Bears or Colts?
A. I really
like both Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman. They've handled their unique
pressures and criticisms with class and without turning into jerkweeds.
They really are good guys. With that said, I don't believe in either
Sorry, but Manning didn't get the big game monkey, or whatever you want
to call it, off his
back just by having
one great half against New England. That was the AFC Championship, not
the Super Bowl. Is Fran Tarkenton, Jim Kelly or Dan Marino considered a
big game quarterback? It's unfair, but compared to John Elway, Joe
Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady, nope.
Either the win over New England will liberate Manning and make him more
relaxed and comfortable in the brightest of spotlights, or the two weeks
of media attention will be suffocating. I'm picking the latter. If the
Patriots could knock him around, then the Bears, with two weeks to
prepare, will be popping him early and often.
Grossman apologists are popping up all over the place, and he did come
up with a nail-in-the-coffin drive against the Saints, but if he's just
not that good. He might be at some point, but he's way too inconsistent,
throws the ball behind too many receivers, misses others, and has been a
liability for too many stretches. Get even the slightest bit of pressure
on him and the play is over, and he's more about not making mistakes
than actually keeping the offense moving. Even so, he should be just
fine because the Chicago running game will go nuts, and he has shown the
ability to come through when the team absolutely needed him to.
Don't believe the mirage; Indy can't stop the run. New England
inexplicably stopped running after having a ton of success early on, and
Chicago won't make the same mistake. This Bear team thrives off the
tired "no one believes in us" line and blew away New Orleans partly
because of that attitude. The seven point spread, and two weeks of
everyone picking the Colts will fire the D up to play at the level it
was at against Drew Brees and company.
Manning will throw four picks, Devin Hester will return a kick for a
touchdown, and Chicago will win in a walk.
Chicago 34 ... Indianapolis 20
Bears or Colts?
you can finally stop making the Peyton Manning to Dan Marino parallels
after this game. With a clear head and a huge weight about to be lifted
from his shoulders, Manning will lead the Colts to a
closer-than-the-line indicates win over the Bears, getting the signature
victory in the Sunshine State that eluded him during his Tennessee
Indianapolis 27 ... Chicago 23
Bears or Colts?
Okay, people, Super
Bowl XLI comes down to one simple question: Do you really think Rex
Grossman can lead a team to the world championship? Sure, there have
been some shaky quarterbacks who have won it all, but Grossman makes
Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer look like Joe Montana, Terry
Bradshaw and Troy Aikman. The Bears beat New Orleans because the Saints
couldn’t stop turning the ball over. Don’t count on the Colts doing that
in Miami, although Reggie Wayne sure looked like he wanted to give the
game away on that last TD drive. Yes, the Bear defense is formidable,
but without Tommie Harris and Mike Brown, it lacks the ability to hold
down the precise, balanced Colts attack. Now, Indy could have some
serious trouble on special teams, since Chicago rookie Devin Hester may
think he’s going to return nine kicks for touchdowns, but if the Bears
are going to rely solely on a rookie return man for their offense, it’s
not going to be good. It will be interesting to see whether Manning lets
down after beating Captain Hoodie and the Babe Magnet, but I think the
reverse will happen. Beating the Patriots will allow him to relax and
thrive. Indianapolis finally gets it done.
Indianapolis 27 ... Chicago 17
Bears or Colts?
Grossman has always been a gamer. Whether at Florida or in Chicago, he's
always been the kind of player who will, at times, step off the gas
pedal and let down his guard. However, in big games and high-stakes
moments, the man knows how to get the job done. He should have won a
Heisman. Chicagoans should be ashamed of themselves for their
season-long abuse of Grossman, manifested in the form of support for the
not-very-distinguished Brian Griese. Grossman proved to the world--and
in what amounts to just his second full season of NFL ball (due to
injuries)--that when the lights are bright and the pressure is
overwhelming, he knows how to rise to the occasion.
Heck, he even performed well in the playoffs
last season, only for his defense to let him down. In 2007, Grossman
bailed out his defense against Seattle and then played a
turnover-free game against the mistake-prone Saints. The Bears have
a quarterback who has earned the right to avoid criticism for quite
some time; expect Rex Grossman to have an entirely respectable Super
With that said, however, Peyton Manning is set
to crown himself a champion... even if the Bears do have Grossman,
Alex Brown, Todd Johnson, and who knows how many other Florida
Gators on their roster. After all, Manning never knew what it was
like to beat the Gators during his college career.
This Super Bowl--which will be decided by
turnovers, plain and simple--is the Colts' game to win or lose. It's
not hard to see why. The Colts shrugged off their nemesis from New
England in the kind of fashion that permanently dispels a whole host
of psychological demons. It wasn't just that Indianapolis defeated
Belichick and Brady; it was the way in which the Colts overcame all
the ghosts of their recent past that will propel them into Super
Bowl XLI as a commanding favorite. Had the Colts won an ugly 17-9
game against the Patriots, this game would be a toss-up. But after
slaying the dragon with epic flair and unconquerable resolve on
Sunday, the Colts are a team transformed. For all the belief the
Bears have about themselves, the Colts have just come through a
crucible that almost always produces enduring champions.
The Boston Red Sox--after years of losing to
the New York Yankees--finally defeated their archrivals in the 2004
ALCS. Guess what happened in the World Series? Yeah--a Sox sweep.
This situation involving Peyton Manning and the Colts parallels the
journey of the Red Sox two and a half years ago. Think about it:
could a defining and memorable triumph not lead to a Super Bowl for
the Colts? Could a team play with emotional baggage and lose just
two weeks after throwing aside years of burdens in one historic
comeback? That's the simple reason why the Colts ought to be an
overwhelming favorite in this game. It's not about matchups or
strategy; it's about psychology. In the Super Bowl, you have to have
your mind right if you want to win. The Bears believe; the Colts,
however, are totally transformed.
Indianapolis 34 ... Chicago 21