Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sports With The StatMan: Fantasy Football Edition - Super Bowl XLIV

The Super Bowl has already happened, but I did write down my Super Bowl pick before the game, as well as predictions on which quarterback, running back, and wide receiver would have the bigger game.  The Colts and Saints were the two best teams in the league.  They had the longest undefeated strings to start the season.  They had the best quarterbacks in football this year.  Their defenses were underrated.  But, there were some differences.  New Orleans had the better running game.  Saint coach Sean Payton is a disciple of hard-nosed Bill Parcells while Colt neophyte Jim Caldwell took over this year for the gentle Tony Dungy.

Before we talk about the Super Bowl, let’s back up one week.  The AFC and NFC title games were played and the only team without a bye week who was still in the tournament was the New York Jets.  But, the Jets run was over in a rematch with the Colts.  The Saints reached their first Super Bowl in their 43-year history with an overtime victory over Brett Favre and the Vikings.  Here are the top fantasy performances from the Conference Championship games:

Conference Championship Round Top Fantasy Performers
 1. Peyton Manning IND – 31 points (26-for-39, 377 yards, 3 TD (16,4,15), 0 INT, 1 rush for 0 yards)
 2. Drew Brees NO – 23 points (17-for-31, 197 yards, 3 TD (38,9,5), 0 INT, 1 rush for 0 yards)
 3. Mark Sanchez NYJ – 22 points (17-for-30, 257 yards, 2 TD (80,9), 1 INT, 2 rushes for 1 yard)

Running Back
 1. Adrian Peterson MIN – 27 points (25 rushes for 122 yards, 3 TD (19,1,2), 2 catches for 14 yards)
 2. Pierre Thomas NO – 23 points (14 rushes for 61 yards, 1 TD (9), 2 catches for 38 yards, 1 rec TD (38))
T3. Joseph Addai IND – 8 points (16 rushes for 80 yards, 1 catch for 13 yards, 1 fumble lost)
T3. Reggie Bush NO – 8 points (7 rushes for 8 yards, 2 catches for 33 yards, 1 rec TD (5), 1 fumble lost)

Wide Receiver
 1. Braylon Edwards NYJ – 20 points (2 catches for 100 yards, 1 TD (80))
 2. Pierre Garcon IND – 19 points (11 catches for 151 yards, 1 TD (4))
 3. Austin Collie IND – 18 points (7 catches for 123 yards, 1 TD (16))

Tight End
 1. Dustin Keller NYJ – 16 points (6 catches for 63 yards, 1 TD (9))
 2. Dallas Clark IND – 13 points (4 catches for 35 yards, 1 TD (15))
 3. Visanthe Shiancoe MIN – 12 points (4 catches for 83 yards)

 1. Matt Stover IND – 12 points (3-for-3 in field goals (25,19,21), 3-for-3 in extra points)
 2. Garrett Hartley NO – 9 points (1-for-1 in field goals (40), 4-for-4 in extra points)
 3. Jay Feely NYJ – 7 points (1-for-3 in field goals (48), 2-for-2 in extra points)

Defense/Special Team
 1. Saints NO – 5 points (2 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 28 points allowed)
T2. Colts IND – 3 points (1 INT, 17 points allowed)
T2. Jets NYJ – 3 points (2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 30 points allowed)

Conference Championship Round Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em Results (1-2)
QB: Drew Brees NO (start) vs. Peyton Manning IND (sit) – (L, Manning 31, Brees 23)
RB: Shonn Greene NYJ (start) vs. Reggie Bush NO (sit) – (L, Bush 8, Greene 4)
WR: Devery Henderson NO (start) vs. Reggie Wayne IND (sit) – (W, Henderson 7, Wayne 5)

Sunday 6:30pm – New Orleans vs. Indianapolis (-5)

Super Bowl pick
NO-IND: Colts 40, Saints 30 (Colts win and cover)
The Colts managed to put up 30 points against the Jets while using two rookies as their main receivers.  Pierre Garcon set an AFC Championship Game record with 11 catches and Garcon and Austin Collie both caught touchdowns from Peyton Manning.  The Saints do not have the shutdown corner the Jets have in Darrelle Revis so Reggie Wayne will be in play more in the Super Bowl than last game.  The Colts defense has been much better than advertised against the run and the Saints have a deceptively good running game with Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush.  The Saints defense will try to blitz, but RB Joseph Addai is good at picking it up.  This should give Peyton Manning more time to make plays downfield.

For the Saints to win, Reggie Bush has to get involved, injured Colts DE Dwight Freeney has to be kept at bay, and they have to fool the Colts defense with different looks.  The Saints are great on screen passes and this could help keep the Colts defense on their heels.  The Colts defense is quick, but the Saints offensive players are quick, too, including their wide receivers, who can run as well as receive.

