COLTS vs. BEARS

Super Bowl

February 04, 2007|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,Sun Reporter

TONIGHT, 6:25 // DOLPHIN STADIUM, MIAMI // CHS. 13, 9 // 1090 AM // LINE: COLTS BY 7

COLTS RUN OFFENSE VS. BEARS RUN DEFENSE

EDGE // COLTS

After averaging a workable 107.6 rushing yards during the regular season, theColts' running back duo of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes increased their production to 136.7 in the playoffs. Indianapolis out-gained Kansas City, the Ravens and New England on the ground in the postseason. The Bears ranked No. 6 against the run, but they allowed five 100-yard rushers (including Seattle?s Shaun Alexander in the playoffs). Matchup to watch: Colts LGRyan Lilja vs. Bears DT Ian Scott. Lilja is an inconsistent blocker who became a starter inWeek 11. Normally a backup, Scott can push the blocking pile, but he?s not close to level of injured starter Tommie Harris.

X-factor: Rhodes. Primarily a third-down back in the first half, he has been important in grinding out yards in the second half against the Ravens and Patriots.

Stat to remember: 3.7. Average yards allowed per carry by the Bears since losing Harris inWeek 14.

COLTS PASS OFFENSE VS. BEARS PASS DEFENSE

EDGE // COLTS

TheColts will split out TEs Dallas Clark and Ben Utecht in the slot to force Chicago's safeties to choose where to help. Indianapolis should exploit the Bears? deep zone coveragebecause it has so many weapons who can run after the catch (especiallyWRReggie Wayne).

Matchup to watch: QB Peyton Manning vs. LB Brian Urlacher. Manning will do everything he can to keep Urlacher guessing. Look for Manning to set Urlacher up with play-action fakes and go over the top of him in the middle of the field.

X-factor: Clark.With defenses keying onWayne andWRMarvin Harrison, Clark has become the Colts' leading receiver in the playoffs. Finding openings down the seam, he has 17 catches in three playoff games, averaging 93.6 yards receiving.

Stat to remember: 10. Total catches by Harrison in an unusually quiet postseason.

BEARS RUN OFFENSE VS. COLTS RUN DEFENSE

EDGE // EVEN

As they have done all season, the Bears want to control the tempo of the game with their running attack. Chicago has run the ball 30 or more times in 11 regular-season games, including a total of 80 rushing attempts in two playoff wins. The turnaround of the Colts' run defense has been the biggest surprise of the postseason. After giving up an NFLworst 173 rushing yards per game through the regular season, they have held teams to 73 per game in the playoffs.

Matchup to watch: Bears Gs Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza vs. Colts DTs Anthony McFarland and Raheem Brock. Brown and Garza can get tremendous push off the line, but McFarland and Brock have controlled the line of scrimmage in the postseason.

X-factor: Colts SS Bob Sanders. The difference in the Colts' transformation on defense has been Sanders, who missed 12 games in the regular season after knee surgery. At 5 feet 8, Sanders shows no fear in dropping down in the box and stopping running backs.

Stat to remember: 196. Chicago's season-best rushing yards came against New Orleans in the NFCchampionship game.

BEARS PASS OFFENSE VS. COLTS PASS DEFENSE

EDGE // EVEN

The Bears had 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and improved from 31st in passing in 2005 to 14th in 2006. ChicagoQBRexGrossman seems more comfortable throwing deep asses than short ones. The Colts' mediocre secondary has yet to be tested in the playoffs, and it?s uncertain whether the erratic Grossman will be able to do so.

Matchup to watch: Bears LT John Tait vs.Colts DE Dwight Freeney. Tait has had one of his best seasons, giving up just four sacks. Freeney is one of the most feared speed rushers. ]X-factor: Grossman. He recorded a quarterback rating of 73 or higher in 12 of 18 games this season ? and the Bears won all 12, including both playoff games. Chicago was 8-0 in the regular season when Grossman was not intercepted.

Stat to remember: 19. Average yards per catch in the playoffs forWRBernard Berrian, the biggest deep threat on the Bears'

SPECIAL TEAMS

EDGE // BEARS

]The Bears could create a spark with their special teams play. Chicago ranks in the top 10 on both return teams and is fifth in kickoff coverage.

Matchup to watch: Bears return man Devin Hester vs. Colts coverage teams: Hester set an NFL record with six kick returns for touchdowns, including a 108-yarder on a missed field-goal attempt to tie the longest play in NFL history. TheColts? coverage teams rank in the bottom three in the NFL. X-factor: Colts K Adam Vinatieri. He holds the career mark for postseason field goals with 37, including two to win Super Bowls for New England. Stat to remember: 0. Number of punts returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

COACHING

EDGE // EVEN

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