Archive for February, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV Pick

February 5th, 2010 Comments off

New Orleans (+5) vs. Indianapolis
I think you can forget about trying to figure out whether, and/or at what level, Dwight Freeney will play. Same for whether the Saints will manage to get in their remember me shots on Peyton Manning. Because, sure, Freeney’s ankle could be a factor. The guy’s primary role is as a pass rusher and he relies on a spin move to be effective in that role. If his ankle affects his ability to make that move, it could make the day a good bit easier on Drew Brees. But we’re not going to have any idea of what Freeney can and can’t do until the game is well under way. And, sure, if the Saints D can get in the kind of shots on manning that it delivered against Brett Favre in the NFC Championship, it could have a significant impact on the game. But you don’t see defenses get to Manning that way very much, and there’s a reason for that: his release is too damned quick. Maybe it’ll be different for the Saints (like, if they can figure out a solution for the way the Colts move Dallas Clark all over the place, which confounds the hell out of most pass rushes, they might be able to get in some unexpected hits), but there’s no way you can count on that.

Ultimately, I’m not sure any of it matters much. Unless you actually manage to take out one of the quarterbacks — a possibility so unlikely it’s not even worth discussing — both of these offenses are gonna produce, no matter what you try to accomplish on D. That’s what they do. And while I think the Saints D matches up marginally better against the Colts offense than the Colts defense does against the Saints offense, I don’t think either unit has the ability to do much more than occasionally slow the opposition down.

So what does make the difference here? Dunno.

More likely than not, it’s gonna be a matter of who has the ball last. But since there’s no accounting for that, I’m left to look at turnovers and special teams. And in both of those areas, the Saints appear to have a slight edge. New Orleans finished the season with a giveaway/takeaway differential of plus-11; Indy wrapped up with a plus-2. In the playoffs, the Saints are at plus-7, the Colts at plus-3. (It bears note that the Saints have got most of their post-season turnovers by way of fumbles, and the Colts by and large don’t fumble; but then you’d also have to consider that the Colts do give up picks and interceptions accounted for the better part of the Saints’ regular season takeaways.) The Saints return both punts and kickoffs better than the Colts. New Orleans punt and kickoff coverage also has been consistently better than Indy’s.

Honestly, I remain unsure of how to pick this game. But since every place I try to find any potential edge I come up with the Saints leading by a hair, I’m gonna look for the upset here. New Orleans 41-37.

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