Key Matchups

Key Matchups


Key Matchups


Pete Schrager looks at the key matchups in the game

2. Drew Brees vs. Colts defense

Manning or Brady? Brady or Manning? That’s been the sports bar debate for the greater part of the past decade. In recent years, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and old men Favre and Warner have ducked in and out of the conversation, but it’s always been Manning and Brady at the end of the day.

Drew Brees is on the cusp of becoming a fixture in the discussion. Stat-wise, he’s had as good if not a better ’09 campaign than MVP Manning this season. His team had just as dominant a year. Still on the outside looking in when it comes to the “best QB” debate, Drew Brees can stick his foot in the door and his arm in the conversation with a Super Bowl win on February 7.

If Brees has his eyes on earning the fans’ respect, the Colts defense is looking for something very similar. When pressed to name the league’s most dominant defenses, media pundits and fans alike tend to list Dick Lebeau’s in Pittsburgh, Rex Ryan’s in New York and Leslie Frazier’s in Minnesota. Very rarely do you hear Larry Coyer’s boys in Indy mentioned in the conversation. Through two playoff games, though, the Indy defense has surrendered just 20 points, 2 touchdowns, and less than 150 rushing yards. Shut down this dynamo Saints offense, and it will be hard not to include the Colts defense in any future “best D” conversations.

X’s and O’s Difference Maker: Colts LB Gary Brackett. The longtime leader of the Colts defense, Brackett’s perhaps the most unheralded defensive star in the league. An undrafted rookie in 2003, he’s started 73 regular season games as a Colt and personifies the unit as a whole: undersized, unheralded, and downright nasty. If there’s a game-changing play to be made, it will probably be made by Brackett.

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