So a week and a day have passed since that horrible loss to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game for the Minnesota Vikings. Life goes on. I took this loss infinitely better than the last two Vikings losses in conference championship games (’00 and ’98), since those were the only two that I’ve been a fan for. I was guarded against this team all season long because of Favre, and I also was insisting that our D was a bit overrated. I said that we would beat NO in the Metrodome, but in the Superdome, we didn’t have a prayer against that dynamic offense. To be honest, I was completely wrong. Our D was unreal in that game. The loss falls on the offense and special teams, emphasis on offense. So that did make it a bit tougher, because it made me think we were the better team, whereas all season long I thought they were better. And yet, I still was able to shake this loss off pretty easily compared to the past. Maybe it’s because I’m older, wiser, and just a tiny bit more mature. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that I never loved this team the way I loved those old Vikings teams with Carter and Moss. I watched 1999 Divisional Playoff loss to the St. Louis Rams (the infamous Randy Moss squirting the ref with a water bottle game) on YouTube this past weekend, and I just found myself pining for those days so much. Carter was ridiculous. Moss was Superfreak. Robert Smith, Leroy Hoard, Jake Reed, Andrew Glover, Robert Griffith, John Randle, Dwayne Rudd, etc. I could list my favorite players from those teams all day.
But, I’m not here to betray all of you who tuned in here for a Super Bowl Preview. I went into Conference Championship Weekend telling myself that the order of teams I wanted to win the Super Bowl from first to last went:
1. Vikings (obviously)
But after that loss, I’m really bitter. Well, a little bitter. Anyhow, it makes me mad that New Orleans is in this game, so now I want the Colts to blow them out, and I actually think that’s what’s going to happen. Despite Dwight Freeney’s injury, I think the Colts are too fast on defense, which helps to take away the single greatest strength of the Saints, which is speed on offense. After the Vikings made the Saints offense look amateur in the second half of that game, I’m now confident that that unit can be stopped. On the other side of the ball, I have 7 words for you: Peyton Manning with two weeks to prepare. We all saw Favre shred the Saints outside of his 2 picks, despite getting killed by those blitzes. Well, Peyton isn’t as stupid as Favre, and he’s far better at getting rid of the ball quickly. If the Saints try to blitz that much, Peyton is going to read it pre-snap and find the open man before the pressure can get there 95% of the time. I think they’re going to have a hard time stopping the Colts. Also, the Saints defense plays much better with leads, because it forces teams to throw much more. When the Colts get the lead in this game, they’ll be able to run draws and screen passes to take advantage of the over pursuit of the Saints’ D on those blitzes. The only way I see the Saints having a chance is if they can get a couple early turnovers to jump out to a lead. But even then, I’m confident Peyton will come through. My prediction: Colts 38, Saints 24.