Three thoughts on the Super Bowl: Part I
Three thoughts as New Orleans prepares for the first Super Bowl in the 43-year history of the franchise. We’ll have more of these almost every day the rest of this week.
1) ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons had a momentary lapse of sanity when he suggested Minnesota’s football history was worse than New Orleans’ in last Friday's column. Even after the overtime thriller on Sunday, the Vikings have been to as many Super Bowls (four) as the Saints have won playoff games.
Simmons argues the Saints have not had as many memorable horrible defining moments as the Vikings, but long-time fans could beg to differ.
A rapid-fire list:
The fourth quarter collapse against Philadelphia in 1992. Aaron Brooks. The 3-8 finish after a 5-0 start in 1993. Aaron Brooks. Losing 26-24 to the Los Angeles Rams in the regular-season finale of 1983 despite giving up zero offensive points until a last-second field goal. Aaron Brooks. Big Ben 1 and 2 in 1978. Aaron Brooks. Deion Sanders in the 1991 playoffs. Aaron Brooks.
2) The Saints match up better with the Colts than the Vikings
Here’s an oft-repeated question: If Brett Favre threw for 310 yards against New Orleans, how bad will Peyton Manning carve up the Saints’ secondary?
The assumption is wrong on two fundamental levels.
First, the last game is not be the only one that matters. New Orleans’ wipeout of Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round already has been forgotten. You know, the day when the quarterback with the three most prolific Super Bowl performances in NFL history produced only 14 points a week after his team torched Green Bay for 51. According to Saints’ statisticians, starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter have given up one touchdown pass between them in 18 games.
Second, Indianapolis has no running back remotely as dangerous as Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. The Colts were dead last in the NFL in rushing during the regular season and tied for second to last in yards per carry (3.5). Although Joseph Addai probably will beat his average of 55.2 yards entering the playoffs – the Saints’ leaky run defense boosts the profile of almost every back – he won't distract the secondary from its primary assignment, covering the receivers.
The Vikings forced the Saints to play the run, opening up passing lanes. Manning won’t have that luxury. He is certainly capable of exposing New Orleans’ nickel and dime backs (paging Randall Gay), but he will have to do it all on his own.
Advantage, New Orleans.
3) The Colts are better than the Vikings
That’s the problem. While Minnesota finds ways to beat itself (turnovers, penalties, kick coverage), Indianapolis has not lost a meaningful game this year. The Colts clinched home-field advantage by winning their first 14 games before virtually conceding their last two, in contrast to the Saints, who still were not assured of the top seed in the NFC when they lost to Dallas and Tampa Bay.
That should be enough to give you pause before you get giddy about the Colts' flaws. They have made the right plays when it matters most, rallying from fourth-quarter deficits seven times, including an NFL- record five weeks in a row at one point.
Manning will not throw a ghastly interception in the waning seconds like Favre did.
Re: Three thoughts on the Super Bowl: Part I
Al makes sense to me!!
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