Could two unbeatens meet in the Super Bowl?
It’s come to the point, of course, that we have to start looking at the possibility of Armageddon.
The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, both sporting unbeaten records, scrapping for the NFL history in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, in Miami.
The Saints have scored 466 points in 13 games this season, which is 48 more than any other NFL team. In comparison, Payton Manning and the Colts, who won the Super Bowl three seasons ago, have scored 359 points, while putting together a 13-0 start of their own.
The Colts brought down a slew of records in taming the Denver Broncos, 28-16, on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. The Saints, meanwhile, delivered yet another dramatic victory in the Georgia Dome, holding off the archrival Atlanta Falcons 26-23 to earn a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
It’s unprecedented stuff, of course, that we still have two unbeaten NFL teams with Christmas right around the corner. Sean Payton fielded questions about this topic, among others, in his weekly confab with brilliant print guys, TV barking dogs and other assorted media types on Monday, and he’s pretty much sticking to the company line.
Stop the guy if you’ve heard this before. In mid-sentence. It’s cool. Payton knows the drill.
“We’re playing for right now,” Payton said. “Last week, as we approached the Atlanta game, the only thing we could do with a win versus Atlanta was to secure a first-round bye. That’s what was on the table to be accomplished.”
To paraphrase Eddie Murphy’s Reggie Hammond character in the immortal “48 HRS,” see if you can guess where Payton went next.
Oh yeah, it’s Saturday night’s NFL Network extravaganza against the Dallas Cowboys, the scrambling, 8-5 Dallas Cowboys, in the Louisiana Superdome.
“Right now, our focus is strictly on Dallas, and no one else,” Payton said. “This is a good team that’s coming in, after a couple losses (to the New York Giants in the Meadowlands and Sunday’s home loss to San Diego), a team that needs to win, a team that is very talented.
“So our focus is strictly on this game, and in a short week, preparing to play this game. All the other scenarios, and everything else that will be written and talked about for the upcoming weeks is fine, but I just know where our focus will be.”
Our boy Sean is keepin’ it real, if nothing else.
The Saints have walked a serious tightrope, however, in arguably six of their last eight games, pulling victories out of thin air, erasing 24-3 deficits at Miami and winning 33-30 in overtime against the Redskins when they never led in regulation.
In comparison, then, Sunday’s three-point victory in the ATL was your garden-variety Saints victory, when middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma delivered the play of the game and Drew Brees threw the ball all over the place and the Saints’ offensive line continued to pass protect like men possessed, or guys who are serious about winning every game they play.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot. We know that,” Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb said.
They certainly got the Falcons’, and it obviously wasn’t enough. The Colts keep rolling, too, and their remaining three games are against Jacksonville, the New York Jets and Buffalo. Jacksonville and the Jets are both scuffling along with 7-6 records. Terrell Owens and the Bills are doing their thing with an interim coach at 5-8, but hey, T.O. is averaging about 16 yards a catch and he had a touchdown reception Sunday, so it’s all good.
The Saints, meanwhile, will close the regular season with Dallas, NFC South punching bag Tampa Bay and the punchless Carolina Panthers, so 16-0 is a real possibility in these parts, too.
And Colts coach Jim Caldwell shares a special interest with Sean Payton, which is when all else fails, stick with the company line.
“We’re going to approach the 14th game,” Caldwell said, “exactly like we did (No.) 1 through (No.) 13. We’re going to prepare just like we did for the first 13, and we’re going to play just like we did the first 13.”
In other words, go for it.
The Saints and Colts certainly are.