I’ve managed to go an entire season without writing a single entry about football… Almost. Now that we are here, one day away from Super Bowl XLI in Miami, I have a few things to say. I haven’t remained silent during the Bears’ run this year because I’m afraid of “jinxing” them or any such nonsense like that; it’s more that I prefer to not get cocky while they’re in the middle of it–better to see where it ends up and then reflect when it’s all said and done.
As with every year, the past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of talk about the upcoming game by people who are lucky enough to be employed to do so. While it’s understandable for people to have widely varying opinions, what never ceases to amaze me is just how short the collective memory of the media is. By means of several examples to support this claim, I will now present some predictions for this year’s big game.
The Colts have too many weapons on offense.
They’ve had the same offense for years. The only major difference this year is in replacing Edgerrin James with the tandem of Dominic Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai, which has worked out quite well for them. Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark have been through the past several dominant regular seasons and subsequent disappointing post seasons together. I recognize and respect the effectiveness of the Colts’ high-powered offense–I’m just surprised that everybody seems to have forgotten this offense’s tendency to look very mediocre in the post season. It was only a few weeks ago, in fact, when they looked downright pathetic against the Ravens, a defense very similar to the Bears’.
I keep hearing predictions about the game’s final score that have the Colts in the 30s or even 40s. People get so wrapped up in talking about the Colts’ offense that they seem to completely forget about the Bears’ defense (more on this later). People also seem to forget that the Saints were the NFC’s leading offense, and yet they were very ineffective in their loss to the Bears in the NFC Championship game. My prediction: The Colts will not score more than 25 points.
Peyton Manning will shut up the people who say he can’t win the big game.
People like to oversimplify things and ascribe a single trait to describe players. For Manning, it’s the “can’t win the big game” taboo. What people seem to be forgetting, though, is that for Peyton Manning “the big game” is the AFC Championship game, particularly when it’s against the Patriots. He got over both hurdles this season already, and I really think he effectively blew his load with that comeback win against the Patriots two weeks ago. My prediction: Peyton Manning will not throw for over 300 yards, and will have at most 2 touchdown passes.
Rex Grossman is a terrible quarterback.
Back in October, everybody was ready to give Grossman the MVP. He had a few bad games–and a couple of absolutely horrible games–and all of a sudden it’s as if he’s the new Kurt Kittner. The truth of the matter is that for much of the season Grossman has done everything the Bears have needed him to do: he manages the offense, allowing the Bears to establish the run, and then takes some shots down field when they need a spark to get them going. When he plays well, which he’s done much more often than not, he doesn’t turn the ball over, either. In the playoffs, Grossman has thrown 2 TDs, only 1 interception, been sacked 3 times, and has a modest rating of 75.4. Compare this to Peyton Jesus Manning, who has also thrown for 2 TDs in this year’s playoffs, but has thrown 6 interceptions, been sacked 5 times, and has an even more modest 66.8 quarterback rating.
I’m not saying Grossman is the greatest quarterback. I’m also not suggesting that Peyton Manning is anything less than the best QB playing right now. But let’s not forget the reality of the matter: despite the media’s preference for portraying the Bears as a team that has won in spite of Rex, and Manning as the greatest thing to ever happen to football, both are extreme exaggerations. Grossman has played well for most of this season, including the playoffs, whereas Peyton Manning is a terrific regular season quarterback, but not a very good post season one, including this year. My prediction: Rex Grossman will not turn the ball over more than once, and will throw at least one touchdown pass.
The Bears’ defense is overrated. / These aren’t the 85 Bears.
There really isn’t any reason to compare this year’s team to the Bears team that won Super Bowl XX, and yet it keeps coming up. The truth of the matter is that while this year’s defense isn’t as dominating as that year’s was, they’ve been one of the league’s best defenses throughout the season. This year’s offense is actually more versatile and capable of moving the ball and scoring points better than the 85 Bears, making the comparison completely irrelevant.
The cliche this season is to talk about how inferior the NFC is compared to the AFC. This gets extended to discrediting the Bears for being champions of their conference, despite (as already mentioned) the fact that they beat the conference’s #1-rated offense quite handily just two weeks ago. It’s hard to believe that the defense that led the league in take-aways this year isn’t as good as they’re made out to be. And yet, people seem to forget these statistics, and forget the fact that the Bears are among the NFL’s top 5 defenses. The defense’s captain, Brian Urlacher, was named the second-most overrated player in the league earlier this season. He went on to play his way into his 6th Pro Bowl appearance, and has led the team to the Super Bowl–but at least the sportswriters had something controversial to talk about for a week or two. My prediction: The Bears will force at least 2 turnovers. Brian Urlacher will make 10 tackles.
The Bears have no offense.
This is an extension of the exaggeration of Rex Grossman’s deficiencies, due to 2 or 3 abysmal performances. The truth of the matter, though, is that the Bears’ offense, while not great, was very serviceable throughout the season, including in the playoffs. They were right in the middle of the NFL’s offensive rankings this year. As an offense whose game plan starts and ends with the run, I think they match up quite well against the league’s worst rush defense. Granted, the Colts’ D has stepped it up in the playoffs, but I still think the Bears own the edge here. My prediction: The Bears will score at least 30 points.
If you add up all of what I’ve said here, it’s easy to see that I’m convinced the Bears not only have a shot to win this game, but that I actually believe they will do so. There’s one more thing that people seem to be forgetting, and that’s the oft-repeated sports adage that defense wins championships. So while the Colts’ offense and the Bears’ defense match up great against each other, I find it curious that everybody seems to be hopping on the bandwagon of the Colts. Then again, the Bears have been playing the “no respect” card for most of the season and the entire playoffs, and it’s served them well to this point. I’m comfortable with being the only person to correctly assess this year’s Super Bowl… and yes, I’ll eat my words if they end up being wrong. I wanted to put my thoughts and predictions down in writing, though. After the game we’ll revisit this and see how I did.
Final Score Prediction: