Unfortunately for Indianapolis Colts fans, their elite quarterback, Peyton Manning, will be unable to prevail over the New Orleans Saints and their stud Drew Brees.
Drew Brees has thrown for more than 4,300 yards four years in a row. Brees completed 70 percent of his passes in 2009. It was the eighth time in the last nine years that he has completed more than 50 percent of his passes.
Early on in Brees’ career, many believed he would never be worth the second round pick that the San Diego Chargers used on him. In the 2002 season, the first year Brees started all 16 games, he had a quarterback rating of 76.9. In 2003 his rating decreased to 67.5.
In 2006, the Chargers let Brees go and the talented QB signed with the Saints. In his time with the Saints, Brees averaged over 4,500 passing yards and has led his team to it first Super Bowl in franchise history.
On the other side we have the man who seems to be in every commercial in the last five years, Peyton Manning. The list of Manning’s accomplishments is long. He just won his record fourth MVP award. He is a former Super Bowl MVP and has the record for most seasons with over 4,000 yards passing. In his 12-year career, Manning has thrown for 4,000 yards 10 times.
One of these quarterbacks has to win. In reality though, it will come down to which defense can come up with a big stop late in the game. That is why the Saints will take home their first Lombardi Trophy in team history.
The Colts’ top defensive player, end Dwight Freeney, injured his ankle in the AFC Championship game against the New York Jets. The severe ligament tear may sideline the five-time Pro Bowler for the big game and even if he does play, he is expected to be severely limited. Without his presence the defense will be severely weakened.
Freeney has been wrecking havoc on opposing quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2002. The man is a freak of nature. Freeney is the best defensive player on the Colts and the team will not be able to replace his productivity.
Both of these teams will put on a show. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a showing like we did in week one of the playoffs between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals. Both teams combined to score 96 points in that game.
In the end, the loss of Freeney’s production will be too much for the Colts’ defense to overcome. Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense will run wild and this year’s Fat Tuesday will come a few days early in the big easy.
Prediction: Saints 35, Colts 28
The Indianapolis Colts traveled to Miami, Fla., three years ago and won their second Super Bowl. This year, they’ll return to the same stadium and defeat the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
When making an argument for the Colts, two words could suffice: Peyton Manning. Manning capped another stellar season by winning a record-setting fourth NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
What separates No. 18 from the rest of the quarterbacks in the league is his meticulous preparation and ability to adjust when things are going badly. The AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets was a perfect example of Manning’s prowess.
The Jets’ defense shut down Manning and the Colts in their first two offensive series and led 17-6 late in the second quarter. Trailing by 11, the Colts final drive of the half was vintage Manning, as he took Indianapolis 80 yards in four plays for a touchdown.
Manning would finish with 377 yards and three touchdowns and the Colts would outscore the Jets 17-0 in the second half. The second-half surge punched their Super Bowl ticket.
One would assume that Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark were the beneficiaries of Manning’s proficiency. However, it was former sixth-round pick Pierre Garcon who set an AFC Championship game record with 11 receptions to go along with 151 yards and one touchdown. Rookie Austin Collie turned in a great performance of his own with seven catches for 123 yards and one touchdown.
The Saints’ defense will try and attack Manning the same way he harassed Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game. The difference is that Manning will get the ball out quickly to one of his many weapons and not force dangerous throws.
With two weeks to prepare, the Colts’ offense has almost an unfair advantage. Expect Indy to light up the South Florida scoreboard all night long.
In the regular season, they ranked eighth in points allowed per game and were in the top half of the league in both sacks and interceptions. No one will confuse the Colts’ defense with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, but they are no longer a detriment to the team.
Another key factor is the team’s attitude heading into the game. Indianapolis is determined to silence the pundits who criticized them for forgoing a chance at an undefeated season by resting their starters. New Orleans, meanwhile, seems to just be happy to be in the Super Bowl.
With all the hype surrounding it, the Super Bowl is more of an event than a football game. The Colts veterans from the 2006 team know how to deal with the hectic atmosphere. The same cannot be said for the Saints.
The Colts’ imminent victory over the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV will give them their second Lombardi Trophy in the past four years.
Prediction: Indianapolis 34, New Orleans 21