Nobody can debate the fact that Peyton Manning is light years better as a quarterback than Rex Grossman at this point in their careers. Manning is arguably the best QB in football and has a chance to be break every signal-caller statistical record in league history, while Grossman is still finding his way as an NFL starter. Nevertheless, the Bears are fully capable of beating the Colts if Grossman only plays an average game, yet the Colts really need Manning to be at his best in order to beat the Bears. Grossman has a better running game, a better defense, and vastly superior special teams.
If he can simply make a few plays in the passing game and avoid the costly mistakes that have cost him in the past, the rest of the Midway Monsters will pick up the slack.
4. The offensive line should have a lot of success in the running game
Indianapolis had one of the worst run defenses in NFL history this season, especially for a team that still found a way to make the Super Bowl. The Colts surrendered an astonishing 173 yards per game on the ground in the regular season, although they've gotten miraculously better of late and shaven 100 yards off that number in three playoff games. The return of hard-hitting safety Bob Sanders seems to have been the catalyst, but the Bears ran the ball as well as any team in the league down the stretch. Not only have Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson complemented each other well and remained remarkably fresh, Olin Kreutz & Company along the offensive line have also been mauling opponents of late.
Indy was beaten up badly by the running game in road losses at Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Houston this season - all three coming outdoors on natural grass, as is the case for Super Bowl XLI.
3. The Bears are vastly superior than the Colts on special teams
Indy took a major step forward this past offseason by signing Adam Vinatieri, perhaps the most money kicker in NFL history, away from rival New England. But aside from his right foot, the Colts are not very good on special teams. The Bears, on the other hand, will send three special-teamers to the Pro Bowl next week - kicker Robbie Gould, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and return man Devin Hester. While Indy did a decent job returning both kickoffs and punts in 2006, their coverage units were awful and even surrendered a kickoff return touchdown to Ellis Hobbs of New England in the AFC championship game. Special teams aces like Ayanbadejo and Adrian Peterson stop return men dead in their tracks, and Hester set a league record with six TDs on returns this season.
Vinatieri may be an assassin with the game on the line, but Gould was named All-Pro this year and punter Brad Maynard is a master in the field position game.
2. The Bears are as healthy as can be on both sides of the ball
Injury-wise, Chicago is in great shape on offense, defense, and special teams. Although receiver Mark Bradley was inactive against the Saints with a bum ankle and originally listed as questionable on the injury report, he's been removed altogether and will be active on Sunday. Reserve linebacker Rod Wilson tweaked a hamstring in practice on Thursday, but he is only a contributor on special teams and can be replaced by Leon Joe. Defensively, cornerback Charles Tillman's back spasms should be a thing of the past with two weeks to prepare for this game, just like fellow corner Nathan Vasher's hamstring and safety Todd Johnson's sprained ankle.
Indianapolis cornerback Nick Harper has missed practice all week long with a bad ankle and Sanders remains questionable with a banged-up knee, so the Colts could have some serious shuffling to do in the secondary on Sunday.
1. The underdog role has taken on a life of hits own and become a mantra
Seattle was just 9-7 in a crummy NFC West, yet a lot of people thought the Seahawks could beat the Bears in the divisional round at Soldier Field. A week later, seemingly everyone was picking New Orleans to upset Chicago at Soldier Field and continue their New America's Team march to Miami. Now, just about every media personality in the country is expecting the Colts to emerge victorious on Super Sunday, and many of them are predicting a blowout. The Bears have been fueled by the endless droves of doubters and are taking pride in the fact that not many so-called experts thought they would be here right now.
This team is focused, this team is united in its mission, this team is all business, and there will be a 53-man chant of "We told you so" when Virginia McCaskey is presented with the Vince Lombardi Trophy at midfield.