How can I sound informed about the Super Bowl teams?
January 24, 2007 8:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I sound informed about the Super Bowl teams?

Once again, I'm going to a Super Bowl party, but once again I've forgotten to watch almost every game this season.

I know what you're thinking: IvyMike, haven't you heard of,,, or any newspaper that has a sports page? Turns out the articles are almost always targeted at people who have paid attention to the season. As far as football is concerned, I've been on Mars.

Has anyone seen any article are along the lines of, "Here are the important events of the season, here's an introduction to the key players, and here's some trivia you can drop to sound smarter than you really are?" Thanks!
posted by IvyMike to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total)
this is easy.....

Pro-Bears: talk about about the Bears defense and if Manning is up to the challenge, and just mention Urlacher (sp?)

Pro-Colts: wonder aloud if Grossman is going to "Gross-out" and have a really bad game..... and that Manning "The Man" is hungry and is going to tear it up against the Bears defense.....

In general, mention early on that the entire game is going to come down to penalties and running yardage.......

oh, and to look like a hardcore fan-

Pro-Bears: Where's Brett Favre now?

Pro-Colts: Where's Tom Brady now?

and if all else fails, just talk smack about the announcers.......
posted by peewinkle at 8:40 PM on January 24, 2007

This brief analysis ought to give you enough to go on.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:42 PM on January 24, 2007

"Brian Urlacher. Now there's a guy that can make running backs disappear."
posted by youngergirl44 at 9:13 PM on January 24, 2007

Wikipedia is your friend.

In 1981, I had to teach my future wife to say things like "You've got to be happy for Jim Plunkett" before the Super Bowl. This year you could ask thoughtfully, "Do you think the court should have allowed Tank Johnson to travel to Miami?"
posted by lukemeister at 9:19 PM on January 24, 2007

I can't tell you how to sound informed, but as a non-football-follower, here's what I do when I end up watching a game with fans: I ask questions. No, not like I'm clueless. ("Who's winning the match?") But things like: who do you think is the best QB for this team? Are they missing any key players due to injury? You know, general stuff. Not at random, but within context of the game. This gets me more involved in the game, and it makes the fans feel good; everyone likes to have thier opinion asked. My 2 cents, with a 2 cent discount.
posted by The Deej at 9:22 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

This Slate article breaks it down nicely. You'll be seeing plenty of those, however. Major sports publications will have a Superbowl preview section, and the sports section of every major newspaper will be devoted to it as well. Naturally ESPN/Fox Sports and their ilk will be hosting Superbowl specials as well, so those are a good bet as well.
posted by apple scruff at 9:44 PM on January 24, 2007

-"That's just classic Manning/Harrison right there."
-"It's amazing that Brian Urlacher calls defense audibles."
-"Can you imagine how nasty the Colts would be if they had Jeremy Shockey at tight end?"

And last, but certainly not least:

"I have never forgiven the Chicago Bears for defeating the Pats in '86, and I hope laser-rocket-armed Peyton Manning wipes the field with the broken corpse of Rex Grossman on his way to an entirely deserved Super Bowl victory."

Really though, basic important events are:

Colts started 9-0 before hemorrhaging yards on the run and dropping 4 of 6 games (to the Cowboys, Titans, Jaguars, and Texans). QB Peyton Manning has played well, at times brilliantly. Injured safety Demond Sanders returned and played very well in the playoffs, and their defense has looked much better.

Bears have a great defense (although they have suffered some injuries). QB Rex Grossman has been spotty all season long and you're going to hear a lot about "which Rex Grossman shows up to play." Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is a frightening, towering behemoth and really does call defensive audibles in reaction to offensive audibles. This should be exciting because Manning runs a no-huddle offense.

The Wikipedia entries on both teams are very comprehensive and include game by game recaps. I'd start there.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:03 PM on January 24, 2007

Whenever you're in a situation where you think you should say something analytical about the Bears, say that "they were who we thought they were. If you want to crown them, then crown their ass!"

It's OK that you don't know why this is funny, just trust me that it is.
posted by Simon! at 10:59 PM on January 24, 2007

Injured safety Demond Sanders

Please don't say that, unless you want to be corrected. It was Bob Sanders that was injured. His return has coincided with a renewed run defense for the Colts, but is it causal or coincidence? You can put your opinion on that to sound informed.

