For the Saints, this will be their first Super Bowl appearance in their 43-year history. On the other side, this will be the eighth straight play-off appearance for the Colts. They will be hoping MVP Peyton Manning can lead them to a repeat of their Super Bowl victory from three years ago Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which, like this SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game, came at MiamiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dolphin Stadium.
Both teams began the regular season 13-0 before the Saints went on to lose their remaining three games. The Colts won another, before suffering defeats in their final two games. Neither had a tough game in their first round of the playoffs, but the Saints had to scrap to sneak by the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in the NFC Championship Game. The Colts defeated the New York Jets 30-17 to lock up the AFC title.
Taking a look at the regular season stats for each club really spells out why this contest is so interesting. Through the regular season, Indianapolis had the worst rushing offense of all NFL teams, their success almost solely built around Peyton ManningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s arm. This could prove to be a real problem for the Saints, whose pass defence ranked near the bottom (26th) in the NFL.
For their part, New Orleans are no mugs through the air. Along with the Colts, their passing offense finished in the top 5 in the NFL. QB Drew Brees, although not matching ManningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s yards per game, threw more touchdowns, and fewer interceptions Ã¢â‚¬â€ finishing the season with a league-leading 109.6 QB Rating, to ManningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 99.9. However the Colts have proved far more adept than the Saints at stopping the passing game throughout the season, and this is the main reason that the Vegas bookies have the Colts as 5 point favourites.
Even if Brees continues to perform like he has all season, it may still not be enough for the win Ã¢â‚¬â€ theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be relying on some special performances from their other guys. Their pass defence is going to have to really step up, and most of all, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be hoping for fireworks from running-back Reggie Bush.
Bush has lost some of his lustre this year, largely due to a season punctuated by injury. However he showed exactly why he is such a special player in the SaintsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 45-14 win over Arizona in the Divisional Round. He ran for 84 yards on 5 carries, with a touchdown, and then capped off the game with an 83 yard punt return back to the house.
Perhaps most of all, New Orleans may just have to hope Peyton Manning and his receivers have a rare off day. If they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, it could end up being a long night for them.
Super Bowl XLIV, from Dolphin Stadium in Miami, will be broadcast live from 11pm (GMT) this Sunday, on BBC One and Sky Sports 1. ‘The WhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ will be providing the entertainment for the half-time show.
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BIOGRAPHY: Hector Bellerin
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