It's time to make my Super Bowl pick. But first, a word of caution. My predictions bomb as often as the next guy's. For example, before the playoffs began, I predicted San Francisco and Cleveland would be in the Super Bowl. Well, Cleveland almost made it.
I have been known to come back strong after defeats, however. So, undaunted, I hereby make the following Super Bowl prediction: Denver 28, Washington 21.
Why Denver? I believe John Elway's unique ability to make the big play gives the Broncos a slight edge. This should be an evenly played game with no more than a three- to seven-point difference in the final score.
But Elway and "The Three Amigos" spell the difference. Don't forget the importance of those receivers. The Broncos are so tough to stop because Elway can spread the ball around.
The Redskins are good at taking away a particular receiver by putting Darrell Green on him. That's how they slowed Anthony Carter in the NFC championship game. Against Denver, Green may handle Vance Johnson, but the Redskins will have trouble shutting down all the Amigos. That will be a big advantage for Denver.
If you're a Denver fan, look for these keys to victory: good pass protection and the defense getting at least two turnovers. If Elway gets time to throw against Washington's strong pass rush, the Broncos will score. And if their defense gets turnovers, which they've thrived on all season, the Redskins will be in big trouble.
For Washington fans, your keys to victory are: pressure on Elway, no turnovers, a big game from wide receiver Art Monk and no missed field goals.
I think Joe Gibbs will play a ball-control game, emphasizing the running game and keeping the ball away from Elway. The Redskins must keep the score low, not allowing more than about 20 points. I don't think they can win in a scoring duel.
If Monk comes back strong from his injury and a reliable field goal kicker emerges for Washington, then I think the game is a tossup. Those are the Redskins' two aces in the hole.
The site favors Denver since the Broncos play in San Diego once a season. It always helps to play in a comfortable setting.
The psychology is even. Denver is hungry after last year's Super Bowl defeat. But the Redskins operate very effectively as underdogs. It's the role Joe Gibbs prefers. Maybe that's why he's been to the Super Bowl after the past two strikes. When a team is down mentally, Joe brings them back well.
There are convincing arguments for both teams. But I'll say Denver, possibly in overtime. It should be that close.
Tom Landry has coached the Dallas Cowboys since their entry into the NFL in 1960. Denver Coach Dan Reeves played and coached for Landry. And of course, Landry has been preparing game plans to play against Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs for seven seasons.