Monday, February 1, 2010

The X-Factor

With the Superbowl just days away you get the feeling that it's starting to feel more like an old west shootout between Manning and Brees rather than an actual football game between the Saints and Colts. Don't get me wrong I love both of these QB's, they are the two best in the game in my opinion and they are the main reasons their teams are the only two left. But I am sick and tired of ESPN and the other networks only talking about these two players, we get it they are great but football is a TEAM game, there are 11 players from each team on the field at all times (except for Minnesota who likes to play with 12 when it matters most). Everybody keeps giving the edge to Indy because of Manning which makes sense, he is a 4 time MVP and Superbowl MVP but somehow the fact that Brees has been the best statistical QB the last 3 years has just vanished into thin air. I love the Colts orginization and I love the way Manning controls the team and the game at will but Brees can be equally effective if not more effective at times. I consider the QB position to be a complete wash for this game. If this game is going to come down to one player, the X-Factor, then it isn't going to be one of these prestigious QB's, I believe it is going to come down to the running game and that is why Joseph Addai is my Superbowl X-Factor. Yes Addai, and mind you that when I say X-Factor I don't mean the best player on the field, I mean the one player that I feel can tip the scale in their teams favor. The Saints have been very clear that they wish to blitz Manning as much as they can and get some memorable shots on him, much like they did against Favre. There is no better QB than Manning at recognizing blitz packages and coverages, if he is getting pressured a lot, which he most likely will, don't be surprised to see him making some changes to get some shuffle passes and screen plays to Addai to take advantage of the Saints over pursuing. Addai was one of the better backs at catching the ball this year (51 rec) and has an uncanny ability in finding open pockets in the defense for Peyton to dump it off to him. In '07 the Bears tried a similar tactic against Manning and Addai ended up being the games leading reciever with 10 catches for 66 yards (along with 77 rushing yards). Another reason why I like Addai in this game is because of the Saints poor run defense, during the regular season they gave up 122.2 ypg and allowed 19 rushing TD's, only the Raiders, Rams and Bills were worse in that department and in the playoffs they are giving up 133 ypg. I know the Colts aren't known for their running game but they do possess the ability to run the ball, despite having the second lowest yards per carry in the league. The Colts are an opportunistic running team, they are great at picking their spots. Pretty much all teams have an agenda, either they try to run the ball to set up the pass or they try to pass to set up the run, with the Colts you never know quite what they are doing. They are a pass first team but they know how to mix it up and they throw just enough offensive mix to keep the defense on their heels. The one thing they do a great job of is getting their backs in space, they run a lot of "pass" plays that are shuffle passes or swing plays to their backs, they know how to manipulate a defense and I believe that Addai is the key to that. Another reason why the Colts will be looking to use Addai in this game is that the Saints live and die by forcing turnovers and Addai is like a bear trap with the ball, once that ball is in his arms it isn't coming out, he has fumbled the ball only four times in 1,018 career regular season touches and two of those were early in his rookie year. If Addai can be an effective runner without turning the ball over then the Saints are going to have a very hard time winning this game because that could really open up the field for Manning and it will help the Colts control the clock more, even though earlier this year in Miami the Colts showed they don't really need to do that to win. The last thing that makes me believe that Joseph Addai is the X-Factor is that he is a fantastic pass blocker, you will be hard pressed to find a better RB at picking up the blitz, which is going to be EXTREMELY important this game. Manning is great at avoiding the pass rush but he can't avoid everybody and his line can't block all those blitzers, he is going to need to have Addai step up and take on the blitz, something that Donald Brown is still trying to figure out. When this game is all said and done there is a 98% chance that either Brees or Manning is going to walk away with MVP honors and I'm not going to argue that they shouldn't, but if you are looking for one guy to really step up and to give their respective team that extra edge that you need in a game of this magnitude than I believe that Addai is that guy. You may laugh at me now for saying this but come Superbowl Sunday watch out for Addai to leave his fingerprints all over this game.

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