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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Jan 23, 2007 12:00 am
Most of the 40 previous Super Bowls have been predicted to be close games. Most, at least until recent years, have been anything but.
But at least two games stand out as blowouts from the moment the oddsmakers took a look at them – Super Bowl III, when the Jets stunned the world and the NFL by beating the Colts, and SB XX, when the Bears were the overwhelming pick to maul the Patriots.
The 1985 Bears had one of the great defenses of all time with a pretty strong offense and their championship against the upstart Patriots was expected to be a coronation.
I don't remember the point spread. But we ran a poll in which Democrat staffers, area coaches and other notables made their predictions. All picked Da Bears with one exception. Evans Donnell, then a staff writer, predicted the Patriots, and that was only because no one else would.
The majority won that year as the Monsters of the Midway devoured Cinderella 46-10.
Twenty-one years later, the Bears and Pats are in the conference championship games and could meet in a rematch. I'm not predicting one however.
I do expect the Patriots to hold up their end of the bargain. The team of the 21st century is looking for its fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy in the last six years. They've had the Colts' number in the games that have really counted.
I noticed Indianapolis, playing at home, is favored by three points. The Colts do have some things going for them they didn't in their earlier bouts with the Pats. Indy is playing at home, in the dome, so bad weather won't hinder Peyton Manning. New England isn't as talented as in the recent past. Indy has won a couple of regular-season games, in Foxborough no less, the last couple of years. And Peyton hasn't been the one carrying Indianapolis through the playoffs, rather a suddenly rock-hard defense has produced two postseason triumphs.
But when dealing with the heart of a champion, it goes down with great difficulty, as San Diego found out last week. As the playoffs began, I expected a Chargers-Saints Super Bowl, seeing these two as the most complete teams in their respective conferences. But Phillip Rivers and Co. couldn't finish the deal last week as Tom Brady wouldn't let the Patriots go down. Sort of like Joe Montana when he helped make the 49ers the team of the '80s.
On the NFC side, I didn't expect Da Bears to still be playing. Watching them play the Packers on New Year's Eve, it didn't look like they could beat anybody, much less a playoff team, even at Soldier Field. I don't care if it was a meaningless game, it was the Packers, which should never be a throwaway to a Bear. But it seemed to be to Rex Grossman.
Give Grossman credit. He got over his New Year's hangover against the Seahawks, who needed a gift drop from Dallas holder Tony Romo to get past the wild-card round.
There are a lot of Bears fans around. But most of the rest of America is rooting for the Saints in particular and the city of New Orleans in general in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
For that matter, I suspect most of America is also cheering for the Colts in general and Peyton, one of the USA's most popular figures, in particular against their old tormentors.
So I predict a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl. But if it turns out to be a Pats-Bears rematch, Super Bowl XLI won't be a rerun of XX. It'll be a much closer game.
In the words of Joe Namath before SB III, "I guarantee it".
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.