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The Oratory's NFL Picks - Super Bowl XLIV
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on February 5, 2010, 9:53 PM

John: The Super Bowl already? Come on, it's only been five months since the start of the season. I want more football, damnit! That's what I tell the people (women mostly) that complain about football "consuming" my life. Are you serious? There are only 21 Sundays that matter in the NFL season. There are also Monday nights and some Thursdays, but it's the shortest professional sports season of them all. If you're like me and you're tired of the haters saying you watch football all the time, remind me of the grueling seven month offseason we have to endure. Seven months without the NFL for me is the worst part of the year. Summer? Pfft, who needs it? I'd rather watch a game with the boys with a beer in my hand and some nachos on the table. That's what I like.

You see that speech right there? It was passion. It was from the heart. Keep in mind that I'm a lifelong St. Louis Rams fan, as a 6 year old boy in 1986 watching Eric Dickerson's jheri curl flapping in the wind, that watched his team win 6 games in three years. You should have seen me when my team was actually good! When they actually mattered! I was happier than Rex Ryan in a buffet line. Now I feel as uncomfortable as Jim Caldwell doing standup comedy. (Have you heard the man talk? No? Me neither.) That's when I REALLY loved the game. Now? I have other things like fantasy sports as well as gambling to keep me entertained. Speaking of, I look forward to Super Bowl Sunday in the afternoon when I spend a good hour or two laying down prop bets on the most ridiculous things. Good times. Oh, I should get to the game huh? Might as well.

Last week:
James 2-0
John 1-1
Matt 1-1

Playoffs:
James 6-4
John 5-5
Matt 4-6

Regular Season
James 175-81 (.684)
John 168-88 (.656)
Matt 164-92 (.641)

All game times are Eastern.

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts @ Miami (6:25pmET CBS)
James: My thoughts on this Super Bowl arenít complicated. I think the Colts will win and win big. The Saints were extremely lucky to have survived their game against Minnesota. Had the Vikings not fumbled the ball away seemingly every other play, New Orleans never would have won that game (and they probably would have lost by double digits.) They looked awestruck to be in a championship game, even in their home stadium. Now, they are on the biggest stage of all, away from home, and I think it might happen to them again. And when you show even the slightest hint of weakness, Peyton Manning will identify it and exploit it until the end of eternity. The Saints wonít be able to double any of Manningís receivers. If you double Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie will benefit. And if you double either of them, what do they do about Dallas Clark? The Saints have been bad at covering tight ends all season, so itís pretty rudimentary. You could say the same things about all of the Saintsí weapons at WR, and Drew Brees running things; but while Indianapolisí defense isnít stellar, itís certainly better than New Orleansí, which has been pretty overrated all season. Truthfully, I expect the Saints to be winning the game at halftime, only for Manning and company to rip their hearts out in the second half. Thatís been the Colts M.O. all year. Colts 41 Ė Saints 28

Matt: I guess I should be happy that Logan dropped out of the predictions writing after week one. That means I didnít come in last place in these this year. It is one of those technicalities, kind of like Manning is undefeated in games that count this year even though the Colts stopped playing in week 16 leading to a 14-2 season. That aside, the game this week looks to be an exciting matchup with great potential to live up to the annual hype of a Super Bowl. Lets look at the various aspects of this game that could make the difference here. If I had to sum up the story here in one sentence, it would be as follows:

By the numbers the Saints have the advantage on offense, while the Colts have a much more potent defense.

The Saints led the league this season in points scored and yards gained. While people think of an explosive offense as having a heavy reliance on the passing game, the Saints have managed to balance their aerial attack with a dominant running game. As with any strong offensive unit, it all starts at the line. With 3 pro bowlers on the line, Reggie Bush, Drew Brees and company were able to dominate opponents on the offensive side of the ball. The fact that Drew Brees is the only skill position player on this offense to make the pro bowl is really a shame and a testament more so to the bias of the voters than to the play of the receivers and other ball carriers. The Saints can score the points to get the job done, and this offensive unit matches up well with any defense in football.

The Saints are not a strong defensive unit, but when you average better than 30 points a game, you donít need to be. The numbers for this defensive unit donít tell the whole story. When playing with a lead, it isnít uncommon for a team to play softer coverages. When you have a 28 point lead you wonít care if the opponent scores 14 points in the 4th quarter. Sometimes, this defense can be scary good when they need to be, and against Peyton Manning and the Colts, this is a sure need to be situation. Which Saints D will show up this week? Will it be the crew that outscored the offense in week 3 against the Jets? Or the group that gave up 34 points to the Miami Dolphins in week 6?

As for the Colts, Peyton Manning will be on the field coaching/playing his team at the top level possible. The debate is already started about whether or not he is the best to ever play the game, and a second ring will go a long toward securing that argument. With players like Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Pierre Garcon on the field to throw to, Manning could put up Kurt Warner like numbers on Sunday. The running game will also be a presence, although my guess is that the Colts continue to use it to keep the defense a bit closer to the line than as a serious threat. Donít count out the possibility that the Colts catch the Saints in a poor coverage and gain 20 yards or more on one or two running plays. One of the greatest strengths of Peyton Manning is his ability to read a defense and change the play to exploit the weakness prior to the snap.

