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Super Bowl XLI

   by Al McMordie - 01/29/2007

So, do the Bears have a chance? Only two of the last nine NFC Champions won the Super Bowl, and oddsmakers see the Colts as a significant favorite. The key will be defense, with the Bears having the No. 5 overall defense. But this is no ordinary offense, as the Colts rank No. 2 in total offense and passing (27 points, 268 yards passing per game) behind QB Peyton Manning (31 TDs, 9 INTs), TE Dallas Clark and WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

In five of the last six games the Bears defense has struggled, allowing 27, 31, 21, 26 and 24 points. The pass defense allowed 332, 300, 260 and 276 passing yards! Bears CB Nathan Vasher is outstanding, so he may be able to contain one of the Colts speed weapons, but the Colts have two aces at wide receiver and the best QB in the game.

Then there’s the question about competition. It’s no secret that the AFC has the better teams. Notice that the Colts beat the Jets just 10-0, smashed Buffalo 40-7, but also lost at home to the Dolphins 31-13 and at New England 17-13. That loss at the Patriots came only three weeks after these same Colts won 27-20 at New England with 301 passing yards.

The biggest mismatch is at quarterback, where nine-year Indy veteran Peyton Manning and his two MVPs has a huge edge over Chicago’s baby-faced Rex Grossman. It’s interesting that the lowest rating ever produced by a winning quarterback in the Super Bowl was a lowly 22.6 a year ago by the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was awful, completing 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in beating the Seahawks, 21-10.

The lowest passer rating before Roethlisberger was John Elway's 51.9 against Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII. Elway managed just 123 passing yards. Yet, guess who won that game? That's right: Elway’s Broncos in a 31-24 victory. So, theoretically, Grossman could have a miserable game and Chicago still could win. After all, the Broncos were an 11-point dog in that game.

A couple of other points to keep in mind. There has never been a Super Bowl played in rainy, windy conditions that I can recall, yet the very-early forecast for this Super Bowl hints at a 30% chance of rain and some wind in Miami. That could change the dynamics of the game considerably, and certainly would influence the side and total. Check the weather forecasts every day from now until Super Sunday. Weather conditions could make this an interesting, and perhaps even unusual, Super Bowl.

Also, how the teams are constructed needs to be examined. The Colts, for instance, are built for their home field – which is indoors on artificial turf. The team has a great quarterback and outstanding speed at wideout, perfect for the fast carpet. The defense, too, is predicated on speed and the defensive front is fast but small, the smallest in the NFL. That’s why the Colts were so bad against the run this season (allowing a whopping 173 rush yards per game, 5.2 yards per carry). Both those stats were easily the worst in the NFL.

But this game won’t be on the carpet, as Miami’s stadium is natural grass. The Colts are 1-3 in their last four games on grass, and just 5-4 SU/4-5 ATS on the road this season. The Bears, with their balanced offense and physical defense, are more suited for natural grass, on which they play their home games. Chicago is an impressive 7-1 straight up, 5-3 against the spread on the road and 2-0 ATS as a dog.

Two years ago the Colts played at Chicago and won 41-10 as an 8-point favorite! Everyone is looking at the Grossman/Manning match-up as being key, but a more intriguing one is Chicago RBs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson against the Colts run defense. The Bears ran the ball 46 times against the Saints in the NFC Championship game! If they can do something similar, Chicago has a chance to pull an upset with or without Grossman playing well. Enjoy the big game, and check those South Florida weather reports all week...Al McMordie.

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