You have to go back quite a few Roman numerals to find a Super Bowl between two teams with better records than the matching 16-2 marks of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.
In fact, only Super Bowl XIX, after the 1984 season, can top it. That year, San Francisco (17-1) defeated Miami (16-2).
So much is written about the Super Bowl in the days leading up to the game that the only unknown is the final result. Before jumping to any conclusion, check out some facts and figures.
The defending Super Bowl champions outscored their opponents in the playoffs, 61-13.
They outscored opponents in the regular season, 501-309.
Terrell Davis, the best running back in the National Football League, rushed for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns in the regular season.
Quarterback legend John Elway is most likely playing in his last game. In the regular season, he completed 210 of 356 passes for 22 touchdowns and threw 10 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 93.0.
Elway's prime targets were Rod Smith, 1,222 yards; Ed McCaffrey, 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns; and Shannon Sharpe, 768 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The offense was rated No. 3 in the NFL (No. 2 rushing and No. 7 passing).
The defense ranked No. 11 in the NFL (No. 3 against the rush and No. 26 against the pass).
The defense recorded 47 sacks in the regular season. The offense gave up 25 sacks.
The defense made 19 interceptions and recovered 11 opponent fumbles. The offense threw 14 interceptions and lost six fumbles.
Record against NFC teams was 3-1 (defeated Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia; lost to the Giants).
Record against the point spread was 9-6-1 in the regular season; 2-0 in the playoffs.
The NFC champions, playing in their first Super Bowl, outscored opponents in the regular season, 442-289.
They have won 11 games in a row and five straight on the road.
Jamal Anderson led all NFC runners with 1,846 yards. He also scored 14 touchdowns.
Quarterback Chris Chandler fought off injuries and completed 190 of 327 passes for 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 100.9.
Chandler's top targets were Tony Martin with 1,181 yards receiving and Terance Mathis with 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The offense was No. 7 in the NFL (No. 6 rushing and No. 11 passing).
The defense was No. 8 in the NFL (No. 2 against the run and No. 21 against the pass).
The defense recorded 38 sacks. The offense gave up 53 sacks.
The defense intercepted 19 passes and recovered 25 opponent fumbles. The offense threw 15 interceptions and lost nine fumbles.
The team total of forcing 44 turnovers, six for touchdowns, was best in the NFL.
Record against AFC teams was 3-1 (defeated Miami, New England and Indianapolis; lost to the Jets).
Record against point spread was 11-4-1 in the regular season, 1-1 in the playoffs.
The Falcons' comeback upset victory in Minnesota tells you a lot about the talent and determination of this team and the coaching of Dan Reeves. The Broncos swept away their playoff opponents but are a different team playing away from home.
Against common opponents, the Falcons were 3-1, the Broncos 2-2.
The Falcons 7 1/2 .
Falcons 34, Broncos 31.
NEWS STAFF SELECTIONS
Larry Vic Jerry Mark Milt
Felser Carucci Sullivan Gaughan Joffe
Atlanta ( 7 1/2 ) vs. Denver AtlantaAtlanta Denver Denver Atlanta
Last week 1-1 0-2 1-1 0-2 1-1
Year to date 130-104-12124-110-12117-117-12111-123-12113-121-12
Best Bet Record 10-8-1 11-8 9-9-1 13-4-2 12-7
All picks are made against the point spread.