Super Bowl Battles to Watch
After he was sacked twice early-on by the Jets, Manning, in essence, took over the offensive play-calling from offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Manning flummoxed the Jets defense at will after that, putting the Jets on their heels. Williams has faced Manning often, with limited success, but is coming off a huge night pressuring Brett Favre. Some would call this showdown a chess match. It's more like another game Bourbon Street folks know well. A shell game. You may get lucky once in a while, but can you consistently guess right against Manning?
The last time Shockey went to a Super Bowl he paid his own way and had to sit in the press box, in the midst of an ugly divorce with the Giants. This time, there is no question Shockey could be the proverbial X-factor against a couple of safeties strong against the run. There's an opening for Shockey to star. On the other hand, Shockey has been hampered by injuries and could be an easier cover after grabbing just one ball for nine yards in the NFC championship game.
The football world has become quite familiar with Saturday, one of the most decorated and recognizable O-linemen in the game. Ellis is a versatile and powerful defensive tackle who can plug two gaps in the middle of the line in a 3-4 set, or penetrate and pressure the quarterback out of the 4-3. He is an extremely under-rated key to Gregg Williams' defensive success, allowing Jonathan Vilma to have a great season and limiting ground games against the Saints.
Whatever happened to that All Pro rush end the Vikes used to have? Jared somebody? Oh, that's right, Allen. Jared Allen. Bushrod dominated Allen in the NFC championship game like Allen never has been dominated before. Bushrod got a bit of help from tight end David Thomas on some passing situations. Nevertheless, the unheralded MVP of the NFC title game was Bushrod. His reward: Dwight Freeney, if he's healthy enough to go.
These NFL playoffs have proved yet again that turnovers are earned, not given. Creating turnovers may be a gift, but it's not the kind of gift that arrives through happenstance or on birthdays. The Saints have that gift. That knack. Week after week, Saints opponents lamented their "bad luck." But it wasn't bad luck and it wasn't bad luck when the Vikings uncharacteristically spit-up the football six times and tossed a pair of interceptions. This is what the Saints do. Addai MUST hold onto the ball. Or else.
It will be Greer most likely drawing the unenviable task of matching up most often with Wayne, who was limited to just three catches by Jets' ace Darrelle Revis. Peyton Manning wasn't afraid to challenge Revis occasionally, so he definitely won't be afraid of Greer. The more intriguing and tempting target may be Garcon, coming off a huge AFC title game. But Porter is much more the ball-hawking presence and willing to take more gambles, as Brett Favre found out.
Don't look now, but the Colts have an outstanding run defense. In the shadows of the Super Bowl marquee featuring pass-happy offenses, clearly a key factor will be Brackett's ability to stuff the run. Against the NFL's leading ground game, Brackett keyed an effort that limited the Jets to just 86 yards on the ground. The week before that, the ground-oriented Ravens managed just 87 yards. Usually when the Saints cannot generate some kind of ground attack, they struggle.
This should be a mismatch along the lines of Mavericks-Knicks or Reagan-Mondale. Stover is 42 and has seen it all and done it all. He is Mr. Unflappable. Not long ago, Hartley -- a comparative NFL toddler -- was unemployed. But Hartley is tough, strong and was groomed to take big kicks at high school powerhouse Southlake Carroll (Texas) and the University of Oklahoma. He made the kick of his life against the Vikings. If the Super Bowl comes down to a kick, Hartley won't be as nervous or intimidated as you might think.
The entire Saints offense is predicated on hitting the big play. Saints coach Sean Payton must be salivating at the prospect of facing the Colts after watching video of the Colts-Jets AFC championship game. Hayden was burned badly for a 45-yard completion, and that was only the second-biggest play a Colts corner gave up. Rookie backup Jacob Lacey was smoked on an 80-yard touchdown completion to Braylon Edwards. Starter Jerraud Powers remains questionable for the Super Bowl. Expect Lacey and Hayden to be tested deep. Often.
His horrible drop of a punt against the Vikings notwithstanding, Bush is a huge asset in the punt-return game. He breaks games wide open. In the same NFC title game, the football world was introduced to just how big a factor Courtney Roby can be as a kick returner, with his 41-yard return of the second-half kickoff getting the Saints going. The Colts are efficient in coverage, but not great. And this is an entirely different breed of return men they will be facing.<br><br>Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org