NEW ORLEANS -- After outlasting the Minnesota Vikings in overtime, the New Orleans Saints are headed to their first Super Bowl in the franchise's 43-year history.
1. Getting after the quarterback
In the postseason, New Orleans has faced the two most experienced quarterbacks with Super Bowl pedigrees -- and won. In the process, they battered both. When Minnesota's Brett Favre wakes up Monday morning, he'll probably feel worse physically (and mentally) than Arizona's Kurt Warner, whose beating from the Saints paled in comparison to what was dealt to Favre. Peyton Manning better have his head on a swivel.
2. Forcing turnovers
The Saints don't make them, but they do force them. New Orleans has seven takeaways in the postseason after generating 39 in the regular season. New Orleans' defense is hardly a juggernaut, but it is far more physical than it is viewed and has playmakers who seem to play better as games progress.
3. Saints can keep up with Colts
The Saints can play any game the Colts want to play. New Orleans can rack up the points like it did in hanging 45 on Arizona in the divisional playoffs, or it can grind out 31 points -- yes, grind out 31 -- against a resilient Vikings defense. Indianapolis and New Orleans are similar in that aspect. The Saints help their cause by scoring touchdowns when they get close.
4. Versatile ground game
With a variety of running backs, the Saints also can force matchup problems against the Colts' speedy linebackers. Running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are dangerous in the passing game and could attract favorable coverages or open the middle of the field for receivers Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and tight end Jeremy Shockey.
5. Special teams
Although a myriad of things played into New Orleans defeating Minnesota, one of the strongest parts of the team -- the kicking game -- has been a strength all season. Kicker/punter Thomas Morstead has so much depth on his kickoffs there isn't often a chance for a return. He's also exceptional at pinning opponents inside the 20 on punts. Bush, Thomas and Courtney Roby also form a dangerous punt/kickoff return trio. Short fields help the offense and long fields will give the teams' defense more chances to force turnovers. Placekicker Garrett Hartley also showed he's got major composure.