Will Super Bowl XLIV Live Up to the Hype?

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For the first time since 1993, the Super Bowl will be a match up between the top seeds in each conference and for good reason. The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts were clearly the best teams all season and they both proved that in the playoffs.  Since both teams were able to handle business and get to the Super Bowl, football fans have been blessed with the game they have been waiting all season to see.

On paper the Colts and the Saints are as evenly matched as any two teams can be. Both teams are explosive and unstoppable on offense and they both have fast, opportunistic defenses. Neither team has a great defense but their each good enough to get a few stops per game, which is enough for these teams to win games. Here’s a look at what makes each team so great:

The Saints offense had a historically great season, ranking among the best offenses of all time with the 510 points they scored this season.  In addition to leading the league in total points and points per game, they led the league in total yards and yards per game. What makes them extremely dangerous is that everybody on their offense is capable of scoring a touchdown. 14 different offensive players scored at least one touchdown for the Saints during the regular season.

So not only do they score a lot of points, any one of their players is a threat to score and not to mention that they are lead by Drew Brees, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league. This season Brees solidified his spot among the league’s best; he led the NFL in completion percentage, quarterback rating and touchdowns. Not only did he shred defenses all year, he was the motivational and spiritual leader of the Saints, which is a big task considering how important the Saints are to New Orleans. If you ever watched a Saints home game this year, you can just see and hear how much the people of New Orleans love the Saints. Not only is Brees leading his football team, he is leading the people of New Orleans, without him the Saints would not be in their first Super Bowl ever.

The Saints defense is like their offense, fast and able to put up points but they also give up a lot of points. They rank in the bottom half of every defensive category, including 25th overall in total defense. But their defense is able to overcome this because they finished second in the NFL in turnovers forced with 39. In addition to forcing the turnovers, they scored touchdowns on five of those turnovers. The defense relies on turnovers, because without them they have a hard time stopping opposing offenses.

The Colts are equally good as the Saints on offense even though the statistics don’t reflect that. They were in the top ten in total yards and yards per game and would have been higher if not for an ineffective running game. That’s the big difference between the Colts offense and the Saints offense; the Saints are successful at running the ball while the Colts attempt to run it. But this doesn’t hurt the Colts because the passing game more than makes up for their inability to run. The Colts finished second in total passing yards and passing yards per game.

MVP Peyton Manning once again carried the Colts offensively as he does every year. But this year was different for Manning; he had to make up for the loss of Marvin Harrison with two rookies after losing Anthony Gonzalez for the season. Manning has relied on Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, the two rookie receivers for the Colts, to replace Harrison’s and Gonzalez’s production. Garcon and Collie both came out of nowhere but they proved to be great weapons. Just look at the games they both had last week against the Jets. Garcon led the team with 11 receptions for151 yards while also scoring a touchdown; Collie added seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown as well. Besides Collie and Garcon, Manning has relied on pro-bowlers Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Wayne and Clark are arguably the best wide receiver – tight end duo in the NFL. Just like Brees, Manning spreads the ball around, throwing to any receiver that is open no matter who it is.

On defense, the Colts are not much better than the Saints. They ranked 18th during the regular season in total defense. The one thing they do well is getting sacks and putting pressure of the quarterback. They finished the league with 34 sacks, which ranked around the middle of the league. Pro-bowlers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are threats to record a sack on every play. Even though their defense may not be the strongest unit they always play better in the playoffs. In important games, their defense has knack of stepping up their level of play.

So if you’re keeping track at home, both teams’ score are explosive on offense but have a hard time stopping teams on defense. I think this game comes down to turnovers. The team that wins this game will be the one that forced the most turnovers because turnovers become extra offensive possessions and with the way these teams score points, every extra possession is crucial. Because of this, I’m picking the Saints to finally win a Super Bowl, they just seemed destined to win it this year. Regardless of who wins, this should be the most entertaining Super bowl in recent memory.

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