POSTED ON FEBRUARY 3, 2010:
With the Vegas line against them, the New Orleans Saints still can win the Super Bowl
Betting Man. The New Orleans Saints have lots of advantages backing them to beat the Indianapolis Colts and take the Vince Lombardi trophy
Who Dat? What starts as a question quickly becomes the answer. Who Dat!
Let's get one thing straight. You will be (or have already been) inundated with Super Bowl stats, plots, match-ups and weather reports. But I guarantee that you will not find this angle anywhere else. Trust me.
The Saints will win Super Bowl XLIV. There is no question about it. The remainder of the column will point out logical reasons why New Orleans will upset Indianapolis.
The Vegas line opened with the Colts favored by four points. It rocketed to a six-point line within the first week. For gambling novices, here is how this works.
Vegas set the line at four trying to entice equal betting on both sides. Americans pounced on the Colts action, thus causing the ripple effect of the line to shift in the Colts favor.
Had the Saints soundly defeated the Vikings, the line would have been close to a pick'em. Since the Saints looked bad against Brett Favre--and all of America saw--the public perception is skewed.
Now if we have learned anything during the past 10 or 15 years, America is a safe bet to pick the wrong guy (or team in this instance). Public backing is the kiss of death for the Colts. Advantage: Saints.
There is no question these were the two best teams throughout the regular season. The Colts started 14-0, while the Saints marched to a 13-0 start. Confusion arises when America assumes the Colts would have gone 16-0 if they played their starters.
This is a myth. There is no statistical data showing the Colts would have beaten an everything-to-play-for Jets team in Week 16 followed by a slop fest in Buffalo the following week. Benching their starters was the out clause they needed to protect the air of invincibility. Advantage: Saints.
New Orleans won every game in which "experts" predicted doom and gloom. Many thought the Saints would lose to the New York Giants in week 6 (48-27). Then, it was the Dolphins (46-34). Surely the mighty Patriots would defeat the Saints (38-17). The Cowboys finally snapped the streak, but no one thought the Cowboys could do it. Not even Cowboy fans.
Now, the Saints are in an old familiar position. No one thinks the Crescent City club can defeat the Colts. "Us against the world" is a strong rallying cry. Advantage: Saints.
Drew Brees had a perfect passer rating (158.3) in the regular season when targeting Robert Meachem. Yes, the same Robert Meachem who led the once proud high school football factory at Booker T. Washington. Meachem is a prototypical big play receiver.
Brees' postseason target of choice has been Devery Henderson. Brees has compiled a 147.3 passer rating when targeting the other speedster.
At last count, the Saints field seven legit receiving threats. The Colts have maybe three skilled cover guys on their entire roster. One of them is Jacob Lacey, a rookie out of Oklahoma State. Of course this also begs the question, how can OSU consistently produce NFL-caliber defenders but field an atrocious defense every year? Advantage: Saints.
We are told ad nauseam how defense wins championships. Another go-to cliché is, "You must run the ball and stop the run to win."
The Colts and Saints eschew conventional thought. Both prefer to toss the pigskin around like a hot potato. Each quarterback excels in exploiting the mismatch and striking with venom. So if the passing games are equal, where is the tipping point?
The Saints' power rushing attack is once again being overlooked. The Colts collapse the pocket with their speedy but undersized defensive ends. Coach Sean Payton will game plan to offset the Colts tendency to rush up field. Advantage: Saints.
Special teams will come into play. Garrett Hartley will face no kick with more on the line than the one he booted down the middle to advance the Saints to the Super Bowl. The former OU kicker nailed the pressure-packed kick with power and accuracy of a preseason kick.
The Saints return men pose a threat every time they touch the ball. Reggie Bush, Courtney Roby and even starting running back Pierre Thomas have the Colts thinking punt and kick strategy instead of devoting time to other facets of the contest. Advantage: Saints.
Nineteen to one. That's the score of Colts players versus Saints players with Super Bowl rings. Without putting too much thought into it, you might think this experience favors the Colts. You would be wrong.
The Colts (sans Manning) may be content. They have a sense of entitlement. Conversely the Saints are ravenous for their bling. Who wants it more? Advantage: Saints.
This Sunday the world's eyes turn toward Miami and Super Bowl 44. Kickoff is set for 5:25pm on CBS.
For those of you who do not know me, here are two things you need to understand about everything you just read. Two reasons to caution yourself on the above column.
1. I grew up in Louisiana. This is the first column written exclusively with my heart. Picking the Saints to lose would be like rooting for my kid to get beat up on the playground. Not going to happen.
2. Here is the second reason everything mentioned above could be rendered pointless. Peyton Manning.
If you're not interested in Super Bowl coverage, how about some motorcross action at the BOK Center Saturday evening or Sunday morning?
The AMA Arenacross Series returns to Tulsa. The series features a pair of local riders in the series, Robbie Reynard, from Oklahoma City, and Tyler Bright, from Nowata.
Visit bokcenter.com for ticket information.
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