Approximately this time last year, or perhaps a day after the regular season ended, I told a few friends to watch out for the Arizona Cardinals. To them, this was a laughable notion. The Cardinals had just floundered during their last remaining games and were hardly looking like a playoff team. I was going to look like quite the fool when they lost handily in their first playoff game. Instead, we all know the end result, albeit it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. The Cardinals had the Steelers right where they wanted them, but just didn't quite have enough left on defense to complete their Super Bowl run.
Now here we are again, about ten days away from the Super Bowl. While I didn't have a non-trendy pick this year (Sorry Jets fans, I thought they'd lose in the first round), I am making a Super Bowl pick that most people are shying away from. I'm not telling you to take your money to Vegas or to your bookie (I know I won't. I haven't spoken to my bookie in years.), but I will tell you right now that the Saints are going to win. I'm not going to say by how much they will win, but I will give you a few ways/scenarios/reasons that they will win. And I guess if they don't, I will be ridiculed forever and it can be blamed on the "curse of the Jason Haskins blog."
The Saints will win in a shootout. That's the most obvious answer, right? The problem is, the Colts are a ball control type of team with their dinking and dunking type of passing came. Sure, they throw the occasional big play in there, but for the most part, it's about Peyton Manning being efficient. The Saints will need to play the same type of game to keep their defense well-rested. In a shootout type of game, the Saints will certainly put up points, but will their defense have enough in the tank to hold off of the Colts. In this scenario, the team with the ball last will win the game. I'm putting my money on the Saints to have the ball last.
With two weeks off between the Championship games and the Super Bowl, Sean Payton will have plenty of time to game plan for the Colts. He's going to find a way to wear down this Colts defense. The defense is solid, with Freeney, Mathis, and Bethea, but is the depth there to be able to handle a track meet? That's what Coach Payton needs to figure out. As for Defense Coordinator Gregg Williams, he has a lot on his plate. The Colts have tons of weapons and seem to have found a little life in their running game. You know he's going to try to hit Peyton Manning the way they hit Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, and Brett Favre this year. If Manning holds up, the Saints will have to hope Manning makes a few mistakes (see game vs Chargers in which he threw 6 picks) and they can capitalize on that. A good coach can find these weaknesses with two weeks to prepare. I'm not saying that Jim Caldwell isn't a good coach, but often in these situations, the underdog is more beneficial of this extra week.
Two words: Reggie Bush. I'm not a huge fan of this guy, but he loves the spotlight. He wasn't overly exciting in the NFC Championship game, but the week before he was lights out. The man can do everything, and given the opportunity and the creases, the man is phenomenal. If the Reggie-Train gets out of the station, watch out.
Just a few thoughts about the big game coming up. Sure, Vegas has the line starting out at the Colts favored by 5, but Vegas has been known to be wrong from time to time. I mean, look at the Patriots vs Giants of '08 and the Patriots vs Rams of '02. Both times, the clear favorite was upset. And just for the record, I believed the Patriots would win both of those games. So take my prediction as you will...
Saints 31 Colts 24