Friday, January 31, 2014

Being An Expansion Team Is Fun, But You Rarely Win Championships

The Hornets debuted in 1988 but haven't made an NBA
Finals in their 25 years of existence

The 1980s and 1990s were a time of grand expansion.  Since 1982, the four major sports have expanded their leagues by 24 teams.  This comes after the 1970s where mergers were the rage (NFL merged with the AFL; NBA absorbed several ABA teams; NHL absorbed several WHA teams). With TV revenue comes more teams.  Expansion teams.  Only 8 championships have come from that group of expansion squads. 

I know that expansion teams start from nothing.  No players, no history to sell to players and fans.  Still, there is a newness to sell.  And 16 of those franchises were originally placed in warm weather locales.  It isn't all bad.

But it is tough to win.

In Major League Baseball, they've surprisingly had better success.  MLB has only expanded four teams in the last 30 years, but each one has made a World Series.  The Florida/Miami Marlins have won two World Series championships and the Arizona Diamondbacks won one.  The other two franchises, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, have reached the World Series.

To me, that's surprising.  In baseball, you not only have to supply your major league team, but stock a minor league system.  Three of the four teams were placed in "spring training" ... or "retirement" states.  Yet each of them in varying ways got to the Fall Classic.

So MLB expansion has yielded three World Series.

The NFL is on the other end of that spectrum.  The NFL only expanded four teams as well.  None of them have won a Super Bowl.  Only the Carolina Panthers have even gotten to one.  The Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans haven't gotten there.

NFL expansion is a bit different.  Carolina and Jacksonville were new markets that got teams in 1995.  Cleveland got an "expansion" team a few years after their original franchise moved to Baltimore a year later.  Houston got a true expansion team less than a decade after the Houston Oilers left for Nashville.  By the way, neither the original Browns or Oilers made a Super Bowl either.

NFL:  Zero expansion championships.

The NBA had the most successful expansion team of the last 30 years.  The Miami Heat have won three NBA Championships and went to a fourth Finals.  That's good.  The bad is that no other NBA expansion team has won a ring and only the Orlando Magic have reached the Finals (two Finals appearances).  In a league where one superstar can help carry you to a deep playoff run (Miami had Wade, Shaq and LeBron in their runs; Orlando had Shaq and Howard), the others have failed to get to the top of the league.

Top of the league?  Try even getting close.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten to one Conference Finals.  So has the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies when they lost to the Spurs last season.  The Charlotte Bobcats, Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans and Toronto Raptors have been to zero.  In fact, of the four major sports leagues, the NBA has had two of its expansion teams relocate (the Charlotte Hornets and Vancouver Grizzlies).  Of all the other leagues, only the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers left their town.

So, in reality, only the Heat and Magic have had any sort of success in the NBA and the Heat's success far outweighs anything the Magic have done.

NBA: Three expansion titles.

Last in the NHL, who has expanded the most.  What surprises me most about the NHL's lack of success is that (a) they've expanded more than the other leagues, (b) the NHL postseason allows for anyone to make a run and (c) they've had quite a few other franchises relocate in the same time frame.

The only expansion teams of the last 30 years to win a Stanley Cup are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks.  That's it.   And only the Ducks, Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators have even made the Cup Finals.  That's it.

No San Jose Sharks.  No Minnesota Wild.  No Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators or Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.

NHL = two Cups.

It is quite amazing to me.  Are there any current franchises that could add to that paltry total?

Of course the Miami Heat are looking for their 3rd straight championship and 4th overall.  Five of the other six franchises are either well under .500 or currently out of the playoffs slotting.  In the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks hold the league's best record while the Lightning and Sharks have been playing very well.  Last baseball season, only the Rays finished with a winning record while the Rockies and Marlins finished last in their divisions.  In the NFL, the Panthers did win their division, but the Jaguars, Texans and Browns finished among the worst teams in the league.

The beat goes on.

Goodbye David Stern ... And I'm Not Being Mean When I Say That

David Stern will no longer be the commish of the NBA when January ends on tonight.  Deputy commissioner Adam Silver will take over for Stern tomorrow, February 1st.  He will have huge shoes to fill.

Like him or not, Stern has been the best commissioner of my lifetime.  I know that Pete Rozelle was the commish of the NFL in my younger days and did some very outstanding and groundbreaking things, but to me what Stern did even outshines him.  Remember that Stern took over a league that saw its Finals on tape delay.  A league that was known more for drugs than dunks to the average person.  Essentially a niche league.

