Prior to the Snap: THE SUPER BOWL!



HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THIS AMAZING GAME? I don’t know what it is about this year in particular, but I have little to no excitement for the Super Bowl. There are a relatively large number of subplots in the game, with Peyton Manning’s chance to solidify himself as a pantheon quarterback, Dwight Freeney’s ankle, New Orleans’ moribund franchise history, and the Battle of the Pierres. After two weeks of media saturation, I’m just not interested in any of them.

YOU DON’T CARE WHO ARCHIE MANNING IS ROOTING FOR? Who ever thought this would actually interest the American people?


EVEN THOUGH, YOU KNOW, HE PLAYED FOR THE SAINTS: I’m aware of his personal history.

AND DWIGHT FREENEY MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY! I suppose Dwight Freeney is a great defensive end—one of the best in the league. He has an incredible spin move. But I for one don’t really care whether he plays. I think the Colts will win if Dwight Freeney plays. I think they will win if he doesn’t play—perhaps by a field goal less.

YOU JUST KILLED ALL THE SUSPENSE OF THIS POST: I suppose I did. I mean, who’s actually picking the Saints for reasons other than “New Orleans deserves it”?

WHY ARE YOU SUCH A DOWNER? Hard to say. I guess with the imminence of the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, the idea of having a major sporting event every year strikes me as a little ridiculous. I mean, we’re going to do this all again next year anyway.

WAIT, WHAT? I’m kidding.

Your Super Bowl ref: The I-still-hold-a-grudge-against-him Scott Green.

BUT IF YOU ARE LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR… Let’s just say I’m really excited for the idea of the Giants winning the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. REALLY excited.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST SUBPLOT OF THIS GAME THAT INCONCEIVABLY HASN’T BEEN MENTIONED? Scott Green is the referee in this game. Scott Green is the back judge who blew the call at the end of the Giants-Niners Wild Card game in 2002. Scott Green should not be the referee in this game.

THAT’S THE SUBPLOT YOU’RE MOST INTERESTED IN? I care about referees. And I’m very surprised that the referees of the last two Super Bowls—Mike Carey and Terry McAulay—didn’t even earn postseason assignments this season. It was a very weird postseason in terms of officiating assignments.

GOLLY…WHERE CAN I READ MORE? Glad you asked. They seem to know their stuff here.

CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE ACTUAL FOOTBALL GAME? It’s the Super Bowl. Nobody talks about the actual football game. Hey, how about that Tim Tebow commercial?

I’M SO SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THAT COMMERCIAL! See? Two weeks is too much between games.

I RECENTLY READ THAT 51% OF PEOPLE WATCH THE SUPER BOWL FOR THE COMMERCIALS. HOW MUCH DOES THIS OFFEND YOU AS A FOOTBALL FAN? Umm…mildly? I do get tired of the hype for Super Bowl commercials. The truth is that very few are actually memorable, and I find it ridiculous that I have seen commercials advertising future commercials.

Plus, with Hulu Ad Zone, who needs to watch them all live?

IS THERE ANY REASON TO ROOT FOR THE COLTS? 1. You have a blood relative who plays for them.

IS THAT IT? 2. You’re a strident defender of the rights of web-based journalism.

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS YEAR’S SUPER BOWL LOGO? Uninspiring at best, just like the last several have been. The last good Super Bowl logo was for XXXVIII in Houston, which capped off a nice five-year run for SB logos. And well, the SB XXXIX one wasn’t bad either; they really started getting lazy when the L got involved.

HOW PUMPED ARE YOU FOR SUPER BOWL L? I’m terrified of it. How do you make a logo out of that?


WHY ARE THE COLTS SUCH A SLAM DUNK WINNER IN YOUR OPINION? They’re not a slam dunk; I expect the game to be tight for a bit and I can envision a scenario in which the Saints win.

But I have a hard time overlooking that the New Orleans defense couldn’t do anything to stop Minnesota in the NFC Championship; it’s not even like most of the Vikings’ fumbles were forced. If Minnesota can move the ball up and down the field in the Superdome at will against the Saints’ defense, well, I have to think the Colts will be able to do the same. I mean, after about two possessions against the Jets two weeks ago, Peyton Manning had their blitzing scheme down—and as much credit as Gregg Williams gets, he’s not even as good a defensive mind as Rex Ryan.


BLASPHEMY! He’s on his third team in three seasons. I’m not saying he’s a bad or even not a good defensive coordinator. I just don’t see him as the type of guy who can make up for a decided talent gap with his scheme. He’s not Bill Belichick in his prime.

