New Orleans Saints (15-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (16-2)
Both teams started the year 13-0, so this is a contest between the two teams who have been the best in their respective conferences for the entire season. The Colts have a good number of holdovers from their Super Bowl victory three years ago. They make the playoffs every year. For the Saints, this is all new.
Sometimes experience can be overrated. But, practically, it's about comfort level. If you've been in the situation before, it's less likely to get the better of you. That doesn't matter if the inexperienced team is that much better than the one who has been there before. But that's not the case here.
The Saints offense is proficient because there are so many weapons. The defense can't key in on one Saint if it hopes to curtail the New Orleans attack. But here's the thing, if you rep[lace the word Saints with Colts, those last two sentences still work. The Saints have a better running game, but defensively, struggle to stop the run more than the Colts do.
The Saints defense creates more turnovers, but gives up more big plays. It could come down to a matter of big plays when the Colts have the ball. Peyton Manning doesn't make many mistakes, however. The game could also come down to dirty play. Publically, the Saints defensive strategy seems to be revolving around hitting Manning, even illegally. But Manning is aware enough to avoid the big hit. And even if he is tagged, he's just about the most durable quarterback there is.
The Colts will win 31-24. Manning will be MVP. It's still rare for a team to win a Super Bowl and then for the same team to lose in a few years later. In the Super Bowl, championship experience tends to matter. And so does having the best player in the league.