In the exactly 30 years since, the NBA has become a global beast.  Obviously the league has exploded in wealth ... but so has the other major leagues.  He also saw work stoppages ... but so has the other major leagues.  However, he took a league that not many cared that much to watch and made it into a giant.  Seriously, ask those old enough to remember what the NBA was back in 1984 when he took over.  Imagine the MLS now (I mean no offense to MLS fans) and that was the NBA then.

Sure, having the first Magic-Bird Finals happening a few months after taking over and the drafting of Michael Jordan happening just weeks after that was some really, really, really good fortune.  Sure, the rise of ESPN and cable sports like TBS helped move his league along.  Still, there were stars in the NBA prior to those three and the league still hadn't reached the levels Stern steered it to.

That will ultimately be Stern's legacy.  His ability to market and sell the league to the entire world was second to none.  It can be argued that basketball trails only soccer as the world's game.  I know Stern wasn't totally on board with the Dream Team, but look at the level of international play from 1992 to today.  From a time when the Dream Team demolished everyone and spent time signing autographs for their opponents to a time when a team made up of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant didn't exactly coast to win a gold medal in the London Olympics.  There was NBA TV before there was NFL or MLB Network.

Kids in China wear Kobe jerseys.  Dirk Nowitzki wins the NBA's MVP award.  The game is played everywhere.  That will be Stern's legacy.

Again, he had missteps, yet some of them turned out better than originally perceived.  Remember the dress code controversy?

Well, there was the two work stoppages.  Up to that point, the NBA was proud that they had never missed a game due to a labor issue.  They nearly lost a season to it.  There was Stern's condescending demeanor towards some in the media whenever they crossed him.  Stern's NBA had the least amount of parity among all the major sports.  If you think about the 30 years he ran the league, SEVEN franchises (Lakers-8, Bulls-6, Spurs-4, Celtics-3, Pistons-3, Heat-3, Rockets-2) won 29 of the championships.

For comparison, 18 franchises won a World Series, 14 different franchises won a Super Bowl and 15 franchises won a Stanley Cup during that span.

There's always those conspiracy theories.  The cold envelope, the Jordan Rules, the microfiber ball, allowing the SuperSonics to relocate to Oklahoma City, buying the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn and blocking the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers.  I can't say he's perfect at all and there are times where I think he does go overboard and rather tyrant-y ... but there are always black marks on any executive's resume when helming a sports league like this for 30 years.

I hope Adam Silver does a good job moving forward.  I love the NBA and want to see it continue on this upward trend.

Congratulations on your retirement, Mr. Stern.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Super Bowl Media Day Is Ridiculous, But It Has Its Role

The Super Bowl media came and passed and it is like it always is: a hodge-podge of nonsense mixed with a few nuggets.  That's what it is ... and that's fine.

I don't care about it at all.  I don't.  What was intended to be a one-stop shop for the media to get all their "in depth" questions answered and the players can spend the rest of the week working on the game is now a freakshow of the absurdity of what we refer to as media.  What was once a group of beat writers and national news organizations attending is now a parade of bloggers, entertainment press and anyone who can get in the stadium to ask any dumb questions they want.  Even if it "will you marry me" to Tom Brady.

Nothing important comes out of this.  Nothing.  The mythical question of "how long have you been a black quarterback" to Doug Williams didn't even happen.  And that is the most memorable thing that's come from this event.  Today, the most memorable interview was Marshawn Lynch walking off his podium because he's just not that into doing media stuff.  He'll get fined and he won't care.  I doubt anyone else will care what his favorite Real Housewife Of New Jersey is either.

This is where the NFL meets Access Hollywood.  Where athletes have to answer non-football questions.  Where even Peyton Manning can feel out of place in a football setting.

Despite the sports media hating it, the fans shunning it and pretty much all the athletes bemoaning it ... it needs to happen.  It must occur.  If not, then we have a week of stupid stuff leaking out and even more media debate about this and that.  It also is the unofficial start to Super Bowl week.  After a week of chatting up the conference championship games, doing our preliminary breakdowns or the game and hearing every talking head spout off about his predictions, we finally see these guys climb out of their classrooms and into the fun part of the Super Bowl.  The dumb stuff we all seem to embrace about the Super Bowl.

