Finally, after two full weeks of hype and daily updates on Dwight Freeney's ankle, it's game time! While the game will start sometime around 6:15pm, the ads will be as much a focus for many people at paties across the country and all around the world. Due to the crippling snowstorm on the east coast, many people will sit at home and perhaps make this event the most watched Super Bowl and television show of all-time.
SBNation is hosting a network-wide 'Open Thread,' so click here to go there to join in and post your thoughts along with fans of every other NFL team, although the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints blogs will be obviously hosting their own 'Open Threads.'
As far as the game itself goes,...
This is the first time since 1993 that the two top seeds in each conference made it to the Big Game and deservedly so. Both teams were far and away the best team in their respective conferences and undefeated after 13 weeks of the regular season. While the Saints finished with a three game losing streak, the Colts laid down after securing the home field advantage and lost their last two. However, both rebounded in huge ways with victories inside domes at home over their challengers and now are poised to duke it out for the Lombardi Trophy outdoors on neutral turf. While Indy beat two defensive minded teams in the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets on their road here, the Saints had to overcome two big offenses to make it here.
The Colts will probably be facing their toughest pass offense of their year, while the Saints will be facing their toughest QB of their season. How will they respond not only to the challenges in front of them, but to the hype of being on the world stage. This Colts team has a bunch of veterans who have already tasted the success from this stage, while the Saints are like kids in a candy shop, here for the first time as a player for the most part.
The issue here is not if one team can stop the other, but if they can contain and plain outscore them. New Orleans was up near the top in takeaways this season but they also surrendered a lot of yards and points to the tougher teams, although they did manage to outscore most of them along the way. Indianapolis just found a way to win when they needed, or even wanted to. As good as Drew Brees is, he is still no Peyton Manning. Brees is the gunslinger in this game, while Manning is the surgeon. I'll take an efficient operator over a wild stallion in most games and expect to be correct when all is said and done.
Indy's defense is underrated and I see the Dwight Freeney issue overrated and irrelevant. The Colts will get a pass rush at times with or without Freeney and their pass defense is fast and athletic, always flying to the ball. Linebacker Gary Brackett might be one of the most under appreciated LB's in the game, as every Ravens fan found out earlier this year. I expect more punts and even turnovers out of New Orleans than Indy. I expect more long, time-consuming drives with less penalties out of Indianapolis.
Most times we see two offensive-minded teams like this in a big game, the score is nowhere near the shootout that most obviously predict. While I don't expect record-setting scoring tonight, I do see both offenses putting up points in this game. However, I cannot see Manning letting his team fall behind too far and not being comfortable and panicking to the extent that they fall apart and start making the mistakes that New Orleans would take advantage of to pull away. Instead, I see the calm, cool and collected Manning deftly picking the Saints secondary apart with darts to his three wide receivers and tight end, and moving downfield almost at will.
Meanwhile, the mistakes, penalties and turnovers will end up coming at some point for the wide-eyed Saints, who want so bad to bring a trophy back to their delirious fans. Unfortunately, they will end the evening disappointed but thrilled to have had the great season they did. Luckily, there is no better place to drown your sorrows than on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
As much as I will be rooting for the New Orleans Saints to hoist the Lombardi Trophy late tonight, I cannot see anything derailing Peyton Manning's greatness continuing to add to his resume as one of if not the best QB to ever play the game.
Indianapolis Colts over New Orleans Saints: 31-21
While you should go over to SB Nation to check out their 'Open Thread,' feel free to stay right here on and use this post as our own 'Open Thread' and hang with The Beatdown all day long!