Never a shortage of Super Bowl storylines

Published: Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.

Ahem, Jacksonville. Hey, Cleveland. Detroit and Houston, pay attention.

You're all on the clock.

New Orleans is no longer part of the answer to one of the most-asked trivia questions in the NFL — which franchises have never been to the Super Bowl?

The Saints made it to their first Super Bowl Sunday by beating fumbling, bumbling Minnesota 31-28 in overtime. They will face the Indianapolis Colts, who fell 11 points behind the New York Jets before scoring the final 24 points of the AFC Championship Game.

So much for the criticism leveled at both Super Bowl teams for resting players late in the season. How'd that work out?

Who dat playing in the final game? Who dat? Who dat?

And who dat picked the Saints to play in the Super Bowl? Dr. Football gets one right.

While Saints fans took their party from the Superdome to Bourbon Street Sunday night, they were likely already sizing up the matchup in Miami in two weeks.

The Saints were handed the NFC title game as Minnesota fumbled six times and Brett Favre, playing perhaps his final game, threw two interceptions. But they made the most of their opportunities, including a big fourth-quarter fumble by former Gator Percy Harvin. Harvin will miss out on a return to the scene of his last college game.

New Orleans vs. Indianapolis.

Let the analyzing begin.

There's no way I'm picking against Peyton Manning in a game this big. He carved up a defense that was supposed to be impenetrable on Sunday, and that was without two weeks to prepare. The Colts are good enough defensively to allow Manning to take advantage of his best weapon.

Not his arm.

Not his audibles.

His patience.

Manning understands how it works, how you can't win a season on one play or one play call. He gets it, that it's a long game at the end of a long season.

And when I sit and think about who will win the 44th Super Bowl, I can't help but come back to the guy with the happy feet. Don't forget that the Colts, who are making their fourth Super Bowl appearance and fourth in Miami, are returning to the site of Manning's one Super Bowl win in 2007 on a night when it rained Colts and Bears.

It doesn't concern me that Indianapolis has a rookie head coach, the fifth in Super Bowl history. Jim Caldwell has been around. (Great trivia: As the coach at Wake Forest, Caldwell once made news by offering an eighth-grade quarterback a scholarship. The quarterback? Chris Leak.)

For a lot of fans, it will be a great Super Bowl simply because Rex Ryan won't be there. A lot of people had grown tired of his act.

But what we have more than anything is a sign of the times in the NFL. With all the rules changes, it has become a passing league. And two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will decide whether the Lombardi Trophy goes to the Big Easy or the Big Forehead.

Imagine how Archie Manning feels today. His son will be trying to win the Super Bowl against the team he played for in the NFL and the city where he lives today.

Can he lose?

There will be no shortage of storylines in Miami. Never is for a Super Bowl. But this one promises to be special.

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