No Such Nonsense

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Friday, February 05, 2010

This Year's Superbowl Primer

What do you need to know to avoid looking like a NFL neophyte at your Superbowl party in Sunday? Here are the the key plot lines:

The Perfect Seasons that Weren't
Indianapolis and New Orleans were the number one teams in their respective conferences and until week 13 both looked like they had a legitimate chance to go undefeated for the season. They didn't. New Orleans lost 3 ugly games, beginning with a shocker to the Dallas Cowboys. Indy went further undefeated - clinching their division and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by going 14-0. All they needed to match the Patriot's mythic 16-0 from a few seasons ago was a home win against the almost-out-of-the-playoffs New York Jets and the sad-sack Buffalo Bills. Except Indy head coach Jim Caldwell and, especially GM Bill Polian held true to their commitment at the beginning of the season - a perfect season would mean nothing to them; it's all about the playoffs. So they rested their starters with a lead in the third quarter of the Jets game. They lost and that was that.

An Offensive Battle
Expect a lot of scoring. Both the Saints and the Colts have merciless offenses, and reasonable but fallible defenses. It may be that whoever has the ball last wins.

How They Got Here
Indy beat defensive-stalwarts the Baltimore Ravens, then those same New York Jets.
The Saints crushed the defending NFC-champ Cardinals and then edged out the Minnesota Vikings in an EPIC game two weeks ago. So much for the 'Defense wins championships' theory.

Watch the Kickers
Kickers have been a key story of the play-offs. Never the most popular guys on any team, kickers have been under serious scrutiny lately. The past few weeks saw previous clutch kickers miss critical field goals and cost their teams big games. Can Matt Stover and Garrett Hartley keep it between the up-rights?

Peyton Manning
Manning has 4 MVP awards, more than anyone else in the history of the league. He has one Super Bowl victory. At this stage, Manning is looking to make the case, not that he's the best QB in the league, but that he's the best QB ever. He needs a few more Super Bowls to wrap that up and take Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Joe Montana down.

Drew Brees
Prior to this season, Brees wanted to be considered one the league's elite quarterbacks. Done. Now, he'd love to go even further. Brees has become an iconic figure in New Orleans since his old team, the Chargers, decided they'd bet the future on Philip Rivers and ditch Drew. After Katrina, Brees embraced his adopted city - emerging as an outspoken and committed volunteer in the rebuilding effort - and the city has embraced him in return.

Battle of the D-List Stars
Reggie Bush - Heisman-trophy winner and potential game changer (witness his crushing runs against the Cardinals) dates Kim Kardashian, of sex tape and Keeping up with the Kardashians quasi-fame. Hank Baskett, journeyman wide receiver for the Colts, is married to Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett, who used to be on The Girls Next Door.

The Parent Trap
Archie Manning, Peyton's dad, was a long-time QB for - wouldn't you know it - the New Orleans Saints. Expect to see him and Peyton's 'lil brother Eli on screen quite a bit during the game. No, Archie wasn't as good as Peyton. He wasn't even as good as Eli.

The New Orleans Factor
The Saints have never been to the Super Bowl. But the connections to New Orleans run deep in Indy too. Peyton Manning grew up in New Orleans. Colts running back Joseph Addai played his college ball at Louisiana State and had his home flooded during Katrina. Just a few fun facts to through out over the guacamole.


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