From his multiple MVP awards to his eye-popping statistical achievements to his TV commercials, everyone who knows anything about the NFL knows about Peyton Manning. He is possibly the best quarterback on the planet and might be the greatest ever - at least according to the numbers - by the time he hangs up his spikes, but there is still one major void on his resume. Despite everything he has done in a brilliant 10-year career, he has seen the likes of Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson win Super Bowls while he remaind ringless. Manning jumped perhaps his biggest mental hurdle two weeks ago when he eliminated Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship game, so he will now be on pro football's biggest stage for the first time ever.
Bobby the paperboy may have the best arm in the neighborhood, but Manning is simply too good and will not be denied.
4. The Bears are still having all kinds of problems defending the run
You could make an argument that the two most important players for Chicago's run defense are defensive tackle Tommie Harris and safety Mike Brown. Harris has been out since Week 13 with a torn left hamstring, and Brown was put on injured reserve after Week 6 with yet another lower-leg problem. Ian Scott moved back into the starting lineup when Harris went down and is a solid run-stuffer, but neither he nor Tank Johnson command the kind of attention that Harris does in the middle. Not only is Brown one of the better run-support safeties in the league, he is also the emotional epicenter of his defense. If Manning gets some help from his running game, he'll murder the Bears will play-action passes.
Although Edgerrin James bolted for the big money in Arizona, rookie Joseph Addai and veteran Dominic Rhodes have been just as effective a combination as Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson have been for the Bears.
3. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis present big problems on the edges
The Bears have one of the more experienced offensive lines in the NFL, but they haven't faced a pair of off-the-edge devils like they will on Sunday. Dwight Freeney may be the most talented pass-rusher alive, and Robert Mathis has turned into quite the sack artist himself. Even Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore's perenniel All-Pro left tackle, has torn apart by Freeney in the divisional round three weeks ago. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner admitted that left tackle John Tait is going to need some help blocking Freeney from time to time, but he'll have to get the job done himself more often than not. Right tackle Fred Miller has won a Super Bowl before, but containing Mathis will be a tall order to say the least.
Rex Grossman is most vulnerable when he's under heavy pressure, so expect a few turnovers from him if he's running for his life in the pocket.
2. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will run wild in the secondary
Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne each racked up over 1,300 receiving yards this season and form the most productive wideout duo in the league. Both of them work tirelessly in the offseason with Manning, so the three of them can run 99% of the Indy offense with their eyes closed. Although Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are a solid pair of cornerbacks, neither one of them possesses a Champ Bailey-like ability to lock down half the field. Additionally, should Harrison or Wayne ever get matched up on a safety like Danieal Manning or Chris Harris, expect Manning to make the Bears pay.
With the emergence of a healthy Dallas Clark wreaking havoc in the middle of the field, Chicago's defensive backfield could be in for a long day.
1. The signing of Adam Vinatieri was the biggest move of the offseason
Indianapolis was a much better team than Pittsburgh last season, but Mike Vanderjagt let his team down because he couldn't make field goals when it mattered most. Not only did the Colts repair their kicking game by signing Adam Vinatieri away from New England, but they gave the entire team a renewed feeling of confidence. Vinatieri has never missed a kick in Indy at the RCA Dome, and he's converted more crunch-time field goals than any specialist in recent memory. Whether inside the friendly confines of the Superdome or in the wintry conditions at Gillette Stadium, he has authored some of the biggest kicks in NFL history.
Bears kicker Robbie Gould was sensational in 2006 and named an All-Pro, but Vinatieri is a cold-blooded killer with the game on the line.