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Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the Super Bowl?

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 03, 2010 7:30 AM

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Indianapolis Colts

In Super Bowl XLIV, look for the premier player in the NFL — Indianapolis Colt quarterback Peyton Manning — to further his case as the greatest player of our generation.

This season, Manning was sacked 10 times, a league low for QBs starting more than 13 games. The question for the New Orleans Saints: Can they can pressure and knock out another MVP signal-caller?

Without pressure, the Manning will look like he’s playing darts in the backfield. His receivers should capitalize on a Saint defense that has surrendered 284.0 yards a game through the air this postseason and ranked 26th in pass defense in the regular season.

Don’t expect Manning to be the next notch on the Saints’ QB-railing defense. He visits the Colts medical staff as often as he does the Rogaine section of Wal-Mart.

We roll our eyes when the talking heads on ESPN preach about the importance of experience and a bye week before the Super Bowl. So let’s get the first part out of the way: Manning has won one title, while Drew Brees hasn’t.

Next.

Now onto the importance of a bye week. Since the arrival of Brees and head coach Sean Payton in 2006, the Saints are 3-3 in games after a bye week, including the postseason.

On the other hand, Manning and the Colts are 6-1 over that same amount of time.

In the game, we don’t know what to expect. But we can be sure of one thing: Manning knows a thing or two about winning — especially with extra time to prepare.

He has won 201 games since entering the league in 1998. Bet on him having 202 at the beginning of next week.

— by Nick Gans

New Orleans Saints

Not even Hurricane Katrina could completely defeat New Orleans, so why should anyone think Peyton Manning can?

When the Saints and Colts clash in Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints will once again prove too difficult to beat.

Indianapolis boasts league MVP, future Hall of Famer, and the most talented of the Mannings in Peyton. But after that, things get a little murky.

Wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie have come along much faster than expected, but they are still raw and inexperienced, and Reggie Wayne will be a marked man throughout the game.

It will come down to former Hawkeye tight end Dallas Clark.

If Jonathan Vilma and the Saints’ linebacking corps can negate Clark, then the Colts are in for a rough game.

The Colts’ defensive stud, Dwight Freeney, has a torn ligament in his ankle. Even if he does play, that injury will most certainly neutralize the most important aspect of his game — speed.

And while both defenses will be tested by the two explosive offenses, it’s New Orleans’ “D” that will have the edge. The Saints have only given up 15 touchdown passes on the season (fewer than one a game) while turning their opponent’s over 26 times.

Led by Darren Sharper, the opportunistic Saints’ secondary will prove too talented for the young receivers of Indy, while quarterback Drew Brees, running back Reggie Bush, and an arsenal of other weapons will pick apart an overmatched Colt defense.

After all, Brees led the league in passer rating, completion percentage, and touchdowns.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Colts won’t be asking ‘Who dat?’ They’ll know the Saints came marching in.

- by Matt Schommer


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