Silver Chips Online

Super Bowl XLI

The big day in the MIA

By Abe Schwadron, Online Managing Editor, Josh Zipin, Online Managing Sports Editor and Phillip Allen, Online Managing Sports Editor
February 1, 2007
After a year's worth of controversy, surprise and success, only the Bears and the Colts remain, ready to battle it out for the NFL title. Super Bowl XLI is here, and SCO is your source for the best analysis in town (we hope).

Super Bowl XLI: Chicago Bears vs Indianapolis Colts Sunday, 6:25 p.m. - CBS
Bears 24
Colts 21
Colts 27
Bears 13
Colts 20
Bears 16
Bears 27
Colts 17

Key Points: For the Bears to win...
  1. Take the pressure off Rex
    All the talk leading up to the big game has been about Rex Grossman. Analysts and experts have said that for Chicago to have a shot Sunday, Rex has to be mistake-free. Does he have the ability to make a miscue? Sure. But is he the worst QB to ever play in the Super Bowl? Certainly not. If the Bears can establish the run with their two-headed monster of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, Rex will have the time to drop back and scan the field on passing downs. If his O-line can keep him comfy in the pocket, the Bears will be able to move the ball effectively.
  2. Force turnovers
    The thing that makes the Bears as dangerous as any team in the league is that they can play a horrible game for three quarters, but make a big play on defense and win in the fourth (ask Arizona). If the Bears can contain Peyton long enough to snag an interception or force a fumble, the game will swing in their favor. The man for the job? Brian Urlacher, the team's leader and hardest hitter. Colts' ballcarriers beware: wrap up the rock when 54 is in sight.
  3. Don't give Vinatieri a shot
    Adam Vinatieri is the most clutch kicker in NFL history. The guy is perfect (11-11) in this year's playoffs. He has a strong leg and a strong mind, and the Colts would love for him to be on the field with the game in the balance. He helped the Patriots win multiple Super Bowls. It is imperative for the Bears to contain Indy to the point that they need more than a field goal to win it in the fourth. If AV4 trots out onto the field with two seconds to play, the Colts will be dousing Dungy in Gatorade.
  1. Get Rex on track early
    For the Bears to have success, they need Rex Grossman to play well. Against a high scoring offense like the Colts have, he cannot afford to have a mediocre game. For the Bears to keep pace with the Colts' potent offense, they need Grossman to gain confidence and complete some deep passes down the field.
  2. Rough up the deep threats
    Everyone knows that Peyton has struggled to finally make it to the Super Bowl. He will do anything he can to win the game. If the Bears check Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne at the line and get them off their routes, they could bait Manning into forcing the ball downfield and maybe pick him off.
  3. Establish the two-headed monster
    On one of the Bears' scoring drives against the Saints, they did not have a single pass attempt from Grossman. Thomas Jones forced the ball into the end zone to punctuate the drive. For Grossman to have time and confidence, both of equal importance, he needs Jones and Cedric Benson to gain yards on first down and be dominant on the ground.
  1. DE-fense! DE-fense! DE-fense!
    With Peyton Manning at the helm of the Colts' offense, this number-one ranked NFC defense will have to be in full swing. The Bears got a break when a judge allowed defensive right tackle Tank Johnson to play in the game while awaiting trial on gun possession charges. Look out for linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to be key players in Sunday's game.
  2. Rex Grossman has to stop performing so grossly
    Rex Grossman is no Jim McMahon, but he's currently Chicago's man and they will need a strong performance from him in order to win. Grossman has been shaky all year and has faced strong skepticism from his own Chicago fans throughout the season. Yet he does have the potential to be great. While he had a sub-50 passer rating in five games this season, he also had 100+ passer ratings in seven games. The Bears don't expect Grossman to carry the game for them, but if he doesn't mess up it will help them a lot.
  3. Establish the run game
    As said earlier, Rex doesn't have much game. The Bears are going to have to rely on their running backs, Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, in order to move the ball down field. The Colts run defense was laughable a few weeks ago, but as Indy has managed to pull it together recently, Chicago has to make a dent early.
  1. Prevent the deep pass
    The Colts are famous from their formidable passing game especially their tendency for high percentage passing. This for a big part results from Peyton Manning willingness to take short gains underneath when the deep man is covered. The Bears can allow those five yard completions but if they start jumping those short routes and get beat deep It will spell trouble for the teams chances.
  2. Keep Grossman safe
    Rex Grossman has been one of the Bears most erratic players over the course of the season. If the offensive line keeps him up right and gives him time in the pocket he could have a reasonably good performance.
