Boom or Bust: Will Peterson be his old self?
Championship Sunday is better than the Super Bowl.
It's a boom.
For more thought provoking debate, we play boom or bust, SCHEIN 9 style.
1. Adrian Peterson will get going
This is an absolute bust.
Sure, AP is an amazing talent. But it just hasn't been a classic year. Adrian Peterson was a non-factor against the Cowboys and will once again total under 100 yards rushing against the Saints. Do you realize that AP averaged only 86 yards per game this season?
The Saints run defense shut him down last season, to the tune of a lowly 32 yards on 21 carries. And the 2009 version of the Saints defense is vastly superior to what we saw last year. Jon Vilma is a tackling machine.
Now there are some legit theories why Peterson has become, well, fairly ordinary this year. Obviously, it has become Brett Favre's team. But in talking to scouts and players around the league, there are some deeper reasons.
One rival player told me the Vikings offensive line is "incredibly overrated and beatable, other than Steve Hutchinson, who's still the best guard in the league."
One coach thinks, "Teams have learned to be gap responsible and funnel him inside. If you can make him work to make multiple cuts, it limits him."
2. Reggie Bush will once again dominate
He still has skeptics and doubters. But not me. This is an absolute boom.
I thought that Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston and Tony Siragusa did a great job last Saturday on FOX hitting home the focus Bush had all week at practice and before the game.
And in talking to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis this week, he said that a lot of veterans talked to Bush before the game, reminding him what he is capable of.
I fully expect Bush to be a factor against the Vikings as a returner, coming off a game where he had a majestic punt return for a touchdown against Arizona. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him break another one for a score, considering he burned the Vikings special teams for two punt returns for touchdowns when the teams played a year ago.
And I think Minnesota's defense will have its hands full with Bush as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
For all of the talk about his punt return, Bush's touchdown run as a runner, showing off power with his blazing speed, was even more impressive. He's in that flow and I don't think he can be stopped.
3. Drew Brees will outplay Brett Favre
Hell, I couldn't resist after last week's Tony Romo vs. Favre special.
So I'm back again — it's a boom.
I think history will prove that the two greatest and most important signings in free agency are Reggie White and Drew Brees.
Brees is a surgeon on the field, with incredible accuracy, with his favorite target being the open receiver.
I think Jahri Evans and the underrated Saints offensive line will match up well with the Vikings incredible defensive line. You never want injuries to be a factor this time of year, but the Ray Edwards injury is very troublesome.
Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian used an excellent word on Sirius NFL Radio this week when we asked him how to describe the New Orleans defense. Berrian called them "opportunistic."
Darren Sharper creates turnovers. The entire defensive backfield is excellent at that skill.
Like last week, I anticipate Sidney Rice and Favre will make huge plays. But I think Favre will toss a couple of picks. (No — I didn't cut and paste that from last week!)
4. Peyton Manning will throw more picks than Mark Sanchez
This is not a trick question. And I haven't lost my mind.
Lost in the shuffle from last week's great win for the Colts was that Manning threw a couple of picks to Ed Reed. Yes, one got called back via a penalty, but it wasn't exactly a perfect game for the all-time great quarterback.
Mark Sanchez has learned how to limit his mistakes and Brian Schottenheimer has smartly taken the air out of the balloon by limiting his throws to about 20 a game.
This is a boom.
From the classic showdowns with the Patriots, to the Steelers a few years back, to even the 49ers this season, Manning has struggled with the 3-4 defense, relatively speaking of course.
Now I think the Colts pass defense has been underrated all year. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis comprise the best edge pass-rushing tandem in the NFL. The corners are underrated. And I've been singing the praises of play-making Antoine Bethea all season long.
I think Sanchez has a pick in him this week. But I'm predicting a couple of turnovers from the league MVP against the Jets defense, which leads us to ...
5. The Jets should blitz Peyton Manning
Everyone has a strong take on this. Here's mine. It's a boom.
Nobody is better than Manning against the blitz. He could be the smartest quarterback in NFL history. His rating against the blitz is well over 100.
But as Jets safety Jim Leonhard told us this week on Sirius NFL Radio, "We aren't going to change our game plan based upon the opposition."
Amen my brother. That's what a Rex Ryan team does in terms of both Xs and Os and swagger.
6. The Jets running attack is better than Baltimore's
This is a boom.
Shonn Greene has stunningly been the best running back in the playoffs. And Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney was effusive in his praise of the chemisty and talent on the Jets offensive line when we talked on the Sirius Blitz on Tuesday morning.
I don't think you can make any parallels between the Colts shutting down the Ravens and what the Colts defense will do to the Jets.
7. The Colts are regretting not playing their starters against the Jets in week 16
I've learned a few things over the years. One of them, people can be stupid.
Not you. You are smart. I like you. I'm talking about other people, even high-profile media types, who think the Colts resting players had something to do with letting the Jets into the playoffs or preventing Pittsburgh from making it. Or those people who think the Colts regret letting the Jets off the floor.
This is a bust.
Week 16 was all about rest — or "availability" as Jim Caldwell told us — for the playoffs. And that was the debate.
To think there was any other motive or thought is just plain, well, stupid.
8. Brian Schottenheimer is the most underrated assistant coaching this weekend
Schotty is getting his due. Leslie Frazier will be an NFL head coach. Gregg Williams gets his props for being a great and aggressive defensive coordinator.
This answer is Larry Coyer and this is a bust. Freeney raved about Coyer's aggressiveness.
This Colts defense has been physical, tough, and clutch in the redzone and late in games this year.
9. Brett Favre will be singing "Pants on the Ground" Sunday night
I have to give Favre credit. He's funny. And that "American Idol" spoof was funny.
And I am thrilled he watches FOX. Maybe he can take over for Simon if he quits football, again.
But it's a bust.
There is no way the Saints lose at home in New Orleans in front of those fans with a chance to go to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
As Sirius Blitz caller "The Nola Roller" sang, "Brett Favre on the ground/Brett Favre on the ground/Will Smith in your face and Brett Favre on the ground."
Try singing it. It's catchy.
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