1. Lovie Smith's contract
He's coaching for more than the ring, and his incentive is something Tony Dungy can't match. Imagine being the lowest-paid person in your profession and having the chance to win the holy grail in that profession before you sit down to discuss your worth with your company. Only 21 people in the history of the NFL have been the head coach of a Super Bowl-winning team. Coaching a Super Bowl winner makes you immortal. Priceless. How much would Lovie Smith having "Super Bowl XLI winning coach" on his résumé be worth to the Bears? Especially with the deep pockets Jerry Jones has in Texas.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
Love Smith should be shown the money, especially if he delivers Chicago another Super Bowl win.
Although the Bears' running game will be the great story line come next Monday (the Colts had the worst run defense in the NFL during the regular season), it will be the way the Bears adjust to the Cover 2 that will make Peyton Manning play more like Fran Tarkenton than John Elway. As we witnessed after Reggie Bush pissed them off in the NFC Championship Game, the best defense in the NFL is awake now. No longer in the six-week, middle-of-the-season hibernation it took during the regular season, the Bears' D is back like Serena Williams -- taking people out, taking names, taking nothing for granted. They know that in order to get back in the 1985 Bears discussion, they must hold Indianapolis under 10 points (the total those Bears held the Patriots to in Super Bowl XX), and they must play better than the Ravens' '01 defense and the Bucs' '03 defense. The Colts' defense is out to win a game, the Bears' defense is out to make history.
3. Sports Illustrated covers
The three covers that have blessed the "sports bible" during the NFL playoffs have featured Jeff Garcia (lost the following game), Drew Brees (lost the following game) and Peyton Manning (pending). Coincidence, or conspiracy? Based on that short but accurate jinx theory, the Colts are screwed.
4. Marvin Harrison is no Jerry Rice
His performances in big games -- playoff games -- have been generally worse than Manning's. He is without question the best receiver alive right now, but Marvin Harrison has yet to prove that he is a difference maker, the next Jerry Rice, when it's gut-check time. Until they hand him the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, there's no way to look at him as the man.
5. The Bears' three-named superfan can whup the Colts' three-named superfan's ass
Michael Clarke Duncan vs. John Cougar Mellencamp? No contest.
6. Nicknames, uniforms and ESPN experts
"The Monsters," that's what they're known as around the city. Now "Monsters of the Midway" has been replaced with "Monsters in Miami." The Colts don't have anything close to a Monster. Last I heard they were rolling with "We're More Than A Basketball Town" as an alias. Clothing-wise, if the Bears play in their "fire" orange unis, just hand 'em the trophy before kickoff. If they play in the white unis -- the same ones they wore when they won Super Bowl XX -- hand 'em the trophy after Prince performs. And if they play in the Bears' blue -- a darker, deeper, richer, more intense blue than the Colts' "smurf" blue -- the game might be close going into the fourth quarter, but still, hand 'em the trophy. And finally, last week every ESPN.com expert picked the Saints to be in the Super Bowl. These Bears feed off #$%& like that. The more the people at ESPN doubt them, the better they play. They are a team built to prove all haters wrong. Even when the haters are right. Right now the Bears are seven-point underdogs -- let's see what the experts have to say this week. If they "play dumb" again, the Bears are almost assured a victory.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Lance Briggs is ready to make a name for himself on the sport's biggest stage.
While everyone will be concentrating on the historic coaching matchup and the battle between Peyton Manning and Brian Urlacher, the game will ultimately be decided by who plays the best among these four players. The most overlooked All-Pro linebacker in the NFL (Briggs) will outplay Freeney -- not because he's a better player, but because he'll use the Super Bowl to get out of Urlacher's shadow the same way Richard Dent used the '85 Super Bowl to get out of Mike Singletary's shadow. And although Adam V. is the most clutch field-goal kicker of his generation, Gould has been platinum all year. Plus, at some point and time the law of averages has to catch up with Vinatieri. At some point he has to lose a Super Bowl with his foot.
8. One city, one less Mayflower truck
The Bears have been in Chicago since 1921. The Colts entered the league 25 years later, in 1946. The Bears have never moved. The Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984 -- got the video of the Mayflower trucks making a midnight run like De Niro to prove it. That makes the Bears' foundation stronger, firmer, with a more die-hard fan base. I'm not saying that Indianapolis fans aren't legit. But the Colts are a displaced football team, and if they win it, they have to share the championship with Baltimore. The Bears have to share it with no one. They only know one home.
9. "Rex Grossman is a leader, not a quarterback"
Nothing Tony Dungy can say about Peyton Manning will mean as much as those words Lovie Smith said about Rex. All season long he's been able to look at Rex differently than everyone else, believe in him in a way no one else can. Manning's talent, skill and knowledge of the game make us all believe in him, make us believe he might be the best QB ever. But Lovie's love for (and belief in) Rex goes deeper. Deeper than X's and O's. While all the fake, pseudo, can't-stomach-the-drama Bears fans questioned Lovie's loyalty, Lovie knew that in order to make Rex believe he could compete with the likes of a Manning in this game, he -- in his mind -- had to be more than a quarterback. How strong are the words above? They made these words come out of Rex's mouth: "When it's all said and done, I will have multiple Super Bowl rings."
"The student always beats the teacher. He knows everything the teacher taught him, plus what he's learned on his own. Lovie [Smith] is the best student [Tony] Dungy's ever had, and just like [Bill] Belichick has more rings than [Bill] Parcells, Lovie is going to have more rings than Tony and it's going to start with this one." -- Erwin McEwen, director, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
"People think that it's about them having to stop Indy, but the Colts have to worry about stopping the Bears. The Bears ain't the Ravens. Yes, they are led by their defense, but they can put some points on the board. And Indy cannot stop the Bears' offense." -- Andre Curry, coach/defensive coordinator, Chicago Hubbard High School
"Sheer force of will! Sheer force of will. It's something that sports analysts and all of you ESPN columnists overlook. We don't look imposing, we don't scare anyone, but our will won't be matched. 'Will' is the greatest intangible in sports; with a strong will you can make anyone do what you want them to do. We have a stronger will than the Colts. Our sheer force of will is the reason the Bears will win. I'll say it one more time, sheer force of will!" -- Malik Yusef, Grammy-winning poet/wordsmith, the "god" of all Chicago MCs (including Kanye, Common and Lupe)
"When it comes down to the Super Bowls, defense is what wins it. An offense can only do so much; when it comes to winning a championship you gotta have defense. And the Bears are the best [of these two teams] at that. Plus, it's our time. I love Peyton, that's my Gatorade buddy, nothing against him. But this is destiny. It's destiny for the Bears to win. I just think it's our time." -- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat guard, NBA Finals MVP
...my boys -- the four biggest Bears fans in the world -- said so.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He'll also be the host of ESPN Original Entertainment's "NBA Live: Bring It Home" which debuts on Feb. 11. Sound off to Scoop and Page 2 here.