Super Bowl XLIV Preview

Posted: February 7, 2010 in Saints, Saints Super Bowl XLIV
Tags: , , ,

We are two days away from the biggest day in Saints franchise history and I feel myself getting more and more pumped. With each day that passed the past two weeks, I wanted this game more and more.

On the night of January 24, 2010, I never imagined finding myself caring too much about this game, because the Saints just made it and especially because we didn’t have a chance in hell of winning…seemingly. I say seemingly because I’m clinging to ever possible theory and hope that I have of a Saints victory. The closer this game gets, the more I feel the agony of defeat creeping up on me and the potential thrill of victory.

The Saints only chance of winning is constantly moving on defense at the line of scrimmage and throw Manning’s game back into his face. If the Saints keep moving, Manning has to keep calling audibles. Eventually, he’ll have to snap the ball if he doesn’t want a delay of game penalty.

Offensively, the Saints MUST be perfect. There is no question. Peyton Manning is an absolute machine.

That’s the pre-game analysis right there, MUST BE PERFECT. It’s the key to bringing the trophy home.

Team Leaders:

New Orleans Saints

Team Leaders

  • Passing Yards

    Drew Brees

    Drew Brees 4388 Yds Drew Brees - 4388 Yds
  • Rushing Yards

    Pierre Thomas

    Pierre Thomas 793 Yds Pierre Thomas - 793 Yds
  • Receiving Yards

    Marques Colston

    Marques Colston 1074 Yds Marques Colston - 1074 Yds
  • Indianapolis Colts

    Team Leaders

  • Passing Yards

    Peyton Manning

    Peyton Manning 4500 Yds Peyton Manning - 4500 Yds
  • Rushing Yards

    Joseph Addai

    Joseph Addai 828 Yds Joseph Addai - 828 Yds
  • Receiving Yards

    Reggie Wayne

    Reggie Wayne 1264 Yds Reggie Wayne - 1264 Yds
  •  

     

     

    KEY MATCHUPS:

    Saints WR Marques Colston vs. Colts CB Kelvin Hayden
    Colston led the Saints in receiving during the regular season, but he caught just two passes for 22 yards in the NFC Championship Game vs. the Vikings. He’s a physical receiver with good size and height and deceptive speed. He also has very good jumping ability. When the Saints are in the red zone, look for Drew Brees to try to connect with Colston on a high throw.

    Hayden is in his fifth season, his third as a starter, with the Colts. He played wide receiver at the University of Illinois for three years before moving to cornerback. He’s a very good zone corner, with read-and-react ability and excellent quickness for the position. He has good burst to the ball in man coverage. Like Colts safety Antoine Bethea, Hayden is a low-block tackler.

    Gil Brandt

    » More about this matchup

    SAINTS O-LINE SPOTLIGHT (from NFL.com):

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jermon Bushrod is receiving a lot more attention than he ever imagined.

    The New Orleans Saints‘ left tackle has heard his name mentioned more in the past 24 hours than he has all season. Why? Well, the guy he’s supposed to face in Sunday’s Super Bowl — Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeneymight not play because of an ankle injury.

    Bushrod has officially earned his way onto the Saints’ offensive line. Back-handed recognition is the point of entry into this club that includes three Pro Bowl players (right tackle Jonathan Stinchcomb, right guard Jahri Evans and center Jonathan Goodwin) who even their fans barely know. And they could have had four.

    The reason why Bushrod’s name has even come to light is because Pro Bowl tackle Jammal Brown went on season-ending injured reserve in September after having operations for a sports hernia and to repair hip damage. Brown is the best of a group of players that form what might not just be the strength of a very talented Saints roster but is arguably the best O-line in the NFL.

    And that’s with Bushrod filling in and doing a better-than-adequate job protecting quarterback Drew Brees and helping the Saints boast the league’s top-ranked offense.

    “We’re a close-knit group,” Bushrod said. “We’re trying to go out here, do something special and fight for each other and everybody on this team.”

