How many of us have truly asked our selves that question? And no, the rest of the question is not "...ask why, try Bud Dry". Not the rest of the question is, why do we care so much? Why do we cheer so hard? Why was I jumping around my family room after Robbie "Solid" Gould kicked home the game winner? Why was I balled up in the fetal position as the Hawks had the ball with a chance to win the game (and no, it's not cause of my "mother" issues, I'm seeing a therapist and making progress with that)? Why did I scream so loud when Rex fumbled and scare the living crap out of my daughter? Why do we care so much about a group of guys that only know we exist in the generic sense?
And no, this is not a sports mid-life crisis. No, it came out of something my wife said...and also from trying to understand how to pass on my love for sports to my daughter....which is getting easier and easier by the day, more on that in a bit.
After the Bears win, we took a trip over to some friends house, a fellow Bears fan, and we spent the entire time talking about sports...much to my wife's annoyance. But come on, it's the playoffs, I just got done watching one of the biggest wins in my lifetime...and I'm not supposed to talk about it? Nah, that wasn't my wife's problem...instead she just asked why I love sports so much? She went as far as to say that she sometimes believes I love sports more than her...which I immediately, and without hesitation denied. Believe me guys, if ever you are asked a question like that, the key is how quickly and convincingly you answer. If there is a moment of hesitation, you're dead.
For the record, in front of the Nation as my witness...I don't love sports more than my wife. But they are similar beings...but sports let you down more often.
Colts vs. Pats
So here we go again..."on my own. Going down the only road I've ever known. Like a drifter I was born to walk alone..." Crap, that was "Here I Go again"...ah well, close enough...and it kept rattling around my head when I was thinking of this game...
Wait, what was I talking about?
Ah yes, here we go again. Seems only fitting that this whacky season is culminating with a game that is so familiar to all of us. Brady vs. Manning. Belichick vs. Dungy. Colts WRs vs. the Pats DBs. This game has been dissected more times than can be imagined...before this game even came to be. This is one of those matchups that everyone loves to see...okay except for Ravens and Chargers fans...like 80's Lakers-Celtics...90's Cowboys vs 49ers...90's Bulls vs Knicks...just a game that gets everyone's attention, even if you don't care about either team. We're all waiting, what is the next big chess move? Who has the upper hand? Will the Dome mean the difference? To add intrigue, they've already played this year...and that's where we'll start...
Way back in November, when the Colts hadn't lost a game since last years playoffs and the Pats were coming off a stomping of the then competitive Vikings, the Colts beat the Pats in the Dome. At that time, I commented that I thought Belichick was using a jab to setup the hook for the playoffs....and now here we are. The Jab in this case was not using the running game at all. The Colts already had a very suspect run D, and the Pats happen to have 2 solid RBs...but yet they never challenged that weakness...why? Maybe, just maybe, Belichick wanted to setup the hook for when these teams met in the playoffs. At the time it sounded like a stretch, and it still does today...but I can't dismiss it...and here we are, the playoffs...and these are the teams that are playing for the right to goto the Super Bowl...
Add to "the Jab" theory the fact that the Pats were passing like crazy last week. Picking apart the Chargers, and at one point in the 4th quarter calling 19 straight passing plays...I just have this feeling the Pats are going to run, and then run some more...then run again....
Meanwhile, the Colts offense hasn't really been lighting things up. Manning has played 2 terrible games, which is 2 more than he played all regular season. He's thrown 5 INTs and 1 TD. And now he's playing the biggest game of his life...against his nemesis...don't expect a good game. And before everyone gets all up in arms about Peyton, let me say the following...
Peyton has never played well in a big game...NEVER. When the spotlight is on, he doesn't rise to the occasion...instead he seems to get frustrated and seems confused. And now he's playing a Defense that knows him like no other...do you think when he looks across the line of scrimmage he sees the Florida Gators?...this could get ugly.
The Pats D-Line is firing on all cylinders right now, they are just owning people. They often play just 3 on 5, and they still get the job done. Just a talented, hard-working group. Look for the Pats to dominate the line of scrimmage allowing the LBs and DBs to just flow to the ball. And if Harrison plays...well, "emotional lift" or "Willis Reed" comes to mind. Not to mention sending a sudden shiver down Manning's spine.
Manning spends the day pissed, confused, and frustrated. The Colts D and running game keep them in it for awhile...but a Manning INT gives the Pats the momentum they need to cruise to another Super Bowl. Peyton is seen on the sidelines seeking counsel from Dan Marino...while Boomer Esiason snickers in the corner.
Bears vs. Saints
Before we go any further, let's get 3 things straight...
- You all know I'm a lifelong Bears fan.
- You all know I'm going to the Super Bowl.
- So therefore you can conclude that I cannot root for or pick anyone besides the Bears.
Of course, it's the Super Bowl and it's in Miami...so no matter what, it's going to be a blast and a once in a lifetime event. But come on, how much sweeter would it be if the Bears were there with me? Let me back up a second...and this next part is not bragging or anything other than amazement...
I'm going to the frickin' Super Bowl! I still can't believe it...I don't think I will be able to believe it till I'm standing in Miami. It's the biggest single day sporting event of the year. And I'm going to be there. And there is a chance that the team I've rooted for all my life will be joining me...it's enough to make a guy cry. My greatest sporting moment in my life so far was the White Sox winning the World Series...but I was miles away from that...and watching it on TV. What if, just play along for a second, the Bears make it and win...and I'm there to see it? Come on, how would that not be the pinnacle? Like I said, I'm not trying to brag, just trying to pass along the state of mind that I'm in...sort of a walking on clouds...but different...cause I can't believe the clouds are there...I guess all I'm saying...
