If the Saints are going to surprise the sportsbook.com odds makers and bring home their first championship, the defense is going to have to put up the game of its life. No small task, considering Manning, even if he has been a little interception happy over the last couple months, is perhaps the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. Just don’t tell that to the Saints’ secondary. Of course, you can’t really tell them they beat Favre, either. He beat himself. Sorry, folks, but ragging on Favre never gets old for a Bears fan.
The Saints gave up 235 passing yards on average over the course of the regular season, but Manning himself averaged 282. Who do you think is going to win that battle? The Saints will no doubt throw their fair share of doubles Reggie Wayne’s way, but what can’t be lost on them is that Dallas Clark has just as many touchdowns this year, and only 150 receiver yards fewer than Wayne.
The Saints did give up a handful fewer rushing yards than the Colts defense this year per game, but still more than 120. Addai never materialized into the threat some predicted a couple years ago, but he still knows how to punch it in the end zone.
And that’s what the Saints are studying the next two weeks – how to break into what the Colts are built to do. Manning marches the ball down field and their either short toss it in or give it to Addai in the red zone. And it won’t be easy. Take a look at the standings for the NFC South. The Saints defense gave up more points than everyone else except the Bucs. In fact, only the Bears, Giants, Seahawks and Rams also gave up more points in the entire NFC. And that, folks, is why oddsmakers are losing faith in the Saints ability to pull off an upset on neutral ground. These guys can’t even hold down the offense of an average team…what are they going to do against the Saints.
Everyone expects a shootout, and the passes will definitely fly. But will they connect? Manning is too smart of a quarterback to feel much pressure from New Orleans’ defense, but he’s also too smart to underestimate them. Unless Manning somehow breaks his wrist in the next two weeks, I’d say the Saints defense is going to get run in circles in Miami.