SO THE COLTS WILL WIN BECAUSE THEIR DEFENSE IS BETTER? While the Colts’ defense is better than that of the Saints—especially if Freeney plays—I still don’t  buy that it’s a good defense. It gave up 17 points in a half to the Jets. In that game, Indianapolis was susceptible to the big play, and the Jets have to be one of the worst big-play offenses in the league. The Saints are one of the best. New Orleans will get its share of big plays in this game—more than it had against the Vikings.

SO BOTH TEAMS WILL SCORE A LOT? I do think it will be the high-scoring game everyone expects; the only things that would prevent that would be unexpectedly poor weather (and I mean more than rain; like a monsoon) or an unforeseen demonstration of nerves from each quarterback.

Thomas will win the battle; Garcon the war.

WHICH PIERRE HAS A BETTER GAME? Thomas. Garcon will be back to Indy’s third or fourth option without Darrelle Revis across the line of scrimmage.

DOES REGGIE BUSH HAVE A BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE? Nah. He’ll get a first down at some point in the game, and maybe a short touchdown catch. That’s about it.

KEY SUPERSTITION AT PLAY: The team wearing white uniforms has won the last five Super Bowls (Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Giants, Steelers). The Saints will be in white on Sunday.

SECONDARY SUPERSTITION AT PLAY: The last four Super Bowl winning quarterbacks: Roethlisberger, Manning, Manning, Roethlisberger. You complete the pattern.

HEADS OR TAILS? Tails never fails. Except when it does. Which it won’t on Sunday.


ANY REGULAR-SEASON HISTORY? Of course; NFL teams play every four years under the current scheduling method. You may remember these two squads meeting to kick off the 2007 season on a Thursday night in Indianapolis. The defending champ Colts strolled to a 41-10 win.

Overall, the Colts and Saints have played 10 times, with each team winning five.

THE RUBBER MATCH! Yeah, that’s the real big sublot to this one. I might even call it the supraplot.

SUPER BOWL HISTORY! Everyone knows it’s the Saints’ first trip and the Colts’ fourth. They won one and lost one in Baltimore (V and III, respectively) before winning XLI in Miami three years ago.

Although the Colts have won two Super Bowls 36 years apart, Peyton Manning is the only Super Bowl MVP in franchise history.

HUH? Because their 16-13 win over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V was such an ugly, turnover-marred game, the MVP went to Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley—the only losing player to ever win MVP.

AND THE VERDICT: With apologies to Michael Weinreb, who has already listed his “XLIV Jarringly Specific Predictions for This Weekend’s Game,” I will list my own fairly specific (they’re not really jarring) prognostications.

(P.S. I didn’t steal this idea from Weinreb; I’ve been doing this for the Super Bowl for years since it produced my greatest-ever prediction: that the Patriots would win Super Bowl XXXVI on a last-second 49-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. I was one yard off.)

  • Both teams will score touchdowns on their opening possessions and Jim Nantz will remark that we’re in for a wild one.
  • With the score tied at 7 in the first quarter, the Colts will turn the ball over deep in New Orleans territory, likely on a fumble, probably by Joseph Addai. The Saints will do nothing with the subsequent possession.
  • The Colts will score 10 unanswered for a 17-7 lead, and, spurred by a long kick return, the Saints will kick a field goal late in the second quarter.
  • Matt Stover will then miss a lengthy field goal as time expires in the first half. 17-10 Colts.
  • The Colts will seize control of the game with a third-quarter touchdown to establish a 24-10 lead; the Saints will respond with another field goal, and Nantz and Simms will discuss New Orleans’ struggles in the red zone as a key to the game. Indianapolis will score another touchdown for a 31-13 lead, and everyone will think the game is over at the end of the third quarter.
  • The Saints will score a quick TD in the fourth, get the ball back, and score again to cut it to 31-27 with 6:00 remaining. Sean Payton will consider an onsides kick but decide against it.
  • Payton will regret that decision when the Peyton Manning leads the Colts on a touchdown drive that takes up 3-4 minutes (despite several illogically timed timeouts by Payton with an a) and gives Indy a 38-27 lead.
  • Drew Brees will throw an interception on the ensuing drive, and the Colts will line up in victory formation.
  • Jim Caldwell may or may not smile. It’s the one thing I’m not sure about.
  • Manning will earn his second MVP by throwing for 350+ yards and four touchdowns. Eli Manning will feign excitement.

THAT WAS SPECIFIC: Good enough for you? Colts 38, Saints 27.

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] we already heard from Tim (and, for that matter, from Michael Weinreb) some especially specific predictions for tonight’s […]


  2. […] you excited for this Super Bowl? It’s almost exactly like last year to me. Look, when your team is in the Super Bowl, those two weeks are amazing; you think about the game […]


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