I know.  I'm that guy that hates going to Super Bowl parties.  I rather sit in a room by myself and watch every second of the game.  I like watching the trends, the strategy ... the actual game.  But I do understand and get into all the other stuff.  I understand the parties.  I understand the office pools, the betting lines, the prop bets, the goofy stories and the history of all of it.  I get that and embrace it.

Media day belongs with that.  It is the halftime of the Super Bowl fortnight.  This is the timeout of the game where the lady rides a unicycle while balancing six plates on poles.  The time when all those people who attend those parties just to watch the commercials meet the ones like me who care about what happens between the lines.

And there's nothing wrong with that.  Just let me watch the game and pass the wings.

Looking Back At My NFL Picks

Back in August, I made my preseason NFL picks.  I like to go back and praise myself on my good picks and rag on myself for the bad ones.  Usually, I do a lot more ragging.  So let's look at what we have:





The NFC was tough for me.  I did get the Packers as the NFC North champs ... but not much else.  Heck, I had the Eagles finishing in last place and the Falcons going to the Super Bowl.

BIG HIT:  I nailed the NFC North.  Sure, the storyline of the season didn't totally match up, but the end result did.  I felt that Green Bay had the best team and Chicago would play above their capabilities and the Vikings would cool off after a wildcard season.  Good job.

BIG MISS:  I didn't expect the Falcons to have so many injuries and that Steven Jackson wouldn't matter that much.  That was an educated guess and it was a bust.  I also didn't have much faith in the Panthers.




BIG HIT:  I did pretty good on the AFC side of things.  I got the East, North and West pretty good ... not actually in order, but pretty darn close.

BIG MISS:  Um ... the Houston Texans?

Should Peyton Manning Retire With a Super Bo- ... NO!!!!!!!!

It is Super Bowl week, so tons of media has descended upon New York to break down every little angle of the game.  That's fine.  That's how it goes.

But one of the the angles that seems to be getting a lot of play is the "if the Broncos win, should Peyton Manning retire" one.  In a simple word: No.

First off, Peyton in contracted to get a physical every off season to check his neck and everything else in order to keep his huge contract.  If the doctors say he shouldn't play or even if Manning doesn't want to say, then he should retire.  Outside of that, there is no debate.

Manning says he wants to play.  He should play.

Why do we do this?  Why do we have that John Elway syndrome?  Elway famously won back-to-back Super Bowls and then retired.  We loved when Michael Jordan hit the shot over Bryon Russell to win the 1998 NBA Championship and then retired.  And then hated it when he came back a Washington Wizard.  Why do we need our star athletes to go out on our time frame and not their own?

I know that we have seen some bad stuff.  We've seen guys like Willie Mays limp around the Mets outfield.  We saw Deion Sanders scoot around as a Baltimore Raven.  Remember Hakeem Olajawon as a Toronto Raptor?  Patrick Ewing as a SuperSonic?  Or even Shaquille O'Neal wonder around the NBA trying to latch on to another championship run?  Once dominant players who cobble together whatever deteriorated skills they have left and keep pushing on.

We don't like that.  Maybe for their "legacy", they shouldn't want that.  But many of these athletes are the greatest competitors created and want to keep on playing as long as possible.  Who am I ... a fan ... to tell them to stop?  Yeah, I did just blog about wanting Alex Rodriguez to retire, but that certainly had little to do with what goes on in the field of play.

I am a year older than Peyton Manning.  To sit and think and tell someone that they need to stop doing the one thing they love for the rest of their lives because it would be neat to go out on top is pretty selfish.  As we saw with Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali or Brett Favre or even Gordie Howe is that the greats usually don't like to turn off their competitive streak because they won a championship.  Maybe if you really don't feel like pressing on and are setting up for that last shot like Tony Gonzalez just did and Elway once did, you do so no matter what.  To think that a guy like Peyton Manning, if healthy, would win a Super Bowl and then walk away with that team is nuts.

If that was true, he should be able to retire whenever he wants.  He won a Super Bowl already.  Why does he keep playing?  I mean, c'mon already!!!

