The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Saints have the slight edge

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If you put the neutral-site game in a dome -- which would suit both teams, I'm sure -- I'd have to give the edge to the New Orleans Saints right now. Both teams have astonishingly good quarterbacks, and offenses that take good-to-great receivers and make them transcendent, but the Saints have the advantage in their Achilles' heel. Both teams have one obvious flaw. In Indy's case, it's the inability of their running game to get anything consistent going. New Orleans has a vulnerable run defense as their primary liability.

And in the case of movable force versus resistible object, the Saints win, because their pass defense could give even Peyton Manning fits. As I detailed in this week's Smarter Stats piece, Gregg Williams' Saints defense is a crazy quilt of blitzes and coverages -- everything from six-man fronts out of a 4-4 look to clusters of cornerbacks firing out in dime blitzes. Indy's pass defense has maintained, especially in the face of injuries to key players, but they haven't faced anything like this passing game this season. No team in the NFL uses route concepts quite like New Orleans -- head coach Sean Payton's ability to drive his receivers in different directions crates virtually unlimited opportunities, and when you combine that with the abilities of the hyper-accurate Drew Brees, it's an unbeatable combination.

I don't know that either one of these teams will go undefeated, but right now, the Saints are the better team in my mind. I'd have to give them that hypothetical game, and hope it will come true in Super Bowl XLIV.

By Doug Farrar  |  December 4, 2009; 11:25 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Indianapolis Colts , New Orleans Saints Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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