Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super What Sunday?

When I was younger football was my first love and Super Bowl Sunday was essentially the holiest holiday of my religion. Now Yom Kippur has stolen that mantel -- sort of -- but Super Bowl Sunday still has a special feel about it even though I now can viscerally remember watching the last 15 of them. The Super Bowl doesn't feel like quite the rare event it once did now that I'm older -- after all it does happen every year -- but I still can get into it, particularly since the last decade or so of games has for the most part been pretty good, and once in a while a fucking life fucking changing event.

Of course, the Giants can't get there every year, but even though my rooting interest is pretty minimal and based on the least stringent of standards this time around, I'm pretty excited for what should be a fairly entertaining game.

Now for those of you who know me, in addition to sports I also get irrationally interested in the Oscars despite the fact they're almost always wrong. Still, Newsweek had a fairly accurate example of how the Super Bowl would appear cinematically depending on the auteur earlier this week, and for film minors like myself, it makes an awful lot of sense.

Now, Quentin Tarantino will probably never be involved in the Super Bowl. I don't think we could handle the blood, but the game can still be an inspiration for the film industry, apparently, as ESPN Magazine recently reported that numerous Hollywood executives have approached recently retired and future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner about the film rights to his life story. Yes, his meteoric rise from NFL has-been to elite superstar quarterback is only beaten by his sudden rise from grocery store stockboy to the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV as far as inspiration quotient, and indeed, it is a great story despite all the talk about Jesus.
And there is a lot of it.

But tagging along with him the whole time has been his wife, Brenda Warner, who aside from making a noted physical shift between Kurt's championship with the Rams a decade ago and his third visit to the big game last season with Arizona, has been noted for being awfully outspoken. Well this week she made have topped herself when she told ESPN Magazine that she wanted to be involved in the casting for the film about her husband's life. And who does she want to play Kurt?

Denzel Washington.

There is a disconnect here.

I don't know that there is the potential for any sentimental Hollywood magic this year, though the rise of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina certainly has some cache, but as far as who will win, well, that's a trickier question.

Going into this game I think I would have joined the chorus that seems to believe Indianapolis is simply the better team, and for the most part, I think they're right. In fact, given that in all 16 games the Colts have actually attempted to win this year they have, I think this has been a remarkably underappreciated team. Were it not for the front office and the coaching staff pulling starters against the Jets in Week 15 we might be talking about the first 19-0 team in history today.

Still, the Saints have been an offensive juggernaut most of this year, and while I think Peyton Manning is the more precise surgeon under center, Drew Brees leads an attack that is so potent almost no defense can stop it when it's running on full cylinders.

So essentially, tonight's game, in my mind, comes down to the defenses, since both offenses clearly can score. The Saints' defense is not a particularly great one, but they are opportunistic, and Darren Sharper is as good a ball hawk as they come. New Orleans could easily steal a turnover or two to turn the tide. Indy's defense is better, but with Dwight Freeney hobbled by a fairly severe ankle injury, despite the Colts' insistence and stonewalling all week, I don't for a second believe he's really going to be healthy enough to be a factor.

Although, it should be noted, Freeney was seen driving a golf cart yesterday for some reason. Still with him being unable to walk comfortably at media day this week, I have a hard time imagining him really have the explosiveness off the edge he usually provides, and that may make it open season on the Colts' secondary. And that gives the Saints a chance.

Still, as I look these two teams, I can't help the feeling that Peyton Manning is the brightest mind to play quarterback, maybe ever. And because of that the Colts may be less exciting to watch, but they're just, well, better. The Saints will score, and they will make a game of it. But I just can't see them pulling it off.

Indianapolis 34, New Orleans 31.

Get it? Got it? Good. Let's go have some fun.

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