Why would he?  He'd be returning much of his record setting offense.  The Broncos have gotten to the Super Bowl despite a ton of injuries on both sides of the ball.  They could be better next season.  He is coming off an MVP season filled with passing records.  Assuming they win it (that will be an assumption we will make for this entire article since it is the premise of the question), he'd enter next season one Super Bowl victory shy of rival Tom Brady.  And, really, other than Brady ... who in the AFC has a good shot at knocking him off another Super Bowl road?  Cincinnati lost both coordinators.  San Diego?  Pittsburgh?  Kansas City?  Baltimore?  Maybe, but the Broncos would be the favorite.

You are right.  He should give up a chance at a 3rd Super Bowl.  A chance to keep playing at the highest of levels.  A chance to keep doing something nearly all of us would kill for a shot to do.  He should just stop all of that so we can feel great about how he retired.

We should all do that.  Reach the top of our profession and just quit.

Monday, January 27, 2014

48 Stops To Super Bowl XLVIII

Every year since Super Bowl XL, I have used this blog for my "Stops To Super Bowl" list.  Every year, I create a list of smart, dumb, inane and chat worthy items for you to use in any banter leading up to and during the Super Bowl.

This year, it is 48 Stops to Super Bowl XLVIII and I'm back with some more (and some of the same) little items for you about the upcoming big game.

#48-BRRRRR, IT'S COLD IN HERE:  Let's just get the elephant in the room out of the way.  This will be the first ever cold weather Super Bowl.  The first 47 Super Bowls were held in either warm weather locales or the game was held inside a dome.  

Again, this won't be the first time the Super Bowl has been held in a cold weather city.  Detroit/Pontiac (SB XVI, XL), Minneapolis (SB XXVI) and Indianapolis (XLVI) hosted the game but those were played in the Silverdome, Ford Field, Metrodome and Lucas Oil Field -- all domed stadiums.  Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis had the lowest outdoor temperature for a Super Bowl at 26 degrees, but the game was held indoors.  

But there has been one cold Super Bowl.  Super Bowl VI between the Cowboys and Dolphins, held in New Orleans' Tulane Stadium, was a cold 39 degrees at kickoff making it the coldest Super Bowl game we've had thus far.

How this shakes out will determine if we see the Super Bowl come back to another cold weather locale.  Right now, Super Bowl L is scheduled to be held in the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA

#47-LET'S START OUT EASY:  Denver is back in the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl XXXIII.  The Broncos have won 2 Super Bowl titles (back to back in XXXII, XXXIII), but have lost four previous others.  Current Broncos president John Elway was the quarterback for the last five appearances.  The first four were blowouts to the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and 49ers.  They have beaten the Packers and Falcons.  

The Seahawks lost their lone appearance in the Super Bowl when they were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.  That Super Bowl was also held in a cold weather city ... Detroit ... though the game was played inside a domed stadium.  Though the game was only 8 years ago, none of the current Seahawks were on that team.  

Peyton Manning will be named the MVP for the 2013 regular season.  However, the lost NFL MVP to win the award and a Super Bowl in the same season was Kurt Warner in 1999 (Super Bowl XXXIV).  Only 6 MVPs also won that year's Super Bowl.

#46-AFC LOVES FEBRUARY: The Super Bowl will be held on February 2nd. Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 7-4 in those games held in the calendar's shortest month ... though the NFC has won three of the last four:
Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers beat Cardinals on February 1, 2009
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints beat Colts on February 7, 2010
Super Bowl XLV: Packers beat Steelers on February 6, 2011
Super Bowl XLVI:  Giants beat Patriots on February 5, 2012Super Bowl XLVIII:  Ravens beat 49ers on February 3, 2013

#45-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 31-16. However, the team who has scored first has lost six of the last twelve Super Bowls.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 24-2.  Only the Cowboys (SB XIII) and the 49ers (SB XLVII) scored at least 30 points and lost.  

*Teams that score the first TD are 34-13.

*Teams leading at the half are 35-10 (there have been two ties)

#44-BRONCOS ARE BACK:   The Denver Broncos are making their 7th Super Bowl appearance.  Only the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers (eight times) have been to the Super Bowl more often.  Currently, the Broncos are tied with the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots for most Super Bowl losses (4) ... meaning a Denver loss and they set the new record for the most losses.

Seattle is making their 2nd appearance (they lost Super Bowl XL to the Steelers).  If they lose this time, they join the Eagles and Bengals as the only 0-2 Super Bowl participants ... and would join the Eagles, Bengals, Vikings and Bills as the only franchises to reach multiple Super Bowls without winning at least once.  

