February 2, 2007

Super Bowl X-Factors

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

So what’s an X-factor you ask? An x-factor is an unknown quantity that could be big or small in an equation; for this instance, the occasion is the Super Bowl. I’ve taken a run at who should be considered X-factors on Sunday; one from each team on offense, defense and special teams.

Bernard Berrian: Everyone believes that the Bears are a hard running team that doesn’t like to pass that often but everyone neglects to remember that Chicago, overall, was quite good at going through the air this season, in spite of Rex Grossman. Berrian, the top receiver on Chicago has a propensity to get open way downfield and hauling in a huge touchdown could break the game open.

Ricky Manning: Chicago loves to play in nickel and dime sets and when they do, Manning is in the game. Despite being a third-string player, he tied for the team lead in interceptions with 5. “The illegitimate Manning brother” plays well in big games as evidenced by his 3 picks against Philadelphia two NFC championship games ago while he still played with Carolina. He has the experience and the skill to make a difference.

Robbie Gould: It would be too easy to pick Devin Hester here so I didn’t, but I will talk about him later. Gould finished second in the league in scoring behind LDT but failed to even attempt a field goal of 50 yards or longer. If he’s put into a long field goal situation, I’m not sure how confident I’d be in him.

Joseph Addai: The rookie has been a bright spot from a sterling draft. He’s a good, slashing running back that can also catch out of the back field. It also seems like he comes up with at least one big play every game. I wouldn’t think that would change on Sunday.

Booger McFarland: The Colts defense has improved dramatically in the play-offs and their ability to stop the run has been a key. The reason for this improvement isn’t just because of McFarland, it’s because the Colts have been stacking eight men in the box to crowd the line. With a deep threat like Berrian on the other side of the ball, the Colts may not be able to line-up like that on Sunday in fear of being beaten deep. Booger is going to have to clog the middle and stop the run without the extra safety’s help.

The entire Colts special teams coverage unit: It’s up to them to get a grasp on Devin Hester before he takes off. Overall, they haven’t covered punts and kickoffs as well as most teams in the league so they’ll definitely have to work on this during practice. It’s also up to punter Hunter Smith to keep the ball out of the hands of Hester without giving up too much field position.

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