Re: Rex Grossman (pronounced Grose'-mun) - He has looked very sharp in some games. He has looked terrible in other games. There were very few games where he was anywhere in between, and the games where he looked terrible have weighed heavily on the Bears fans' psyche. He throws a large number of balls to his TE Desmond Clark (no relation to Colts TE Dallas Clark). His #1 target, though, is Bernard Berrian. He has caught a number of deep passes due to his speed. If he gets behind the defense, he can score on 60+ yard TD's, like he did a number of times this season. The terrible games by Grossman probably outweighed the good games, but he they didn't need him to be great to win a number of their games because of ...

Re: The Bears Defense/Special Teams - They are fast, hit hard, and are very adept at creating turnovers. They scored a lot of defensive touchdowns, winning impossible games like the one against the Cardinals mentioned above (crown them) by stripping two fumbles for touchdowns, and running back a punt for a touchdown. Devin Hester is the Punt/Kick Returner, and he had a record 6 return touchdowns this year. One was on an NFL record tying 108 yard missed field goal return. (It tied Bears' CB Nathan Vasher's 108 yard missed field goal from 2005).

Re: Brian Urlacher - Inside linebacker Brian Urlacher (pronounced Ur'-lock-er) is the star. He is fast, sometimes dropping into coverage, and hits hard when he shadows the running back. He seems to almost single-handedly stop the opposing running game at times. He calls the shots on defense, and yes does audible at times. He will try to give one look on defense pre-snap, and change the defensive alignment after Peyton starts making his changes. It will be a fun cat and mouse game between the two.

Re: Peyton Manning - He is THE star of the NFL. He has been the best QB stats wise over the last 5 or more years, but this is his first shot at the big one. Can he handle the pressure. Some people claim he can't (or couldn't before) win the big one. Some of that load should be shouldered by the Colts' defense. Peyton to Marvin Harrison has been a golden connection over their careers. Reggie Wayne is a very good second receiver, who caught only 56 fewer yards than Harrison this year, so he's no slouch. Peyton relies heavily on his Tight Ends, as well, so if the Bears try to eliminate the outside threat, the tight ends should catch a number of balls. Peyton calls his own plays (he is probably the only QB in the NFL to do so), and comes to the line with both a run play and a pass play. He decides at the line which play to run based on the defensive lineup, and goes through a large series of hand motions and barking calls, sometimes as an audible to completely choose a new play. Oh, and be sure to mention Drew Brees (pronounced Breeze) had a better statistical season.

Re: Colts' Running Game: The Colts decided not to re-sign Edgerrin James this past offseason, and many thought he was a premier back in the league. Edgerrin had a poor season with the Arizona Cardinals, causing many to think that the reason he looked good was that defenses focused on stopping Manning, letting the running game flourish. This year, Edge's backup from years past, Dominic Rhodes, and a rookie, Joseph Addai from LSU, shared the load. Addai had a better season than Rhodes, getting over 1000 yards. His breakout game was 171 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Eagles Thanksgiving Weekend. There are times when the Colts completely forget the Running Game, and allow Peyton to do almost all the work.

Re: The Bears Running Game - Largely unheralded, but again, the defense caused so many turnovers, and scored so many points, they didn't always need to be good. Thomas Jones was the starter for most of the season, and got a majority of the carries. He is the speedier back, and does better outside the tackles. Cedric Benson, the bigger back, and better between the tackles, lost a lot of team trust last season as a rookie by holding out for a contract, and for times saying things that sounded more selfish than team oriented. Lovie Smith (the Bears head coach) also thinks Benson is not a great pass blocker, and that it tipped his hand to the defense when Benson was in the game, that it was not going to be a pass play. Both players are servicable, but neither are stars.

Re: The Coaches. The first black coach to coach in the Super Bowl is... both of these coaches. Tony Dungy was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was fired because they thought he couldn't win big games and was too conservative on offense. His defenses were usually very good there. They left the playoffs early and often while he was head coach. The season after he left, John Gruden won the Super Bowl as the Bucs' head coach. Lovie Smith coached under Dungy while at Tampa, and left there to be the Defensive Coordinator at the St. Louis Rams, before being hired as head coach of the Bears. This is his third season there, and their defense has been spectacular under his guidance.

RE: The Colts Defense - They were not well regarded for much of the season. Their run defense was very porous for the second half of the season. The first two games of the playoffs, they were spectacular, but many people think it was because they played against one-dimensional offenses (KC, and Baltimore). Against the Patriots they gave up tons of points and yards, which leads many to believe they are not too strong.