#43-DENVER LEADS AT HALFTIME, THEY USUALLY WIN: Counting this postseason, the Denver Broncos are 14-1 all time when they have a lead at halftime during the playoffs.  The lone loss?  Super Bowl XXI when Denver couldn't hold onto a 10-9 halftime lead to the New York Giants (Giants won, 39-20).  

#42-NEW YORK/ NEW JERSEY SUPA BOWL: Super Bowl XLVIII will be played in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  This, as I've said, will be the first outdoor cold weather Super Bowl.  It will also be the first Super Bowl hosted by two states (New Jersey, New York) and held in a stadium that is home to two NFL franchises (Jets, Giants).  It will also be the first outdoor Super Bowl played on artificial turf since Super Bowl X in Miami back in 1976.

This, however, will be the 9th time the NFL has played its championship game in the New York area.  This will be the first NFL Championship held in the New York area since 1962 when the Packers beat the Giants for the NFL title (pre-Super Bowl).  The AFL would hold their championship game in Shea Stadium in 1968 when the Jets beat the Raiders.  Those Joe Namath-led Jets would go on to upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

This will be the 2nd neutral field NFL Championship game held in metro New York.  Back in 1936, the Green Bay Packers beat the Boston Redskins 21-6 in the Polo Grounds.  The game was held there because Redskins owner George Preston Marshall had previously announced moving the team from Boston to Washington after the season so he moved the title game out of Boston's Fenway Park to New York.  

#41-SUPER BOWL ON FOX: This will be the 7th time FOX will televise the Super Bowl, tying ABC for third most by a network. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will make the call. Aikman was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.  Aikman will be making his 4th appearance as a Super Bowl analyst.  Aikman joins Phil Simms, Bart Starr, Bob Griese and Joe Theismann as Super Bowl winning quarterbacks to go on to announce a Super Bowl on TV.  

Buck will be making his 4th call. 

#40-WEED BOWL: The states of Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the 2012 elections -- the two states of the Super Bowl participants.  The coin toss for the game will be at 6:20 pm ET ... which would be 4:20pm Colorado time.

#39-TOP SEEDS FINALLY MEETING AGAIN: Believe it or not, but Super Bowl XLVIII is the second time that the No. 1 seed in the NFC and AFC met in the Super Bowl since 1993.  The top seeded Colts and Saints met in Super Bowl XLIV and the Seahawks and Broncos will meet this year.  In fact, the Broncos own the #1 ranked offense of the season and the Seahawks boast the #1 ranked defense.  That hasn't happened since Super Bowl XXV when the Bills (offense) faced the Giants (defense).  

#38-DIVISION ALL IN: The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances in a Super Bowl are the AFC North (Browns), AFC South (Titans, Jaguars) and NFC North (Lions).

No division has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The NFC East (Eagles didn't win), AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins and Giants have been to five and the Eagles have been to two.

The odd thing is that each team in the NFC South has been exactly once to the Super Bowl. The Panthers and Falcons lost their only time there, while the Bucs and Saints won in their only appearances.

#37-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 12 titles won bests the AFC North for the top honors.

The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

Here's a rundown of the divisions:

12-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Giants-4, Redskins-3)
8-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-2)
6-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1)
6-AFC EAST (Patriots-3, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
6-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-2, Chiefs-1)
5-NFC NORTH (Packers-4, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)
2-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1, Saints-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East wins this title again:

20-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-5, Eagles-2)
17-AFC EAST (Patriots-7, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
15-AFC WEST (Broncos-7, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
12-AFC NORTH (Steelers-8, Ravens-2, Bengals-2)
12-NFC WEST (Niners-6, Rams-3, Seahawks-2, Cardinals-1)

11-NFC NORTH (Packers-5, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)
4-NFC SOUTH (Panthers-1, Bucs-1, Falcons-1, Saints-1)

#36-THERE IS AN EXTRA VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY OUT THERE: Excuse this one taken from my FanHouse post but it is rather interesting:

There have been 43 Super Bowls to date ... yet there are 44 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the recent passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story:

However, when Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V ... yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won two years ago.

#35-SEAHAWKS AND BRONCOS USED TO BE RIVALS: From 1977 to 2001, the Seattle Seahawks were members of the AFC West along with the Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders and ... yes ... the Broncos.  Seattle moved to the NFC West when the Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002 (Seattle did enter the league in 1976 as an NFC West team before switching leagues).  So the Broncos and Seahawks have played 53 times in their history ... including one playoff matchup that Seattle won 31-7 back in 1983.  That will be the 2nd most times Super Bowl opponents have met before their matchup in the big game.  The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals met 57 times before their Super Bowl battle in 2009.

