MacArthur – It almost seems like the Colts winning the Super Bowl is a foregone conclusion from listening to the media these past couple of weeks. Don’t the Bears have a chance? Any chance? Well, yes, they do. There is this misconception that the Colts are a high-scoring team and the Bears are a low-scoring team. Not true. The Colts and Bears have scored the same number of points this season. Look it up. It’s just that more of the Bears points come from special teams (Hello, Devin Hester) and defense. Points are points, people, regardless of how you score them. Here is the recipe for a Bears’ victory in Super Bowl XLI: 1) They must not fall behind early. The Bears have to run the ball to have any shot. Getting down two or three scores and putting the ball in Rex Grossman’s hands to decide the game is a disaster. 2) The Bears must win the turnover battle. In this clash of the Tampa 2 defenses, both sides will be tearing at ball carriers and reading quarterback eyes. Peyton Manning has thrown six picks so far this postseason, so he is susceptible. The Bears need at least four turnovers to win this game. 3) It would help if the weather were sloppy. Rain is forecast for Sunday in Miami. A heavy dose of inclement weather will slow down the Colts’ passing game and create a slugfest that will favor the Bears. So, there certainly is a recipe for Bear victory in Super Bowl XVI. The problem is, there are many more recipes for a Colts victory, and their margin for error is much higher. Teams that play the Colts well tend to be teams that play them often. Look at the results from Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston, New England … familiarity breeds some success. The Bears don’t have that advantage. Also, the speedy Bears’ Tampa 2 defense is the same defense Peyton Manning sees every day in practice. Think Manning doesn’t have any idea how to carve that one up? I figure we’ll see really early whether Brian Urlacher can run with Dallas Clark down the middle of the field, because I think repeated strikes in that direction for big plays will be a top option. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will work crossing routes over the middle and deep outs between the corners and safeties to move the chains. I don’t expect the Colts’ running game to be very successful until the second half when they are ahead, but it won’t need to be. Like the Bears, the Colts defense is also adept at taking the ball away, and Rex Grossman is adept at giving it away. The return of Bob Sanders has helped Indy’s run defense tremendously. He is the “eraser” Tony Dungy needs to bring home the Lombardi hardware, and will help stop Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson from running effectively. I expect a competitive, hard fought game. It could get out of hand if the Colts get up a couple of scores early, but otherwise it will be a war. I think the Colts win the war, and if I’m in Vegas, I’m laying the seven points. Indianapolis
Reynolds – Great insight, Hugh. However, my simpler approach without the paralysis by analysis has allowed me to easily win this year’s PewterReport.com picks. I think the Bears can beat the Colts if they win the turnover battle and Devin Hester can flip the field position, or even chip in a score on special teams. If the weather turns to rain, I like the Bears’ ground game against the Colts’ run defense better than I like Indy’s ground game against Chicago’s run defense. I believe this game could be turnover-filled and closer than people think. I do think the Colts are a better team than the Bears and this game will come down to what questionable element gets exposed more – Chicago QB Rex Grossman or Indianapolis’ run defense. Part of me wants to believe the Bears will win this game, because Peyton Manning has only won one meaningful game in his storied NFL career – the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago. But when I look at the QB match-ups, Manning rules over Grossman. You also have to believe that the Colts finally beating their arch nemesis – the Patriots – is akin to the Buccaneers finally beating the Eagles in the 2002 NFC Championship Game. In other words, the Super Bowl is anti-climatic because they know they’ve already won. Tampa Bay knew it would beat Oakland because it had just won in Philly. I think the Colts know they can beat the Bears because they’ve already beaten the Patriots. That gives Indy the psychological edge. Indianapolis
Flynn – The Colts seem destined to win the Super Bowl after getting the monkey off their back with a huge win over their hated rival, the New England Patriots. However, Indianapolis knows it has to actually win the Super Bowl in order to silence the critics of Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy. Chicago’s offense will have to be able to run the ball with success in order to hang with Indy’s offense, which should be able to move the ball through the air vs. Chicago. Indy couldn’t stop anybody on the ground through the regular season, but got its act together in the playoffs. If the Colts can protect Manning, he can pick apart the Bears. I predicted the Colts to win the Super Bowl back in August, and I’ve said all along that the AFC was a much better conference than the NFC. Although this game might be closer than some expect, I’m sticking with my original pick of the Colts winning Super Bowl XLI. Indianapolis
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