This Sunday at 6:30 p.m., CBS will be showing what is predicted to be the most-watched television program in history, hoping to bring in over 100 million views. Sunday, Feb. 7, will mark the one day this year when every American’s favorite sport is football.

No matter if your favorite team lost in playoffs, didn’t win a game or doesn’t play football, everyone watches the Super Bowl. This year, the NFC’s New Orleans Saints will take on the AFC’s Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Fla. for Super Bowl XLIV.

Both the Saints and the Colts led their respective divisions all season, earned home-field advantages throughout the playoffs and made it to the Super Bowl as No. 1 seeds, despite the best efforts of aging gunslinger and quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings Brett Favre. Despite the lack of a true ‘underdog,” this game could be the exciting culmination of what has been a relatively unexciting NFL season. Both teams have been so dominant in their divisions that they could rest their starters and take losses in the last few games.

As football fans, we have been spoiled with the amazing finishes of the past two Super Bowls, but this game could be another great matchup that makes us jump out of our seats with excitement.

Momentum

This Sunday will feature two of the best teams, two of the best offenses and two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts started the season on a 14-game winning streak, but lost the last two games of the season once they had clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs. The end-of-season lapse had no effect on the Colts’ post-season performance, as they cruised to a 20-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens and outlasted the ‘Cinderella” story New York Jets with an impressive second half en route to a 30-17 win.

Similarly, the Saints started the season on a 13-game unbeaten streak. However, they lost their last three regular season games until winning their first two playoff games to make it to the Super Bowl. After handling former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals, the Saints barely edged out the Minnesota Vikings in overtime, 31-28, in what was arguably the most exciting game of the postseason thus far.

Offense

Four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning is a big reason why his team has a slight edge this weekend. Manning has plenty of big-game experience, great receivers and one heck of an arm. He torched the best defense in the NFL for 377 passing yards in his last game against the Jets. The Saints defensive is ranked 25th in the league and will have to have an amazing performance if they expect to stop Manning.

Like all great quarterbacks, Manning has a great offensive line in front of him, led by Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. The O-line led the league in sacks allowed by giving up just 13. The Colts have a strong receiving core with Pro Bowl wide out Reggie Wayne, Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark and speedy receiver Pierre Garcon. The Saints defense will have an extremely tough challenge ahead of them as they will try to put pressure on Manning while staying close to the receivers and running back Joseph Addai coming out of the backfield into routes.

The Saints also have a great offense that will be able to keep up with Indianapolis’ high scoring power. They have a much better running game than the Colts due to versatile backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Much of their offense is set up by running the ball and they will need to do so to be successful on Sunday.

Like the Colts, the Saints love to pass the ball to their running backs out of the backfield, allowing them make moves with space. Their offensive line has done a great job protecting Drew Brees this season and making holes for Bush and Thomas. The Saints receivers are led by big-play threat Marques Colston, tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide out Robert Meachem. The Saints have been able to march down the field without much resistance this year, and it will be up to the Colts defense to stop them on the ground and in the air.

Defense

For a game with the teams so evenly matched it is very difficult to pick a favorite. It will most likely come down to which team can make big defensive stops when they are absolutely needed. It is because of this that Colts fans are very worried about the status of Dwight Freeney. The Pro Bowl defensive end may be the best pass rusher in the NFL and is also a dominate run stopper, but he tore a ligament in his ankle in their last game it is uncertain if he will be able to play on Sunday.

The Saints defense may not be as strong as the Colts defense according to statistics, but they have been excellent at forcing turnovers this season and already have seven takeaways in two playoff games. The Saints will have to get pressure on Manning like they did to Favre in the NFC Championship game if they expect to disrupt the Colts offense and get turnovers. Over the course of the season, neither defense has played great, but have been just good enough to support their superior offenses. The defense that can get the opposing team out of rhythm on Sunday will have a great advantage in the expected high scoring shoot-out.

Intangibles

The Colts won the Championship three years ago against the Chicago Bears and many players on the Indianapolis Colts remember the ecstasy of that Championship run and are hungry to get that feeling back.

New Orleans, however, is playing in their first Super Bowl in franchise history. The recent success of the Saints has helped the people of New Orleans regain pride in their city during the continuous rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina. The emotional fan support has served as inspiration to the Saints and they would love nothing more than to bring a trophy to New Orleans.

Wrap-up

The game is predicted to be very high-scoring with the Colts being the favorite by five points, according to the Las Vegas spread. For my Super Bowl XLIV pick, I will have to take the side of experience with the Colts winning in a thrilling 42-41 nail-biter.

Yezer is a member of the class of 2011.



Research at Rochester: iGEM Team Saptasense finds sustainable solutions for maple sap

To what extent are they able to pursue their own experimental endeavors? iGEM’s Team Saptasense certainly found out over the course of this past summer and fall semester.

Life is pay to win. College? The giant paywall

For a game that preaches freedom of choice, there are an awful lot of decisions essentially made for us. Exhibit A: the decision to play at all.

Buzzz-buzzz

They moved in packs, resembling clouds of yellow pain. Their intent: to drive students into buildings, away from campus center, and just generally insane.