FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Saints owner Tom Benson sat down for an interview and screamed: "Woooooo!"
He's pumped up for good reason. New Orleans is in a frenzy with their beloved and formerly star-crossed Saints in the Super Bowl.
The party has just gotten started. Wait until the Saints shock the world and win the Super Bowl.
That's right. Win the Super Bowl.
Here are 5 reasons why...
1. Drew Brees is a surgeon
Saints receiver Marques Colston was gushing Wednesday morning when describing Brees' ability to put the football in the perfect spot. Seemingly in every game the Colts play, they have a major advantage at quarterback. But take a look at the numbers the past two years. Drew Brees has been every bit as good as Peyton Manning. Brees has the same qualities as Manning in terms of leadership, determination, work ethic, film study, practice, poise and game day dominance. I've written before that Manning's favorite receiver is the open man. It's the same deal with Brees. He will hit 7-10 targets in the passing attack on Super Bowl Sunday. Colston and company present matchup nightmares for the relatively diminutive Colts corners.
This is Brees' time to shine. For some reason, he has never been put on the same level as Manning and Tom Brady over the past 3 years. The numbers indicate he should be in the conversation. The moment won't be too big for him.
To beat the Colts you need to score touchdowns, not settle for 3 points. Brees won't get spooked by a Manning drive or an early deficit. Look at the 21 points he poured on the Cardinals in the first half, right after the Tim Hightower touchdown run.
2. The Saints will run the ball
OK, so I thought the Jets would run all over the Colts. And I thought Baltimore would be effective on the ground, too. It didn't happen. My guys Daniel Muir and "Mookie" Johnson have been too good up front.
But I think the Saints can establish balance. New Orleans had a top 10 ground game all season. The offensive line is big, cohesive and underrated. Pierre Thomas will get 15 carries and be effective. Talking to Thomas on Sirius NFL Radio Wednesday morning, he said the big statistical nugget to chew on when determining the running attack's success is yards per carry. And I think the Saints will surprise the Colts in popping off big chunks of yards. Don't judge the Saints "success" by yards. Look at the yards per carry and how Payton mixes up the cadence to keep Indy off balance.
Plus, Reggie Bush will flash brilliance. He is the biggest home run threat at running back on either team.
3. Swagger of Saints coaching staff
The Saints have an excellent and aggressive coaching staff. And if you don't believe me, just ask them.
Sean Payton changed the culture in New Orleans. They used to hope to win. Now, under Payton, they established a culture of accountability. They expect to win. For the first time in Saints history, Payton gives this team an unprecedented winning attitude. His demanding style permeates through the organization.
Payton is the perfect play-caller for Drew Brees. Payton is aggressive and trusts the "surgeon" to be super-accurate with his throws.
New Orleans struggled in short yardage situations against Minnesota. I predict they will throw more in those spots on Sunday. It's in Payton's DNA. Watch out for the 3rd and 2 curl or crossing pattern. He will throw on 3rd and 1. And he will go for it on 4th down.
And then there's Gregg Williams. A smile spread across defensive end Bobby McCray's face when I asked him about Williams. The players love him. He is intense. He is no-nonsense. Peyton Manning is going to face different looks from this play-making, opportunistic defense. Williams will be blitz intensive and his team will be physical like they were with Brett Favre and the Vikes on championship Sunday.
4. Fear the big play
Oh -- it's coming.
Reggie Bush will break a punt return.
There will be a flea flicker.
Brees will hit Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson on bombs.
Darren Sharper will pick off a pass.
Jon Vilma and Roman Harper, the two underrated stars of the Saints defense, will create havoc and turnovers.
Will Smith will prove to be unstoppable.
They've been called the 'Aints. The people in New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast region have been through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
As Deuce McAllister told us Wednesday, "This organization, this city, this region has been through so much. There's a great sense that it's our time. And it starts with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis changing the culture and the accountability."
As Loomis said, "Sean created at atmosphere where we expect to win games."
And from my perspective, that includes Super Bowl Sunday in a high-scoring classic against the Colts.