One thing I've noticed that strikes me as strange: during Super Bowl week, something you will hear from just about everyone is a prediction for The Big Game. It’s crazy to me, really. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Inside the NFL guy who watches every game of the year or the morning show host who picks the winner based on the colors of the team, when Super Bowl week comes around, everyone has their prediction.
Well, this year has one of the closest Super Bowls ever - even Football Outsiders has the game as a 50/50 split. When the people with the most expertise shrug their shoulders, what's the point of predicting the winner?
For the first time in many years, I have no rooting interest in who wins the Super Bowl this year. See, as a Bears fan, my Super Bowl dreams were crushed in the NFC Championship game, when the Bears strung along but ultimately feel to the Packers. My #2 team, the Patriots, are rivals of the Steelers and I don't think I've ever actively rooting against any two teams more than these two. I have a feeling, amongst Bears fans, I am not alone in my apathy.
So going into The Big Game, which team should Bears fans root for?
The Bears fans should root for the Packers because...
… you could play the “the team who beat my team won it all so that justifies my team being really good” argument.
… the “you root for the team from your conference” argument, which I half-heartedly will follow most of the time. It's a weird thing to have an allegiance to the National Football Conference in the same way there is an an allegiance to the National League in baseball.
… Aaron Rodgers is just playing so goshdarn good, that you have to root for the guy with the hot hand. It's like seeing someone go on a hot streak in blackjack, when someone is on fire, it is hard to root against them.
… you really just don’t want the Steelers to win. For whatever reason - the fact they’re in it every year, the “Big Ben is actually a great quarterback he just doesn’t have good stats” argument, their dirty defense, or any other reason. Maybe you just don’t like their colors.
The Bears fans should root for the Steelers because...
… of their tradition. I do admit, they have one of the best organizations in football. They draft well, they sign good free agents, they let people go at the right times. They’re one of the best. If they win this weekend, they'll get their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
… they’re not the Packers. Rivals are rivals, and I (along with plenty of other Bears fans) might be petty enough to just not root for the team from Green Bay.
… they play “old school” football. Football Outsiders squashed the myth that the Steelers are a run-first team in the past few seasons, but they’re probably the closest philosophy-wise to the “three yards and a cloud of dust” style of play from way-back-when. If you like that old-school style of football, you’re rooting for the Steelers.
… Troy Polamalu is so exciting to watch on the football field. In a league where it seems every player has a specific role on each play -- a route, a defensive assignment, a zone -- and this guy is basically given carte blanche to do whatever he wants.
I’m conflicted about who I’m rooting for. If this were baseball, it’d be like a St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees World Series, where my team’s biggest rival (Cardinals/Packers) is going against the team I don’t root for under any circumstance (Yankees/Steelers).
Without a clear-cut reason to root for one team over another, I’ll manufacture one by bringing this baby full circle: with a prediction. (I can’t be the only one left out, right?) I figure, if I make a prediction on the record, I’ll have a reason to root for one team over another. So, here we go:
Packers 31, Steelers 21