On defense, the Colts were near the top of all major team statistical categories this year. They proved their ability to get the job done on both sides of the ball by playing the kind of bend, donít break football that wins the games by demoralizing the opposing team. True to form of the Colts most of the season, I donít expect a blowout win. They have shown that they can shut down a weaker offensive unit, and if they are playing against a stronger team such as the Patriots, that the offensive unit can be counted on to back up the defense with a big performance.

Overall, I like the Colts here. As explosive as the Saints are on both sides of the ball, the Colts just seem to be the more consistent team on weekly basis. They have proven their ability to win any game by any means needed, and to beat any team any week. Still it will be exciting to watch Peyton Manning making the late game adjustments needed to overcome what Iím expecting to be an early game deficit to the Saints while Manning and the coaching staff read the defenses for the trends that they will exploit in the second half.
Colts 38-32

John: I think this is a great Super Bowl matchup. Any time you get both #1 teams in the Super Bowl you have to be happy with that because you have to admit that they deserve it. Sure, the Vikings outplayed the Saints and should have won had they not had 5 turnovers to the Saints 1, but the fact is the Saints did win. They didn't impress me as much as I thought they would (that second half they played was poor), but I admire their ability to come up with the big plays when they needed it. As for Indy, they throttled the Jets like I thought they would even though they started a bit slow. When they got it going they couldn't be stopped even by a defense that was arguably the best in the league. That's pretty scary when you think about it. If you're going on momentum alone, it's hard to go against the Colts. With that said, the Saints had a much tougher opponent on Championship Sunday because the Vikings are a better team than the Jets. Being battle tested does matter and in the case of the Saints, the fact that they survived that game two weeks shows a lot about their heart. They could be the "team of destiny" or the team of luck considering that ball that should have been picked by the Vikings safety when Colston bobbled it. Can you tell I bet on the Vikings or what?

To the Saints credit, they really moved the ball well offensively and they did force those turnovers. It's not like Minny just dropped the ball. They really went after it. The Saints defense reminds me of my Rams' defense from 1999 to 2003 when they weren't great defensively, but they were instinctive and made plays when needed. If you have a great offense like the Saints do, all the defense really needs to do is to get the offense back on the field. I love watching Drew Brees orchestrate the offense. As great as Manning is at spreading it around, Brees gets even more people involved. He's got three different running backs (sometimes even four), two tight ends and five receivers that he throws to. It's hard to stop ten guys. Some of them are going to make things happen. There isn't much a defense can do. That's why they can absolutely win this game even as 4.5 point underdogs. If you can put points up on the board on a consistent basis you can win any game in the NFL, especially when your offense is as good as New Orleans. I like the Saints a lot, don't get me wrong. It's just that only one team can win and I happen to like the other team more.

Like? No, I REALLY like the Colts in this game. I think Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the history of the NFL whether he wins this game or not. I might be biased because I've seen his whole career from start to finish whereas with a guy like Montana my only memories are as a kid. He's playing at such a high level right now and at such a high level that he's going to be hard to stop. Think about it. He's 16-0 this year in games that matter. The last two weeks of the regular season were exhibition games basically. Nobody's beat him this year. The teams he played against for the most part are familiar with him from being in the AFC. The Saints? They only play the Colts once every four years. They don't know how to stop Peyton Manning. (Conversely, you can say the same thing about the Colts not really knowing Brees.) They also don't have a very good defense. It's okay, sure, but they also gave up 450 yards to a Vikings team at home. You think they're going to slow down Manning? I don't. When the Jets took away Wayne and Clark, his two favorite targets, he unloaded to Collie and Garcon. Not exactly household names. That's why Manning is great. The key to stopping him, or at least slowing him down, is getting pressure. I give the Saints credit for getting pressure on Favre. They beat him up big time. Can they do that to Manning? I'm not sure. Nobody really gets to Manning, even great defenses like the Ravens or Jets. He destroyed them. Every blitz they did, he had a counter. Every zone scheme, he found the hole. I've never seen a QB play as well as Manning is right now. I know I'm going on gushing about him, but what else is there to talk about? The team goes as far as he carries them. He's the MVP. Hell, sometimes I think he's the coach too. Best QB ever, kids. And I think he'll prove it again on Sunday night.

I think the game is going to be exciting. The QB play, much like last year, will be exceptional. It's a QB driven league. We have the two best QBs in the NFL right now playing in this game. (Tom who?) Things like experience don't matter too much to me. Sure, sometimes that can mean the less experienced starts out slow, but that's not always a bad thing. It's better to finish strong than start strong and finish slow like the Saints did against Minnesota. Look at the Cards last year. Other than Kurt Warner, they were inexperienced in the Super Bowl setting, but they sure showed up in that second half. That's what tends to happen. I think of the Cards last year as well as the Panthers in the Nipple Game aka SB38. Ultimately, it comes down to who the better team is. I like Indy because of #18, but also because I think their defense can put up more defensive resistance than the Saints can when they have to.

After all is said and done, after The Who breaks a hip trying to move on stage, what's the score going to be?
Colts 34-Saints 24

JC's Money Picks
Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. This week with only one game on the schedule I'll only be picking the spread and the over/under. I was 2-2 in championship week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.

COLTS -4.5 over Saints - I think they win by 10, but the last two Super Bowls have been very close.
Colts/Saints OVER 56.5 - I have it at 58, so I'm just barely over.

Playoffs: 5-7
Season: 38-28-2 (.576)

Enjoy the game.

Contact James at xenomaster_17@yahoo.com
Contact Matt at Kane_matthews@hotmail.com
Contact John at oratoryjohn@gmail.com




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