Here are my rankings for the Super Bowl peppered with some “remember me hits.” Let’s get it, as they say, on!
1. Peyton Manning: In these here playoffs the Saints have forced at least one quarterback into retirement and another possibly into hiding/retirement/24/7 news cycle. They will be coming after Peyton Manning with the force of Zeus’ own thunder! But then he’ll sidestep and throw a touchdown. We saw the Jets’ #1 defense get to Manning early in the AFC Championship game and then the Manning Machine finally got warmed up and chewed them up and spat them out while throwing for 377 yards and 3 TD’s. That’s the most passing yards given up by the Jets all year. And the Saints don’t have as good a pass defense as the Jets. In the Saints’ last 6 meaningful games (not including week 17 when they rested starters) they have given up 303.5 passing yards per game. Greg Williams wants his players to put some “remember me hits” on Peyton early. Rex Ryan probably had the same game plan.
2. Drew Brees: He is probably the best all around fantasy quarterback going against the best all around real quarterback. The Colts are vulnerable against the pass with their young defensive backs and unless Freeney and Mathis can pressure Brees consistently, he will be able to move the ball through the air. The Saints did try to balance the run with the pass in the championship game. They had 23 rushes to 31 passes even though they only averaged 3 yards a carry. I believe they’ll try a similar ratio against the Colts, so Brees’ numbers could be dampened just a little.
1. Joseph Addai: He ran strong against the Jets’ tough run defense totaling 81 yards on 16 carries. The Colts won’t all of the sudden try to run the ball down the Saints throats, but Addai could see similar to better numbers against a poor rushing defense, and I see him adding a touchdown. Addai has been a little dinged up and the 2 weeks of rest should help him quite a bit.
2. Pierre Thomas: He says his ribs aren’t bothering him and he did have a decent game against a good Vikings rush defense. The Colts have had good game plans against elite running backs, but PT won’t be their main focus and could sneak in a couple big runs.
3. Reggie Bush: Bush is the ultimate boom or bust (sounds a little like his girlfriend). I almost put him above PT because he is always a threat to take the ball all the way. But in the biggest game in the whole wide world of sports I think Payton trusts Thomas with the ball more. Bush does elevate his game and could go off, but I’m playing it safe with PT and his 15-20 touches.
4. Donald Brown: He was clearly backing up Addai last week so it looks like he’s passed Mike Hart as he should have. Coming off his injury I’ve seen a couple very nice runs from him, but for the most part he’s not doing enough to take many looks away from Addai and I doubt things will change much in the Super Bowl.
5. Mike Bell/Lynell Hamilton: Both of these guys have about the same chance of vulturing a touchdown from Pierre Thomas.
1. Reggie Wayne: Garcon and Collie benefited from Wayne getting Revis-ed last week, but Revis didn’t get invited to the Super Bowl. The Saints did slow Sidney Rice, but he still had 4 receptions for 43 yards and a TD. The Saints are going to have their hands full with Garcon, Collie and Clark, so giving Wayne extra attention might be tough.
2. Marques Colston: Against the Vikings Drew Brees completed passes to 8 different players and only had a total of 17 completions. Not one receiver had a great game and that has really been the way it has gone all season. Colston is the Saints best receiver so he gets the #2 nod.
3. Pierre Garcon: He showed he could be the #1 guy without any downgrade in production. Reggie Wayne is still the man and unless the Saints spend a lot of resources on shutting him down we should see Garcon’s numbers dip from last week’s game.
4.Devery Henderson: He’s leading the Saints in receiving in the playoffs and has scored as many touchdowns in the playoffs as he did all season with two. You can’t discount a player who is hot in the playoffs. Of course he could be shut out, but trying to pick a Saints receiver is tough no matter what you do, might as well go with the hot hand.
5. Robert Meachem: He’s been hurting, but seems to be healthy now and he would probably be my pick to pull another Braylon Edwards on the Colts defense. The only problem with that is the Saints aren’t a run first team like the Jets, so it will be tougher to beat the Colts deep.
6. Austin Collie: Collie should see the biggest drop off from the Revis game, but you cannot count him out for a touchdown. Manning will throw to the open guy. So get open!
7. Lance Moore: Just another Saints wide receiver to divvy up the receptions. What ever happened to a #1 and #2 receiver that got a predetermined number of catches? That never happens? Hmm, maybe I was watching darts.
1. Dallas Clark: This is a bit of a no-brainer based on his competition, but the Saints have been tough against tight ends. They’ve only given up one TD to a TE and the was the future Hall of Famer Fred Davis. Clark is too good to shut out.
2. Dave Thomas: If I were Sean Payton I would play Thomas over Shockey based on hair alone, but also because Shockey is hurting. I really wouldn’t want either Saints’ tight end, but the founder of Wendys isn’t hurting.
3. Jeremy Shockey: He says he will risk an even worse injury than he already has to play in the Super Bowl. Well, that’s very William Wallace of you Jeremy, but I think they’ll go with the healthier guy.
1. Garrett Hartley: The Colts can interpretive dance the cliche of “bend and don’t break” and it is a beautiful display that will go off-broadway after the Super Bowl. Hartley will have some chances to kick.