    The Saints’ offensive line is big, athletic and, when it needs to be, rough. Evans, Goodwin and left guard Carl Nicks are very physical. Stinchcomb said those interior players must be extra physical Sunday so, by the end of the game, the Saints can further batter a worn-down Colts defensive line that isn’t very big and is predicated on quickness instead of muscle.

    It’s nothing that hasn’t been tried before against the Colts, and their defensive line has shown it can hold its own up front, with proof coming in the AFC Championship Game against a New York Jets offensive line that’s among the NFL’s best.

    “What we have to do, to keep in the forefront of our minds, is finishing,” Stinchcomb said. “On the backside of a lot of blocks, where guys wouldn’t have the speed to close in and be on plays, you watch time and time again, against Indianapolis, they work their way into plays. A lot has to do with the finish of our blocks and making sure that when we do have opportunities, we put a little weight on them with our guards, who are two of the most physical guards in the league and hope we can take advantage of that.

    “It’s going to be a challenge.”

    The Saints’ offensive line allowed 20 sacks, fourth-fewest in the NFL this season (the Colts allowed a league-low 13). The unit also helped the Saints average 131.6 rushing yards per game, sixth-best in the league. They can bang and finesse. They also are highly effective blocking in space.

    The Saints run a lot of screens and swing passes, and running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush bounce out wide on running plays. The offensive linemen’s ability to get a body on a body in the open field has paid huge dividends — and could again during this Super Bowl showdown.

    “It’s key in a game like this,” Bushrod said. “We understand that Drew is not going to sit back there and hold the ball the whole time. When our guys get the ball in the open field, whether it’s a screen or swing pass, and if we get out there and help these guys get three, four, five more yards, it helps. We know it’s a game of inches. We’re going to fight for every inch that we can get.”

    WILL SMITH AND THE D (from NFL.com):

    The presence of the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV has fueled speculation that the modern NFL game is all about offense.

    That statement would ring true during the initial analysis of this matchup, as the defensive units of the Colts and Saints lack the panache typically associated with the league’s most feared defenses. However, a closer examination reveals that these defenses are worthy of their spots in Super Bowl XLIV, as they rank among the leaders in several important defensive categories.

    The Saints finished No. 1 in takeaways, and they have continued to display their opportunistic ways during the playoffs. New Orleans has forced seven turnovers in its two playoff games, and its ability to take the ball away has been critical to its success.

    The Colts, on the other hand, have excelled at keeping opponents out of the end zone. They finished the regular season ranked eighth in points allowed, and that number was negatively impacted by their controversial decision to rest key defensive starters in the final two weeks of the season (when they gave up 59 points).

    Given the enormous challenge that lies in front of both defenses, it is imperative that a starter or unsung situational player emerges as a difference-maker Sunday.

    Let’s take a look at some of the defensive X-factors that could surface in this matchup:

    Colts: Gary Brackett, middle linebacker

    The Colts’ defense has long been viewed as a finesse squad, but Brackett’s hard hits are slowly changing that perception. The seventh-year pro is the centerpiece of the team’s defense, and his ability to blow up ball carriers often sets the tone.

    The Colts fared well against two physical ground attacks in the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, and they must find a way to slow down the Saints’ better-than-advertised running game. Although the Saints’ prolific offense excels at making plays through the air, it is the threat of the running game that often leads to big plays off play-action. Given the difficulty in defending a two-dimensional attack, it is important for Brackett to show up against the run early and often.

    //

     

    Saints: Will Smith, defensive end

    Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has emphasized the importance of getting hits on the quarterback this week, but the defense can’t rely solely on the blitz to rattle Peyton Manning. The onus falls on Smith and his cohorts to win their individual battles to create consistent pressure on Manning.

    Smith, who finished the season with 13 sacks, is the undisputed leader of the crew, and his ability to collapse the pocket off the edge will give Williams the freedom to use some umbrella coverage behind a conventional four-man rush. Given Manning’s ability to defeat the blitz, Smith’s effectiveness as part of a four-man rush could be the deciding factor in this game.

    GEAUX SAINTS!!!!!! from Jake Who Dat

     

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