Denver is 34-18 lifetime against Seattle.

#34-PETE CARROLL HAS SORT OF BEEN HERE BEFORE: Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will be making his first appearance in the Super Bowl.  However, he has taken the University of Southern Cal to the BCS Championship game ... becoming the first coach to do so.  Carroll's Trojans won the 2004-2005 National Championship which was later vacated due to the Reggie Bush scandal.  If Seattle wins the Super Bowl, Carroll would be the 3rd coach to win a Super Bowl and a college National Championship.  Jimmy Johnson (Miami Hurricanes, Dallas Cowboys) and Barry Switzer (Oklahoma Sooners, Dallas Cowboys) have done it.

#33-PEYTON MANNING HAS BEEN HERE BEFORE: Peyton Manning is trying to become the first starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.  Manning, of course, won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts.  Four other quarterbacks have won Super Bowls with two different teams -- Earl Morrall (Colts, Dolphins), Jeff Rutledge (Giants, Redskins), Matt Cavanaugh (49ers, Giants) and Jim McMahon (Bears, Packers)  each did so -- but none did so as the starter for both teams.

In fact, Manning will be just the third player to start at quarterback for two different franchises.  Earl Morrall started for both the Colts (V) and Broncos (XII), while Kurt Warner started for the Rams (XXXIV, XXXVI) and Cardinals (XLIII).

By the way, this will be the 5th Super Bowl in the last 8 years that a Manning has started at QB.  Peyton started Super Bowls XLI, XLIV and will start XLVIII.  Younger brother Eli Manning started Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

Furthermore, Peyton Manning is leading his Broncos into MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ for this Super Bowl.  MetLife Stadium is the home field for Eli Manning and his New York Giants.  In Super Bowl XLVI, Eli Manning's Giants won in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Field ... which at the time was Peyton Manning's home field.

Only Tom Brady (5), John Elway (5), Jim Kelly (4), Terry Bradshaw (4), Joe Montana (4) and Roger Staubach will have started more Super Bowls than Peyton Manning.

#32-CHAMPIONSHIP CITIES: With this being the Broncos 7th Super Bowl appearance, it is obvious that Denver is no stranger to championship games.  Let's look at the cities' major sports title history.

Denver has watched their Broncos win two Super Bowl championships out of six tries.  Their Colorado Avalanche have won two Stanley Cup titles (1996, 2001) in both their tries.  The Colorado Rockies haven't won a World Series, though they did get to one in 2007.  The Denver Nuggets have yet to win an NBA championship.  In college, the "local" Colorado Buffaloes have won 26 different national championships (19 are in skiing) with the most notable being the football team's title in 1990.

Seattle's championship take isn't as big.  The Seahawks lost their only other Super Bowl appearance.  The Seattle Mariners have never been to a World Series.  The now-defunct SuperSonics won an NBA Championship in 1979 (they went to the Finals in 1978 and 1996 as well).  Currently, Seattle doesn't have an NHL team, though the Seattle Metropolitans won a Cup in 1917 (the Metros went to two other finals including the famous 1919 series that was cancelled due to the flu pandemic).  The very popular Sounders of the MLS have yet to get to the MLS Cup final.  In college, the Washington Huskies shared the 1991 football championship with the Miami Hurricanes (Washington was the coaches' champ).

#31-TOP OFFENSE AGAINST TOP DEFENSE: Like I said before, this will be the first time the top scoring offense has faced the top scoring defense in the Super Bowl since SB XXV.  It has only happened four time previously.  In three of the four occasions, the top defense ended up victorious

In addition, this will be just the 2nd time the top yardage offense faces the top yardage defense in the Super Bowl.  The only other occasion was Super Bowl XXXVII when the Buccaneers (defense) beat the Raiders (offense). 

This is the 19th time that a regular-season scoring champ has reached the Super Bowl. The previous 18 teams were 10-8 in the title game 

This is the 16th time that the defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL has made the Super Bowl since the merger. The previous 15 teams went 12-3 in those Super Bowls. 
Defense wins championships.  

