The League

Joe Baker
Colts Blogger

Joe Baker

Joe Baker writes for the Indianapolis Colts blog 18-to-88.

Blue stampede

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The matchups favor the Colts. The Colts run a defensive scheme that forces short passing and grinding with the running game against a Saints offense that runs on the big play. With signs pointing toward Freeney being able to play, the Colts will be able to bring pressure off the edge, allowing them to consistently drop seven into coverage and remove plays requiring a deep drop by Brees from the Saints playbook.

The Colts allowed the league's least passes over 20 yards thanks to the constant presence of two deep safeties. The Saints complement the big strike passing game with a very efficient running game, but the Colts run defense has been very stout the last two games and is somewhat underrated after their backups allowed 350 rushing yards, including five of their nine total runs over 20 yards allowed, in the last five quarters of the season, dropping their rankings considerably.

On the other side of the ball a Saints defense that leaned on the turnover will have to try to pry the ball away from the team with the least fumbles in the league, a QB-OL combo that gave up just 10 sacks on nearly 600 pass attempts, and a elite QB in Peyton Manning whose postseason performance this year has left him with a higher postseason passer rating for his career than renowned playoff "winner" Tom Brady. On the ground it'll be a matchup of deceptively rated units. No one will mistake the Colts running game for one of the league's best, but the cellar dweller rankings in total yardage and yards per carry hide a run game that has been above average in short yardage and was good at consistently gaining effective, but not flashy, yardage.

The Saints are an elite team, but they are running up against a team built to stop the style their offense thrives on, and unlikely to make the mistakes their defense exploits.

By Joe Baker  |  February 5, 2010; 12:37 PM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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