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NFL Week 22 2010: Super Bowl Weekend

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       After a long season that, for some, seemed too short, the NFL has been whittled down to two challengers: The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. All other games are meaningless; the most watched American sporting event is this Sunday, and America is certainly in for a show. But which team will win? Here’s week 22.

New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts
[Sunday 6:00]

       First, let me start by saying both teams are extremely deserving of playing in the Super Bowl. Neither team will come unprepared, and I’m expecting a great game. So, let’s dive right into it.
       The first place to start [logically] is at the quarterback position. When you put them side by side, they look pretty similar. Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees threw for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Both also threw over 500 times and completed over 350 passes. Actually, Brees threw for more touchdowns and less interceptions, which makes me wonder why Manning got his fourth MVP… Anyway, the quarterbacks are at the front of the pack. The one big statistic that jumps out at me is number of times sacked. Manning was sacked ten times during the regular season; Brees was sacked 20 times. Both are pretty impressive, but Manning’s pocket presence and offensive line in general has the upper hand when it comes to passing.
       When it comes to running the ball, however, New Orleans is miles ahead of Indy. The Colts ranked in the bottom five of nearly every rushing category during the regular season: Rushing yards per game [32nd], attempts per game [31st], yards per rush [31st], just to name a few. For the Saints, it was a completely different story: Rushing yards per game [6th], attempts per game [T-7th], yards per rush [T-5th]… You can see the clear difference. While the Indianapolis Colts enjoyed the success that came from Peyton Manning having the ball in his hands [And it’s hard to argue against 14-0], they became dependant on him, and therefore have a gaping hole in their offense. It’s hard to sell the play-action if the opponents aren’t afraid of you running the ball, and the Colts not recording a rushing touchdown this entire postseason should be kept in mind.
       The next place to look is the defense. The Saints enjoyed a significant boost with the signing of Darren Sharper, tied for the league lead in interceptions with nine in the regular season. However, the Colts had one of the least scored upon defenses in the league, and outrank the Saints in almost every defensive statistic. However, besides interceptions, there is a stat defensively that the Colts can’t match: Third down percentage. The Colts allowed a league high 104 third downs to be converted to first downs or touchdowns [45%]. The Saints did much better, allowing only 38% of third downs to be converted. That is one stat that shouldn’t be overlooked, as both offenses did very well on third down. Also, the questionable Dwight Freeney was a huge contributor on defense, and his absence would be huge.
       So who’s gonna win? I can throw around these stats all day, but they might not mean anything come Sunday night. First, before I reveal which team will win, I need to explain a few things about the Super Bowl. It’s a lot different from my other predictions in the sense that I can’t just predict a winner. Ever since I predicted that in the 2006 Super Bowl that Devin Hester would return the opening kickoff for a touchdown but the Colts would end up winning, I’ve had to predict a few more things to happen in order to be satisfied; the more outlandish the claim, the happier I’ve been.
       For this game, I think that Dallas Clark will be the first tight end to win the Super bowl MVP. An Indianapolis linebacker will have either an interception, forced fumble or fumble recovery. Drew Brees will pass the ball more times than Peyton Manning, and throw for more touchdowns. Both teams will record rushing touchdowns. There will be a challenge made on whether or not an interception has occurred. Is that enough? How about one more: The Saints won’t record a single sack all game.
       With all that said, I’m picking the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl. No matter who wins, be safe, have fun, and laugh at those commercials. Enjoy the game!
Indianapolis Colts

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