A sign that pre-game Super Bowl coverage has jumped the Shark: The boys on ESPN.com are currently answering the question, "If the Colts win the Super Bowl, will they regret not going 19-0?"
Scarier yet, Teddy Bruschi and Cris Carter are both insisting that they will.
Now, both Bruschi and Carter know something about regrets. Carter, for one, likely regrets getting waxed 41-0 by the Giants in the 2001 NFC Championship. Bruschi, on the other hand, likely regrets watching David Tyree catch a pass against his helmet from Eli Manning in the 2008 Super Bowl.
Me? I regret turning the television on this early.
Bruschi: "We're always going to wonder. . ."
Are we? Are we going to wonder whether the Colts could have beaten a Buffalo Bills team that set modern NFL offensive back 20 years? Are we going to wonder whether Peyton Manning would have held on to a lead against Mark Sanchez and the Jets?
Frankly, it doesn't matter. Because the Colts aren't going to win the Super Bowl. And the only ramification of Jim Caldwell's prudent decision to rest his starters in the last two weeks of the season will be that Manning and Bruschi won't get a chance to drink beers and talk about how they squandered their chance at perfection in the Super Bowl.
A couple things to keep in mind:
1) Vegas has won money on 17 of the last 19 Super Bowls.
2) Six of the seven featured "Experts" on ESPN.com are picking the Colts to win by at least a touchdown.
3) The Colts are favored by six.
These three facts alone should be enough to make you feel comfortable taking the Saints. Vegas knows of America's love affair with Peyton Manning. And it knows the vast majority of the country thinks that Manning will prove to be the difference against the Cinderella Saints.
But here's what else Vegas knows:
1) Peyton Manning is not Michael Jordan: Manning is the greatest quarterback I have ever seen play. He is one of the few professional athletes I would pay good money to watch perform. I find it hard to believe that any NFL quarterback has ever had a greater season than Manning, considering the fact that he was playing with a new coach, with his Hall of Fame wide receiver newly retired and his No. 2 target lost for the season with an injury. But the NFL is not the NBA. And while Michael Jordan had the ability to single-handedly win championships, Jordan also had the ability to play defense. Manning doesn't. I have no doubt that the Colts will score points. I have no doubt that Manning will play brilliantly. But he will spend roughly half the game on the sideline, same with Drew Brees. And it is in these halves that the game will be won.
2) The Colts have not faced a respectable NFL offense since Week 14 of the regular season, when Brandon Marshall caught 21 passes for 200 yards against them and Kyle Orton completed 29-of-41 passes for 271 yards. All five of the offenses they have faced since ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in passing offense. The Jets, who the Colts defeated in the AFC Championship, ranked 31st in the NFL in passing. The Ravens, who they beat in the Divisional Round, ranked 18th.
3) In the last six games the Saints have played, they have faced four offenses ranked in the top half of the league in passing -- Vikings, Cowboys, Cardinals, Falcons -- three of them in the Top 12, two in the Top 10.
4) The last eight quarterbacks the Colts have faced: Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Kyle Orton, Vince Young.
5) The last eight quarterbacks the Saints have faced: Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Jake Delomme, Josh Freeman, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Jason Campbell, Tom Brady
6) The Colts played just two teams this season with double-digit wins -- the Patriots and the Cardinals, the last being the Patriots in Week 10. The Saints played five such teams, four of them coming in the last eight weeks.
7) The most recent common opponent between the two defenses was the Patriots. The Colts allowed NE to rack up 477 total yards and 364 passing yards, with Randy Moss catching nine passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns and Wes Welker catching nine passes for 94 yards. The Saints allowed NE to rack up 366 total yards and 244 passing yards, with Randy Moss catching three passes for 67 yards and Wes Welker catching six passes for 32 yards.
Simply put, I don't see how the Colts are going to stop the Saints. One of the more under-reported aspects of this Super Bowl is Sean Payton's brilliance. He is the best offensive mind in the game. Period. He's had two weeks to prepare for the Colts. The only way I see the Colts winnings is turnovers. A fumble by Pierre Thomas or a poor route by Marques Colston, and the game could change quick.
Otherwise. . .42-31, Saints.