The game will be played indoors and in prime television time, both firsts, and will feature football teams ideally suited for viewing during the family hour. There are no bad guys in the 12th Super Bowl.
The Dallas Cowboys have attracted a large national following over the years. The coach, Tom Landry, puts football in third place behind family and God; the quaterback, Roger Staubach is the All-American hero and the team has been consistently successful, with 11 playoff appearances in the last 12 years, including four Super Bowl games and one world championship, in 1971.
The Broncos have come down from the Mile High City to sea level here, but their spirits are still soaring from a storybook season under their peppery first-year coach Red Miller, when they advanced to the playoffs for the first time in the 18 years of the franchise.
Landry has been calling the game a toss-up all week. Miller says his team has no intention of losing. The oddsmakers rate the Cowboys a five-point favorite to end the American Football Conference's streak of five straight Super Bowl champions. The kickoff is set for 6 p.m. EST and the game will be televised by WTOP-TV-9.
The Cowboys, plainly put, are talented to their spurs. They led the National Football League in offense, defense and quarterback sacks. Staubach won the NFL passing title, running back Tony Dorsett became only the eights rookie to gain more than 1,000 yards and wide receiver Drew Pearson averaged 18 yards for each of his 48 catches.
The Cowboy's Doomsday II defenses is considered the strongest unit in the team's history, and why not? Opponents were allowed only 229.5 yards per game, and in the playoffs two of the game's premier running backs - Walter Payton of chicago and Minnesota's Chuck Foreman, were shut down.
The Cowboys use a variety of formations on offense, with men in motion and the highly successful shotgun in obvious passing situation. Defensively, they operate out of Landry's special creation, "the flex" an arrangement designed to destroy the other team's runnings game by plugging all the holes.
The Broncos' statistical achievements are far more modest, even if they also finished the regular season with a 12-2 record and knocked Pittsburgh and the defending champion Oakland Raiders out of the playoffs on the road to New Orleans.
The Broncos finished 12th among 14 AFC teams in total offense and did not have only player among the leading runners or pass receivers in the conference.
Still, veteran quarterback Craig Morton, a former Cowboy starter who found new life in the Rockies, finished second in the AFC in passing, and threw only eight interceptions, the fewest of any conference quarterback.
Morton has been plagued in recent weeks by the Internal Revenue Service and by a bruised hip. But the Broncoss insist the extra week for Supper Bowl preparation has eased the pain the concern about Morton's facing a Dallas defensive line that will take dead aim at this less-than-mobile pocket quarterback The IRS is another story.
Morton, who owes $35,000 in back taxes, also operates out of a variety of offensive formations, and uses play-action passes frequently to burn opposing linebackers. He hands the ball off mostly to four interchangeable runnig backs. The best of the bunch is Otis Armstrong, a former 1,000-yard runner who seems to have fully recovered from early season injuries.
Denver's defense is called the Orange Crush, a unit that led the AFC against the rush but finished 12th against the pass. Still, Denver allowed only 11 touchdown passes all year, and, says Miller, "We bend a lot but we hardly ever break."
The Broncos' line up in the three-four defense, with three down line-men and four linebackers. The Broncos blitz often, and the linebackers are the heart of a unit that held opponents to 148 points, also a conference low. Denver gave up 17 points all year in the fourth quarter.
Both squads have excellent special teams and kickers. Cowboys placement man Efren Herrera made 18 of 29 field-goal attempts, seven of 12 from beyond 40 yards, though his kickoffs have not been as long as Cowboy coaches would like. Punter Danny White averaged 40 yards, and is a threat to run or throw out of punt formation.
The Broncos' Rick Upchurch is an elusive return man who averaged 13 yards per punt return to lead the AFC. Kicker Jim Turner has been around forever with that short punch stroke, but he was successful on 13 of 19 regular-season field-goal attempts. His range, however, is limited to 45 yards. Punter Bucky Dilts hangs his kicks high, and also is adept at coffincorner shots, as is White.