So I as a football fan I love the Saints. Tons of fun to watch, lots of good guys that win in the right ways, Brees is an excellent QB. I'm definitely not saying that it won't be a tough game, though the Colts D matches up very well with the Saints offense. But one of the most mystifying things I've read in the past few days is that the Saints have a good defense. I think that's a myth of perception, and I will explain why.
The Saints are a consistently near the bottom of the league in key defensive categories: First is the obvious total defense. The Saints are 25th and the Colts are 18th. But in the vastly more important category of Points Allowed. In this category, the Colts are 8th and the Saints are 20th. The Colts defensive coaches have a saying: the only stat that matters is Point Allowed. This is because only points determines wins and losses. The Saints have overcome this by outshooting opponents, but it is a weakness if they meet a team they can't outshoot.
The Saints have a turnover-driven defense: They have relied on teams to beat themselves. This was no more evident than in the NFC Championship Game. A team that doesn't beat itself against the Saints stands an excellent chance of winning. Darren Sharper has nine picks and three TD returns. A team that doesn't sent floaters into midfield (especially throwing across the body) doesn't play into the strength that has been a source of much of their success. As a consequence,
The Saints live or die on the turnover: This has made them a MEMORABLE defense, because turnovers are memorable defense. The reason the Colts defense is still such a nonstory is because they don't play memorable defense, they play EFFECTIVE defense, and the two are not necessarily synonymus. But the Saints can also die by the turnover, specifically not making loads of terrible fumbles and not making too many stupid throws (though I think Manning is likely to make at least one of those).
The Colts play D like a good offensive line; when they're doing their jobs, you don't notice they're there. Jerraud Powers has been such an excellent CB that you almost never hear his name called except in run support. Clint Session doesn't grab big headlines, he just makes big hits and covers really well. The DTs never get picked on because they always hold their gaps. And in a shortened field they cover EXTREMELY well. They're a bend-and-don't-break defense, wheras the Saints are a bend-and-then-break defense.
I will be honest, people are free to disagree with me, I haven't watched the Saints defense that closely. But I have seen them get worked by far lesser teams than the Colts. What are your thoughts?