Alright, I know I’ve been MIA for the second half and even the entire playoffs, but that’s the consequence of working to the bone and mimicking that movie “Up in the Air”. But, there is no way I could miss out on giving my two cents in for the big game!
Let me just say that I don’t have a horse in this race, so we could look at it subjectively. With that said, I love the Saints story, but how could you root against the hometown workhorse in Peyton Manning?
Let’s first discuss the current line of 5.5, originally the line was 7 but the Dwight Freeney injury is huge. It allows the Saints O-line to potentially shift down and double on Robert Mathis. With a decreased pass rush, that is going to put a ton of pressure on the secondary to cover the army of Saint wide receivers. Let us not forget that Bob Sanders is also out. The Colts have been playing outstanding defense in his absence, but that has been the result of strong play on the defensive line.
The Saints on the other hand have not played particularly well. Let’s be honest here: They are lucky to be here. Minnesota dominated that game and barely lost despite 6 fumbles and 2 picks. Unbelievable that the score in any game would be close when there are that many turnovers. Now the Colts do not have the running game that the Vikings have, not even close. On the other hand the Saints have not seen an architect behind center like Mr. Manning. Unless you are in the AFC and face him often it is impossible to know how he operates and how quickly he gets rid of the ball.
The O-line for the Colts is just average. Yes, despite giving up only 10 sacks all season, they are just average. Why? Well, they also rank 26th in rushing which tells you that those few sacks are a result of Peyton’s quick release and decision making. Perhaps D- Coordinator Williams should have kept his mouth shut because the flags will be prevalent on late hits for which the Saints have been making a habit out of in the playoffs. This is going to hurt them.
I think we will see some surprises here and some other things play out as many have suspected. I think the Colts will display a better rushing attack than originally thought. I think the Colts will be calmer out of the gate and if they can withstand the initial onslaught, this may be theirs for the taking. I see the Saints tiring as a result of too much adrenaline. They are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders because they feel they have to win for the people of New Orleans. The Colts on the other hand are just all business. The second half will be the story of this game. I see the game starting off slower than people think, especially for two high flying offenses. If it is within a touchdown in the 4th quarter it is all Colts, but I don’t see it being so. While I wouldn’t bet against Peyton, I will say that sometimes things come to fruition if you believe it. The Saints believe they are a team of destiny and this is going to play out as such. Saints +5.5