints have 9 forced fumbles in the playoffs and recovered four of them. Even if Manning stays perfect, I think the Saints can force a turnover or two and win this game.

The Pick: Saints 30, Colts 27

1 comment:

  1. I am really looking forward to the Super Bowl! The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are definitely the best teams in their respective conferences. I am rooting for the Colts. I think it will be a close, high-scoring game. If I had to predict a final score, I’d say the Colts will win 34-31.