01 February 2007

No son of mine is gonna play any foosball!

OK, gentle readers. We're not huge foosball fans here. So in order to satisfy the appetite of all you foosball fans, we have brought in Lion In Oil's new Football Expert, the Sheriff's deputy. He goes by many names. For now, we'll call him "The Animal" (apologies to Jayson Werth). Here is his Super Bowl preview -- yeah, that thing that Goran will be clicking over to on Sunday in between episodes of Twin Peaks and Six Feet Under.

Enough chit chat. I reveal!

Are you already getting tired of Super Bowl Week?

Are you totally not interested in either the Bears or Colts?

Are you sick of every blowhard sports talk show host banging into you every single possible angle of the Big Game throughout an otherwise dark period in the sports calendar?

Well, maybe it's just because you're not trying hard enough. No matter where you live, you can find someway to build yourself up for America's biggest TV event.

For example, in the home of Lion In Oil, Los Angeles, you can be like Bears nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. and attack computer engineers at the Westwood Village Denny's. This past spring, just days after getting an offer sheet with the Bears, Manning and a couple of his former UCLA teammates attacked an unassuming geek working on his computer while enjoying his Moons Over My Hammy. Manning came away with three years' probation, a year of anger-management counseling, and 100 hours of community service.

See kids – it's that easy!

But seriously, the one thing to remember about the Super Bowl is that no one really has any clue what's going to happen. (Well, other than the fact that you won't watch the halftime show, the commercials will be disappointing, and you'll gain five pounds from eating pizza and drinking beer for four hours.)

That's because no one can pinpoint how two teams of 53 players will react to two weeks off and a completely foreign environment. It's not unlike how college bowl games are a completely different bag than the regular season. The so called "experts" can tell you all they want, but you'll just have to watch and see for yourself, which is really the reason why people watch sports in the first place.

Anyway, here are three things about the game that you may not have thought of:

Devin Hester will have an impact in the outcome of the game: Anyone who saw the AFC Championship Game saw how horrendous the Colts kickoff return coverage was. It hasn't been much better the rest of the season either. Only Denver and Oakland were worse during the regular season. Hester, on the other hand, has been an electric returner for the Bears, so good that you can argue that Chicago could have been 10-6 (instead of 13-3) without him. He had an NFL record six returns for TDs, and it could have been more if Hester spent more time on kickoff returns instead of playing cornerback. If the Colts don't turn their special teams unit around, they will lose the crucial field position battle.

It will be which Manning who shows up that decides the game -- not which Grossman: Much has been said about the "Good Rex/Bad Rex" syndrome that has plagued the Bears this season, and it's all legit. The Bears quarterback has likely had the most inconsistent season in NFL history – he tied for the NFL lead in games with a QB Rating of over 100 while also “leading” in games with a rating of under 40. However, during the playoffs, it has been Peyton Manning who hasn't looked like himself with just two touchdowns and six interceptions. This is after having a career-low nine picks during the regular season. If Manning plays a great game, it will be almost impossible for the Colts to lose. But if Manning does not play well (he has the stigma, whether legit or not, of not winning big games), a perceived big advantage for the Colts could not be as big as people think.

If the Colts unexpected run defense surge continues, it will be a long day for the Bears offense: Everyone expected the Colts' defense to be their demise during the AFC playoffs after a horrendous regular season. But ever since limiting Kansas City workhorse Larry Johnson to 32 yards in the Wild Card round, the Colts defense has looked like it has thrown someone else's lineup onto the field instead of its own. You can credit star safety Bob Sanders for that. The Bears, conversely, have to be able to run the ball to be able to get the rest of their offense going.

Prediction: As I said before, you can't really take too much stock in any Super Bowl prediction. Both teams come in with momentum and excellent coaching, so one team shouldn't really be more prepared than the other. Although, the way that the media and experts have almost exclusively picked the Colts to win has been eerie. It reminds me of a certain BCS Title Game that happened a few weeks ago where everyone had pretty much given Ohio State the title. You all know what happened there.

Bears 28, Colts 24.