Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pigskin Predictions: The Super Bowl

It should be an interesting Super Bowl today; a clash between two high-powered offences, as well as two very different game philosophies. The Saints have a balanced attack and an incredibly aggressive defence, while the Colts' defence excels at limiting big plays and their offence is dominant in the passing game, but struggles to run the ball. You can find my full preview piece below, as well as other ones I wrote for Rob Carnell at Salt Water Music and Ryan Gallivan at The Gally Blog. Now, it's time for the prediction.

Everyone has the Colts as big favourites, but I think this is overlooking a few things. For one, as Neil Paine points out, SRS (simple rating system, explained here), which looks at teams' average margins of victory and their opponents' average ratings, is overwhelmingly in favour of the Saints. Yes, the Saints struggled against the Vikings in the NFC Championship game, but the Colts had issues with the New York Jets, a much less well-rounded team. For another thing, the Colts haven't shown much of an ability to run the ball or stop the run consistently. They did both to some degree against the Jets, but part of that was thanks to the Jets' one-dimensional approach on both offence and defence; New York sold out to stop the pass and ran the ball as frequently as possible, allowing the Colts to burn them both ways by running at unexpected times and stacking the box against the Jets' rushing attack. New Orleans has an incredibly balanced team with a variety of options that can hurt you in the run game and the pass game, so it will be more difficult to stop them.

I also love the Saints' uber-aggressive defensive strategy of trying to force turnovers at all costs. Turnovers can often swing a game, and the Saints create a ton of them. Meanwhile, the Colts' defence is solid, but I can't stand its strategy of only trying to limit big plays. It's like the old quote, "A prevent defence only prevents victory."

In general, I think the Colts are a bit overrated. Yes, they've had great regular-season performances throughout this decade, but their one Super Bowl victory came against Rex Grossman, and I'm pretty sure I'm a more capable quarterback than Grossman. Manning and company have built a solid franchise, but not a legendary one, and playoff wins over deeply flawed teams like the Ravens and Jets haven't changed my opinion of them yet. They're good, but I don't think they're as good as their press clippings.

My final reason for picking the Saints has nothing to do with anything on the field, but rather how the Colts laid down in Week 15 rather than going for a perfect season. Sure, they got the pressure off them, but they sneered at history, and I'm hoping that will come back to bite them. As Herm Edwards once said, "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" The Colts didn't do that, and that's why I'm hoping the Saints will go marching in today.

Prediction: Saints 35, Colts 31

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