February 2, 2007

The Super Bowl Preview Edition

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

For the first time in years, I don’t know what will happen in the Super Bowl. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Looking at this year’s game, there’s too many variables to consider. So many things could or couldn’t happen. You could take a look at last year’s Super Bowl as a good example. If it weren’t for the referees calling the game as if they had blatantly wagered on Pittsburgh, the outcome would probably have been greatly different. This year, if Peyton is seen with his brother Eli at a South Beach club before the party, disregard anything below this paragraph.

It would be easy to break down the teams by comparing how they match up at positions, i.e. who has a better defensive line or who’s quarterback is better? But what does it matter if Tank Johnson is better than Raheem Brock? They’re not going to butt heads against each other and Peyton Manning vs. Rex Grossman a game of dodgeball.

So what am I going to use to judge my predicted outcome of the game? I have already flip-flopped four times and at the end of this article there may be a fifth. I could use the dozens of breakdowns and articles regarding the game that I’ve read over the past two weeks as a basis. But it doesn’t mean that they’re right just because they’re insiders and experts. Since each of these writers has a different point of view (by default) and some will pick Indy while some will pick Chicago, then, along with us, the average football fan, the experts WILL be wrong. Unless you have a time machine, you can only use past outcomes to try figure the variables of the big game. In short, no one is an expert, for except Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly that is.

If anything, the last paragraph was a disclaimer.

The way I’m looking at the game, it’s a lot more even than people think. Chicago just finished putting the boots to New Orleans and showed they are truly the best team in the NFC (not as good as it sounds). But Indy took a harder road to the Super Bowl, beating each of the teams that they faced at their own game. They beat the Chiefs by shutting down all-pro Larry Johnson; in fact, shutting down isn’t even strong enough to describe what they did to LJ. They went into Baltimore and proved that they didn’t need to score touchdowns to win. Then they came back from 18 points down to rally against the Patriots, a roll that’s usually reversed. But when you look at those three games, there’re reasons why those outcomes occurred. LJ must have been tired and bruised after setting a record for carries in the regular season, Baltimore has been shoddy on offense when McNair is off his game (as he was) and the Patriots aren’t the same Pats of the last few years.

The teams’ defenses are both under the microscope coming into the game for different, yet the same reasons. They haven’t been themselves as of late. Chicago’s daunting Monsters of the Midway have allowed over 300 yards in their last several games while the Colts once porous defense has tightened up remarkably in the playoffs. This being said, it’s impossible to tell which of these faces shows up at XLI.

Rushing the ball always turns out to be a key in any game and both teams have outstanding duos, which is the new trend in the league. The way I see the running games is that they’re pretty even; Jones and Benson against Addai and Rhodes should turn out to equal in terms of productions, but anyone of the four could break a big run given the chance.

The last factor I can think of is that both quarterbacks should be coming into the game with huge chips on his shoulders. Will Peyton Manning escape the inevitable Dan Marino comparisons and win the big one? Or will Rex Grossman prove his (many) critics wrong and perform well on the grandest of stages. I think both will knock the proverbial monkeys off their backs and, without further ado, I have decided on my final pick.

Pick: Indianapolis 30, Chicago 24.

Also, Rex Grossman will play better than expected but will have one or two “did he just do that” moments. Peyton Manning will throw two interceptions, one will be more so due to a good Chicago play though. Chicago’s defense will score a touchdown. Indianapolis won’t punt the ball directly to Devin Hester and if they do, they will pay. Finally, Peyton Manning will be the game’s MVP, even if he doesn’t deserve to be.

And, in case you were wondering:
The Intern’s pick is: Raiders by 15 (seriously)

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