Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Super Bowl Preview: Good Guys vs. Good Guys

I realize there are some people out there who hate and despise the Colts, such as Patriots fans and the AFC South opponents. I also realize there are some people out there who hate the Saints, such as maybe some of the opponents from the NFC South.

However, I believe this Super Bowl is as close to two teams representing "good guys," than any other Super Bowl. There's no polarizing figure on either team to root against. It's also hard to root against a mid-western city and a city that's been pummeled by a natural disaster.

So who are these two "good guys?" Is this a Batman vs. Superman situation? No, the Colts are good, but they aren't as good as Superman. And it's not like they have some gimmicky weakness like kryptonite.

Is this a Transformers vs. Gobots situation? No, the Colts are good, but they won't dominate the way Transformers dominated the market and the TV ratings in comparison to Gobots.

I alluded during conference championship weekend the following:
"if quarterbacks are WWE wrestlers, Drew Brees basically survived a "retirement match" last week as Kurt Warner lost and is now contemplating it. It would only be fitting for Brees to win 2 consecutive "retirement matches" in the playoffs, force Favre to contemplate retirement, then beat Peyton Manning in a Ladder Match next week, then come back next season wearing Ultimate Warrior facepaint."

So, the analogy for this Super Bowl is simple... it's Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior in Wrestlemania VI! Drew Brees is the Ultimate Warrior looking for his first championship. Peyton Manning is the older, established champion, who is also the highest paid athlete in his sport. As stated on the WWE website, the fans in Toronto "couldn't seem to make up their minds on which Superstar to root for." I think the fans in Miami won't be able to make up their minds either. Are they Hulkamaniacs? Are they part of the Warrior Nation? I have no idea. They have no idea. And that's what makes this Super Bowl so fascinating, is that these are two teams I want to root for, and more importantly, two of the best QBs to ever square off in the Super Bowl with two of the highest scoring offenses to ever meet in the Super Bowl.

By my unofficial statistical lookup on pro football reference, the top QB ratings for 2 QBs entering the Super Bowl are:
1984 - Montana (102.9) vs. Marino (108.9) = 105.9 average
2010 - Brees (109.6) vs. Manning (99.9) = 104.8 average
2004 - Brady (92.6) vs. McNabb (104.7) = 98.7 average
(NOTE: The QB Rating doesn't seem to score well on the older QBs, who didn't have nearly the same aount of attempts, as both Bradshaw vs. Staubach matchups only average 84.8 and 83.25, which is below many of the other modern era matchups).

By my unofficial statistical lookup on pro football reference, the top scoring matchups entering the Super Bowl are:
1984 - 49ers (29.7ppg) vs. Dolphins (32.1)= 61.8 total ppg
1991 - Redskins (30.3) vs. Bills (28.6) = 58.9 total ppg
1998 - Broncos (31.3) vs. Falcons (27.6) = 58.9 total ppg
2010 - Saints (31.9) vs. Colts (26.0) = 57.9 total ppg
NOTE: Steelers vs. Cowboys from 1975 only had a total of 51.6 ppg (5th and 8th-ranked offenses), and 1978 Steelers-Cowboys only had 46.3ppg. Again, a different era, but these two were 5th and 1st-ranked scoring offenses)

Interestingly... all of the of the other games on the list above ended up being blowouts by the favored team. In this case? The Colts are 5 point favorites, but as everyone in America knows, Dwight Freeney isn't playing, so all bets are up in the air I suppose? Which means I'm still excited about the possibility of seeing a 42-35 Super Bowl!

Game Analysis
Datapoint #1) Defenses
The Colts have a better defense than the Saints (letting up only 307 points this season compared to the 341 by the Saints). The Colts have a pass defense giving up 213 yards per game. The Saints give up 235 yards per game. Again, nothing substantial by statistics, but another slight edge for the Colts. However, most people in America will point out that the Colts defense is indeed better than the Saints, and that could be instrumental if this game comes down to getting 2 stops instead of just 1 stop.
Advantage: Colts

Datapoint #2) Common Opponents in 2009
Both the Colts and Saints played the AFC East. The Colts went 2-2 (but they didn't try against the Jets and Bills). So really they were 2-0, with a lucky 1-point win against the Patriots.
The Saints also went 2-0 against the Dolphins and Pats, and memorably destroyed the Pats on a Monday Night.
The Colts and Saints also both beat the Rams (though the Saints barely did it).
So, in the end... nothing of note here really on "Common Opponents."
Advantage: Even

Datapoint #3) Computer Simulations
According to a simulation on Madden, the Saints will actually win the Super Bowl 35-31 and the Ultimate Warrior will be victorious yet again.
Advantage: Saints

Datapoint #4) Double Agent
You want some bad blood between these teams?... I got it right here! Two words for Saints fans: Jason David!

Jason David was a cornerback on the Colts 2006 Super Bowl team and then signed for big money to the Saints. He got to the Saints... and all of a sudden the Saints realized they had just been completely burned, and that Jason David was not contributing to the Colts wins at all... as he got burned by multiple big plays and ended up getting waived after just two seasons.

