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2007 Super Bowl Analysis

Bodog NFL Betting - SUPER BOWL ANALYSIS: The Difference Maker - BODOG is a registered trademark of Bodog Entertainment Group S.A. The World's Most Comprehensive Online Sportsbook, Casino and Poker Site Leads Trend for Wagering on Pop Culture Events

The 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is looking for another accolade for the mantle - the Vince Lombardi Trophy

Jan. 23, 2007

By Mike Halford
Bodog Nation Contributing Writer

A funny thing happened to Reggie Bush on the way to the end zone last Sunday. He made the biggest mistake of his brief professional football career.


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Amidst his 88-yard catch-and-scamper touchdown, which sucked the air out the Windy City, the former USC standout slowed up and pointed at Brian Urlacher before somersaulting across the goal line. The gesture was both Bush and bush, encapsulating everything that the former Heisman winner brings to the table: amazing athleticism, egregious gall.

"When I saw it, I thought what an idiot, just a young idiot," Bears center Olin Kreutz told The Courier News. "He hasn’t done enough in this league to do anything close to that, pointing at a guy like Brian Urlacher. That’s just ridiculous."

The point of "The Point" isn't simply a cautionary tale for hot-shot rookies. No, the moral is more profound: Don't screw with Brian Urlacher.

Number 54 is the heart and soul of the Bears. And the manner in which his teammates rally behind him speaks to how highly he's regarded among his peers. The Saints learned shortly after Bush's touchdown that the best (or, depending on how you look at it, worst) way to rile up the Bears is to go after their leader. Case in point? Consider how the next five drives after the Bush score ended for New Orleans:

1. Missed Field Goal
2. Safety
3. Punt
4. Fumble
5. Interception.

With this in mind, it's time to proclaim Urlacher as the most integral player on the field come Super Bowl Sunday. Sure, the Colts feature an All-Pro QB, two Pro Bowl wideouts and the greatest clutch kicker of all time. But Urlacher trumps them all on the NFL's biggest stage. He'll become even more prominent as we break down the game on offense, defense, special teams and coaching.


Pundits are already proclaiming this to be the most lopsided QB pairing in Super Bowl history. Peyton Manning will be appearing in his 13th playoff game, and Rex Grossman in only his third. In 144 regular-season starts, Manning has recorded a passer rating of 40 or less only twice. Grossman registered a passer rating of 40 or below five times this season alone.

Coincidentally, both teams feature similar platoon running games. Against a staunch New England defense, the Colts’ running backs finished with solid statistics. Dominic Rhodes rushed for 69 yards on 14 carries and Joseph Addai had 56 yards on 14 carries with a score. Chicago's duo of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson absolutely ripped apart the Saints, combining for 183 yards and three TDs.

Indy has a huge edge in talent at the wideout position - both Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison put forth Pro Bowl seasons. While Chicago WRs Bernard Berrian and Mushin Muhammad are both big, rangy targets, their production is often hampered by the erratic Grossman and a run-first offensive philosophy.

X-Factor: Dallas Clark. The oft-injured TE has been brilliant this postseason, leading the team with 17 catches and a gaudy 16.5-yard average. Defenses are usually preoccupied with Wayne/Harrison routes, and Addai/Rhodes checkdowns. Seam routes up the middle have been a boon for the Colts, and the sure-handed Clark has been the benefactor.

Edge: Indianapolis


Watching the Bears play defense is a football purist's guilty pleasure. They tackle high, go for strips, cheat on coverage, jump routes and gamble relentlessly. Of course, this is exactly how the Bears harassed the Saints into four turnovers and held the explosive offense to just 14 points. What it lacks in style, Chicago's defense makes up in substance.

The importance of Urlacher cannot be understated. When speaking to a player's value beyond statistics, consider this: Urlacher was named a starter in the Pro Bowl despite the fact he didn't record a single sack this season (he did notch 141 tackles and three picks, however). His athleticism allows him to be a viable option in pass coverage, while his physicality makes him a tremendous run-stuffer. He'll play a major role against the aforementioned Clark, who does most of his damage in the middle of the field.

The Colts continue to impress with their renewed dedication to stopping the run. They've yet to allow more than 93 yards in a playoff game thus far, and will need to be just as strong against a Chicago ground game that is averaging 158 yards per contest this postseason. The big worry for Indy will be the "wear-down" effect - Chicago is averaging 40 rushing attempts per game, and that physical nature doesn't mesh well with the Colts' smallish front seven.


Urlacher. He's essentially the QB on defense, the key link between defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and the players on the field. He'll be responsible for dealing with Manning's safety outlets and checkdowns - Addai, Rhodes, Clark, Bryan Fletcher and Ben Utecht - guys who Manning has been utilizing often in this new "take what the defense gives me" approach.

Edge: Chicago


For all the hype surrounding Devin Hester, his postseason exploits have been mediocre at best. His longest kick/punt return went for 20 yards. That being said, he must be licking his chops at the prospect of going up against a beleaguered Indy coverage unit. New England cornerback Ellis Hobbs torched the Colts for over 200 return yards on Sunday, including an 80-yarder that set up a Patriots score.

Chicago's Robbie Gould was arguably the finest kicker during the regular season, finishing second in the NFL in scoring with 143 points. The postseason title has been bestowed on Colts kicker Adam "Money" Vinatieri, who is 11-for-11 in this year's playoffs. While both have emerged as two of the most accurate kickers in the league, nobody can mess with Vinatieri's big-game experience. Should it come down to the clutch, Indy can roll out the best closer in the game.

X-Factor: Chicago punter Brad Maynard. He was absolutely fantastic against the Saints, kicking seven times for a 47.4-yard average, pinning the Saints inside their own 20 four times. In fact, it was Maynard's third-quarter, 51-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Saints' five that led to the safety that turned the game around.

Edge: Chicago


Based on playoff experience alone, this appears to be Tony Dungy's time. His 16 playoff appearances trump Lovie Smith's three, and after the heartbreak and trauma of last year's excruciating circumstances, one could be compelled to say that destiny is on his side.

Much has been written about the Dungy-Smith relationship, dating to when Smith was an assistant of Dungy's in Tampa. Both friendship and similarities run deep - Indy and Chicago feature variations of the Cover/Tampa 2 defense. There's an emphasis on zone that features two safeties each covering half the field and dropping deep to help cornerbacks over the top. The central principle is to generate a pass rush from the front four to force the quarterback to throw the ball before he can wait for the intermediate and deep perimeter routes that are hot spots against the defense.

Dungy has the advantage here - a more experienced coach who (along with Monte Kiffin) is credited with creating the Tampa 2. Dungy actually runs a "cleaner" version of the defense, emphasizing the "cover" part whereas Smith blitzes more in search of turnovers and big plays.

X-Factor: Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Realizing that teams are focusing on stopping Wayne, Harrison and Addai, he's designed wrinkles in the offense to keep defenses on their toes. Nowhere was this more evident than on Sunday, when defensive lineman Dan Klecko caught a TD while lined up as a fullback.

Edge: Indianapolis.

TOP PHOTO: Brian Urlacher will have his hands full against Peyton Manning and the Colts in Miami. (AP Photo)

Super Bowl XLI Schedule

* Who: Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears
* Where: Dolphin Stadium, Miami.
* When: Feb. 4, 6:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
* Point spread: Colts -7.
* Total: 49.5

* National Anthem Performer: Billy Joel.
* Halftime Performer: Prince.

Note: All NFL lines subject to change.

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