Wow it's actually here...this really is real...the Colts are in the SUPERBOWL! I was going to go into a detailed analysis like I usually do but there has been soooo much analysis that I am sure everyone knows everything that could happen in the game. So instead, I am going to just highlight some of what I think will be the key matchups/factors in the game. So here we go:
The Bears Playing Nickel Coverage
I have heard a lot of rumblings about the Bears playing a lot of nickel coverage putting a 3rd CB on Dallas Clark, even when he is lined up as a TE and not split out. This would be a good way for the Bears to keep Clark from having a huge game. Their safeties are going to have to provide over the top help on Harrison and Wayne so the middle of the field could be exploited if they get Clark on a LB. The downside is that leaves only 4 lineman and 2 LBs to stop the run and provide pressure. Granted the two LBs are Briggs and Urlacher, two of the best ion the league, but the Colts O-line is good at what they do and if Manning gets time from a lack of pressure, look out. If the Bears do in fact do this, look for the Colts to throw some screen passes and catch the Bears LBs trying to get pressure on Manning.
The Colts Stretch Play vs. Brian Urlacher
This to me is a key, key matchup vecause Urlacher is the ultimate LB to stop the stretch play. He is amazing sideline-to-sideline and is incredibly fast. The stretch play is key for the Colts because they run play action off of it, so it would be really hard for them to go away from it. The way to run against Urlacher is rigth at him, to get him on his heels, since it takes away some of his explosiveness. The Colts need to run some plays right up the middle but it will be interesting to see if the can figure out a way for the stretch play to be succesful.
Robert Mathis vs the Bears RT
I expect the Bears to double team Freeney to neutralize him, but that leaves Mathis one-on-one. If Mathis can get to Grossman, he will turn the ball over, and you can't give this Colts team more possessions. I think the Bears will try and run the ball at Mathis to try and slow him down and if they can be succesful at that and double teaming Freeney, the Colts may have to start blitzing which is something their defence is not built to do.
Bernard Berrian vs. Colts Safeties
Ahuge advantage for the bears here as Berrien is so fast there is not a CB on the Colts roster that can keep up with him. This means they will need over the top help and look for Bethea to play on Berrien's side to do just that. Sanders is more of a ball-hawking all over the place kind of guy so he needs to be free to do what he does and not worry about playing centerfield. One thing to mention about this though is that even though Grossman is very good at throwig the deep ball, he is not if tthere is pressure and he will throw it regardless. This could end up in turnovers,
Colts X-Factor - RB Joseph Addai
Addai needs to have a very similar game as he did against New England. Pound the ball, get tough yards up the middle and become enough of a threat to make the Bears' LBs take a few steps forward on play action, which is all Manning needs
Bears X-Factor PR/KR Devin Hester
This isn't much of a surprise, but the Colts have terrible, terrible coverage units and Hester could give Grossman a short field all game. This is exactly what the Bears need, since they arent going to be able to put together a lot of lengthy drives.
Prediction: Colts win 37-31. Manning wins MVP with 300 yards passing, 3 TDs and 1 INT