The Designed Rush, Super Bowl 44: The Game We Wanted All Along

Well, my preseason pick for a Chargers-Eagles Super Bowl proved to be wildly inaccurate, but the revised playoff predictions I made in Week 15 allowed me to save a little face by correctly calling the Super Bowl participants. While the Colts opened as 4.5 point favorites and the line is tilting in their favor by the day, I'll stick with the prediction I made then - that the Saints will win in two weeks. ↵

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↵The Colts defense has for a few years wrongly held the reputation as being soft, but now it seems like they're being overly feted for their performance during the AFC playoffs. Bear in mind that the team has gone through what have been essentially two one-dimensional offenses during their playoff run to the Super Bowl. The three times the Colts played a top 10 ranked offense in the regular season (twice against division rival Houston and once against New England - two of which were at home), they surrendered a not horrific but hardly spectacular average of 26 points. Holding New Orleans to 26 is probably enough for the Colts' offense to secure victory, but I don't see it happening. ↵

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↵While statistically the edge on defense in yardage does go to the Colts (and on offense to the Saints), a game such as this is going to be decided by who can force the critical turnover. The Saints have shown all season that they have been the better team at doing just that. Forcing fumble after fumble was the only thing that kept them alive against the Vikings. Peyton Manning won't make the killer mistake that Brett Favre did at the end, but a couple fumbles by his teammates would ensure that he wouldn't get the chance. Indianapolis wasn't exactly impervious to coughing it up against the Jets - Joseph Addai lost one and Reggie Wayne was very, very fortunate to recover his own fumble in the second half while the team held a 20-17 lead. ↵

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↵What has to concern Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is his unit's inability to cover the middle of the field during the postseason. Green Bay and Minnesota torched them with ease by attacking with slot receivers and tight ends. No doubt that Dallas Clark will take on added emphasis when Indianapolis sees that vulnerability. The Saints, however, were able to batter Brett Favre consistently in the NFC Championship. Peyton Manning struggled early against the Jets when Rex Ryan's defense was able to apply pressure. New Orleans is better able to do this without elaborate blitz packages and that may serve them well against the Colts. ↵

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↵The Saints can be worn down with the run, but a grind-it-out approach won't been seen by either side unless the game gets lop-sided in the second half. And Indy hardly has the ground attack to exploit that even if they wanted. One thing I will say about the Colts' running game is that it has puzzled me how, even though Joseph Addai left briefly with injuries during each playoff game, the Colts have favored him in large part over Donald Brown. Brown has been the more explosive back throughout the season. Granted, Addai is the veteran and may better understand assignments, but it seems like the Colts' attack is that much more potent when Brown is on the field, but he seldom is. ↵

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↵Both teams played in Miami and won during the regular season (in both instances the winning offense started sluggish, only to surge for a comeback victory) so one would presume there's enough familiarity with the surface that that can't be used as an excuse should one of the high-powered attacks falter. There's really no predicting which quarterback will trump the other, so I won't even take a stab at it. Aside from Marino and Montana (which resulted in a dud of a game, sadly) it's arguably the most anticipated QB showdown in the history of the title game. No matter who comes out on top, let's just hope it delivers a game on par with the last two years. ↵

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↵NFL Player/Figure Tweet of the Week ↵

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↵"Indy yall deserve a year to be cocky! 12th man yall helped us out today! Thank u! We didn't get a wave!But yall definitely helped us thanks!" -- Raheem Brock, yesterday. ↵

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↵Understandable for Brock to be praising his team's fans for making noise. But he's disappointed that they didn't do The Wave? That abomination has no place at a football game, even among fans as lame as those in Indianapolis. For shame, Raheem. ↵

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↵Truth in Advertising ↵

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↵Heinous or not, Wal-Mart made a commercial where a clown steps on a unicorn and terrifies children. Points for you, corporate behemoth. ↵

↵Dispatches from Madden Nation ↵

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↵A simple plea that I know won't be heeded but I'm going to make anyway: Please cease using Madden simulators as a predictive measure for upcoming playoff games. While we're at it - let's quit with Tecmo Bowl predictions as well. While it's nice that one such exercise in simulation produced scores close to the actual outcomes on Sunday, it's a tired gimmick. No one watches these 10-minutes videos anymore. ↵

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↵A Delicious Bundle of Gripes ↵

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↵-- Here's Chad Ochocinco performing "Dat Ain't My Baby" from his upcoming album Child Please. Couldn't make out most of the lyrics, though GIRL, YOU TRIPPIN' sounds like an infectious hook. "You Take the Damn Trash Out" sounds like it might be a treat. I will say, that's less stage antics than I would expect as a musician out of Ocho. ↵

↵-- After Indianapolis advanced to the Super Bowl, there were some who immediately claimed that it validated the Colts decision to rest starters in Weeks 16 and 17 of the regular season, and those who ever questioned it were foolish. This is a supremely stupid argument. What tangible benefit has resting the starters shown over for this Colts team over the 2007 Patriots, who went for 16-0 and also advanced to the Super Bowl? Should Indy go on to win, perhaps the claim could be made that the rest helped. Though with the extra week between the two playoff games and the Super Bowl, what further relief could lax performances during the last two regular season games give a team late in year? Even if the Colts walk away from Miami with the Lombardi trophy, they needlessly denied themselves a chance at history. ↵

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↵-- Jay Mariotti begs for Brett Favre to return for yet another year. If that doesn't get the Gunslinger to stay away, we may have to resort to the National Guard. ↵

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↵-- What other annoyance does the great Favre vacuum produce: speculation of a Donovan McNabb trade to Minnesota. It really is a daisy chain of devastating idiocy. ↵

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↵-- Conference title weekend was the most watched in 28 years. The NFC Championship Game was the most watched non-Super Bowl program since the Seinfeld finale in 1998. The Favre finale was much more satisfying to viewers, however. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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