Sunday, 7 February 2010

Superbowl XLIV

Guest writer Max Smithson kindly previews the 'Greatest Show on Earth' for Polly's Pause for Sport.

The nachos are ready, the Bud’s are in the fridge and the bets are on. The world is set for Super Bowl XLIV. The Indianapolis Colts meet the New Orleans Saints in Miami tonight for what the Americans like to call the greatest show on earth...just wait until they witness Carlisle v Leeds in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area Final Second Leg on Tuesday night (7pm Sky Sports 3 and HD). Do you really think Smithson could write anything without mentioning the Mighty Whites?

The Colts will be looking for a repeat of 2007 when they beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in the same stadium in dreadful conditions. The previous experience that Peyton Manning and the Colts have could prove invaluable against a relatively young Saint’s team. This game is a mouth watering prospect, with both teams dominating their respective conferences and almost recording perfect seasons until they rested their big names once their play off positions had been confirmed.

The fairytale would of course be for the Saints to record their first franchise Super Bowl for a city which has had little to celebrate since the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. However, they have a huge task ahead if they are to stop the rampant Peyton Manning. The Saints defence has been very successful in the play off campaign, putting in several huge hits on NFL greats Kurt Warner and Brett Favre and they will have to be on top form to do the same with Manning.

The main issue of concern for the Colts is the possible absence of defensive end Dwight Freeney due to an ankle ligament injury sustained in the AFC championship game. Although he has not been ruled out by the Colts definitively, the consensus amongst the pundits is that he will only play a cameo role, joining the fray for the big plays. With Freeney being the defensive lynchpin throughout the Colts season, the Saints and Drew Brees have a massive weakness to exploit. Freeney’s speed from the line has helped him to a massive 13.5 sacks this season and without that threat, players will be freed up to provide a more offensive threat for the Saints.

If you’re not an NFL fan, I would still suggest you watch this awesome spectacle. Yes, it is complicated at first and yes, it is a lengthy game, but I got into this sport by watching my first Super Bowl in 2003. And if you’re not impressed with the sport, you will always have The Who to watch at half time!

Comments and predictions NFL fans...


  1. Good blog here dom, as you say this game should be a worthwhile wait.
    I would agree that without Freeney, the colts defence isn't half as threatening, however the saints cannot forget Robert Mathis, the other defensive end for the colts. Much like Freeney, Mathis offers the colts a fast pass rush from the edge of the defence and in the game, may be able to unsettle Brees, take him out of his comfort zone and make him force passes to his talented receivers. It is these receivers although, that also pose a substantial threat to the colts' superbowl dreams; with the colts' Corner Backs all being under 6 foot, the likes of Henderson, Shockey and Colston could give Brees and Coach Sean Payton a deep field threat against the colts.

    In conclusion i think that the saints will narrowly be able to overcome the potent Colts offence and defence with their unpredictable and dynamic pass game, alongside the likes of Piere Thomas and Reggie Bush on the ground. Even though i would like the colts to win, it looks like a superbowl win for the saints.

  2. Ok well Max wrote the post not me but I think that you have made some good points. The role of the Saints' varied receivers and their ability to mix things up on offence will be the key to the game. Reggie Bush is another potential game-winner on the Saints team like you say but you would have to see this game being nothing but contest between, in my opinion, the two best QBs in the league this year. I myself will have a little bet on the Saints to cause an upset.

    The teams are evenly matched in most departments which makes this game so hard to call. The bookies have the Colts as clear favourites which does not represent good value. As Max says the fact that the the majority of the Colts side have been there and got the t.shirt is an important factor. Experience on the biggest stage is invaluable. Dwight Freeney's injury, even if he does play, is a loss to the Colts defence. Both teams pass rush will have to be at their best to put the opponents QB under pressure.

    The game may well be won or lost on the touchlines in my eyes. By moving the Pro Bowl forward there is now two weeks between conference finals and the Superbowl. This gives more time for the two coaches to set their game plans. The coach who can best shut down their opponents passing game on defense and mix things up on offense may well come away with the win.

    Ultimately it promises to be a very exciting game and an undoubtedly entertaining show.

  3. The match up didn't prove as exciting as the match up first suggested given each team's respective league record. In my mind the game was lacklustre until the onside kick starting the second half jolted the play into some action.

    I think the difficulty ensued from the clinical performances from both offensive sides Drew Brees completing 32/39 passes is ridiculously good and put Peyton Mannings accolade to shame.

    I think Saints needed the win more than the Colts did and that showed in some outstanding pieces of skill, notably the interception and 2 point conversion.

    My man of the match Joseph Addai boasting 3 times the yardage of Reggie Bush.

  4. On reflection I would have to agree with Higgins insofar as the match lacked the spark that we had seen throughout the rest of the playoffs. If anything both sides performed too well. The game, from a viewers point of view, may have bennefitted from a few mistakes and turnovers.

    Brees was faultless but in a very understated way. Onside kick aside the game had very few really exciting plays. It was, nevertheless, a tense and hard-fought affair but should not go down as a classic on its own merits.

    The result however was what most neutrals had hoped for and was a fitting end to the great story of the Saints Super Bowl journey.

  5. Just a few observations on last night...

    Some people in the media are questioning whether Peyton choked when the Colts needed him most? I however, think that is a bit harsh, clearly Porter had done his homework and showed exceptional anticipation to break on that route the way he did. Although, I simply don't understand why the Colts wasted so much time on the running game, the fact that Joseph Addai (who played very well when he was given the opportunity) ran for his first 25+ yard run since 2006 says it all.

    Question: Was Reggie Wayne even in Miami last night?! In a game of that stature you must utilise your best assets, and Wayne is a threat (20 receptions of 20+ yards in the regular season, tied 5th for most yards with Randy Moss). Last night Wayne ended the game with 5 catches for 46 yards. That is weak. The blame must go to the Indianapolis coaches, since the Saints don't exactly boast an outstanding secondary. It's not as if they have a Darrelle Revis-style shut down corner?! (And yes, I am a Jets fan!)

    Don't get me wrong though, I couldn't be happier for Drew Brees and the Saints, it was their time and it is an immense achievement for the City as a whole. I just think the Colts got it all wrong last night. Credit to the Saints coaching staff for taking their chances, and to Drew Brees for an outstandingly patient and courageous performance.

    P.s. The Half-time show - I know the NFL has turned their attention to old rock stars since the JT/Jackson debacle but the Who were shocking last night... McCartney was quality when he was given the chance, but to get the Who on simply to do all 3 CSI themes, that is just poor.

    Finally, I feel sorry for everyone else in the Manning household, since Peyton has 209 more days to think about that interception before he can throw another meaningful pass!


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