Monday, January 15, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Projections

The road to the Super Bowl will be dramatically different for any two of the four teams that are in the NFC and AFC conference championships this upcoming Sunday. First let's take a look at the NFC, and then AFC.

Chicago Bears-
The Chicago Bears were a team that started off strong and faltered down the stretch. Towards the end of the season, and even into the divisional round of the playoffs, the only part of Chicago's game that has been exceptional has been special teams. The offense, behind a much maligned Rex Grossman, has been adequate, but has committed far too many turnovers. The defense is simply not as ferocious as it has been in year's past. As one sports analysts pointed out, the Bears are not particularly good at anything right now, but have found ways to win. Yesterday against the Seahawks, they won by virtue of the Seahawks not taking advantage of three opportunities to score in Bears territory within the last 4 minutes of the game and into the overtime. The question still remains why Mike Holmgren would punt with 1:59 left in the game on a 4th and 15. Sometimes I wonder why head coaches get paid so much. They are pretty much millionaire motivational speakers.

New Orleans Saints-
The quietest and best free agent signing of the off-season was the Saints' signing of quarterback Drew Brees. Drew Brees had a career year, passing for close to 4,500 yards and elevating the Saints offense to the best in the NFL. Drew Brees had plenty of help along the way with highly touted Heisman winner Reggie Bush and not so highly touted Marques Colston. The two rookies were the Saints leading receivers this year, and with Deuce McAllister healthy again in the backfield, the Saints had a bruising and versatile offense. What's interesting is to look at how the experts thought the Saints would do this year. In's pre-season power rankings, the Saints were 27/31 in the NFL. While on the subject, the projected Final Four were the Seahawks, Panthers, Steelers, and Colts. In the words of Chris Berman, "And that's why they play the game."

New England Patriots-
Tom Brady had a great season, though not as good as season's past. Some might credit it to a depleted wide receiver core, but I'm not going to buy that. Jabar Gaffney, Troy Brown, and Reche Caldwell may not be the biggest names, but they can run routes and are consistent. The Patriots were able to add rookie running back Laurence Maroney, giving them a duel threat in the backfield similar to teams like the Saints and Broncos. With all that in consideration, no matter how mediocre the Patriots season was, they are a different team in the playoffs. Post-season Tom Brady is the Michael Jordan of the NFL. How sad was their divisional game with the Chargers though? After the game, a few Patriots went to the Charger emblem on the field and mocked the San Diego players. As Ladainian Tomlinson said after the game, "They showed no class at all, and maybe it comes from the head coach." Amen LT, there's no reason for things like that in a hard-fought football game. As a matter of fact, there's no reason for things like that EVER. Shame on the Patriots, and I don't like Bill Belichick, so shame on him too.

Indianapolis Colts-
The Colts started 9-0 for the second straight year and finished with 10 or more wins for the fifth straight year. The Colts consistently win, and their defense is consistently bad. This year, Peyton Manning still worked his magic, but when he was a little off, the defense was never there to save him. Well, that was until the playoffs. The defense has stepped up the last 2 games after Peyton's 2 straight lackluster games (which isn't new to Peyton in the playoffs, who is still trying to shake the "choker" title that has followed him). After all the years of the Colts being the best team in the NFL and never making the Super Bowl, it only makes sense that this year they will make it to the Super Bowl. They have been the underdog in both of their playoff games thus far, and look to be the underdog this week as well. Maybe going under the radar is what Tony Dungy has been trying to do all these years and finally has his team where he wants them.

This year has definitely lived up to the hype, the playoffs so far have been competitive, and this week's games look to be no different. Here is my Super Bowl prediction, take it or leave it: COLTS vs. SAINTS!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your prediction is correct, but you only hate the Pats because they've beat the crap out of your precious Colts and stupid Manning for so many seasons.