Super Bowl 44 XLIV Preview and Pick: New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts – Point Spread

Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints (15-3 SU, 9-9 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (16-2
SU, 12-5-1 ATS), 6:25 p.m. EST, Sunday, February 7, 2010, Sun Life
Stadium, Miami, Fla., TV: CBS

by Badger of

Point Spread: Saints +5/Colts -5
Over/Under: 55.5

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will get second chance
for a Super Bowl ring in Miami, but hell be opposed by a shorter,
cloned version of himself this time around when Drew Brees and the
New Orleans Saints take on the Colts in Super Bowl 44 in newly named Sun Life Stadium on February 7th.

The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana is still partying
following the Saints overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings in
the NFC Championship game Sunday, 31-28, clinching the franchises
first-ever Super Bowl appearance in its 43-year history.

The Saints were able to force five Vikings turnovers, the last one
being an interception of a Brett Favre pass that took away the
Vikings chance at a long game-winning field goal try. New Orleans won
the coin toss in overtime, drove the ball down the field converting a
key fourth-and-inches play along the way and won it on Garrett
Hartleys 40-yard field goal to put the Bayou into a frenzy.

The machine that is Manning and the Colts needed a few quarters to
get used to the New York Jets blitz schemes on Sunday, but once they
did it was business as usual in their 30-17 victory over the Jets in
the AFC Championship game.

As Manning and the offense rolled up 24 unanswered points to close
the first half and finish the second half, the unheralded Colts
defense limited the Jets running game to just 86 yards total and
under three yards per carry (2.9) to put the Colts back in Miami for
the Super Bowl again, the same venue as their last Super Bowl
appearance and victory.

It is actually rather appropriate that these two teams play for the Super Bowl title anyway.

As far as sportsbetting goes, this years NFL regular season was so
heavy in favor of the large chalks week-to-week throughout the
regular season that it killed the sportsbooks and has made the public
drunk with confidence, so why not have the biggest game of the season
come down to the two teams that were the biggest chalk favorites to
get to Miami since just a few games into the campaign and make all of
the chalk-eaters to this point wet themselves picking a side for
Chalk Bowl 44.

With that said, the overnight line following the completion of the
Championship games Sunday opened with the Colts as 4-point favorites
in Super Bowl 44. But that number didnt hold very long, as most of
the offshore sportsbooks are already up to 4.5 or even 5.5 within hours of the opening
point spreads release, which can only mean that the early money is
favoring the Colts so far.

The over/under total opened at 56 and despite the quarterbacks and the offensive firepower in this game, the number has moved down the
hook (half-point) at most sportsbooks to 55.5 with a few offshore
boards showing 55 already.

With Manning and Brees reading defenses and threading needles into tight coverage in the passing game, theres an instant feel that this game could turn into a shootout of huge proportions. Both teams have
so much depth at receiver and at running back, with sturdy offensive
lines that protect the quarterback so well, that its really hard not
to imagine this game goes over the total by halftime.

The obvious difference between these teams comes in the running game,
where the Saints use a three-headed unit of Pierre Thomas, Reggie
Bush and Mike Bell to get good enough yardage each week (132 ypg
6th in NFL) on its own without the deadly passing game. Whereas the
Colts seem to run the ball only when Manning checks into it at the
line of scrimmage as an audible, or if theyre milking the clock in
the second half.

Perhaps the biggest problem in handicapping this game is the fact that both teams have the capability to strike instantly, which means
that no lead is safe no matter how big or small. If the game comes
down to special teams, the game-changing speed of Bush in the return
game and the stronger legs of Thomas Morstead and Garrett Hartley in
the kicking game give the edge to the Saints.

If the clich that defense wins championships is to hold true this
season, then one of these teams units will have to step up on Super
Bowl Sunday.

On paper, the Saints opportunistic defense and their seven defensive touchdowns during the regular season would look like the type of game-
changing unit that could turn in that type of game. They forced the
Vikings to put the ball on the carpet six times last week and
recovered three of them, so theyre also good at ball-hawking around
the pile.

But they were also exposed a little in the secondary against the
Vikings, especially Tracey Porter prior to his game-ending
interception. Lets not forget at one point the Saints were starting
Chris McAllister and Mike McKenzie at corner, two guys who didnt
have jobs before the season and dont have jobs now, so the Colts and
Manning will likely be able to take advantage of matchups against the
Saints nickel and dime backs (Randall Gay and Malcolm Jenkins) of the

The Colts defense has been underrated all season, but they cant be
overlooked anymore. They held the Jets No. 1 running attack to under
100 yards last week, so theyll likely be able to rise to the
challenge of the Saints diverse passing offense this time out.
Perhaps the most impressive job though has been done by defensive
coordinator Larry Coyer and his staff, who in two playoff games so
far have yet to give up any second-half points. Talk about making
great adjustments.

These two teams have met a few times over the years, with the last two ending in blowout fashion in early September games, and both of
them being won by the Colts. Indy thumped the Saints at home the last
time these two played, 41-10, back in 2007. They also thumped them
again back in 2003, 55-21, in a September game in the Superdome.

Both games also ended with the Colts covering the point spread, as
5.5- and 3.5-point favorites in each game, respectively. In fact, the
favorite has gone 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings
between these teams.

As far as recent Super Bowl betting trends go, the favorite is 3-6-1 ATS in the last decade, with the underdog covering in six of the last
eight including the last two in a row. The under has gone 6-4 in the
decade, including five straight. Keep in mind, if the 55.5 total
holds up for this game, it will become the highest total ever in a
Super Bowl (the last two Super Bowls both closed at 54).

The Colts of course were in Miami just three years ago, where they
beat the Chicago Bears, 29-14, as 7-point favorites at kickoff. That
game ended under the total of 48.

Badgers Pick: If I had to pick a side today, the day after the championship games, Id take the Saints and the points. Im not
saying I think the Saints win, because Peyton Manning is playing so
perfect right now hes like my Xbox when it doesnt want me to win
rigged. The Saints just have too much firepower to not be in this
game. Colts win in a 35-31 shootout. Take the Saints to cover the spread at plus +5