Super Bowl 2010: Battle of the quarterbacks

Cord Sports staff picking Saints’ win

Kevin Campbell, 27-17

James Choleras, 31-27

Luke Dotto, 31-27

Justin Fauteux, 38-34

Sam Riches, 31-28

Cord Sports staff picking Colts’ win

Praveen Alwis, 34-38

Brenden Decker, 31-24

Tieja MacLaughlin, 31-27

Chris Paola, 27-24

Tyler Warry, 27-17

‘Breesy’ win for Saints

Four years ago the city of New Orleans was in disarray in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the Saints organization felt the pain of the city. Displaced from their home and continuing a slump of one playoff appearance since 1992, the black and gold went 3-13 in 2005, with little hope of progress.

The 2009-10 Saints have ridden the emotion of the rebuilding city and its inhabitants to a dominant 13-3 regular season and a trip to Super Bowl XLIV, turning some heads along the way.

It would be hard to argue that there is a more dominant offence in the NFL. Led by quarterback Drew Brees – who led the league in completion percentage, touchdown passes and quarterback rating– no team was even close to matching the 510 points New Orleans put up.

The Saints’ receiving corps is all about balance, with talented weapons like Marques Colston and Robert Meacham – who both had nine TDs this year – as well as speedster Devery Henderson who had over 800 yards.

Just like the aerial attack, the backfield behind Brees has been one of balance and talent.
Though no Saint ran for over 1,000 yards this year, the team had three superb running backs to call upon.

Pierre Thomas led the threesome with 793 yards on the year with Mike Bell behind him, racking up 654. Though former USC superstar Reggie Bush had an average regular season the versatile speedster has come on as a force in the post-season, with an especially impressive performance against Arizona in the Divisional Round.

With Dwight Freeney injured, the Saints will go at his part of the Colts’ defensive line; if the Colts have trouble stopping the run, Brees will be even more effective passing and will indulge his love of big plays against an-average-at-best Indianapolis secondary.

On defence, neither team has much to boast about. But the Saints are led by ball-hawking free safety Darren Sharper, whose nine interceptions will cause problems for Peyton Manning.

Up front, defensive end Will Smith had 13 sacks in the regular season, and will have lots of freedom to go after Manning, because of the Colts’ lack of a productive running game.

There is nobody in the world who does not expect a shootout between Brees and Manning. With the offensive arsenal that the Saints bring, combined with the loss of the vital Freeney on the Indianopolis defensive line and the mediocre Colts secondary, the Saints should come to a fairytale ending for the 2009-10 season.

Prediction: Saints win 37-30.

Petyon’s the ‘Man’-ning

Indianapolis presents an under-rated defensive unit that ranked seventh in points per game, with an average of 19.2.

The Colts also only allowed an average of five yards per play, good enough for eighth in the league. The message here is that the Colts defence is good and while undersized, it can certainly limit the Saints offence.

The obvious strength of the Colts is quarterback Peyton Manning. He has won at the Super Bowl previously, coincidentally also in Miami, so there will be no nerves for the field general.

Manning seems to get better when under pressure, as evidenced by his performance against the Jets in the conference championship.

Simply put, Manning gets the ball out of his hands fast enough that the defence cannot get to him in time.

Throughout the regular season, Manning was sacked a total of 10 times, by far the lowest in the league.

The progress of Indy’s young receivers, specifically Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, is remarkable.

Together, they combined for over 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Add this to the usual output of veteran star Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark, and Manning may have his best receiving corps ever.

The one area where Indianapolis cannot matchup against New Orleans is rushing offence.

Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown came together to amass the worst rush offence in the league in terms of yards and yards per game.

However, they did rank in the top half of the league in touchdowns and short yardage categories, meaning that their rushing attack is a factor in the red zone.

Indianapolis is also under-rated on the offensive line. The group is led by centre Jeff Saturday, who does an amazing job making adjustments pre-snap, something that is critical to the success of Manning’s no huddle offence.

While the Colts defence is not exciting or flashy, they get the job done. Do not underestimate the effect of their defensive line’s ability to rush the passer, as it allows the Colts to drop more men into coverage and make up for their injury-depleted secondary, which still features talents such as Antoine Bethea and the emerging Melvin Bullitt.

Manning should get MVP and show total poise and control all game, leading the Colts to victory.

Prediction: Colts win 35-24.

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