Super Bowl XLI debate: Bears versus Colts

Collura: If I were going to make a Super Bowl XLI prediction, I would bet on the Indianapolis Colts all the way. Why, you ask? Well, for three main reasons: Peyton Manning has managed to get out of his playoff slump, rookie Joseph Addai has amped up the Colts’ running game, and the Colts’ defense has finally shown up.

The Chicago Bears? They only have Rex Grossman, who is, at best, an “average quarterback.” Then there are the Sundays where Grossman throws more picks than actual completions. He just won’t cut it in the Super Bowl.

Kim: The Colts may have reached the Super Bowl, but the Chicago Bears will win it all in the end. The Colts’ defense has finally shown up? Are you kidding me? The Colts had the worst rushing defense in the entire NFL. A couple of good games certainly does not erase the fact that they had a horrific rush defense.

No one will argue that Grossman has been inconsistent, but when he’s been on, he’s been as good as anybody. He tied the league for second with the most passer ratings over 100. Even when he had a quarterback rating as low as 10.2, his team found a way to win that game. (Remember the Cardinals’ collapse in October and Denny Green’s unforgettable rant?)
Manning had a great game against the Patriots in the AFC championship, but he hasn’t really gotten out of a slump. He struggled against the Kansas City Chiefs during the wildcard weekend only to have his defense save him and in the AFC divisional playoff against the Ravens when all 15 points were scored by the kicker, Adam Vinatieri.

Manning can’t win big games. He never won a state high school championship or a college championship, and this is only his first Super Bowl appearance. Manning has too much pressure, too much to prove, and he’ll disappoint once again.

Collura: Okay, while the Colts’ defense wasn’t exactly amazing through the regular season, they’ve come up big during the playoffs, allowing their opposing backs an average of 3.6 yards per carry. This is significantly less than the Bears’ defense, which has allowed an average of 4.4 yards per carry this postseason.

While the Colts’ defense is still going to need to step up big time on Sunday, they’ve been heading in the right direction, unlike the Bears’ defense, which has been on a downslide since the end of the regular season.

While Manning may not have experience winning “the big game,” he is still an All-Pro quarterback. If Manning was going to have any type of mental meltdown, it would have happened during the AFC Championship Game.

For him, that game was the big question mark, and his performance, passing for over 300 yards with a touchdown and only one pick, proves he’s finally ready for a championship game. As for Grossman, he’s gone the past two weeks without humiliating himself, so he’s due for that bad day.

Kim: Never underestimate the Bears’ defense. Led by Brian Urlacher, the defense stopped the Saints’ powerful running game. On the flip side, the Bears’ underrated running back, Thomas Jones, had over 1200 rushing yards during the regular season. He is exactly the type of impact player who could rip through the Colts’ defense.

In addition, have you heard of that new kid on the block, Devin Hester? The Colts allowed six kickoff returns for 220 yards against Ellis Hobbs of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. If Hobbs has those stats on kick returns, imagine what the All-Pro Hester will do.

And one more thing: The Bears did beat the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback, Drew Brees, rather easily in the NFC Championship. Don’t forget that Brees was second in MVP voting and an All-Pro quarterback. So the Bears will have no problem dismantling Manning and his crew.

Collura: At this point, the Bears’ defense deserves underestimation. After being considered one of the most fearsome defenses in the NFL, they slacked off, getting only five sacks in their last eight games (compared to the 20 they had in their first eight games), and with the exception of Urlacher, are playing mediocre at best.

Hobbs wrecked the Colts’ special teams, and I guarantee that Colts head coach Tony Dungy is spending this week fixing that. And while I agree that Jones is highly underrated, Indianapolis has successfully dealt with Larry Johnson, Jamal Lewis, and Corey Dillon, all of whom are the same caliber as Jones. Jones won’t be a factor. While the Colts’ defense and special teams may be somewhat questionable, Indianapolis is inarguably dominant on the rest of the field.

The Colts’ quarterback, running game, receivers, and coaching, not to mention experience, are going to win this game. It’ll be a tight game, but I’m going to call it 34–31 Colts, with the possibility of another huge game-winning kick by Vinatieri.

Kim: It is certainly true that the Colts have the powerful offensive weapons. Almost everyone expects the Colts to win this Super Bowl easily. However, with immense pressure, the Colts are in for a rude awakening against the heavy underdogs, the Bears.

Grossman and his teammates are playing for something more than a win — they are playing for respect. How many times have we seen the underdogs defeat the favorites? What about the Marlins against the Yankees in the 2003 World Series? What about those Florida Gators against Ohio State in the national title game this year?

Manning never beat the University of Florida in his collegiate years and Grossman is a former Gators quarterback. Let it be known that I said it first: Da Bears will win 33–27.