Archive for February, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Pick

February 2nd, 2007 Comments off

Indianapolis (-7) vs. Chicago
So it looks like this will be the second straight year I find myself rooting against the likely winner in the Super Bowl. But what am I supposed to do? I mean, it’s not like I dislike the Colts. No all around, that is. I think Tony Dungy is a hard-working, smart, talented coach who probably deserves a ring (though the same could be said for Lovie Smith). And most of Indy’s players are guys I’d feel happy enough to see hoist the Lombardi Trophy. It’s just the matter of Peyton Manning and Bill Polian, two of the most insufferable assholes in professional football that I can’t get past. And, sure, it’s not like I love everyone on the Bears. I’d be plenty happy to see Tank Johnson get a taste of karma. But as disgusting as I find Johnson, it’s not quite enough to sway me to root against his team. Maybe it would be if the Bears were playing, say, the Ravens or the Chargers. But I’ve just hated Manning and Polian for so long. I can’t do anything but hope for the worst for their team.

So, look, it’s not like I think the Bears can’t win this game. In fact, I’m quite certain that they can. Chicago’s defense was among the best in the league during the regular season. They allowed only 294.1 yards of total offense and 15.9 points per game. And while they faltered some in their divisional round game against Seattle, the unit bounced back nicely in the NFC Championship, a game in which they were pitted against a rather high-powered Saints offense. Indeed, it was really the Chicago defense that won that game, in part by forcing four turnovers (including three fumbles, by a Saints team that only coughed the ball up nine times during the entire regular season) and got the team to the Super Bowl. Add to that the fact that the Bears offense isn’t nearly the half-competent unit it’s being cast as. Sure, Rex Grossman runs hot and cold (and can pose a major problem when he’s running cold), but the Chicago O still managed to put up 26.7 points per game during the regular season (which left them tied with the Colts for second most in the league). And the fact that they did that while only averaging a 324.9 yards per game (fewer than 14 other teams and fewer by nearly 55 yards than Indy) only speaks to the fact that their defense thrived on taking the ball away and giving the O short fields. Oh, right, and to the fact that they had maybe the best return man in the league in Devin Hester, a guy who found the end zone five times during the regular season and whose presence looms particularly large here given that the Colts allowed 270 return yards to New England in the AFC Championship. Plus, the Chicago O-line is big and physical, which is gonna make it tough for Indy’s D-line, which is built for speed, to get penetration.

All that said, it’s hard to imagine the Colts don’t find a way to win this game. Indy’s offense overcame two of the best defenses in the league to get this far (even if only barely in the divisional round). And the Colts defense, while still rather suspect to my mind, has performed exactly as well as it needed to in order to overcome Baltimore and New England. And, sure the Ravens offense wasn’t the class of the league this season, but it was solid. And New England’s O was clearly better than Chicago’s. I’m not gonna run down Indy’s stats. They’re out there. And they paint as clear a picture of a team that’s great on offense and so-so on defense as they ever have. And the fact remains that Indy managed to win games with exactly that imbalance all season, so I’m expecting them to do just that again in Miami.

I’m taking the Colts straight up, looking for the Bears to keep it to more like three, and hoping Chicago finds a way to come away with an outright victory.

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