February 5, 2010

The Super Bowl is finally here

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments. That could be the biggest key to the Super Bowl this year. The Indianapolis Colts are the best team in the league at adapting their game plans on the fly while the New Orleans Saints are excellent at throwing different adjustments and line shifts and motions at you. If anything, this Super Bowl could set the record for most plays involving motions, shifts and audibles.

There is also one of the best QB matchups that the league could boast. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are without a doubt two of the best QBs in the league and can shoulder the load on offence to lead their teams. Each plays with precision and superb awareness that translates to big plays and few stalled drives — although Manning did have a surprising total of 17 picks this season.

Those Manning interceptions could lead to his downfall if he tries to force the ball to Reggie Wayne, who should have have Jabari Greer blanketing him most of the game. Granted, Greer is no Darrelle Revis, but he was one of the best cover corners in the NFL this season.

But, then again, it’s not like Wayne is Manning’s only option. Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon all had superb seasons while the latter two were learning the offence as they played. Now, any of the three could end up being the Super Bowl MVP. It’s certainly no long shot either: Garcon’s odds for winning the trophy is 15-1, outstanding for a team’s fourth receiving option.

The Saints receiving core is capable of making some big plays out of nothing, and don’t think the Colts don’t know that. But, just because they will be prepared for a bomb to Robert Meachem, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Remember the huge Braylon Edwards TD in the AFC title game?

New Orleans could have two less things to worry about than might have been anticipated a week or two ago. First, the weather hasn’t been amazing down in South Florida, which could lead to a big disadvantage for the Colts’ speed-based defence. If these guys are slowed down, they won’t have the size to deal with Marques Colston or Jeremy Shockey on the shorter routes.

Second, Dwight Freeney isn’t going to be the impact player that we’re used to seeing. Even if he does play with some torn ligaments in his ankle, how effective could that possibly make him his arsenal of moves to get to the QB is based on quick plants and spins? Raheem Brock isn’t a horrible option, but won’t command double teams, allowing the Saints to get an extra player running a route, as opposed to staying in to block.

Speaking of getting to the QB, the Saints do it in a much different way than the Colts, who rely on their line to rush and use their team speed to cover down the field. New Orleans loves to throw blitzes towards their opponents and a great offensive line like the Colts has all the ability to stop them. After all, Manning was sacked only 10 times this season, mainly due to the great blitz pickups of his line, tight ends and backs. Getting to him

So, when you put everything together, one thing really stands out when coming down to making RTP’s Super Bowl pick. Indianapolis has not lost when they’ve played as a full team this season. They’ve only lost two games, and Curtis Painter was heavily involved in those two games. Unless Manning goes down — I wouldn’t bet on it — it’s hard to make a case against the best team that was out there this season.

The pick: Indianapolis Colts -5 over New Orleans Saints

This playoffs: 3-7
2009 season: 138-101-4

Finally, there are two little stats that many people might not know:
— The Colts have played in four Super Bowls, all have taken place in Miami — or South Florida as they’re calling it this year.
— This is the second year in a row that the team with the worst running game in the league made the Super Bowl. Indy this year and Arizona last year.

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