After sixteen regular season games and three weeks of playoff action, it all comes down to this Sunday's match up between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Both of these clubs spent most of the season riding unbeaten streaks and that's not where the comparisons end - both ended up losing games in the final few weeks before putting up impressive wins in the postseason that erased any doubts about the skill or drive of either side. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Saints thumped the Arizona Cardinals 45-14 and it was the Colts shutting down the Baltimore Ravens 20-3. The following week in the Championship round, New Orleans won a tight one over Minnesota 31-28 and Indie sent the New York Jets packing with a 30-17 win.
Are the NFL's two best teams playing for the championship? I don't think you'll find too many people that will put up an argument there – but who will come out on top?
For me, it's the New Orleans Saints.
There's no question that Peyton Manning has been a dominant force in the league this season, and that continued into the playoffs - but
Drew Brees led the league's best offence and absolutely abused opposing defenses on the way to a 13-3 record and two playoff wins.
This match up between Manning and Brees is unique in that they led their respective teams to a combined 27 regular season wins, which is the second-highest total behind only the 1998 Super Bowl between the Broncos and the Falcons. While Manning has shown his ability to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances, Brees has been the architect of a high-scoring, high-powered unit that has impressed the hell out of just about everybody this season.
The one thing that set the Saints apart this year (in my mind, anyway) was that they have the ability to win games in the air, on the ground or by utilizing both. A big part of that dual threat is Reggie Bush, who put up some big numbers in the Saints win over the Cardinals and had a quiet game against Minnesota, but still wound up with a touchdown reception.
I think it’s going to be a fantastic game between two great clubs and I really can’t wait to see what happens when things kick off on Sunday afternoon!
Oh, and incase you're wondering, my record for my first season of picking NFL winners stands at 141-68 coming into this weekend.