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Inside The Matchup: Super Bowl XLI

One of the best tools that FF Today provides is the fantasy football points vs. feature and, more specifically, the remaining Strength of Schedule. Using this feature, it is my hope to augment these features and refine them even further. Over time, it should be proven in this column that different styles of players score differently against different opponents. For example, perhaps a possession receiver makes for a better play against a certain defense as opposed to a burner despite the fact that the defensive back guarding him is considered slow. Given the high number of committee running backs and teams without a clear-cut #1 receiver in the NFL, I feel this analysis will help owners with roster decisions the rest of this season.

QBs: (1 pt per 25 yds passing; 6 pts for all TDs, -2 pts/INT)
RBs: (1 pt per 10 yards rushing/receiving; 6 pts for all TDs)
WRs/TEs: (1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, 6 points per TD)

Bears vs Colts

Rex Grossman/Bernard Berrian/Muhsin Muhammad/Desmond Clark
Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson (vs. IND)

Similar passing attacks that have faced the Colts this season: Dolphins
Similar RBs that have faced the Colts this season: Julius Jones/Marion Barber
FF Points Allowed vs. similar QBs: 13.3
FF Points Allowed vs. similar WRs: 11.4
FF Points Allowed vs. similar TEs: 14.6
FF Points Allowed vs. similar RBs: 14.4
FF Points Allowed vs. QBs/WRs/TEs in the playoffs: 6.3/9.2/7
FF Points Allowed vs. RBs in the playoffs: 12.9

Passing Game Facts: Grossman has thrown for exactly one TD in each of his first three playoff starts. On the down side, he’s had five games of 3 or more INTs this season. Either Berrian or Muhammad has been the team’s leading fantasy WR in 16 of the team’s 18 games this season. Since Week 7, at least one Bears WR has scored 8.5 fantasy points in a game in all but one contest. Following Clark’s 2 TD, 125-yard performance in Week 15, he has totaled 79 yards and no scores in the four games since. After allowing 247 yards in the season opener, the Colts defense has not allowed more than 232 yards passing in any game since. The Colts have not allowed an opposing WR to top 10 fantasy points since Javon Walker in Week 8.

Running Game Facts: Benson has seen 10 or more carries in eight of his last nine games, including a career-high 24 in the NFC Championship. Over the last six games, Jones has touched the ball 111 times while Benson has touched it 110 times. Fifteen of the 19 TDs that Bears’ RBs have scored this season have been scored in six games. The Colts have allowed 10 individual 100-yard rushers in 2006 and 154 yds/game rushing to opposing RBs in the regular season. Surprisingly, they have allowed only 202 rushing yards (67 yds/game) to the RB position in the playoffs so far (3 games).

Analysis: Before America decides that Grossman is the worst starting QB to ever take a snap in a Super Bowl, let him play the game first. Grossman has averaged 213 yards and a TD (while throwing just one INT) in his two playoff starts this postseason. If he posts similar numbers in this one, the Bears stand a pretty fair chance at winning this game. The biggest factors in this game (as in most games) will be each team’s turnover ratio and field position. I don’t expect this game to get out of hand at any time, so I expect Grossman to stick to his playoff theme of “managing the game”. I don’t expect much more than 220 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in this game. This means another heavy dose of Jones and Benson and I expect a similar plan of attack to the Saints game. Benson should get most of his 15+ carries early on while Jones should get most of his 20+ touches in the last 2 ½ quarters of the game. Benson should go for 55 yards while Jones should push 80 total yards to go along with the Bears’ lone rushing score. Berrian figures to be the Bears’ main target in the passing game and is the best bet to catch Grossman’s scoring pass in this game. Mark him down for 70 yards while Muhammad finds his way to 55 yards. This (plus the Colts’ Cover 2 defense) should mean Desmond Clark is in line for a fair game, but don’t count on that either. Given his lackluster numbers of late, it would be hard to expect any more than 50 yards from him.

Peyton Manning/Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne/Dallas Clark
Joseph Addai/Dominic Rhodes (vs. CHI)

Similar passing attacks that have faced the Bears this season: Saints
Similar RBs that have faced the Bears this season: Corey Dillon/Laurence Maroney
FF Points Allowed vs. similar QBs: 23
FF Points Allowed vs. similar WRs: 16.9
FF Points Allowed vs. similar TEs: 0.6
FF Points Allowed vs. similar RBs: 27.6
FF Points Allowed vs. QBs/WRs/TEs in the playoffs: 17.8/19.7/2.2
FF Points Allowed vs. RBs in the playoffs: 26.4

Passing Game Facts: In 9 of Manning’s 12 playoff starts, he has thrown for 1 or less TDs. Manning’s 6 INTs in this year’s playoffs are 2/3rds as many picks as he threw during the regular season. He has, however, thrown for 268+ yards in six of his last eight games. After an 11-game streak to close out the regular season in which at least one Colts WR scored more than 10 fantasy points in every game, the Colts have not had a WR score ten fantasy points in any of their three playoff games. Harrison has been held under 50 yards in three consecutive games for the first time since Week 10-12 of the 2000 season. Additionally, he has not topped 52 yards receiving in his last seven playoff games or scored in his last eight postseason contests. Wayne has been the Colts’ best fantasy WR in each playoff game this season. Wayne has scored three postseason TDs since Harrison scored his last one. Colts TEs have scored six times this season, but none have come in the last eight games. Clark has piled up 84 or more yards receiving in four of his six career postseason games. Last week was the second consecutive game in which Chicago did not allow at least one WR to score 11.8 fantasy points. (Previously they had allowed at least one WR to hit that mark in four straight games to close out the regular season.) It was also the second consecutive game in which they did not allow an opposing WR to exceed 100 yards. (They had allowed an opposing WR to hit that mark in each of the last three regular season games.) The Bears allowed 3 TE scores this year, two of which have been scored in the last five games.

Running Game Facts: Only three times since their bye week have the Colts had one rusher carry the ball at least 20 times-all by Addai. Addai has scored twice in the playoffs. He ended the regular season being held scoreless in each of his last five games. Addai has 57 carries in the 2006 postseason; Rhodes has 41. Since their bye week, the Bears have allowed nine of their twelve opponents’ RBs to score 11+ fantasy points after allowing only one double-digit performance to an opposing RB prior to Week 7.

Analysis: Depending on who you talk to, Manning is either going to show the Bears how a good QB plays the position or he will continue his playoff “struggles” by throwing nearly as many picks as touchdowns. Both assessments are ridiculous, to be quite honest. (But that is a conversation for another time…) Manning will likely continue to throw as often as he needs to win games (and he seems to do a good job of that). Pencil Manning in for at least 270 yards and 2 scores. I fully expect Addai to get 20 touches (and Rhodes 12-14) in this game. As a result, Addai is a solid bet for a score and 95 total yards while Rhodes will figure for roughly 50 yards of total offense. While I would really like to see Harrison get off his playoff “schnide”, don’t expect the Bears to allow him to operate against single coverage very often. As a result, Wayne and Clark will be instrumental parts in how effective the Colts offense is against the Bears defense. Harrison should top 50 yards for the first time in four games but don’t look for much more than that. Wayne should be a solid bet for 75+ yards and a score while Clark figures to get the most looks. I’ll mark him down as a good bet for 80 yards and a score.