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Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell and his Colts have played clutch all season long. Indianapolis is one win from their second Super Bowl victory in four years (2006). Ironically, their opponent Sunday was one win from becoming the Colts opponent in the '06 game.
Indy rises and falls on the right arm of future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. He's the Commander in Chief. His ever changing signals at the line keep defenses guessing. Even when they guess right Manning finds a way to get the job done. Fourth quarter comebacks are his specialty. Indy had plenty of close calls but usually found a way to victory (14-2). Playoff football has been near perfect with convincing wins over stingy Baltimore and New York.
How can the Colts slow down New Orleans? It won't be easy. Sentiment from fans seems to be on the Saints side. Hardly anyone I know seems to be rooting for the Colts. We should be treated to a great Super Bowl this weekend. Here's what the Colts must do to bring home another Lombardy Trophy....
Keys to Victory - Offense: Patience. Patience not to abandon running attack. Patience by Manning when passing lanes are jammed. If the Colts line can open up running lanes then Manning will have plenty of opportunities to lead long time consuming drives. Offense must protect the ball at all costs.
Keys to Victory - Defense: Dwight Freeney, Dwight Freeney, Dwight Freeney. Everyone has left Indy for dead without defensive star Dwight Freeney. All inquiring minds want to know if the Colts can step up? Rumors now speculating he'll play but there's no way he'll be effective in a fast paced game with a bum ankle. Colts only chance slowing down Brees is to keep plays in front of them... don't allow speedy Saints WR's to roam downfield. Saints run best from spread formations. Colts D doesn't match up well vs NFL's #1 offense. They only faced one, maybe two, high powered attacks all season. Saints fast pace could overwhelm these guys. Winning the turnover battle is the biggest key to slowing down Brees & Co. Lack of turnovers will most likely spell defeat.
Keys to Victory - Special Teams: Nothing exciting to write home about when it comes to Colts special teams play. They're not great at covering kicks. Not so hot returning punts and kickoffs. I'm expecting Saints returners to create great field position if given chances. Punter Pat McAfee really needs to angle kicks and keep New Orleans pinned deep. Advantage Saints.
Stay tuned for Super Bowl predictions.