Sunday, January 24, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV: Indianapolis Colts vs New Orleans Saints

So the field of 32 has narrowed down to two, and for the first time in two decades we're treated to the two undeniable best teams playing one another. I know I may have just offended some Chargers and Vikings fans, but the Colts and Saints both got to 13-0, and for most of the season looked unflappable.

The Colts handled the New York Jets today after a really close first half that saw the Jets go up 17-13 on Indianapolis. The Colts would dominate the second half and easily close out the Jets in the fourth quarter to win their second AFC title in four years.

The Saints won their first NFC championship today by beating a Vikings team that actually outplayed New Orleans today, but caused a lot of errors. All season we watched and waited for Brett Favre to implode and it finally happened today. For the second time in three seasons the final play of Favre's career was a game losing interception.

The Colts versus the Saints should be a dream come true for football fans. Both teams have great offenses lead by two of the leagues premiere quarterbacks; Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Each teams defense has their strengths and weaknesses. On paper the match looks even, but the intangibles tell a different story.

Since the 2005 season, the year that Indianapolis succeeded New England as the elite franchise of the NFL, the Colts haven't lost very many games (excluding week 16 and 17 contests). When Peyton and company have lost it's been mostly to teams that run the 3-4 defense such as Dallas in 2007, the Chargers in 2005, 2007-08, the Steelers in 2005, Packers in 2008, and the Patriots in 2007. Other than divisional opponents in late 2006 and early 2008, the only 4-3 team that has been successful against the Colts since 2005 are the Chicago Bears of 2008.

That's correct. The ONLY 4-3 team outside of the AFC South to defeat the Indianapolis Colts since 2005 are the 2008 Chicago Bears. Take into account that (excluding AFC South opponents, though what am I hiding? Since 2005 the Jaguars are 2-8, Titans are 2-8, and Texans are 1-9 vs. Indianapolis. That's a 25-5 record against pretty good 4-3 teams) the Colts have played over twenty 4-3 opponents.

So that's going to be the key to victory for the 2009 New Orleans Saints; replicating the 2008 season opener where the Chicago Bears beat Indianapolis 29-13. That game Matt Forte ran for 123 yards, but the key to the Bears win was a Lance Briggs 21 yard fumble return.

You may call me crazy for bringing up this irrelevant game, but you need to learn from those who were successful in order to be successful yourself. I understand that the Colts played this game with an injured Peyton Manning, but still, it was a 4-3 having success against the Colts.

A game that the Saints will not want to repeat is the 2007 season opener, where the Colts dominated the saints 41-10. Though 2007 seems like a long time ago, the Colts will return seven starters on offense, and six starters on defense. The Saints will return six starters on offense, but only four starters on defense. More or less, these two teams are very similar to the two teams that met in 2007. At least personnel wise.

Systematically, neither team should not expect anything they hadn't seen before. The Saints do what the Saints do and the Colts do what the Colts do. The winner of this game will be the team that does what they do better in fourteen days.

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