Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Unfortunately, I was right

The Super Bowl match-up may include the two No. 1 seeds in the NFL playoffs, but it is not the game many fans wanted to see, including me.

Instead of the Colts, I and others wanted the Jets to be preparing for a game with the Saints. I admit, even though I picked the Colts, I was rooting for the Jets. I jumped out of my couch when the Jets took a 17-6 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the first half.

Unfortunately, the defense the Jets relied upon to carry them in the playoffs failed. Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne were held in check. It was two other receivers, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, who are big-play threats, but not people defensive coordinators are going to game-plan around, that won the game.

As for the Vikings, they beat themselves. Quarterback Brett Favre threw the interception that sealed it, but four other turnovers essentially lost the game. Looking at the offensive stats, you wonder how the Saints won. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 197 yards, including three touchdowns, and Pierre Thomas led the team in rushing with 61 yards.

Favre threw for 310 yards and Adrian Peterson rushed for 122 yards. Those numbers would be understandable if the Vikings were playing from behind in the second half. But the game was close throughout and tied at halftime, as well as after the third and fourth quarters.

The Saints did not win that game. They were opportunistic in taking advantage of Vikings mistakes. The Vikings lost this game and despite all the mistakes, still were in position to win it late in the fourth quarter. That tells me the Vikings found a way to slow the Saints offense.

That's the reason I'm leaning toward the Colts to win the Super Bowl right now. There were cracks in the Colts offense in the first half, when the Jets were able to force field goal attempts in the red zone rather than allow touchdowns. But the Colts adjusted and by the end of the first half had the Jets defense solved. The Colts touchdown drive late in the first half gave quarterback Peyton Manning the road map.

Manning and the Colts offense may have trouble with the Saints defense early in the game. But I think he and the coaches will adjust. It will be up to the Colts defense to make sure the Saints don't put the game out of reach while the adjustments are determined. Garcon and Collie also must scare the Saints defenders. Besides worrying about Clark and Wayne, now defenders know Collie and Garcon also can make big plays.

Right now I think the Colts will score more than 28 points and could win by at least 10.