My Super Bowl prediction:
Indianapolis Colts 37, New Orleans Saints 24
If Thomas R. Proctor High’s Will Smith and his friends don’t put Peyton Manning on his back three or four times and create a couple turnovers, they are going to get cut up. I don’t put much stock in saying this guy or that guy is the best ever, but the Colts star certainly is one of the most productive quarterbacks of all time. He has tremendous physical skills, an impressive quarterback demeanor, and prepares for and thinks the game about as well as everyone ever did.
It helps Manning that he has at least four very skilled receivers. You can shut down one good pass catcher, maybe even two, but you can’t shut down four. At least, I don’t think so. And the Saints have been leaky on defense through 18 games as it is.
New Orleans is very good on offense, but the Colts are better on both sides of the ball. Drew Brees is an excellent quarterback, but who would you pick, him or Manning? That’s a rhetorical question.
I’d love to see Will Smith get a Super Bowl ring. He’s been a great player in high school, at Ohio State, and with the Saints, and he’s always remembered his home town and old friends. I just don’t think it’s going to happen unless he and the rest of the defense have a great game, or Brees and his receivers play out of their minds.
As an aside, there was discussion recently on a national sports radio talk show about who might be the best quarterback of all time. Manning was mentioned, along with Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, and Johnny Unitas. Not a bad group, but here is a more complete list, and, yes, it reaches back to the era of leather helmets:
Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman, Bobby Lane, Norm VanBrocklin, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach – one of the toughest ever, mentally and physically – Steve Young, maybe Jim Kelly and Troy Aikman. A quarterback’s job is to lead his team to victory, and those guys did, many times.
So did this guy, who somehow doesn’t seem to come up much in conversation any more: Otto Graham. He quarterbacked the Browns in 10 consecutive championships games in the All-American Conference and National Football League, and won seven of them. In 1954, he ran for three touchdowns and threw for three more in a 56-10 title game rout of the Detroit Lions. Again, I’m not sure I believe in “the greatest of all time,” but if you held a gun to my head I think I’d have to pick Graham, even if he last played more than a half century ago.