Super Bowl preview: the sports staff’s picks

New Orleans Saints

As a Patriots fan, I always feel obligated to root against the Colts. Unfortunately, over the course of the 2009 season, I’ve had to grudgingly accept that the Colts aren’t a terrible football team. However, the Saints’ superior running game and Dwight Freeney’s questionable status — even if he plays, I have a hard time believing he’ll be as effective as usual — make me feel justified in predicting that the Saints will win. Like most observers, I expect an offensive explosion from both teams. In the end, though, I think Reggie Bush will shake off the Colts’ run defense and make a play worthy of his paycheck.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to making a voodoo doll of Bernard Pollard.

Heading into Sunday, the Colts are clearly favored. Most experts believe Peyton Manning will dissect the Saints and the Colts will cruise to victory.

Despite all the hype over Peyton Manning, however, the Saints are the team with the more potent offense. With their deep receiver corps — from Devery Henderson to Marques Colston to Jeremy Shockey — they have more downfield threats than the Colts can respond to; Drew Brees will be able to burn the opposing secondary for big plays. In addition, New Orleans has found an effective running game to support their aerial attack, so the Colts can’t just sit back and wait for the pass.

The Saints don’t have the top-ranked defense, and they will give up points. They have shown that they can, however, step up and make big plays. Brett Favre threw for over 300 yards two weeks ago, but the Saints defense also caused five turnovers — including a game-saving interception in the final seconds of regulation. The big question will be whether the defense can force the Colts to make enough mistakes to give Drew Brees a chance to win the game.

I think they will. This should be a fun game to watch.

Indianapolis Colts

For the first time since the 1993 season, both number one seeds have made it to the Super Bowl. The NFC’s New Orleans Saints and the AFC’s Indianapolis Colts will face off in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. This will be the Saints’ first Super Bowl appearance in the franchise’s 43-year history.

The Saints’ defense will pressure Peyton Manning, just like they did against Brett Favre in the NFC championship game. However, Favre still threw for 310 yards. Manning, four-time MVP, will deliver despite the Saints’ blitz. My vote is for the Colts. I’m looking forward to an exciting, high scoring game.

I hate to say it, but I can’t imagine the game will be close. Giving Indianapolis and Peyton Manning two weeks to prepare against New Orleans’ mediocre-at-best defense means trouble for the Saints.Manning was able to lead his team over the best defense in the NFL last week, and the Saints simply won’t be able to stop him...

The Colts defense was also able to hold the Jets, the NFL’s leading rushing team, to under 100 yards in their duel with one week’s preparation. Indy’s coach, Jim Caldwell, has learned from Peyton and former head coach and mentor Tony Dungy — he will not do anything less than to lead the Indianapolis Colts to victory on Sunday.