Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Greatest Game Ever (Preview Edition)

The match-up of the century is among us again. The greatest game ever played part 100 will be played tomorrow as the Colts try to knock off the Pats for the first time, like ever. (They’ve actually beaten the Pats twice in the regular season the last two years, but that doesn’t count).

Peyton Manning is apparently trying to win his first big game or something. So is Tony Dungy. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can do no wrong.

Tom Brady keeps winning games, even though he’s playing with wide receivers picked up from a local Boston Intramural flag football team.

Adam Vinateri is the best soccer player in NFL history. The Colts have the best defense in the league now, after weeks of having the worst.

Bill Belichick is a defensive genius, but Tony Dungy isn’t. Tony Dungy is the mastermind behind the “Tampa 2” defensive scheme that many defensives in the league run now, but he’s not a defensive mastermind.

I could go on, but I’m not. The point is everything now is hyped to the point that it’s past ridiculous. However, I can’t help but to put my two cents in the debate on who’s going to win. The proof is in the match-up flavored pudding.

Colts Passing Game v. Patriots Pass Defense

The last two times Peyton played New England, his stats look like this:

20-36, 326 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT – (week 9 2006)
28-37, 321 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT – (week 9 2005)

Very similar stat lines indeed. That shows me two things. First, the Patriots DB’s aren’t as tough as they used to be, or they’re not allowed to be as tough as they want to be by the NFL’s strict pass interference rules.

Second, they’re not getting any pressure on Peyton. If you pressure Manning, he makes bad plays, if you give him time, you’re dead.

Advantage: Colts, especially if Rodney Harrison can't play.

Colts Running Game v. Patriots Run Defense

Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes are the main reason why the Colts won against Baltimore last weekend. That and a dumb Ravens game plan. Meanwhile, the Patriots were horrendous against the run last week vs. the Chargers. Does two decent RB’s = one LT? No, but I still like Indy.

Advantage: Colts

Patriots Passing Game v. Colts Pass Defense

In a normal game, I’d take the Colts. The Pats are playing with an old WR, and WR cut by WR deficient Philadelphia, and a WR who wasn’t better than Eric Parker in San Diego(who had two bad drops and a muffed punt last week). Coincidentally, Gaffney and Caldwell were teammates at Florida.

On top of that, the Colts are finally at full strength in the secondary and Dwight Freeney and his gang up front are on fire.

However, for some reason the Patriots seem to do everything better in the postseason, especially blocking and route running.

Advantage: Push

Patriots Running Game v. Colts Run Defense

As I noted before, the Colts have the best defense in the league now, even though their run defense was atrocious in the regular season. However, Kansas City and Baltimore have pathetic passing games, so Indy could play to primarily defend the run.

New England has an excellent passing game with Tom Brady, which should open up the run. That is, of course, if New England chooses to stick with the run. The Patriots abandoned the run last week, and they’ll do it again if it’s a shootout.

Advantage: Push

Special Teams

Vinateri over the other dude is a no-brainer, but Terrence Wilkins returning kicks makes me nervous.

Advantage: Push


In a match-up between two defensive geniuses, the coaching shifts to the offense. I’ll take the offensive coordinator in the booth over the one on the field that doubles as a QB.

Advantage: Patriots


The Patriots don’t pay people, so karma has to catch-up with them some day. Troy Brown got screwed by them and that was like two years ago.

In my opinion, the Patriots also have an inordinate amount of luck. (That Brown strip last week wasn’t luck though; it was an instinctive defensive play by a player that sometimes plays defensive.)

As for focus, I don’t know if the Patriots will be focused, believe it or not. I mean, Tom Brady has a new girlfriend. And with all those troublemakers they have, that should hurt their focus too. (I’m talking about the guys dancing on the Chargers logo last week, if T.O. did that, he’d be in jail right now)

Plus, if they’re any hot women in Indy I’m sure Belichick will have his mind elsewhere. Especially if they’re married.

Advantage: Colts

Final Score: Indianapolis 27, New England 17

No comments: