Keys to Super Bowl XLI

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Beer, chips, nipple slips, and oh yea–football. The circus that is the Super Bowl is again upon us and we’ll no doubt be seeing purple rain, no not the Vikings, but rather Prince. This year’s event will take place Feb. 4 in sizzling Miami. The game features the high-powered offense of the Indianapolis Colts against the stout defense of the Chicago Bears. These teams are a complete contrast to each other in almost every regard. Indianapolis has arguably the best quarterback in the league in Peyton Manning, while Chicago has arguably one of the worst quarterbacks in Super Bowl history with Rex Grossman. Grossman has been under scrutiny all season, but has shown flashes of brilliance despite his inconsistency. For years the Bears defense, led by Linebacker Brian Urlacher, have been amongst the best. Expect quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts to spread out the Bears defense and air it out. In contrast, anticipate the Bears pounding it out on the ground against the historically bad run defense of the Colts. There are three main keys to victory for both teams.

Colts

1. Limit the Big Play
2. Keep Turnover battle in Check
3. Continue success containing run in playoffs

Bears
1. Win the turnover battle
2. Win the field position battle
3. Do not get in big hole early

The Colts don’t have to win the turnover battle to win the game; they just need not get dominated in that regard. The return of Colts safety Bob Sanders has really brought energy to their run defense in the playoffs. In an ESPN.com article by John Clayton, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney noted, “It’s not always about X’s and O’s, it’s about attitude and intensity.” If either team has problems bringing intensity to the Super Bowl they don’t belong there regardless. A huge part of this game will come down to special teams. Special teams have played a big role in recent Super Bowl’s, and the Chicago Bears have the ultimate weapon. Rookie kick/punt returner Devin Hester set an NFL record this season for returned touchdowns with 7. He needs to have a big game setting up field position or taking one to the end zone for the Bears to win this. Despite their huge advantage in the return game, special teams are relatively even. The sole reason for this is the fact that the Colts have the most clutch kicker to walk this planet on their team. Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinateri has kicked the game winning field goal with seconds left in two Super Bowl’s to date. Whoever wins the special teams department very well could be wearing a shiny new ring.

The quarterback play will be the most important aspect of Super Bowl XLI. Peyton Manning has had a history of not being able to win big games. Now is his chance to quiet all his critics on the world’s biggest stage. Rex Grossman has seemingly been playing in a bubble for the past few weeks. At times he appears to be so afraid to make a mistake that the peanut vendor has a better chance to catch some of his passes than his own players. There will be times on Super Bowl Sunday that Grossman will simply heave the ball as far out of bounds as possible. Surprisingly, this is actually the best recipe for the Bears to win the game, but if they fall behind early, Grossman will have to come out of his shell.

Congratulations to Bears coach Lovie Smith and Colts coach Tony Dungy on becoming the first African-American head coaches to coach in the Super Bowl. In a Jan.22 Associated Press release Lovie Smith added, “I’ll feel even better to be the first black coach to hold up the world championship trophy.” Sorry Lovie, but Tony Dungy is going to be the first coach to do it. Prediction: Colts 30 Bears 20