For fantasy football diehards, this has to be one of the more enticing Super Bowls in terms of the match up at QB. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have been arguably the two best fantasy football QBs since 2006, Brees first season with New Orleans. Manning and Brees have combined for 35, 237 passing yards in that four-year span (18,298 for Brees vs 16,939 for Manning) and have thrown for 244 TD passes (122 for each player). Their offenses have been at the top of the league, with each QB doing it their own unique way, producing similar statistical results.
After a 10-6 season in 2006, Brees and the Saints went 7-9 in 2007, and 8-8 in 2008, before dominating their competition on way to a 13-3 record in 2009. Scoring points has never been much of a problem for these Saints in recent years, but the obstacle was scoring more than their defense was giving up. The defense has improved in recent seasons, and put together a better effort in 2009, ranking 20th in the NFL with 21.3 PPG allowed. But with a league-leading offense scoring 31.9 PPG, a 10.6 PPG difference, the Saints are still able to win despite giving up just over 3 TDs per a game. As Brees and the players around him continue to mature, they have put together a more well rounded offense, ranking fourth in passing and sixth in rushing in the NFL on offense in 2009. It is that type of offensive balance that will be a necessity if the Saints want to beat the Colts on Sunday.
For Peyton Manning and the Colts, winning has become the norm. With at least 12 wins in every season since 2003, the Colts became the winningest team of any decade in the NFL in 2009 with 115 regular season wins from 2000-2009, for a .720 winning percentage. Manning has arguably become the greatest current QB in the NFL, and is becoming one of the greatest of all time. Unlike the balance that the Saints have shown on offense, the Colts ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing this season, and second in the passing game. Since the departure of Edgerrin James, the Colts have been unable to find a running back that can carry the full workload. Despite some nice performances from Joseph Addai, he has not lived up to the hype as James' successor in Indy. A lack of a running game has not been totally harmful to Indianapolis; they won Super Bowl XLI and have been a mainstay in the playoffs since 2002. But some of those playoff exits have been because of the one-dimensional offense of the Colts. But if there is one QB in the NFL today who can still beat a defense who is keying in on specifically stopping him and the passing attack, it is Peyton Manning.
Despite the potential for record setting numbers by the offenses in Super Bowl XLIV, it may be the all important other factors that make or break the game. How about Indy's defense? The Colts ranked eight in the NFL in the 2009 regular season with 19.2 PPG allowed, and have been even better allowing just 10.0 PPG in two postseason games. Numbers that may go unrecognized, if the Colts defense can continue that type of production on Sunday, Drew Brees may not have the chance to match Peyton Manning point for point. And for the Saints the key factor may be the former Heisman Trophy Winner, RB Reggie Bush. If Bush can run like he did against Arizona, not rushing for 16.8 yards per a carry, but with the power and determination that he showed, Bush could be the highlight reel player on Sunday. Bush has always had the athletic ability, and has shown it on a grand stage, in the 2006 Rose Bowl, so the potential is there for Super Bowl XLIV.
So with two great statistical QBs in the game, Super Bowl XLIV has the possibility of being a record setting Super Bowl, in a decade filled with memorable games. Some of the records to look out for are:
Most Yards Gained, Game - 602 yards, Washington (Super Bowl XXII vs Denver)
Most Yards Gained, Both Teams, Game - 929 yards, Super Bowl XXII (Washington vs Denver)
Most Points, Game - 55 points, San Francisco (Super Bowl XXIV vs Denver)
Most Points, Both Teams, Game - 75 (Super Bowl XXIX San Francisco vs San Diego)
Most Yards Gained, Game (Passing) - 414 yards, Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV vs Tennessee)
Most Touchdown Passes, Game - 6, Steve Young (Super Bowl XXIX vs San Diego)
And there are more, but those are some that people will be looking for on Sunday. The individual team records may be more difficult to come by. There is one Super Bowl record sure to be broken on Sunday however, the Miami area will host its record tenth Super Bowl, surpassing New Orleans, which has hosted nine Super Bowls. Whether or not it becomes a record setting game, Super Bowl XLIV should be fun to watch nonetheless, featuring two of the premier players in the NFL.