Can’t predict Jekyll or Hyde

Doug Gulasy

I despise making predictions.

When I was in high school, I had a sports column. From time to time, I would make predictions, and the predictions would almost always be wrong. Because I, like any other American male, hated being wrong, I decided I would never again print a prediction of any kind.

Yet here I am, making a prediction about the Super Bowl, a game that is always hard to predict, especially this year.

My prediction for last year was easy: I was pulling for my hometown Steelers all the way, so I predicted they would win.

Yes, I’m a Steelers fan, and I suppose many of you think that makes me evil or something, but my prediction for last year’s Super Bowl was right anyway.

Of course, I also predicted when they were 7-5 that they would miss the playoffs, but that’s another story altogether.

Anyway, this year’s game is probably the most impossible Super Bowl to forecast in recent years because of the Jekyll-and-Hyde complex both teams seem to share.

Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman most represents this Jekyll-and-Hyde complex. Sometimes, he’s magnificent. Other times, he’s mediocre. At times, he’s just plain awful. It’s impossible to predict which Grossman will show up to the Super Bowl, which makes it hard to predict the game.

Of course, who knows which Peyton Manning will show up either? The Indianapolis Colts quarterback has had a great statistical career, but he’s been shaky this postseason and has a habit of choking in the big games.

You can see thus far why I dread making a prediction for this game, but it gets harder still.

The run defense of the Colts has been outstanding this postseason, but during the regular season, the Colts were the worst in the league at stopping the run. Which Colts’ defense will take the field Sunday in Miami?

The Bears’ defense, though more consistent than the Colts’, was shaky near the end of the season and in the Bears’ divisional playoff game against the Seahawks.

So how exactly can I make a prediction when I have no clue how well Manning and Grossman will play, no clue how well the Colts’ defense will stop the run and no clue how well the Bears’ defense will stop the Colts’ offense?

I’m just a college student; I’m not a psychic.

Still, I’ll do my best. Last year in the playoffs, the Steelers provided a great blueprint for beating the Colts and Manning. They got pressure on Manning and frustrated him, and they moved the ball down the field with playaction passes, making sure the Colts couldn’t stack up against the run.

So the question is whether the Bears can do the same thing the Steelers did. They should be able to get pressure on Manning, as they ranked eighth in the NFL with 40 sacks this year. But whether they are able to move the ball depends again on which Grossman comes to play Sunday.

To beat the Bears, the Colts must do a couple of things. Their running game, led by rookie Joseph Addai and veteran Dominic Rhodes, must take pressure off of Manning by gaining yards early and often.

And the Colts’ defense must stop the run and put the pressure to win on Grossman’s shoulders. If they can do that, and if Awful Rex shows up Sunday, Grossman may set a Super Bowl record for turnovers all by himself.

Of course, that still doesn’t help with my prediction, which is still hard to make. These teams aren’t exactly the Browns; the Colts and Bears are good, even with their flaws.

I suppose I can’t put it off any longer. I think the Bears, who are the underdogs in this game and don’t seem to be getting much national respect, will stop the run and frustrate Manning with pressure. I think Rex will make a play or two early, and then the Bears’ running tandem of Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones will take over.

Prediction: Bears 27, Colts 17. Happy?

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].