The story of the game, then? Will the Bears Defense be able to stop the Colts' passing game, and score enough points to win the game? Will they keep Peyton out of the endzone, and win a low scoring game by giving the offense good field position. If they can't do that, the Bears may get trounced. If they play solid, the Bears have the possibility to steamroll the Colts, especially with a few long Grossman to Bernard Berrian passes.

That was too long. Sorry. I double-checked a couple facts, but most of this is based on my shaky memory and opinions.
posted by stovenator at 12:35 AM on January 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

A few other minor things:

Cedric Benson started getting more carries late in the season, but Jones is (probably) still the starter.

Tony Dungy lost his 18 year old son to suicide last year. It was very tragic, and many people commented on how great he handled it, and his demeanor throughout the ordeal was superb.

The two coaches are friends.
posted by stovenator at 12:41 AM on January 25, 2007

Damn, one more. Lovie Smith is the lowest paid head coach in the NFL, and has only one more year left on his contract.
posted by stovenator at 12:43 AM on January 25, 2007

Per the announcers at last week's game, Bob Sander's given name is Demond.
posted by pasici at 4:07 AM on January 25, 2007

Two key matchups in the game will be the Bears' running game versus the Colts' running defense, and the Bears' special teams (kickoff and punt returns) versus the Colts' special teams.

The Bears have a pretty good running game and the Colts were pretty weak against the run during the regular season. One of the reasons the Colts are in the Super Bowl is that they've defended against the run much better in the playoffs than they did in the regular season. Also, the Colts' offensive line versus the Bears' defensive line is key. If Peyton Manning has time to make passes, it could be a long game for the Bears.

On kick returns, the Bears' Devin Hester is very good. A big reason they won the game against the Saints is that their kickoff and punt returns gave them a short field. The Colts' kick coverage is weak. They gave up an 80-yard kickoff return against the Patriots.

Rex Grossman looked both horrible and sharp against the Saints. (He was ranked the NFL's #1 or #2 quarterback in about half of his games this season, and ranked the worst in the other half of his games.) He completed 5 out of his first 25 passes, then went 4-for-4 on the big drive that put the Bears in command of the game.

There are times when the Colts completely forget the Running Game, and allow Peyton to do almost all the work.

That's true, but they ran the ball in some key situations against the Patriots.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:13 AM on January 25, 2007 did a short snarky/irreverent writeup of "mediapoints" for each team.

The Colts
The Bears
posted by inigo2 at 6:15 AM on January 25, 2007

Per the announcers at last week's game, Bob Sander's given name is Demond.

Aha, I missed that. However, you probably wouldn't want to call him Demond, unless doing so in order to prove your knowledge of his given name.
posted by stovenator at 6:29 AM on January 25, 2007

Yeah, looks like we discovered a new strategy.

"...Demond Sanders."
"You mean Bob Sanders?"
"No, I mean Demond. Didn't you know his given name is Demond?"

Make everyone else self conscious about what they know, and maybe they won't notice what you don't know?

The best defense is a good offense*.

*not true.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:01 AM on January 25, 2007

Lovie Smith has a twin brother named Haiti.

The thing to remember this year is that
The road to the Super Bowl goes through Miami and the team that puts the most points on the board will emerge victorious.
There's a quarterback controversy on this team.
They have to play ball-control offense.
They have to establish their running game.
They have to stop the big play.
They need to dominate the line of scrimmage.
They have to pound it out on the ground.
They need to air it out more.
They have to open up the passing lanes.
They have to take care of the football.
They should just go out and execute.
They have to make plays on both sides of the ball.
They should go out there and play smash-mouth football.
They're looking at third down and forever.
They're in four down territory.
It's decision time for the Bears/Colts.
They're in the hurry-up offense.
They're trying to milk the clock.
They're in no hurry at all.
The defense is showing blitz.
That keeps the drive alive.
It all depends on where they spot the ball.
They're marching down the field.
This is their deepest penetration.
They're knocking on the door.
They've got to punch it in here.
They've got to take it to the big house.
They'll have to settle for three.
posted by Floydd at 7:32 AM on January 25, 2007

Re: Brian Urlacher - Inside linebacker Brian Urlacher (pronounced Ur'-lock-er) is the star. < '/em>

NO! NO! NO! NO, dammit! If you want to go ahead sound ignorant to any Chicagoan listening nearby, go ahead and pronounce it Ur-lock-er like the idiot sports announcers.

