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Even though the Saints forced 26 interceptions and 39 turnovers, far outdistancing Indy's 16 and 26, the Colts could be better suited to get key stops. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden starred in the 2007 Super Bowl, including an interception return for a touchdown. Bethea and Melvin Bullitt form one of the NFL's best safety combos. The Colts are deeper in the secondary, too, even with rookie CB Jerraud Powers bothered by a left foot problem.
Saints cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter were plagued by injuries during the season and struggled against Minnesota in the NFC championship game. Sharper has been sensational, tying for the league lead with nine interceptions and running back three for TDs. Strong safety Roman Harper is solid. The backups aren't particularly impressive.
"We have a bunch of guys that can make plays and get to the ball," Porter said. "Not to say it's going to be easy. They're the best at protecting their quarterback. He's one of the best at blocking the blitz just with his arm because he has a quick release.
"It's going to be a matter of us on the back end having the tight coverage on the receivers to make Peyton hold the ball. It's going to be on our front seven guys to put pressure on him and to get to him. It's going to work hand-in-hand. The pressure forces turnovers on our end and us making Peyton hold the ball by not having open receivers is going to allow guys to get there."
It's an optimistic view, one that Manning could shatter with his first throw. Or, for that matter, something Brees could do right away.
"You always want to feel like you have the upper hand," Brees said.
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