Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Prediction: Bears 24 Colts 21 [J. Mark English]

There isn't much that I can say that hasn't already been said. The Las Vegas betting line right now has the Colts favored by 7, and the over/under is 48.

I've had the fortune (or misfortune) of watching both of these teams play in person. The Colts and the Bears faced off against the Giants at the Meadowlands this season on Sunday Night Football.

What I took away from both games, is that the Giants out played both teams, and yet lost. That is a sign of a great team...when you don't play your best, you are still able to scratch out a win. Its the difference between an 8-8 team and a 13-3 team.

I was more impressed by the Bears win, then I was by the Colts win over the Giants. The Bears have two units that are by far and away better then the Colts. Their defensive unit is truly a "monster", and Brian Urlacher may be the best over all defensive player in the league.

The Bears special teams are opportunistic, and can turn the tide of a game. I'm sure that Devin Hester of the Bears is licking at the chops to do to the Colts what Hobbs of the Patriots did to the Colts two weeks ago. Hobbs had his way with the Colts on kickoff reason why Hester shouldn't either.

The Bears will win this game if they can control the clock. When the Colts have the ball they will work from a no-huddle offense, that keeps the defense from making substitutions. The Colts however do not run a hurry up offensive. Peyton Manning takes his time at the line, calling audibles, adjusting to the defense he sees, and sometimes tries to fake out the defense. By the time the ball is snapped the play clock is usually down to just one second. The effect this can have on a defense can be exhausting.

You saw it work to perfection in the playoffs. Against the Chiefs and the Ravens, Manning & Co. hardly played a great game offensively. But because they were able to exhaust both defensive units, by the end of the game they methodically controlled the clock, and physically had their way.

The only way the Bears can prevent this from happening is by ramming the ball down the throats of the Colts. They need to redefine the short game. Run on first down, do a dink/dunk pass on second down, and run again on third. Milk the clock. Let Grossman roll out if your going to pass more then five yards. Be patient, and you will be able to move the ball. Execute the screen to perfection.

For the past two weeks the Bears offense have had their earful of skeptics saying just how bad they are. This reminds me of when Texas faced off against USC two years ago for the BCS Championship game. Texas for a whole month heard nothing except how great USC was and what a star glittered It was as if Texas only existed to help crown USC as kings of college football.

Texas channeled their anger, and set out to prove everyone wrong.

Similarly, Rex Grossman has an opportunity to have the last laugh on Sunday. If he can stay focused, and use the chip on his shoulder as a way to bring out his best, I think we will be set for an amazing game.

I look for the Bears to at the very least cover the spread. But my gut is telling me this game goes to the Chicago Bears.

Labels: , ,