  3. Take the trenches
    It may seem redundant but for Chicago the first yard on both sides of the ball will make a big difference. The Bears ability to beat the Colts on the line of scrimmage especially on offense can determine if it will be a punt and a first down.
Key Points: For the Colts to win...
  1. Establish the run with Addai and Rhodes
    Peyton will do what Peyton does, that much is certain. But Manning and his speedy wideouts won't have the time and space to air it out without making the Bears' D commit to the run. Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes absolutely must step up on Sunday and give the Colts a push in the ground game. Tony Dungy would love to use his ground attack to its full potential, and if he can, Peyton will see less defenders dropping into the secondary.
  2. Protect the ball
    Despite the notoriety that comes from the Colts' passing attack, Indy will look to gain control of the game by running the ball and keeping time of possession on their side. Keeping the ball in the Peyton and the offense's hands will be of paramount importance Sunday, because (duh) the Bears can't score without the ball. But more to the point, the Colts must be careful when handling the ball, because Urlacher and friends would love to turn a fumble into six points to help out their lagging offense.
  3. Contain Devin Hester
    Devin Hester is an amazing athlete, and a player that the Colts must be conscious of at all times. The best way to keep the ball out of his hands for punt and kick returns is by winning the field position battle and not giving Hester enough space to operate. The Colts' special teams needs to be flawless on Sunday to keep Hester from breaking runs into Indy territory. The Colts don't want to see Chicago drives starting over midfield, which would give Rex Grossman an easy, manageable situation.
  1. Keep your head on straight
    The Colts have worked so hard to finally make it to the big game, they will definitely have some jitters. As long as they don't turn into unnecessary penalties and turnovers, they should be fine. They just need to wrestle those butterflies in their stomach to the ground.
  2. Attack, attack, attack
    Against a defense as strong as the Bears', the Colts cannot let them dictate the pace of the game. They need to put the Bears on their heels early, and establish the tempo. Don't be surprised to see some hurry-up offense from the Colts early in the game. If Manning can complete some deep balls to Harrison and Wayne, the game will really open up for the Colts offense.
  3. Crush the quarterback
    The more pressure the Colts defense can get on Rex Grossman, the better. He's shown inconsistency even when he has time, so if Dwight Freeney can penetrate the Bears' offensive line, they should get some picks.
  1. It starts with 'P' and ends in 'eyton'
    The Colts are finally in the Super Bowl and it's mainly due to one man quarterback Peyton Manning. Since his first start in 1998, Manning has consistently been a high performer except when it came to playoff games. Indianapolis needs Manning to forget the pressure and play like he has been playing and the rest will fall in place. Passing for over 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns, this man is the number one key to victory.
  2. Make sure the run D stays solid
    When the Colts entered the Wild Card round, many pundits were predicting that Kansas City Chief Larry Johnson would demolish their run defense. Yet Indianapolis managed to hold him to a mere 32 rushing yards. The week after that they held Baltimore's Jamaal Lewis to 53 and then New England's duo to a total of 93. If the Colts' defense can continue performing at its high level and shut down Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, they are set.
  3. Win the special teams battle
    The Colts have to control Chicago's talented returner Devon Hester so that the Bears actually have to work Grossman and the running backs. But never fear Colts' fans, Adam Vinateri (kicker of three Super-Bowl winning field goals) is in the house.
  1. Stopping the run
    Since Bob Sanders has been back they have been reasonably successful allowing just over 3.5 yards per carry. The Bears will attempt to find the same holes Indy opponents rumbled through all season. The Colts ability to hold the line forcing the ball into Grossman's hands will determine the team's defensive success.
  2. Beating the Cover 2
    Nearly every time the Colts find themselves with a third and long, (and against the Bears they will be put in this situation alot) they will see Chicago's trade mark cover two defense. If and only if Tony Dungy can call the right plays, Dallas Clark and the rest of the wide outs can find the soft spots and Peyton can fit his passes through the gaps, then they will have a distinct offensive advantage.
  3. Handling Hester
    What could prove to be the X-factor in Super Bowl XLI is the performance of the opposing special teams. The Colts must do their best to keep the ball out of return man extraordinaire Devin Hester's hands and mollify his affects by stopping up all lanes during his dangerous runs.