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Super Bowl XLI preview: Midwestern matchup in Miami

By Ian Guss

Section: Sports

February 2, 2007

Super Bowl XLI features the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bears are in the Super Bowl for first time since they won Super Bowl XX in 1986. The Colts appear in the Big Game for the first time since the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. This game features the third-ranked offense of the Colts against the Bears' defense, which is ranked fifth overall.

Road to the Big Game: The Indianapolis Colts came into this postseason as the number three seed. They finished the regular season with a 12-4 record. The Colts beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card game, defeated the Baltimore Colts in Baltimore and finally beat the New England Patriots two weeks ago.

The Chicago Bears were the favorite in the NFC going into the playoffs. They finished the season 13-3 and came into the postseason as the number one seed. This postseason, the Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints at home.

Keys to the game: On the offensive side of the ball, the Colts have the advantage. Peyton Manning is in another class compared with Rex Grossman. The Colts also have more weapons to catch the ball than their NFC counterpart. The two big receivers- Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne- plus TE Dallas Clark, who caught six passes for 137 yards, give Manning three deadly options. The Bears are much stronger on the defensive end;

however, the Colts' defense has been playing better ever since the playoffs began. Chicago's run defense will force Manning to rely on his receivers. Both teams have solid special teams. The highlight for the Colts is clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri and the Bears have kick return man extraordinaire Devin Hester. In the first African-American coaching matchup in Super Bowl history, Lovie Smith goes against Tony Dungy. Both have very similar personalities and are atypical NFL coaches because of their calm demeanors. The edge has to go to Dungy because he has much more playoff experience than Smith.

Why the Colts will win: Peyton Manning is able to exploit the Bears secondary and complete big plays downfield. Rex Grossman could be in trouble because of DE Dwight Freeney. Grossman hasn't played well when hes been pressured this season, which could cost him in this game.

Why the Bears will win: Rex Grossman is adequate and makes smart decisions. He throws the ball away when need be and doesnt commit turnovers. The Bears defense is able to rattle the Colts offense and the Bears are able to wear the Colts out with their running game.

Prediction: After overcoming an 18-point deficit to win the AFC Championship Game, Manning will make the ultimate career turnaround by leading his team to a Super Bowl victory. Colts 31, Bears 27

Why the Colts will win: Peyton Manning is able to exploit the Bears secondary and complete big plays downfield. Rex Grossman could be in trouble because of DE Dwight Freeney. Grossman hasn't played well when hes been pressured this season, which could cost him in this game.

Why the Bears will win: Rex Grossman is adequate and makes smart decisions. He throws the ball away when need be and doesnt commit turnovers. The Bears defense is able to rattle the Colts offense and the Bears are able to wear the Colts out with their running game.

Prediction: After overcoming an 18-point deficit to win the AFC Championship Game, Manning will make the ultimate career turnaround by leading his team to a Super Bowl victory. Colts 31, Bears 27

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