Looking ahead to 2007 for the Bears and Colts
Posted: Monday February 5, 2007 12:12AM; Updated: Monday February 5, 2007 3:43PM
MIAMI -- Peyton Manning finally has his ring. So does Tony Dungy and the rest of the Colts, the NFL's winningest team since 1999. But with Super Bowl XLI in the books, the next logical question is whether Indianapolis can build on its big-game breakthrough and add to its trophy case next season?
And will the runner-up Bears find that Super Bowl loser syndrome too difficult to overcome in 2007? The long NFL season is over, and the offseason has begun. Here's a snapshot look at how the two Super Bowl teams stand as they head into the personnel acquisition portion of the NFL's calendar:
And now the bad news: Indy won't be keeping all the players it prefers to. In no particular order of importance, the key Colts who are scheduled for free agency include both starting cornerbacks (Nick Harper and Jason David), both starting guards (Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott), both starting outside linebackers (Cato June and Rob Morris) and running back Dominic Rhodes.
Also, Colts quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell is considered a head-coach-in-waiting by many around the league and is thought likely to interview for the Cowboys coaching job in the coming days.
Indianapolis draws the NFC South in interconference play, and that includes tough road trips to Atlanta (Peyton Manning vs. Michael Vick) and Carolina, which figures to rebound from 2006's mediocrity. Oh, and one more game stands out: The Colts get the Patriots back in the RCA Dome for a rematch of this season's AFC title game.
Don Banks covers pro football for SI.com.