It's hard not to think that Super Bowl XLIV is going to be a good one this Sunday. It's one of those matchups that everyone wants to see with two offensive powerhouses. I think it's going to be a high scoring game.
Personally I like the Colts in this matchup and not only because Peyton Manning has been there before, is a good friend, and I get along well with his dad Archie Manning, but mainly because of the Indianapolis quarterbacks coach Frank Reich. He was with us all those years with the Bills as well as another Colts assistant Pete Metzelaars. Pete however, was coaching there the last time Indianapolis won the Super Bowl so he has a ring already, but Frank doesn't.
So I'd like to see the Colts win it so Frank can get the Super Bowl ring that he didn't get as a player.
I realize that the Colts offense is what gets all the headlines for that team, but I will say the Indianapolis defense is playing some pretty good football of late. They impressed me with the way they were able to shut down that Jets running game in the AFC Championship game. However, not having a 100 percent healthy Dwight Freeney doesn't help their cause.
I haven't been able to watch as much of the Saints defense through the course of the playoffs, but just from seeing the highlights I know they roughed up Brett Favre pretty good in the NFC title game. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to play a lot of man coverage and send extra pass rushers at the quarterback. And he's got the cornerbacks that can play on an island like Jabari Greer.
One of the keys for the Saints defense is being able to pressure Manning up the middle. It's a must if you want to have any kind of success in stopping him. The Jets got to him early in the AFC title game, but the Colts were able to adjust in the second half and counteract it, which was partly why they were able to score 24 unanswered points.
Peyton is really good at stepping up in the pocket and keeping his feet moving. His tackles know that they have a landmark where they can push the defensive ends up the field. So Gregg Williams has to be able to create pressure up the middle and take Peyton out of his element a little bit.
On special teams I think the Saints have a slight edge on kick and punt return. Indy has been susceptible to some longer returns at times. It'll be interesting to see what the Colts approach is with Reggie Bush on punt returns. Do they kick away from him? Do they hang it up to force the fair catch? Do they kick it out of bounds? Or do they go right at him knowing good coverage could get him to cough one up like he did against the Vikings? It's one of those underlying elements to the game that most don't think about.
As we've all seen in the Super Bowls the turnovers usually play a major factor in who wins and who loses. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are good about not turning the ball over. In the playoffs so far, Brees has a perfect touchdown to interception ratio of 6:0, while Manning isn't far behind at 5:1.
Defensively however, only the Packers (30) and the Bills (28) had more interceptions than the Saints (26) this season. The Colts defense had only 16 INTs. It's just something to keep in mind.
Either way I think it's going to be entertaining because it just might come down to which team has the ball last.