So it's Colts vs.Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, as attractive a marquee matchup as the Roman Numeral Game has seen in some time, and the first time in recent memory that the two No. 1 seeds square off.
So who's gonna win?
Well, my journalist's heart is rooting for the Saints, just because A) I've liked Drew Brees since his Purdue days, and B) the storylines are far more compelling. If the Colts win, it's just been-there, done-that for one of the game's best but least charismatic organizations. If the Saints win, it's Christmas, New Year's and Mardi Gras all rolled into one for a franchise that has never won anything in a city that became a symbol of appalling human suffering in the wake of Katrina. Now that's a storyline.
That's what my journalist's heart thinks. My journalist's head says Vegas had it about right when it installed the Colts as 5-point favorites Sunday night.
The mood in the Colts locker room last night was remarkably business-like and subdued, which suggests this is a football team that understands (because it's been there before) that its work is not done yet. The Saints, I think, seem just happy to be in the big game after all this time. They'll deny it for two weeks, of course, but in the end, I'll take Peyton Manning and the Colts' ability to analyze what's going on during a game and make the needed course corrections over the Saint's giddy exuberance.
And so, the early (but not last) pick: Colts 38, Saints 28.