To make things even more insulting to the Saints, the Colts actually worked out Jason David on January 28, 2010, and according to this rumor, Jason David still has "plenty of knowledge" of the Saints defense. If the Colts win, and the win hinges on information given by Jason David, Jason David should go down as one of the greatest Colts ever... for helping winning a championship, then helping another team lose games, and eventually losing a Super Bowl to his "real" team, the Colts. Basically, Jason David is the ultimate double agent as clearly his mission was to collect information for a possible Super Bowl matchup years down the road.
Advantage: Colts

Datapoint #5) The OCNN
The Ocho Cinco News Network, with Ocho Cinco, Chris Cooley, and Ray Rice, is reporting that the Saints may blitz this weekend.
Advantage: Saints

Datapoint #6) The Ladder Match
I think Drew Brees has a low chance of getting a ladder onto the field and being able to jump off the ladder onto Peyton Manning.
Advantage: Colts

Final Prediction
By my count, this game is truly a tossup. Anything can and will happen. I just can't wait to see if Drew Brees can pull off the unthinkable and topple Warner, then Favre, then Manning. In the end though, I think one has to go with the better defense. While my heart will be rooting for Drew Brees and the Saints, my brain keeps saying that the Colts will prove victorious.
Pick: Colts 42, Saints 35
Championship Week: 2-0
Playoffs: 5-5 (terrible, I know)


Laz said...

Love the WWE analogy. Brett Favre is Papa Shango, and Eric Mangini is Mr. Fuji (without the cane).

Hitman said...

This is absolutely hilarious. But:

"There's no polarizing figure on either team to root against."

Paging Mr. Shockey...Mr. Jeremy "For The Love of All Things Holy Will You Please Shut Your Piehole For Once In Your Pathetic Life" have a call on Line 1.

I'm still rooting for the Saints, but agreed, these are two groups of "good guys".

MJ said...

1) I like Drew Brees and my heart went out to all the victims of Hurricane Katrina but I'm rooting for the Colts. I don't hate the Saints but I don't love 'em either. I love Peyton Manning and he just might be my favorite player in the NFL.

2) "two of the best QBs to ever square off in the Super Bowl"

Wouldn't that honor go to the QB's from Super Bowl XXIV when Joe Montana faced John Elway? Or Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII when Troy Aikman faced Jim Kelly? Or the two games when Staubach and Bradshaw squared off (X, XIII) Or Staubach/Tarkenton in SB IX?

I would probably give preference to matchups of Hall of Famers over Peyton Manning (future Hall of Famer) and Drew Brees (not sure yet). Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great matchup, but I'm not buying the hyperbole that this is the "Best. Matchup. Ever." among QB's.

3) I'm pretty sure the Saints beat the Jets in Week 4 so your Datapoint #2 needs revising.

My own personal feeling is that too much is being made of Dwight Freeney's injury. He's a nice guy and a good player but he's been hurt a fair amount the past two seasons and the Colts were still able to win more often than not with him on the sidelines. That isn't to say that the Colts are better without him, merely to point out that the Colts are an offense-first team. If the Saints win, it's because the Colts aren't scoring. This game was never going to be about the Colts D shutting down the Saints offense, not even about slowing them down.

My prediction is 34-30, Colts.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

1) I don't understand at all why Favre is Papa Shango
2) I can see Mangini as Mr. Fuji... slightly effective but ultimately a failure
3) I totally forgot about shockey. but really, this is as good as it gets in terms of not having anyone to hate.
4) I still think this is exactly "two of the best QBs to ever square off." I'm not saying it's the best. though, after work, I may do a comparison of the QBs and their ratings entering the Super Bowl. We don't know if Brees is a hall-of-famer... but he's certainly been sensational the last few years, and has put together seasons that are better than most seasons by the all-time greats.
5) The saints beat the jets, but i'm not counting the saints victories over the jets or bills, b/c the colts didn't even try in those 2 games.

MJ said...

"We don't know if Brees is a hall-of-famer... but he's certainly been sensational the last few years, and has put together seasons that are better than most seasons by the all-time greats."

It's a totally differente game in 2009/2010 than it was in the 1970s when Bradshaw/Staubach played. I wouldn't take today's QB statistics and make any sweeping generalizations about where Brees ranks among the 10 best QB's of all time.

I think everyone agrees that the top eight QB's in history are (in no order):

Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, John Unitas, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

From there, we're left with Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Tom Brady, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh, Sonny Jurgensen, Fran Tarkenton, Bart Starr and a few others. As great as Drew Brees's stats are, I'm not sure we're ready to annoint him as an all-time great.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

I knew when I made my comment that the response about the different eras was inevitable. Point well taken. However, while Brees is too young to put in any kind of all-time group, there's no mistaking that he's on top of his game right now in this season, and that's what makes this Super Bowl so interesting. In fact... he has the highest QB rating of any QB ever to play in the Super Bowl!!! Anyways, check out the extra stats I just added to the article.

Also, my top QB list would differ from yours in one major way... Otto Graham would be in the elite 8, not Staubach. Otherwise, it's a good list.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

I goofed... Brees is just the top from the samples I had. Montana had a 112.4 in 1989.