|Saints +5.5 vs. Colts||Colts||Colts||Colts||Saints||Colts|
|Last Week's Record||0-2||0-2||0-2||0-2||2-0|
|2009 Playoff Best Bets||1-2||1-2||1-2||1-2||2-1|
|Best Bet Record||8-8-1||9-8||10-7||7-10||7-8-2|
|Break Point Record||7-11||2-3||8-8||11-16||8-12|
|Consensus Pick Record||19-23-1|
|2008 Playoff Record||6-5||5-6||5-6||8-3||4-7|
|2007 Playoff Record||8-3||3-8||6-5||N/A||2-9|
|2006 Playoff Record||7-4||N/A||4-7||N/A||N/A|
|2005 Playoff Record||5-6||N/A||3-8||N/A||N/A|
|2004 Playoff Record||6-5||N/A||4-7||N/A||N/A|
|2003 Playoff Record||6-5||N/A||4-7||N/A||N/A|
|2002 Playoff Record||6-5||7-4||5-6||N/A||N/A|
|2001 Playoff Record||6-4-1||7-3-1||4-6-1||N/A||N/A|
|2000 Playoff Record||6-5||7-4||6-5||N/A||N/A|
|Erickson||The Saints have thrived when they've forced turnovers, and they have had as big of a home field advantage as anyone this year. Neither of these conditions is likely to exist on Sunday.|
|Pianowski||I know what to expect from Peyton Manning and the Colts offense. I feel far less confident in the Saints, game to game. The extra prep time helps Indy, at least that's my gut feel. Maybe the Colts won't cover, but I'm fairly confident they'll win. (It would have been more fun with Favre around. It's okay, we can say it.)|
|Liss||I'm more confident the Colts will play to their capacity Sunday than the Saints.|
|Stopa||When the Championship Games ended, my immediate thought was "There's no way I'm picking against Manning in the Super Bowl. Hall of Fame QBs like Manning don't lose this game." That Manning had just torn apart a Jets defense that compared favorably to the 2000 Ravens, and the Saints were fortunate the Vikings had crisco on their gloves, made me ultra-confident in the Colts. As time passed, I've realized the problem. EVERYONE is thinking that way, and Vegas knows it. In fact, The Manning Factor (the term I'm using for everyone's feeling that there's no way the Colts lose) is the only reason this game is not close to a push. Mike Salfino's statistical analysis indicates the Saints should be more than a FG favorite on a neutral field. We can argue the merits of that type of analysis all day long, but the point is clear - except for The Manning Factor, these teams are rough equals. Both have elite QBs in their prime, a plethora of offensive weapons and mediocre defenses. The Colts are a bit better at playing straight-up defense, but the Saints force more turnovers and have a superior running game and special teams. The only way to justify this line being so high is Manning. The biggest question in deciding this game ATS is how much credence to give to The Manning Factor.
I want to give in to The Manning Factor, go with my initial instinct and take the Colts. But that's what every Joe Public gambler is going to do (as seen by 2/3 of the public being on the Saints - a high disparity given the volume of bets being placed). I can't help but feel the Saints are the savvy, contrarian play. I'd still take the Colts to win straight-up. But contrary to what we often think, HOF QBs do sometimes lose games like this. Tom Brady lost one just a few years ago. John Elway couldn't win one until he was no longer the best offensive player on his own team. Brett Favre lost one (albeit to Elway). With that backdrop, would it be that surprising if the Colts lost this game? Dwight Freeney isn't 100 percent, Jim Caldwell has never ever been on a stage like this, and the Colts, who struggle on kick coverage, will have to kick to Reggie Bush. I hate picking against Manning, but there are just too many things that point to the Saints and not enough towards Indy. It feels wrong, but that's why it's right. And if it were wrong, Vegas would adjust the line more (to make the bets more 50/50), but it hasn't. Back New Orleans.
Since I'm taking the Saints, I feel like I have to take the Over. You know Manning is going to get his, so if you're picking the Saints, you have to think the game will be high-scoring. Conversely, if you like the Colts, you should parlay it with the under.
|Del Don||Too lengthy to post here.|
* Jeff Erickson: RotoWire Senior editor, 2001, 2008 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Value Meter. Covers and roots for the Bengals.
* Scott Pianowski: Fantasy expert for Yahoo! Sports, and also contributes to Rotowire.com. 2009 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the Patriots.
* Chris Liss: RotoWire Managing Editor, 2000, 2002, 2006 Staff Picks Champ, 2003, 2004 co-champ. Writes Beating the Book and Surviving the Week in addition to Staff Picks. Covers and roots for the Giants.
* Mark Stopa: Staff Writer, Writes Working the Wire. Roots for the Bills.
* Dalton Del Don: RotoWire Senior Staff Writer. 2007 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Game Capsules and the Barometer. Covers the Eagles and roots for the 49ers.