Tonight, at approximately 6:26 PM Eastern Time, millions and millions of Americans, whether alone, at a sports bar or a neighborhood party, will have their eyes glued to their local CBS affiliate until late that night. Most will be watching for their own reasons: the game, the commercials, The Who or just to appreciate the biggest sporting spectacle in America. They will be watching the 44th edition of the NFL Championship, which was come to be universally known as the Super Bowl.
Tonight’s matchup is a good one. The Indianapolis Colts, winners of Super Bowl XLI
(41), led by Superman QB Peyton Manning will face the New Orleans Saints, usually the lovable losers of the NFL, until becoming a post-Hurricane Katrina success story and boasting one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. Both teams can score points, both teams were unquestionable the best of their conference this season. In all senses of the word, this is a true championship game.
The usual school of thought when two teams with high-powered offenses match up is that the game will be a “shoot-out”. Both teams score a lot of points, the defenses look silly and big plays are the norm. I don’t go to that school. Games are unpredictable, especially when it’s a game that the whole world is watching. Some players will probably feel the butterflies the whole game. Some may have the best game of their career.
Now I’ll move away from the excessive superlatives and get down to the real football of it. Both Drew Brees and Peyton Manning have been beyond excellent this season. They were both the reasons their teams flirted with an undefeated season, and they both carried their teams through a deep playoff field. That fact will be stated over and over
again between now and the kick-off. The real reason these two teams have been so successful however, is the guys who have stepped up to help Brees and Manning. The Saints’ Reggie Bush has become the threat that everybody envisioned after he won the Heisman Trophy at USC. Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie have become huge receivers for Peyton Manning and Garcon’s efforts despite the devastation in his homeland of Haiti have been inspirational, to say the least.
Both teams have their quarterbacks, and both quarterbacks have their wingmen. Bush can threaten on the ground, in the air and in the return game. The Colts can fry any team when Manning and his receivers are on the same page. The offenses are great. The defenses will be what determines this game. In a purely talent-level and playmaking sense, the Colts’ defense is better. The main question is whether Dwight Freeney will be playing. Without their top pass rusher, the Colts will have a tougher job trying to make Drew Brees make mistakes. His ankle has become the biggest story of the Super Bowl, and it remains to be seen how much it will affect the game. The Saints’ defense has a proven track record of making clutch plays late in games, and the 6 fumbles from the Vikings last week and Brett Favre’s bonehead passes weren’t just due to them eating too much butter before the game.
As you can tell, this matchup is one of the most compelling in recent years. It’s not lopsided (Steelers vs Seahawks) and doesn’t have a presumed outcome (Giants vs Patriots). The last two Super Bowls have been epic. With the amount of emotion in this game and the ability of both teams, don’t expect this one to be much different. EbonyBird.com’s official prediction: 31-28, Saints, with another game-winner from Garrett Hartley.