You've got to hate this two-week break between the
conference championship games and the
. There's just too much time on everybody's hands in dealing with the biggest football game of the year. One week is enough to say everything. Two weeks are enough to say everything twice and fill your head with enough useless minutiae to impair you at work.
After 14 days of reading as much as I can in newspapers and on Internet sites, I have it all down and more. I not only know all the important story lines to this 6:25 p.m. meeting between the
, but also the small things we all should be equipped with to watch it. There's where the players like to eat in Miami, how many children some of them have -- in and out of wedlock -- and their wives opinions on fashion.
With the big game being played today, I knew I wanted to serve up something on the Super Bowl, but I didn't want to be part of the problem, the heinous overhyping of one game that could probably never fulfill such expectations. But I wanted to serve, you, the readers.
So, here's what I've got: I tried to boil down the major reasons for why I thought each team would win into two simplified lists. Then, from these, I've made my pick on the game. If nothing else, this provides you with a handy synopsis for your Super Bowl party, giving you some nice tidbits to throw out and impress.
Reasons Denver Should Win
(in no particular order)
1. The Elway factor. Denver quarterback
is s sure bet to eventually be inducted into the
Hall of Fame
. There's a very good chance that today's game will be his last in the NFL. Today, his teammates have a shot to send Elway out the winner he is.
2. The subplot. Denver coach
vs. Atlanta coach
. They used to coach together in Denver with Shanahan assisting head coach Reeves. But Reeves decided that Shanahan was interfering with how well he was relating with Elway. So Reeves fired Shanahan. Ill will remains. (But stay tuned for the second subplot below.)
3. With 2,008 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns, Denver running back
is the best player on either team.
4. Broncos placekicker
didn't get nearly enough publicity for his record-tying 63-yard field goal earlier this season. He is very consistent and deserving of the spotlight if this is a close game.
5. Broncos nose tackle
will be appearing in a record sixth Super Bowl, and he lost the first four. So he's due.
6. The Experience factor. The Broncos have been to the Super Bowl before. They know what they're doing. They will not be awed by all the hoopla.
7. The Broncos have covered in six straight playoff games dating back to last season.
8. The Falcons are 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games on grass.
Pro Player Stadium
has grass turf.
9. The Broncos succeeded last season against the then-defending champions and a heavy favorite, the
Green Bay Packers
. They haven't got nearly as much pressure on them this time.
10. Elway has always been a "big game" player. In postseason games, he has brought his team from behind to win in the fourth quarter six times.
11. The Broncos have the better corps of receivers with
12. It's hard to keep up a streak like Falcons quarterback
. He has played for six NFL teams and has a history of injuries. I'm not saying he will get injured, but he's never been through anything like the Super Bowl.
13. Teams making their first appearance in the Super Bowl, like Atlanta, are 4-16.
14. How often does the squad with the "Team of Destiny" moniker win? Last year, the underdog team won the game. Before that, you have to go back more than 15 years for a real upset in a game with a spread as big as a touchdown.
15. When the Super Bowl winner returns the next season, that team is 6-3.
16. In two playoff games, the Denver defense has allowed just 13 points, while Atlanta has surrendered 45.
17. Shanahan has the best postseason record among active coaches with a 6-1 mark.
18. Broncos lead the all-time series between the two teams, 6-3, with Atlanta's last victory coming in 1982.
19. Dan Reeves is 0-3 as a head coach in the Super Bowl.
20. Denver is 10-0 in the postseason when it rushes for more than 130 yards. Davis averages 145 per postseason game.
Reasons Atlanta Should Win
(also in no particular order)
1. The emotion factor. Reeves needed quadruple-bypass surgery during the season and is lucky to be alive -- never mind coaching -- today. He shows great courage in returning to the sideline, and that might give his players the lift that allows them to outperform a favored team.
2. The Falcons won the tougher game to get here by beating the
. Minnesota was thought to be the Super Bowl fave, so beating Denver couldn't be much harder.
3. The second subplot. After Reeves fired Shanahan, Elway made it clear that he did not like Reeves. This led to Reeves' firing a year later. Since Shanahan came back to coach Elway, the Denver star has had nothing but praise for him. Reeves can get revenge on both by aligning a defense that shuts Denver's passing game down.
4. Atlanta allows only 75 yards rushing per game, the second best in the NFL.
5. The Falcons have 49 takeaways in their 18 games. Ninety percent of the time, the team with the most takeaways wins the Super Bowl.
6. In its last 25 games, Atlanta has allowed only one rusher to surpass 100 yards.
So there they are: 20 reasons to go for Denver and 6 to go for Atlanta. And it gives me a great idea for my pick on the game -- Denver 20, Atlanta 6.
Roger Rubin has covered sports in the New York area for the past 10 years. He currently is a staff writer for the New York Daily News, covering high school and college sports.