As the hours — heck, we can start counting minutes now — tick away until kickoff of Super Bowl XLIV, let’s take one final look at the NFL betting numbers for this game, and relevant news that will come in handy.
The Dwight Freeney situation. Freeney’s ankle has become the most talked-about body part in recent memory. But after all the talk, analysis, home-remedies and more talk, Indianapolis Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck summed up the situation accurately — “No one will know until it happens.”
Truer words have never been spoken. It’s widely assumed that, regardless of what “percentage” Freeney can play at (for what it’s worth, medical analysis figures it’s 50 at best), he’s going to play. How effective he’ll be? Well, that will be decided on the field. There’s no denying that Freeney’s biggest asset, his speed, will be affected. But how much will it affect the outcome of the game? The Saints’ offensive line has been rock solid all year and didn’t give up a ton of sacks to begin with — Drew Brees was only sacked 20 times in 16 regular season games and just once in two playoff contests — and it’s not like Freeney is a run-stuffing DE. The big key will be how Freeney’s presence affects fellow DE Robert Mathis. Mathis often benefits from teams focusing on stopping Freeney, allowing him to roam with less obstruction. Can he still pressure the QB without Freeney at 100%? It’s certainly one of the subplots that will unfold on Sunday.
As for the other injuries… The Saints appear to be as close to full strength as they could hope for. Jeremy Shockey, Darren Sharper and Jonathan Vilma participated fully in practice this week — all three came into Super Bowl week a tad banged up, but appear good to go. Cornerback Randall Gay was on the limp as well, but he was solid in practice, intercepting two passes against the scout team on Wednesday.
Aside from Freeney’s ankle, the Colts are also monitoring the health of CB Jerraud Powers. Powers is listed as doubtful with a foot injury and didn’t practice all week; it’s widely expected that Jacob Lacey will get the start and Powers — should he be able to suit up — will play sparingly.
The numbers. Some early line movement aside, the numbers on this game have stayed stagnant. Indy is still a five-point favourite in this contests, and the Over/Under sits steady at 57 points. It should be noted that this is just the second time New Orleans has gone in as an underdog this season; the only other time was a meaningless Week 17 game (New Orleans was a 10-point dog in Carolina) where the Saints rested the majority of their starters.
Don’t forget — if you want to check out all the Super Bowl XLIV betting you can imagine, visit Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook today!