Why I'm Backing the Colts
Immediately after the Championship games, I was convinced I was backing Indy in the Super Bowl. Of course, it’s never smart to overly rely on the last game played, and considering the Saints are a No. 1 seed that had the far better point differential throughout the season, I assumed the spread would be around three points and certainly not approaching seven like it has been. Plenty of Colts games this season were close, and five-six points is quite a bit to be laying against a team that has a legitimate argument as the best in the NFL, especially on a neutral field. This is essentially saying Indy would be favored by nine points if they were at home, which is pretty crazy. Moreover, the Colts beat the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds at home to get into the Super Bowl, while New Orleans annihilated a good Cardinals squad before beating a Vikings team that could also easily be viewed as the best in football, even if the Saints were lucky in doing so. Dwight Freeney’s injury is obviously a big concern (although conversely, the lack of a pure pass rusher may actually hurt the Saints’ screen game, an area in which they excel), and there’s a 30 percent chance of precipitation, which would probably help the underdogs. Another injury that seems to be underrated is the one to talented young DB Jerraud Powers, who is questionable with a foot problem that kept him out of the AFC Championship game. Secondary depth will sure mean a whole lot more against the Saints than it did versus the Ravens and Jets.
Delving into the Xs and Os, it’s fairly simple; both teams have mediocre run defenses, underrated secondaries and strong passing attacks, although the Saints’ ground game is noticeably better. And then there’s Peyton Manning, who is probably the best football player ever. Drew Brees had a terrific season with gaudy stats, but so did Philip Rivers. And Tony Romo. Manning is simply in a class by himself and is currently the most important player in sports. When Brees played outdoors this year, his numbers took a precipitous drop (7.7 YPA, 9:5 TD:INT ratio compared to 9.0 YPA, 25:6 TD:INT indoors), whereas Manning’s YPA actually increased from 7.5 indoors to 8.2 outdoors; it might not mean much, but it’s something to think about. While Manning was picked off 16 times this season (the most since 2002), and New Orleans’ 26 interceptions were the third-most in the NFL in 2009, with two weeks to prepare and on the biggest stage possible, I just don’t see this remaining a team strength for the Saints. Moreover, New Orleans loves to blitz, which is suicide against Manning, and the vaunted Saints’ passing game faces an Indy secondary that allowed just 6.2 YPA this season – the third-lowest in the league. Put simply, the matchup doesn’t exactly favor New Orleans.
Right now it’s clear the public is all over the Colts, and the sharps are supposedly backing the Saints, but in my opinion, this means far less in the playoffs, especially the Super Bowl (Vegas takes advantage of these situations over big samples, plus they could easily lose ATS yet kill on the O/U, which appears to have a bunch of action on the “sucker side” – the over). My early Indy convictions have definitely been tested over the past 10 days, and this is a game I’d recommend staying away from if not for it being the Super Bowl (of course you have to bet!). Five-six points is quite a lot in a seemingly even matchup, and even a straight MLB on New Orleans makes sense, but I’m backing the Colts to cover Sunday, and it’s pretty much because of one single player.