Originally Published: Feb 1, 2010 4:2 PM CDT
Time for our final football Crystal Ball of the season. The injury to Colt All-star Dwight Freeny changes things with Drew Brees and the N.O. offense. However, the Colts still have the edge when you break this one down category by category.
In college ball we often see a lot of upsets. But in pro football and basketball, more times than not, the favorites meet in the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals. Seven game playoff series help ensure that in basketball and in football, even though the margin of error is small, the team with the best players generally win. Like many coaches say, "Coaching is overrated."
We begin with coaching, intangibles and special teams.
Colts rookie head coach Jim Caldwell was an assistant for Tony Dungy for seven seasons and no doubt has done a terrific job. Co-offensive coordinator Peyton Manning gives Caldwell an extra strategist. But the edge goes to the smart and pesky Sean Payton, a Bill Parcells disciple. Bottom line in this one is that anyone who can get the New Orleans Saints in a Super Bowl gets my vote.
Intangibles Edge Colts
The Colts are comfortable in playing in a game of this magnitude—been there done that and are led by a QB who exudes confidence in everyone from the water boy to kickers. They get the edge over a Saints team that was fortunate to beat Brett Favre and are coming in with a rookie coach. Confidence trumps all intangible factors we could dissect. The Colts clearly come in feeling good about themselves and believing the linesmaker was right in originally installing them as 3-point favorite he Saints’ biggest issue on special teams is their kick coverage. It’s a weakness that head coach Sean Payton hasn’t figured out how to deal with yet.
Special teams Edge Colts
This is an easy one as the Colts are really good and the Saints have had problems. Former Sooner Garrett Hartley hit the pressure-packed game winner last week to beat Favre and Company. But the inability of the Saints to correct their kick coverage problems is a major concern coming in to this one. Saint returner Reggie Bush is dangerous—to both teams as his fumbled punt almost cost them the NFC title. Colts’ return men Chad Simpson and TJ Rushing are solid, kicker Matt Stover is an accurate vet and punter, Pat McAfee has a big leg and coverage teams are reliable.
The seven other categories in our Crystal Ball comparison can be found on this web page. Thanks for checking in...DB