Friday, February 5, 2010

NFL Weekend Preview: Super Bowl Weekend

The Saints will have their hands full trying to stop this scene from unfolding in Miami.

Super Bowl XLIV
New Orleans vs. Indianapolis:

So, it all comes down to this, and all things considered, this is pretty good. We’ve got two teams, both who didn’t lose a game at all in the regular season until we were most of the way through December. Two number one seeds, two fantastic quarterbacks who can put up points, some bend but don’t break defenses, and Archie Manning hovering above it all with his legacy on one side and his son on the other. Pretty good stuff, really.

This particular Super Bowl doesn’t come with any large television markets attached, as Indianapolis and New Orleans are both relatively small NFL cities, but the Super Bowl is one event where it doesn’t even matter who is playing, people watch. It’s like a national holiday, and it really should be. This game should get a huge audience, and hopefully the game lives up to the usual Super Bowl hype.

The lead up to this game has been rather quiet thus far. The biggest story is whether or not Colts defensive stud lineman Dwight Freeney is going go play. Freeney has an ankle injury, and even if he does play, it probably won't be at maximum efficiency. However, that story is boring, as is most of the lead up. The weather was bad, so media day was indoors, and nothing major of note happened. As far as the usual Super Bowl hype, to me it feels quite muted. Perhaps that's due to it actually being quiet, or perhaps I just haven't watched enough Sportscenter this week.

Really the biggest pregame noise is being made by Tony Dungy, the coach of the Colts for many years who is now an analyst and who has said that he expects the Colts to win big. That would be humongous news if Dungy still was affiliated with the Colts, but since he no longer has any actual say in the organization, it's a little muted. Plus, he's probably right, I tend to agree with his assessment of the game. Really, I just hope that the Broncos hire Tony Dungy and then immediately get rid of him, because when Tony Dungy leaves a team, that team goes to the Super Bowl. It happened in Tampa where he coached for years, but then the first year he was gone the Bucs won it all; and now the season after leaving the Colts, some random guy named Jim Caldwell has the Colts in the big game. I'm telling you, Tony Dungy leaving your team is a good luck omen.

I think the reason that the pregame buzz has been so quiet is because this game looks on paper to be a pretty good game. You have two number one seeds who clearly were the best teams in their respective conferences through the regular season facing off, and the prospects for a good game are strong. You have two terrific signal callers in Manning and Brees, and it shapes up to be a pretty good game.

For what theoretically should be a pretty close game, pretty much everyone is riding the Colts. Oftentimes when everyone thinks that one team is going to win, they go out and lose just to make things interesting...of course, the other team also has something to do with it as well, but I'm leary of picking the Colts because EVERYONE is picking the Colts. The Saints have an explosive offense, they have a defense that isn't great, but can be very good when they have a lead to play with, and they have the collective good will of the majority of non-committed sports fans backing them.

I have to admit, if I'm choosing this game with my heart, it's the Saints in a runaway. How do you root against Hurricane Katrina victims? There isn't a huge differential between these two squads. They both could win, and on paper, there is just as good a chance that the Saints win as the Colts. Unfortunately, they don't play these games on paper, they play them inside television sets. As much as I want to make the case for the Saints winning it all, when I look at the Colts there is one major thing that makes me take them. They are quarterbacked by a man who dominates football games, I have seen too many games in recent years where all things being equal, Peyton Manning wins the game. I think we're due for that to happen yet again.

As much as I am hoping for a great and memorable game in which New Orleans prevails in an exciting finish, I just keep thinking that this Super Bowl is going to be a dud of a game. It feels like the kind of game where the Saints are overpowered by Manning and company, and there is nothing exciting or close about it. We've had two fantastic Super Bowl games in a row, and this isn't traditionally a game with a huge history of having close and fantastic games. Seems like Super Bowl XLIV will be a regression to the mean, as the Colts put the stamp on Peyton Manning's greatness with his second championship. As much as I hate to say it, and as hard as I will be rooting against my pick, make mine: Colts 31 Saints 20

My Picks Scorecard:
Last Week: 2-0
Regular Season: 161-95
Playoffs: 6-4
Playoffs Against the Spread: 5-5
Year to Date: 167-99

No comments: