Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV Team Comparisons

With Super Bowl XLIV only five days away many of you are working on your Super Bowl betting. I will post my preview and prediction for Super Bowl XLIV later this week, for now maybe my strengths and weaknesses will help you make some Super Bowl betting decisions.

Indianapolis Colts

Offense

Strengths - Clearly Peyton Manning is the top strength of the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton is clearly one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Peyton just won his fourth NFL MVP to go along with his Super Bowl MVP, 10 Pro Bowl selections and 50,000+ career passing yards. Peyton Manning keeps the Colts in every single game and is the clear reason they win many of their contests. Manning single handedly dictates everything in an NFL game, not only does he call most of the plays, but he also dictates the pace of the other teams offense because most teams want to play keep away from him. The Colts are very methodical on offense and are hard to stop as they converted a league high 49% on 3rd down during the season. The Colts receiving core features some of the best hands in the league. Wayne, Clark, Garcon, and Collie combined for 31 touchdown receptions during the season. The Indianapolis Colts play very smart and do not hurt themselves, they were 7-0 in games decided by 7 points or less. Peyton Manning was only sacked 10 times during the regular season. In addition the Colts were 31st in penalties and penalty yards, and they only lost 5 fumbles. Simply put to beat the Colts you have to outscore them because they are going to put up 24+ points no matter what you do.

Weaknesses - The Colts were dead last in the NFL in rushing yardage. This led directly to the Colts finishing 31st in time of possesion. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for only a 3.7 yards per carry average. The Colts have allowed Peyton Manning to be sacked four times in the playoffs but that is still only twice per contest. Clearly the Colts greatest offensive weakness is if they have to play their backup quarterback Curtis Painter.

Defense

Strengths - The Colts defense is lightning quick. I love the stat that they were 18th in yardage allowed but 8th in points allowed. This means they bend but don't break and will take the ball away from you as well. The Colts had 34 sacks led by speed rushers Mathis and Freeney. The Colts keep everything in front of them and play great team defense, and are outstanding on artificial turf.

Weaknesses - The Colts managed to win 23 straight regular season games without safety Bob Sanders, but I still think it is a weakness that they will be playing without the heart and soul of their defense. The Colts also have one of the smallest if not the smallest defenses in the NFL. During the playoffs the Colts pass rush has been anemic recording only 1 sack, and this is further troubling with the fact that Dwight Freeney has a serious ankle injury. The Colts defense may not break but it does bend allowing opponents to convert 45% of the time on 3rd down, dead last in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints

Offense

Strengths - The Saints simply had the best offense in the NFL in 2009. The Saints racked up an amazing 6461 total yards which was tops in the NFL, and helped them to a league leading 31.9 points per game. The Saints have continued their high scoring ways averaging 38 points per game in the playoffs. The Saints scored 30+ points in 9 of their first 12 games. Drew Brees set an NFL record with a 70.6% completion percentage, and also led the league with a 109.6 QB rating. Drew has continued with a fabulous postseason throwing 6 TD passes and no interceptions, and has an exceptional 116.1 QB rating. The Saints have amazing offensive stats like their 6.3 yards per play, 4.5 yards per rush, and a 45% 3rd down conversion rate. The Saints offensive line protects Brees very well as he was only sacked 20 times while throwing 514 times, and has only been sacked once in the postseason. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bushed combined for 11 rushing touchdowns and an outstanding 5.5 yards per carry. At the receiver position Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem all averaged over 15 yards per reception. Robert Meachem averaged a TD every 5 receptions that he caught. The Saints are very balanced and almost impossible to stop. Even the special teams returners Reggie Bush, Courtney Roby, and PierreThomas are explosive and give the Saints even more chances to score.

Weaknesses - On offense the Saints are basically unstopable. Other than the lack of a marquee running back this offense is simply great. Their only concern right now should be the disappearance of Shockey, Meachem, and Moore who only have 9 total receptions in the playoffs.

Defense

Strengths - The number one strength of the Saints defense is the offenses ability to give them a lead week in and week out. That enables the Saints defense to play down hill and make plays. The Saints had an amazing 26 interceptions, including 9 by Darren Sharper who returned three of them for touchdowns. The Saints +11 turnover margin was 3rd in the league. The Saints have continue the trend in the postseason with a +6 turnover ratio through their first two contests. Behind Will Smith the Saints recorded 35 sacks during the season. Jonathan Vilma is a tackling maching and the leader along with Darren Sharper.

Weaknesses - The defense is the weak link of this team. The Saints were in the bottom third of almost every defensive statistic during the season. The Saints cornerbacks Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Malcolm Jenkins, and Randall Gay are all small and will have their hands full against the Colts receivers. The Saints were 26th against the pass, combine that with their inability to rush the passer in the post season and it could spell disaster. When the Saints defense is not causing turnovers teams are marching up and down the field on them. During the playoffs the Saints are allowing 400+ yards of offense including 5.2 yards per carry.

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