Scouting report: Super Bowl XLIV — Saints vs. Colts

PRO FOOTBALL

Sam Farmer breaks down each aspect of Sunday's game and gives his prediction for the outcome.

February 07, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

Saints' run offense vs. Colts' run defense

The Saints had the sixth-ranked ground game this season, and the Colts finished 24th against the run. Still, this isn't the mismatch those numbers suggest. The Colts improved dramatically in that department as the season went on, and their numbers only got worse again when they mailed in games at the end of the season. Edge: Colts.

Saints' pass offense vs. Colts' pass defense

It all starts with Drew Brees, and he has so many weapons and ways to get them the ball. What's more, it's unlikely he'll have to worry about a healthy Dwight Freeney spinning his way past left tackle Jermon Bushrod. The Colts aren't entirely healthy in the secondary, either, so Brees could put up some big numbers. Edge: Saints.

Colts' run offense vs. Saints' run defense

The Colts have the league's worst rushing attack for a reason: They really only run to set up their play-action passing. They can be decent on the ground at times, but they're not going to try to run much in this game. The Saints haven't been spectacular against the run this postseason, surrendering 5.2 yards per carry. Regardless, the Colts will be throwing all game. Edge: Saints.

Colts' pass offense vs. Saints' pass defense

Peyton Manning is going to dictate the tempo of this game. Nobody works the play clock better than he does, and he'll squeeze every second out of it to figure out what the Saints want to do defensively. New Orleans has a better pass defense than in years past, but Manning is the master at finding and exploiting matchups. Edge: Colts.

Special teams

Reggie Bush could be the X-factor for the Saints, who really use him in the return game. Remember, the Bears opened their Super Bowl against Indianapolis with Devin Hester returning a kickoff for a touchdown (The Colts wound up winning, anyway). This season, the Colts finished in the bottom half of the league in kickoff returns and punt returns. Edge: Saints.

Coaching

Jim Caldwell has done a beautiful job replacing Tony Dungy, and the Colts have gotten much more creative and disruptive on defense with the switch from Ron Meeks to Larry Coyer. But the Saints get the nod with Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. One problem could be Payton getting too tricky in trying to out-think the competition. Edge: Saints.

Sam Farmer's pick

Although the Saints have a 4-2 edge in the above categories, the Colts are going to win. New Orleans had a 5-1 turnover edge against Minnesota, yet still needed overtime to win . Manning and the Colts aren't going to give them that much leeway. The game will be close for a while, then the Colts will build a comfortable lead before the Saints make the final score respectable. Colts 33, Saints 27

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