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

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

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

Buffalo brought a lightning offense called the K-Gun into four consecutive Super Bowls but couldn't win. Privately, a few Bills linemen admitted the up-tempo game was almost 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--34 victory over the Patriots. "It's the way our offense works. Peyton Manning works them over with the pass, we finish them off with the run."

Maybe Brian Urlacher (above) and the Chicago defense will be able to keep up. The Bears stayed a step ahead of the Saints by forcing four turnovers, and they needed all of them because Rex Grossman was having another one of his low-completion days. A little push by the New Orleans defense, a little killer instinct, and he 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 sense to blitz Grossman, but we're not known as a blitzing team," says Colts defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, one of the newcomers who juiced up the unit. "We get a lot of heat from our front four, from our small, quick ends, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Every now and then, when it's not expected, we can send an extra rusher or two."

The Patriots' defense would have unsettled Grossman more than the Colts' unit will, but New England'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 the game. Grossman may put up some numbers, depending on Indy corner Nick Harper's health (he missed the last three quarters on Sunday with an ankle injury), and Chicago will do a bit of damage on the ground. But I don't see the Bears matching the Colts' scoring machine. Indy will pass early, run late. COLTS 34, BEARS 24

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