Despite the roller-coaster ride of the 2009 season we should not be surprised to find what were arguably the two best teams in the NFL this past season. Both the Saints and Colts started out on a record setting pace with each team winning their first 13 games this season (the Colts won their first 14).
Now that the dust has finally settled and we have two left standing nothing could be more appropriate than Drew Brees versus Peyton Manning. The Saints signal caller on the cusp of greatness taking on the great Mr. Manning who continues to write his own legacy. With his fourth NFL MVP award, Manning will try to secure his second NFL title and cement himself as one, if the not the greatest ever.
While his counterpart would appear to have much to play for, Drew Brees is not without his own personal motivation. Brees has become the face of a franchise that not only represents a city, but represents so much more. Following the Katrina disaster the Saints have led a march of great hope and resolve and the face out front of this march has been Drew Brees.
Brees has often been compared to the great names in today’s game; Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Brett Favre, and though he lacks the hardware (Lombardi Trophies and MVP awards) he has the numbers. His first appearance should not legitimize his greatness; he has been great since he arrived to New Orleans. His first appearance in the Big Dance should be the next chapter to his own legacy.
What to Expect
While both teams have two very quick and opportunistic defenses, there is little doubt that this game is going to be all about the two gunslingers calling the signals. The Saints (4th) and Colts (2nd) offenses finished the 2009 season ranked in the top five passing and both clubs were in the top seven in scoring.
While the Saints were second in the league with 39 takeaways, they are going to find it difficult to capitalize on Manning who has just one turnover in 83 passes this post season. Like his counterpart Brees has been steady taking care of the ball with no turnovers in 63 passes.
The Saints led the league in scoring and finished number one in yards per game; they will surely test the Colts defense all game long. And when Manning takes the field with his number two ranked passing offense (9th overall) the Saints defense will face their ultimate test this season.
Don’t expect too many punts or a lot of stops, this one could easily turn into a regular shootout at the O.K. corral with the quarterback with the ball last deciding this classic matchup of a pair of gunslingers.
Injury notes for Sunday…
RB-Pierre Thomas (Saints)…..ribs-probable.
RB-Joseph Addai (Colts)…..shoulder-probable.
WR-Robert Meachum (Saints)….ankle-probable.
TE-Jeremy Shockey (Saints)….knee-questionable
DB-Darren Sharper (Saints)…..knee-probable.
DL-Will Smith (Saints)….groin-probable.
DL-Dwight Freeney (Colts)….ankle-questionable
The Saints wide receiver Robert Meachum has resumed full participation in practice and looks to be ready for the big dance. Meachum could be a big key in the Saints passing game on Sunday. He tied with Colston for the team lead with nine touchdowns this season and finished the year with 45 catches for 722 yards receiving (16.0 yards per catch).
The Colts have made their name on the passing of Peyton Manning all season, but it wouldn’t surprise to see Joseph Addai taking on a larger role in the run game this Sunday. In the AFC title game Addai finished with 80 yards averaging five yards a carry against a pretty good Jets run defense; Saints rank 21st against the run.