Game Result: Saints 31, Colts 17 (Saints won and covered)
The Saints won the game with the unbelievably efficient play of Drew Brees.  Brees tied Tom Brady for the Super Bowl record in completions in a game with 32.  Though Brees only averaged 9 yards per completion for 288 yards, Brees dinked and dunked his way to an 82% completion percentage.  Brees outplayed Peyton Manning and won MVP honors.  The play calling was solid, culminating in a screen pass to Pierre Thomas, who scored from 16 yards out.  Former Giant TE Jeremy Shockey caught the go-ahead touchdown with under 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter.  

But, almost as impressive as Brees was the Saints defense.  Gregg Williams had his defense give Manning fits, changing looks and even alignments, switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3.  The only turnover in the game sealed the victory for the Saints.  Manning tried to reach Reggie Wayne, who had a disappointing game.  Malcolm Jenkins jumped the route and intercepted Manning's pass 74 yards for a touchdown for the icing on the cake.

Super Bowl Start 'Em/Sit 'Em
QB: Drew Brees NO (start) vs. Peyton Manning IND (sit)
I am a glutton for punishment.  I gave you the same Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em last week at quarterback and Manning had the better day, 31-23.  But, I think Brees will be passing from behind and will get more yards.  Otherwise, the statistics may be pretty even for these two stars.

RB: Pierre Thomas NO (start) vs. Joseph Addai IND (sit)
Thomas is a double threat in that he can run and receive.  Thomas caught a pivotal screen pass against the Vikings for a touchdown and found the end zone with some great individual moves when it would have been easier to go out of bounds.  Addai plays in an offense that does not feature the run and he is more of a runner than a receiver.  Thomas wins this one on versatility.

WR: Reggie Wayne IND (start) vs. Marques Colston NO (sit)
Wayne will be liberated by not having to go up against Darrelle Revis.  Wayne only had three catches for 55 yards against Revis and the Jets.  This week, he has a better opportunity to go for big yards and a score.  Colston is the most dependable receiver for the Saints and he gets there on volume.  I am looking for the Colts to keep his catches to manageable gains without allowing him to break one.

Super Bowl Top Fantasy Performers
 1. Drew Brees NO – 23 points (32-for-39, 288 yards, 2 TD (16,2), 0 INT, 1 rush for -1 yard)
 2. Peyton Manning IND – 17 points (31-for-45, 333 yards, 1 TD (19), 1 INT)

Running Back
T1. Joseph Addai IND – 16 points (13 rushes for 77 yards, 1 TD (4), 7 catches for 58 yards)
T1. Pierre Thomas NO – 16 points (9 rushes for 30 yards, 6 catches for 55 yards, 1 rec TD (16))
 3. Reggie Bush NO – 5 points (5 rushes for 25 yards, 4 catches for 38 yards)

Wide Receiver
 1. Pierre Garcon IND – 12 points (5 catches for 66 yards, 1 TD (19))
 2. Marques Colston NO – 8 points (7 catches for 83 yards)
T3. Austin Collie IND – 6 points (6 catches for 66 yards)
T3. Devery Henderson NO – 6 points (7 catches for 63 yards)

Tight End
 1. Dallas Clark IND – 15 points (7 catches for 86 yards)
 2. Jeremy Shockey NO – 8 points (3 catches for 13 yards, 1 TD (2))

 1. Garrett Hartley NO – 17 points (3-for-3 in field goals (46,44,47), 2-for-2 in extra points)
 2. Matt Stover IND – 6 points (1-for-2 in field goals (38), 2-for-2 in extra points)

Defense/Special Team
 1. Saints NO – 8 points (1 INT, 1 INT-TD (74), 17 points allowed)
 2. Colts IND – 1 point (1 sack, 31 points allowed)

Super Bowl Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em Results (1-1-1)
QB: Drew Brees NO (start) vs. Peyton Manning IND (sit) – (W, Brees 23, Manning 17)
RB: Pierre Thomas NO (start) vs. Joseph Addai IND (sit) – (T, Thomas 16, Addai 16)
WR: Reggie Wayne IND (start) vs. Marques Colston NO (sit) – (L, Colston 8, Wayne 4)

Final Playoff Pick Standings
Straight Up: 7-4, AFC Champ: IND (W), NFC Champ: NO (W), Super Bowl: IND (L)
Against The Spread: 5-6, AFC Champ: NYJ (L), NFC Champ: NO (L), Super Bowl: IND (L)
Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em: 4-7-1 (Starts: 100 points, Sits: 113 points)

Upcoming Blog Schedule and Next Show
Our next blog posts will be:
• Sports With The StatMan: Fantasy Hockey Edition – Week 19
• Show Notes #45
• Random Musings weekly sports column

Join us for our next installment of “Sports With The StatMan” on Sunday, February 14th, at a special time, 10pm ET.  We’ll chat for an hour on hockey, football, and a little baseball.  In hockey, we’ll have an Olympic Preview and break down the week for our local teams.  We’ll our 2009 NFL Season In Review to put a capper on the football season.  And, as always, what would an offseason show be without the Hot Stove.  All of this and more on a special Valentine’s Day edition of “Sports With The StatMan” on Sunday from 10-11pm Eastern.

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