I can’t put my finger one why exactly it is, but I’m not as excited about this Super Bowl as I have been in the past. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense. I mean, I have a whole lot of respect for both offenses, and both defenses have enough problems that there is a good chance that those offenses are going to be at their best. I love scoring. Both teams are also likable, hard working, well coached squads that are easy to respect and root for. You know that neither is likely to get themselves into trouble off the field, so there was no concern about the headlines being dominated by anything other than football this year. That’s a good thing. The teams were the class of their conferences all year, and unquestionably deserve to be where they are. There’s nothing to complain about in that sense, either. This should be a game that I am thrilled about. On paper it certainly is. I even think that it should be a good, entertaining game. So why am I finding it hard to care? Here are four possible reasons:
1. Clean to the point of ridiculousness. I am very thrilled that we haven’t spent any of this week talking about the police blotters. We get more than enough of that in the NFL these days. Still, it would be nice if there were a little bit of color in this matchup. Both of these teams – from the quarterbacks on down – are clean cut, all-American squads. They aren’t talking much trash, and no one is biting when something is said. Games are at their most exciting when you know that there is going to be emotion and intensity far beyond the scope of a game. That’s why rivalry games are so much fun. It’s hard to see how these two teams are going to be anything more than respectful and pleasant towards each other. That’s nice on a theoretical level, but boring in reality. Perhaps the problem is that I could be reasonably happy for either team if they won, and would think that either was deserving. Sports need heroes and villains, not two heroes.
2. I don’t care about Freeney’s ankle. By far the biggest issue this week has been Dwight Freeney’s ankle. It has dominated everything that has gone on. The problem, though, is that I am not at all convinced that it really matters. The Colts will obviously be impacted if Freeney can’t play at his full intensity, or play at all, but I really don’t believe that the pass rush was going to be the deciding factor for the Colts. They aren’t a team that relies heavily on their pass rush at the best of times, and the Saints are much better than average at protecting their pivot. This injury has been, in my eyes, an extremely overblown issue. I guess that I find that boring.
3. The Pro Bowl killed momentum. The idea of having the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl is an idea that needs to be taken behind the barn and shot. It made it very easy to completely ignore the league for a few days, and I guess I have found it hard to get back into the groove once I was out of it.
4. Predictability. I’m not saying that the outcome is obvious – it’s certainly not. What is true, though, is that the line movement and general betting lead-in to this game has been blandly predictable. The game opened with the Colts favored by just over a field goal. That seemed a little too low, and it certainly proved to be. The line jumped hard, hitting six or so in many places. At that point both the public and a good deal of smart money started to think that the Saints were undervalued, and the action swung towards them more. Now the line is evening out, and the action is reasonably close to being split. The total has been equally predictable – it started high because these are two potent offenses playing against two exploitable defenses. It has gone slightly higher because the public has never seen a total that was too high, and because both teams have recently been good at going over – over massive totals in the case of the Saints. I find games the most interesting when I am surprised or interested by how people are reacting. In this case everyone is following an obvious script, so it’s not that thrilling.