Friday, February 02, 2007

Not bearish on the Super Bowl

Considering that The Monk has been famously wrong in his recent predictions (see 2006 NCAA Tournament, 2006 baseball playoffs), The Monk's informed analysis may read well and seem logical, but has no value with regard to any bet you choose to place. In other words, it's a prediction whose only certainty is -- it will be wrong.

That said, The Monk thinks the Colts will win on Sunday. Here's why:

(1) The trend. This is both a strong and a weak reason. Trends do not win Super Bowls, teams do. Thus, the fact that the AFC has essentially reversed the NFC's former dominance by winning 7 of the last 9 after the NFC had won 13 straight means nothing. This is especially true because three of the seven AFC wins have been upsets (Denver I, New England I and Pittsburgh V). But the fact that the AFC has won recently, combined with its dominance of the NFC in interconference play, indicates the relative strength of the conferences. Last year the AFC's #6 beat the NFC's #1. This year it's the AFC's #3 against the NFC's #1.

(2) Battle-testing. The Bears play in a division notable for its weakness. Detroit is horrid, Minnesota was one of the worst teams in the league from week 3 onward, Green Bay barely cracked "decent". That's six of the Bears' contests. Four more came against the next weakest division in the NFC, the NFC West. And four more came against the AFC East, which is not bad but not the AFC West or North, either. Now consider the Bears' record: they needed a preposterous comeback and monumental opponent choke-job to beat Arizona, they were drilled at home by the Dolphins, outclassed in Foxboro by New England, and barely beat stinkbomb squads from Tampa and Detroit in December.

Contrast the Bears with Indy -- in its run through the playoffs it drilled KC and Baltimore whilst its Hall of Fame QB had a TD/INT ratio of 1/5. It beat New England twice, Philly and lit Denver for 34 when the Broncs had given up only about 2-3 TDs in six games for the whole season.

(3) Game management. The Bears are not that good at this (see: Seattle playoff game). The Colts are the best. Ask the Patriots how important this is.

(4) Distraction. Ron Rivera is in the Cowboys' cross-hairs as a potential defensive coordinator or head coach. He's going to interview after the Super Bowl. Distracted coaches do not gameplan as well as their non-distracted counterparts (See: Pats-Packers when Parcells would quit thereafter).

The biggest advantage the Bears have is a power defense against a generally finesse offensive line. But that Colts O-Line is one of the best in the game.

Colts to beat the spread.

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