Super Bowl XLIV Preview: 5 Potential MVPs not named Manning or Brees

As part of our ongoing coverage of Super Bowl XLIV, here are five potential MVP candidates outside of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

1. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
Wayne only caught three passes for 55 yards in the AFC title game, but that was because he was locked up with stout corner Darrelle Revis, who has a habit of limiting a receiver’s impact. But Wayne caught eight passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens in the Divisional Round and Revis won’t be anywhere near the field come Sunday. Wayne has five 100-plus yard receiving efforts this season and one more could earn him the Super Bowl’s highest achievement (outside of a ring of course). He only caught two passes against the Bears the last time he played in the NFL title game, but they went for 61 yards and a touchdown. If his quarterback doesn’t yank the award away from him, then Wayne could be taking home the MVP hardware come Sunday night.

2. Marques Colston, WR, Saints
In an era dominated by diva receivers, Colston is one wideout that is easy to root for. He’s quiet, unselfish and brimming with talent. He’s also reliable and if he gets enough opportunities, he might explode on Sunday and earn the MVP award in his first ever trip to the Super Bowl. In the Divisional Round, Colston hauled in six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, and seems to save his best performances for top competition. In Week 6 of the regular season against the Giants, he caught eight passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, and in Week 12 against the Patriots he hauled in four passes for 121 yards and a score. Even in a losing effort against Dallas in Week 15, he caught five passes for 86 yards, including a 35-yard strike that led to a Saints’ field goal early in the second quarter. Outside of Brees, the only reason Colston might not have a fair opportunity to win the MVP award is because he’s on a team that is loaded with other receiving weapons. This is where the aforementioned unselfishness comes in, because there’s no doubt that Colston would rather catch one pass for 10 yards and win, than catch 10 passes for 150 yards and lose.

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Super Bowl XLIV Preview: 5 Factors the Colts must overcome

As part of the ongoing coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, here are five factors the Colts must overcome to beat the Saints.

1. The potential loss of Freeney.
Come kickoff on Sunday, there will be no bigger hurdle for the Colts to overcome than if defensive end Dwight Freeney can’t play, or is limited due to an ankle injury. He’s undoubtedly Indy’s best defender and is a game-changer in every sense of the word. If he can’t play, the Saints don’t have to worry about keeping extra blockers in to protect Drew Brees and can focus most of their attention on slowing down Robert Mathis. Pressure is the key to disrupting any offense and the same can be said for the Saints’ high-powered attack. As it stands now, Freeney wants to play and should dress. But considering he’s a speed rusher and has a tear in his ankle, how effective does anyone think he’ll actually be? Barring the ankle being completely healed, the Colts have a serious problem on their hand.

2. Slowing down Brees.
For all that is said about Drew Brees, he still doesn’t get enough credit for being able to read a defense and deliver timely, accurate passes. What makes him unique is that he has accuracy on all three levels, in that he can complete the short to intermediate route with as much ease as he can the deep pass. Another thing Brees does well is scanning the field and throwing away from the coverage. Over the last half of the season, nine quarterbacks threw for two or more touchdowns against the Colts, who gave up big plays in the AFC Championship Game to the usually offensively challenged Jets. Brees has a plethora of weapons to use at his disposal and Indy doesn’t have the personnel to go toe-to-toe with all the Saints’ receivers. The best way to slow down Brees is to pressure him, but as was noted above, that could be a problem for the Colts if Freeney is limited.

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Super Bowl XLIV Preview: 5 Factors the Saints must overcome

As part of our ongoing coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, here are five factors the Saints must overcome to beat the Colts.

1. First time jitters.
Since the berth of the Super Bowl in 1966, only seven teams have won in their first appearance: the Packers, Jets, Steelers, 49ers, Bears, Giants and Buccaneers. The remaining 18 teams appearing in their first Super Bowl all lost, meaning 30% of first-timers fall in the NFL title game. Trends like these mean nothing when it comes to the actual game, but it’s worth noting that this will be Drew Brees’ first Super Bowl, compared to Peyton Manning, who will be appearing in his second in four years. The fact that the Colts have already played once in Miami is an advantage for them as well.

2. Peyton Manning’s quick-release.
Perhaps no team has done a better job this postseason at battering the quarterback than the Saints. But Manning doesn’t make it easy for teams to get to him because he excels at reading the defense at the line of scrimmage, diagnosing the coverage and getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. He also makes adjustments better than any QB in the game, as evidence of how quickly the tide turned in the AFC Championship Game towards the end of the first half. Gregg Williams can boast all he wants about getting to Manning, but his players still have to execute. And that’s easier said than done when it comes to pressuring Peyton.

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