Dr. Z's Forecast

When the NFC's top-rated defense faces the AFC's top-rated attack in Super Bowl XLI, something's gotta give. Sorry, Chicago
January 29, 2007

TECHNICALLY IT'Scalled the no-huddle. Dominic Rhodes, the Colts' heavy-duty running back, callsit the Quick. Ryan Lilja, the 290-pound left guard, calls it "our Lightningoffense." It wore out the Patriots in the AFC title game on Sunday. It keptthe New England defense on the field for 80 snaps--and the coup de grace wasadministered by the power running game. The Colts did the same thing to theRavens in the divisional round, finishing the game with 10 of 12 running plays.They dominated a defense that was supposed to be impregnable. "Everybodygets tired playing against it," Lilja says. "You see guys lying down,faking injuries to slow us down. You see people taking themselves out of thegame to catch their breath."

Buffalo brought alightning offense called the K-Gun into four consecutive Super Bowls butcouldn't win. Privately, a few Bills linemen admitted the up-tempo game wasalmost as tough on them as on their opponent. The Colts don't feel that way."We do it all summer," tackle Ryan Diem said after Indy's 38--34victory over the Patriots. "It's the way our offense works. Peyton Manningworks them over with the pass, we finish them off with the run."

Maybe BrianUrlacher (above) and the Chicago defense will be able to keep up. The Bearsstayed a step ahead of the Saints by forcing four turnovers, and they neededall of them because Rex Grossman was having another one of his low-completiondays. A little push by the New Orleans defense, a little killer instinct, andhe might have toppled, but as bold as the Saints were on offense all year,that's how laid back they were on defense on Sunday. "It might make senseto blitz Grossman, but we're not known as a blitzing team," says Coltsdefensive tackle Anthony McFarland, one of the newcomers who juiced up theunit. "We get a lot of heat from our front four, from our small, quickends, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Every now and then, when it's notexpected, we can send an extra rusher or two."

The Patriots'defense would have unsettled Grossman more than the Colts' unit will, but NewEngland's offense wouldn't have put as many points on the board as Indy will.The no-huddle will give the Bears trouble, if not right away then later in thegame. Grossman may put up some numbers, depending on Indy corner Nick Harper'shealth (he missed the last three quarters on Sunday with an ankle injury), andChicago will do a bit of damage on the ground. But I don't see the Bearsmatching the Colts' scoring machine. Indy will pass early, run late. COLTS 34,BEARS 24

PHOTOJOHN BIEVER

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)