Over the next few days, you’re going to hear and read a lot about the Saints’ and Colts’ defenses.
You’ll read how defensiv coordinator Gregg Williams has instilled a new attitude in New Orleans, one that is heavy on hits and big on turnovers.
You’ll take in a bunch on Larry Coyer’s D in Indy; an undersized bunch that flies around the field and gives slower opponents headaches and heartaches. You’ll hear about the interceptions the New Orleans D has forced and the beatings they’ve given Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the playoffs.
You’ll see stats about the Indy defense and the measly 20 points they’ve surrendered in t wo postseason games.
The D’s are going to get a lot of press.
Be sure to read all about them now. Because I don’t think you’re going to notice them much on Sunday.
To the great dismay of football purists everywhere, I think we’re looking at an old-fashioned aerial shootout and the highest scoring Super Bowl in the game’s 44-year history on Sunday.
My deepest apologies to fans of the ’78 Steelers, ’85 Bears and 2000 Ravens — but you might want to consider an “American Idol” re-run or a crossword puzzle, instead. For the defensive-minded, this one’s going to be a difficult game to digest.
And I can’t wait.
Only one player in the league threw for more touchdowns than Peyton Manning (33), and his name was Drew Brees (34).
The Saints scored the most points in the league and compiled the second-most yards per game. Indianapolis, meanwhile, had the second-best passing offense.
The D’s? Sure, they’re formidable. But c’mon. They don’t stand a chance stopping either one of these All-World offenses.
The Saints ranked 26th against the pass in ’09; the Colts ranked 14th. Against the run, Indy was 24th, while New Orleans was 21st.
Listen to all the propaganda you want, we’re not exactly dealing with the Steel Curtain or the Purple People Eaters. In fact, the only things “eating” on Sunday will be the two All-Pro quarterbacks. Trust me, they’ll be feasting all night.
Super Bowl XLIV is going to be a fantasy football fan’s dream. Like a game of “Madden” played on “Rookie” level, points will be scored by both teams in bunches from the get-go. Don’t be shocked if the opening kickoff is returned for a score.
And then the kickoff after that, too.
Why am I so giddy about all this?
Because after 43 games, we’ve still never had a true offensive shootout in the Super Bowl.
We thought we were getting one 10 years ago when the Titans faced the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams down in Atlanta. The final score was 23-16. Ho hum.
There were expectations of an offensive fireworks explosion when Dan Marino’s Dolphins squared off against Joe Montana’s 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. "I’ve never seen a team that could pass the way they do, week in and week out," said Steelers coach Chuck Noll after the Dolphins rolled over Pittsburgh 45-28 in the ’84 AFC championship game. "It’s like a writer winning the Pulitzer Prize every week."
Marino’s Dolphins then went out and scored 16 points two weeks later in the Super Bowl. There were no Pulitzers that week. Hell, there was no anything.
The two highest scoring Super Bowls of all time were both forgettable blowouts.
When Steve Young led the Niners to a 49-26 victory over the Chargers in ’95, the game was over by halftime. San Francisco led 28-10 after two quarters and the outcome was never in doubt. The Chargers scored the bulk of their points in what Marv Albert kindly refers to as “garb-age time”.
The second highest scoring Super Bowl of all time was Super Bowl XXVII, a game in which the Cowboys thrashed the Bills 52-17 in Pasadena. Had Don Beebe not stripped Leon Lett of a touchdown in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the final score would have been 59-17. After one quarter, it was a downright painful game to watch. Unless, of course, you were a fan of America’s Team.
America’s got two teams to rally behind Sunday. It’s hard not to respect and appreciate what the Colts bring to the table, while the Saints have nothing but goodwill and good vibes behind them.
Most likeable of all, though, are the teams’ vibrant passing attacks.
I sat down Sunday and re-watched the second half of last weekend’s AFC Championship game. I’m not certain I’ve ever seen a quarterback dissect and destroy a defense like Peyton Manning did to the Jets over the final two quarters. That was a doctor performing surgery. James Andrews on a rotator cuff. And oh yeah, it happened to come against the league’s top-rated defensive unit.
Meanwhile, the last two times Drew Brees had a week off to prepare for an opposing defense, the Saints scored 48 (against New York in Week 6) and 45 points (against Arizona in the Divisional Round) in their next games. Brees combined for 618 passing yards and seven touchdowns in those two contests.
I’m telling you, this one’s going to top them all. It’s going to be silly. Super Bowl XLIV? It’s going to be a passer’s paradise. Super Bowl XLIV is for all the great passing masterminds of football history. Sid Gillman, Don Coryell, Ernie Zampese, Al Saunders, Mike Martz, Brian BIllick and Joe Stydahar — as they used to say in the commercials, “this one’s for you."
Las Vegas sportsbooks currently have the over/under listed at 56½. I think that’s awfully modest. Super Bowl XLIV is going to make Sunday night’s 41-34 Pro Bowl final score look like a defensive slugfest.
I haven’t heard anyone use this football cliché yet, so I’ll be the first — the team that has the ball last is going to win. Just how many points will be scored? I’m thinking somewhere in the 85-90 range.
My final score prediction? Think 45-42 in the most aesthetically pleasing Super Bowl of all time.
Drew Brees and Peyton Manning each throw for over 400 yards, Reggie Bush and Reggie Wayne each reach the end zone twice and somewhere in San Diego Don Coryell goes to sleep with a giant smile.