What if it was you? What if you got to goto the Super Bowl, and then your team did right by you and showed up there as well? Wouldn't you just be on cloud 9? Just imagine what that state of mind would be like...
That's where my head is right now...I just wanted to make that clear...
So what are my dream scenarios for the Super Bowl?
- 1985 rematch - Bears vs. Pats...and if the same outcome happened (46-10 beatdown by the Bears, all the better)
- Any scenario involving the Bears...as long as they get to the game, I'll take what comes when I get there.
- The Colts finally make the Super Bowl, only to be thoroughly whipped by the "inferior" NFC team...just so everyone will shut up about the Colts and how crappy the NFC is...and yes, that's total sour grapes.
Now you know I'm picking the Bears...I wouldn't of just gone through all that if I wasn't...and I've had a lot of people say "You know they can't/won't beat the Saints" and to them I simply say, "Why not?" Let me sum up the reasons why the Bears won't win, and the reasons they will...then you can be the judge...
Why the Saints will win:
The Rex Factor:
Yes, this is in the back of the mind of every Bears fan...but he played a decent game last week and regained some confidence. And as I'll explain below, I think this is a good matchup for him.
The Bears Run Defense:
Man, watching Alexander rip through the heart of the D drove me nuts. I was freaking out...and now Deuce comes in, after a monster game against the Eagles..not good. And you can't bring more guys into the box, because the Saints will just pick you apart in the air. To slow Deuce 3 people will have to have big games...Tank Johnson, Ian Scott, and Brian Urlacher. The encouraging thing is, the run D did stiffen up when it mattered....this will be something to watch very closely.
The Saints Offense in general:
This is the number one offense in the NFL folks. Can I just say how amazing that is? And it's a very well balanced offense at that. Brees and the passing game will hurt you, but the tag team of Deuce and Reggie will gash you as well. This offense should scare any and all Bears fans. If the Bears D was at full strength...this would be an epic battle, but missing Tommie and Mike...this is going to be a struggle.
The Saints are on a roll, and have karma on their side:
Yes, it's a heart warming story. Yes, it's been an amazing season. Yes, it would mean a lot to the city. But seriously, this is a reason they are going to win a football game? I've gotta say I agree with Chicago Al on this one. And they're on a roll? The Saints lost their last regular season game to a division rival as well...and they won their game last week 27-24 as well...why are they on a roll, and the Bears are struggling?
Why the Bears will win:
The Dome factor:
Only 2 dome teams have ever advanced to the Super Bowl, but in both cases the championship game was played in a dome. So a Dome team has never gone on the road in the elements and made the Super Bowl. And this is by no means a unbreakable rule, or reason alone to give the game to the Bears, rather it's just a factor in the overall scheme of things. And while the weather is not supposed to be terrible, we're still talking Highs in the mid 20s with a chance of snow.
When Rex has time, he plays great:
Here's the thing with Rex, he hasn't figured out how to handle people in his face...but when his line gives him time, he can look great. Take a look at those gorgeous throws he made (the 68 yarder to Berrian and the 30 yarder to Davis) and you can see why Lovie wants him in the game. The Saints meanwhile, are not great at creating pressure...they are only 13th in the league in Sacks with 38...and 5 of those came in the first game of the season. So Rex should have time.
It's a given that Rex will probably turn the ball over at least once. But the Bears can overcome that as long as the rest of the team is careful with the ball...
And the Bears are a ball-hawking team, so they'll look to create some turnovers...and while the Bears RBs almost never fumble, and Deuce is solid...Reggie tends to put the ball on the ground, and also tends to carry the ball in a somewhat careless manner...believe me, the Bears will rip him for at least 1 fumble. Brees is pretty careful with the ball, but he has had a couple games this year where the INTs just piled up...so he can give it away as well. By the why, the Saints a -4 in turnover differential on the season...that's not a good stat.
The Saints secondary is old and slow:
Three out of the four starting Saints DBs are over 33...they are a slowing bunch...and Fred Thomas in particular can be considered toast. Meanwhile, the Bears have Berrian, who can blow by the fastest DBs, and Davis who is jack rabbit quick in his cuts and breaks. Look for those guys to be very open....and as long as Rex gets time, he'll find them.
The Saints Rush D:
I've already talked about the Bears Rush defense giving up yards...but the Saints Rush D finished the season 23rd in the league! And they were letting up 4.9 yards a carry which is tied for second-worst behind Indy at 5.3! This team can be run on, no question about it...so look for Jones and Benson to cut through this D many times over.
The Bears D is getting healthier:
No, Tommie Harris and Mike Brown aren't coming back for the game...if they miraculously come back it would be out of this world, but I'm not holding my breath...but Tillman and Vasher were missing or playing hurt over the last 5 games of the season...and any D that is missing 75% of it's starting DBs and it's best D-lineman...well they are going to have problems.
There you have it. Those are all the ins and outs as I see them. And yes, I'm going to be rooting my head off for the Bears, but still, most of these reasons can't be denied...I've just heard the phrase "no way they beat the Saints" too many times...I just don't get it.
But then again, I might just be delirious from the excitement of all the possibilities...enjoy the games everyone; I'll be a nervous wreck until they're over.