We’ve had a horrible year of picks, but in the conference championship games we actually seemed to know what was going on, picking the Colts to win and cover and picking the Saints to win 31-26 thanks in part to a late Brett Favre interception. Of course, that still left us just 1-1 vs. the spread, but it made us feel better going into our Super Bowl 44 pick.
New Orleans vs. Indianapolis – It’s been fascinating to watch the way public sentiment has gone in this matchup. The game opened with a 3.5-point Indy advantage, but that immediately spiked to the 5.5-point range. The spread has hovered there, but in the last couple of days it seems like many analysts and experts are trying to talk themselves into the Saints. Dwight Freeney’s ankle injury has a lot to do with that, but there’s also the underdog attraction at work here. Well, we’re not going for it, because we see the Colts claiming their second Super Bowl title in four years. Peyton Manning is playing quarterback at a level not seen since Joe Montana’s uberefficient glory days, and even if the Saints blitz him, he’ll pick them apart. He’s already faced two playoff teams in the Ravens and Jets that are better blitzers than the Saints, and Manning thrived in both of those games. And while Drew Brees will move the ball for the Saints, we expect the Saints’ offense to sputter just a bit more than the Colts. Yes, Freeney’s injury matters, but the Colts have other pass rushers (notably Robert Mathis) as well as a young crew of corners that is better than what they’ve had in recent years. The Saints will need to turn the Colts over to win, but we see Indy as the team more likely to win the turnover battle. The Colts won 30-17 last week, and their previous Super Bowl victory was a 29-17 decision. We think this game ends up in that area again, as the Colts become the first favorite to cover since they did so vs. Chicago. We’ll project Indianapolis 28, New Orleans 17.