Even Joe Theismann has to admit, "The two best teams in football are here. It's not that hard to figure out."
Nor is it that difficult to figure out that the usual factors -- the big play, the key turnover, the controversial call by an official -- will go a long way toward determining the winner of Super Bowl XIX Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. So, too, will the following matchups, position by position.
Quarterbacks: Clearly, this is the glamor position of this Super Bowl, with Miami's record-breaking Dan Marino leading a big-play, quick-strike offense and San Francisco's Joe Montana directing a multi-dimensional offense just the way Coach Bill Walsh's fertile mind envisions it.
Marino set records for passing yardage (5,084) and touchdowns (48) in only his second year in the league. He is a pocket passer, with the quickest release in the NFL. He also gets superb protection from his offensive line.
On the down side, Marino, so confident in his arm and his receivers, often throws into coverage, but usually gets away with it.
Montana is described by Walsh as "the perfect quarterback for this system." He reads defenses superbly, can throw from the pocket or on the run, and constantly amazes teammates with daring feats in critical, game-on-the-line situations.
Montana's favorite receiver is Dwight Clark. They are best friends, and Clark says simply, "He runs the offense exactly the way it's supposed to be run. He knows exactly what's going on at all times. No one is better."
Montana also can throw deep, but does not have Marino's arm strength.
Receivers: Miami's 5-foot-9 deep threats, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton, combined for 144 catches and 26 touchdowns.
Duper has world-class speed; Clayton is the best leaper on the team, making him what Don Shula describes as "a little guy who becomes a big guy up in the air."
Neither is afraid to go over the middle, and each is extremely dangerous after catching the ball.
The Dolphins rotate three tight ends, all good blockers, mostly average receivers.
The 49ers do not throw deep very often. When they do, steady Freddie Solomon is usually the target. Clark caught 52 passes and is the consummate possession receiver.
Tight end Russ Francis realizes he no longer has to carry the offense, as he did in New England, and is content in his role as blocker and occasional receiver. Walsh has been reluctant to use Renaldo Nehemiah in big games, despite his speed.
Running backs: Contrary to popular opinion, the Dolphins have a more-than-adequate running game. Tony Nathan averaged 4.7 yards a carry and is a dangerous receiver, with 61 catches this season.
Fullback Woody Bennett is a potent blocker who occasionally makes a big play in a big game. And 250-pound Pete Johnson is the designated scorer, with nine touchdowns in 69 carries for the Dolphins, most in short-yardage situations.
For the 49ers, the big change since their 1982 Super Bowl team is in the running game. Fullback Roger Craig is not in the John Riggins mold, but then Riggins doesn't have Craig's speed. Also, Craig is a fine receiver, leading the team with 71 receptions.
Walsh installed the I offense to take advantage of tailback Wendell Tyler's slick skills, and he responded with 1,262 yards, a 5.1 average and seven touchdowns.
Tyler also has a reputation as a fumbler and, says Dolphins nose guard Bob Baumhower, "Yes, I think you could say we'll be going after the football."
Offensive line: The Dolphins take great pride in protecting Marino, allowing a league-low 14 sacks this season. "He's our meal ticket," said guard Ed Newman. "You have to think you'll give up your life to protect this guy."
The Dolphins have the best center in the game in Dwight Stephenson, and left tackle Jon Geisler is an all-pro.
Left guard Roy Foster is a first-year starter, as is right tackle Cleveland Green, both in the lineup because of injuries. They are adequate pass blockers, inconsistent run blockers.
The 49ers run frequently behind right tackle Keith Fahnhorst and right guard Randy Cross, both on the Pro Bowl team. Center Fred Quillan is described by Walsh as underrated.
The man who may have a long day is big Bubba Paris, who must contend with Kim Bokamper. Paris, at 305 pounds, is the largest man on the field and one of the loudest. Bokamper takes guff from no one. Stay tuned.
Also look for 270-pound guard Guy McIntyre to line up as a third tight end, or at wingback, to block for Tyler on short yardage or goal line situations.
Defensive line: The Dolphins use a three-man front of Baumhower on the nose, flanked by Bokamper and Doug Betters, the team's best defensive lineman and sacker (14). His matchup with Fahnhorst should be fascinating.
The Dolphins had only 42 quarterback sacks all season, but they have come on strong during the playoffs with help from blitzing linebackers. They will emphasize containment of Montana in the pocket, which is easier said than done.
The 49ers most likely will start with a four-man front, and will rotate nine players, including designated pass rushers Fred Dean (seven sacks in a half-season) and Dwaine Board (12 1/2).
The 49ers also will throw three nose tackles at Stephenson. Pressure will be the name of the 49ers' game, but the Dolphins know that every opponent says the key to stopping Marino is the pass rush. Bill Walsh said it again this week. Also easier said than done.
Linebackers: The Dolphins have been shuffling bodies around all season searching for the right combination. Bob Brudzinski and Charles Bowser man the outside, Mark Brown and rookie Jay Brophy the inside. Brophy and Brown are first-year starters; two active, physical players who more than occasionally get caught out of position, particularly defending the pass.
Shula might insert veteran A.J. Duhe into the game, and he can rush the passer or drop back into coverage. Duhe, slowed by injuries most of the year, always has been a big-play man, particularly in the playoffs.
The 49ers once again are led by veteran inside linebacker Jack Reynolds, a tough old bird who convinced Walsh that he had another good year left. He was right.
The 49ers also rotate linebackers, and the Dolphins should be most concerned about Keena Turner, the only one who plays in almost every situation.
Secondary: Miami safeties Glenn and Lyle Blackwood (the Bruise Brothers) are tough, savvy and heavy hitters. They also are slow and susceptible to long passes.
Cornerback Don McNeal has recovered from injuries that slowed him all season and is a good cover man, as is right corner William Judson. Miami plays about 80 percent zone.
The 49ers will go against the league's best statistical quarterback with the NFL's best secondary. All four of their starters also will start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl -- safeties Dwight Hicks and Carlton Williamson and cornerbacks Ronnie Lott and Eric Wright.
Wright is the fastest of the four, Lott clearly the most physical, a head hunter who has talked this week of intimidating Duper and Clayton. The 49ers have had a propensity to get beaten deep, but in this age of pass-happy football, doesn't everyone? The 49ers ranked 17th against the pass in the NFL, the Dolphins 14th.
Special teams: Miami kicker Uwe von Schamann has had a nightmare season, missing 10 of 19 field goal attempts and four extra points, with a long kick of 37 yards. His confidence seems shot, and there is little reason to believe it will be restored for this game.
Ray Wersching of the 49ers has had difficulty in the playoffs the last two years but had a good regular season, kicking 17 of 20 inside the 40 with a long field goal of 53 yards.
Miami punter Reggie Roby kicks them high and deep, averaging almost 45 yards a kick, with a net of 38, best in the NFL this season.
His 49ers counterpart, Max Runager, was picked off the waiver list after being cut by the Eagles and clearly had the last laugh. He averaged 42 yards, with a 34-yard net.
San Francisco's Dana McLemore was second in the NFC in punt returns with an 11.6-yard average. Kickoff returner Carl Monroe averaged 20.8 per return.
Fulton Walker returns punts and kickoffs for the Dolphins and can be dangerous. He played hurt most of the season, but is capable of a big play, averaging 21.3 yards on kickoff returns and 8.0 on punt returns. The 49ers have the superior kicking coverage teams.
Coaching: Don Shula has a .720 career winning percentage and is coaching in his sixth Super Bowl, five with the Dolphins. San Francisco's Bill Walsh won the only Super Bowl in which he coached, and has won six of seven career playoff games.