It's pronounced line-back-er! Easy to remember!

posted by apeiam at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2007

Ouch! I butched that one...need more coffee.
posted by apeiam at 8:06 AM on January 25, 2007

stovenator did a great job above, but I'll add a few more thing: Both of the coaches, Dungy and Smith, are known as "nice guys" - pretty much the antithesis of the stereotypical yell-at-your-players-your-assistants-and-the-officials-all-the-time coach. Coaches who (surprise!) actually treat their players as the professionals they are. I've seen lots of articles picking up on that angle.

Adam Vinatieri, who had been the kicker for New England for many seasons, is with the Colts this season. Vinatieri already has three Super Bowl rings from his time with the Patriots, and kicked game-winning field goals in two of them. The Colts had opted not to re-sign their previous long-time kicker, Mike Vanderjagt - even though he is the most accurate kicker ever in the NFL by percentage of field goals made, he had missed some high-pressure, potentially game-winning field goals. Vinatieri is widely regarded as the best "clutch" kicker in the league. If you take into account the fact that most of Vinatieri's career has been with a team that plays its home games outdoors, where field goals can be harder due to wind, rain, or snow, it's possible he's a better kicker overall than Vanderjagt. Go Colts!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:09 AM on January 25, 2007

Oh, and as far as Dungy and Smith being the first two African-American head coaches in the Super Bowl? Yes. That's great. And by February 4, everyone will be very, very tired of hearing about it, if they're not already.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2007

I'm from Chicago, I say Urlacher exactly the way apeiam says I shouldn't. Don't try to get the accent right. Here's a hint, just tell people you haven't been watching very closely this year, and ask what's been going on. They will usually love to tell you what they know. Posing is hard to pull off.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:45 AM on January 25, 2007

Good breakdown of the teams so far. I'll try to lend a hand in providing some notes that will make you seem like you've been watching more than the highlights, plus maybe a few pop-sports-culture references for good measure.

Peyton Manning: Some folk don't take to him because he's seen and arrogant (not to mention all his commercials). In the huddle, he typically calls more than one play, reads the defense after going under center, and audibles the best play according to the defense he sees - when it works, he's a "genius," and of course, when it doesn't he's just an "asshole." He has also overridden plays called by Tony Dungy (like going for it on a 4th down, or not going for the field goal) - again, this doesn't always end well, so again, "asshole." Watch for him waving off calls from the sideline, and prepare to yell out "Asshole! Listen to the coach!" when he doesn't come through. Many have made snarky comparisons of Peyton to Dan Marino, since they have all the records and stats, but never won the big one. If Peyton's doing poorly, you can start predicting how he'll be getting in fights with Shannon Sharpe sometime soon (Sharpe has 2 Superbowl rings and sometimes offends his co-analysts Boomer Esaison and Dan Marino with taunts, since neither of them won a Superbowl). In some sportsfan circles, you may also hear mention of the "Manning Face," which is a face Peyton makes when something goes wrong. It kinda looks like he bit a brick soaked in lemon juice.

The Bears have not had a good QB since...maybe McMahon in the late 80's, and Grossman was supposed to be their answer - some rabid fans believe they have long endured a QB curse. He sat out the entire 2005 season after breaking his ankle in the preseason, further agonizing fans. This year he has had good games, but also has two games where his rating was an unheard of 1.3 (against Minnesota) and 0.0 (against Green Bay).

(Possibly) interesting factoids you can randomly state:
- Both of the QBs played for colleges in the SEC (Peyton for Tennessee, Grossman for Florida)
- Lovie Smith was Tony Dungy's assistant Linebacker coach at Tampa Bay. If Chicago starts winning, insert "The circle is now complete... When I left you I was but the learner..." Star Wars joke. Both coaches are primarily defensive coaches.
- Though not the biggest player on the O Line at 6'2", Olin Kreutz is the undisputed leader and head tough bastard in charge. After an argument, he broke the jaw of fellow 6'7" lineman Fred Miller, who later apologized to Olin. Olin was also notorious at the Univ. of Washington for starting fights with entire fraternity houses. The unofficial stats are Olin: 2, Frat House: 0.
- Colts' kicker Adam Vinatieri now has 13 playoff wins (one more than Tom Brady - ftw!) and could possibly get another Super Bowl Ring. If he gets his fourth, he can totally sport those badboys like a set of Diamond Knuckles and punch
everything he sees in the face. "I'm Adam V, bitch."
posted by krippledkonscious at 2:44 PM on January 25, 2007

To prove your more than just studing up on these 2 teams make a joke about how many Bengals players have been arrested this season (9).

posted by Mick at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2007

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