Colts, Saints: "Must See TV"

When the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts kickoff the 2008 NFL season, it's bound to be an exciting game -- and a possible preview of Super Bowl XLII.

The Saints shocked the NFL last season when they led the league with 6,264 total yards on offense, marking the first time they had done that in the 40-year history of the organization.

Using a free-wheeling offense installed by new coach Sean Payton, talented players like Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson benefited from Payton's imaginative play-calling during a magical season that ended one game shy of the Super Bowl.

All of them are back and ready to pick up where last year's group, which throughout the off-season was compared to the Indianapolis Colts' efficient and explosive offense, left off on a chilly January afternoon in Soldier Field.

As an added bonus, NFL fans will be able to decide if the Saints have caught up to the Colts, who were third in total offense last season with 6,070 yards, when the two teams open the regular season on Thursday night in the RCA Dome.

The game was anticipated for weeks after the Colts, who won Super Bowl XLI last February, were likely to be chosen to lead off the NFL's Kickoff Weekend. With the Saints scheduled to meet the Colts in the RCA Dome this season, it was an offensive match made in heaven.

Peyton Manning
Ronald Martinez/Getty

While the Colts have had the most prolific offense in the NFL for the better part of the last decade with the arrival of Peyton Manning, the Saints emerged as an offensive power with the hiring of Payton.

Both teams feature the pass more than the run with the Saints leading the league in passing yards, while the Colts were second. They can also put up plenty of points as the Colts tied for second in scoring, while the Saints were fifth.

"They're known around the league for being an explosive offense, just being able to put a lot of points on the board," said Saints running back Deuce McAllister. "We can do the same.

"The challenge for us is to get to the point where we do that consistently, but at the same time we know what we can do as an offense," he said. "We can be a balanced offense, we can be ball control, we can be an empty set. There's a lot of versatility in the offense."

Thanks to the NFL schedule-maker, the nation will get to see what they almost saw in Super Bowl XLI -- an offensive matchup that, on paper anyway, should be entertaining and in all probability high scoring.

And fans won't have to wait until next February and a possible meeting in Super Bowl XLII to see them on the same field.

"This is 'Must See TV,'" said Saints cornerback Jason David, who joined the Saints as a free agent this spring after playing the last three seasons with the Colts and facing their potent offense in practice every day.

"It's two exciting offenses with great players. You've got a lot of star power on offense. At any given time a big play can happen. If I was a fan, I wouldn't miss a snap."

SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. The Saints lead the series, 5-4, after winning five of the last six games. The Colts, however, won 55-21 the last time they played on Sept. 28. 2003 in the Superdome. The Saints are 2-0 in the RCA Dome, winning 17-14 in 1986 and 19-13 in overtime in 1998.

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