#30-QUARTERBACKS COMING BACK: 18 quarterbacks have started multiple Super Bowls.  Peyton Manning was already on this list with his two starts as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. This will be Manning's 3rd Super Bowl appearance. John Elway and Tom Brady lead the pack with 5 Super Bowls, while Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Roger Staubach have all started four. Only Manning, Craig Morton and Kurt Warner have started Super Bowls for two different teams.

#29-FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES ARE NOT AS INTERESTING: Three future Super Bowls sites are set and they all seem to be a bit more normal than this cold Super Bowl.  Next year, the game will be in Glendale, AZ where it should be nice and toasty.  The following Super Bowl ... which will be Super Bowl L, or 50 ... will be in the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.  That will be the 2nd time the big game will be played in the Bay Area.  Super Bowl LI will be in Houston's Reliant Stadium for the 2nd time and the 3rd time in Houston.

The site for Super Bowl LII is still up for grabs.  The three finalists are New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.  The Superdome just hosted last year's Super Bowl which featured a lengthy power outage.  Indiana's Lucas Oil Field held the Super Bowl the season before that.  Minneapolis hasn't hosted a Super Bowl since XXVI when the Redskins beat the Bills.  The new Vikings Stadium (which will be up and running for the 2016 season) will be the host field and it is a domed stadium.

#28-"NEW GIRL" AND "BROOKLYN NINE-NINE" AS YOUR SUPER BOWL DESSERT: In a typical bit of programming, FOX will air an episode of "New Girl" as well as their new-ish show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (which just won Golden Globes for best Comedy Series and Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) after the Super Bowl.  Interesting that a Brooklyn based show will be on after a New York Super Bowl.
The trend recently is for the network broadcasting the Super Bowl loves breaking in new shows or extended shows following the game.  Undercover Boss (CBS-2010), Extreme (ABC-1995), Homicide (NBC-'93), Davis Rules (ABC-'91), Grand Slam (CBS-'90), The Wonders Years (ABC-'88), Hard Copy (CBS-'87), The Last Precinct (NBC-'86), MacGruder and Loud (ABC-'85), Airwolf (CBS-'84), The A-Team (NBC-'83) and Brothers and Sisters (NBC-'79) as shows who debuted after the Super Bowl.
Some other big-time heavyweights have also appeared right after the game. Lassie, All in the Family, 60 Minutes, CHiPs, Archie Bunker's Place, Friends, The X-Files, The Simpsons, Survivor, Grey's Anatomy, House and The Office all have been post-Super Bowl shows.

#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This will be the 19th Super Bowl where one starting QB comes in with Super Bowl experience while the other one doesn't.  The last time that happened was Super Bowl XLV when newbie Aaron Rodgers beat Ben Roethlisberger.  Does experience matter?  Well, the QB with the experience is just 10-9 in those games.

However, in the last three occasions of this happening the new guy won.  Rodgers (new) beat Big Ben (old), Drew Brees (new) beat Peyton Manning (old) and Eli Manning (new) beat Tom Brady (old) in their first Super Bowl matchup.  If that trend continues, Russell (zero experience) would beat Manning (two previous games).

Dig a little deeper and you'll see these nine games prior to the three I just mentioned:
Montana (old) beat Marino (new)
Williams (new) beat Elway (old)
Montana (old) beat Esiason (new)
Rypien (new) beat Kelly (old)
Aikman (old) beat O'Donnell (new)
Elway (old) beat Chandler (new)
Brady (new) beat Warner (old)
Brady (old) beat Delhomme (new)
Brady (old) beat McNabb (new)

#26-SUPER BOWL CONSUMPION: Some nice stats for you:

8 million: Total pounds of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
28 million: Pounds of potato chips consumed.
53.5 million: Pounds of avocados consumed.
222,792: Number of football fields worth of farmland to grow all that corn, potatoes, and avocados.
11.8: Depth, in feet, of guacamole consumed if it were spread across the football field.
293,000: Number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end, consumed during the game.
1 billion: Number of chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
325.5 million: Gallons of beer drank by Americans that day.
493: Number of Olympic-sized swimming pools that could be filled with all that beer.
20%: Increase in anti-acid sales the Monday after the game.
7 million: Number of employees who will not show up to work Monday.

#25-DON'T DISMISS THE FAVORITES: Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won nine of the last 15 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 31-16 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least 7 points are 19-6.

24-STILL, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE UNDERDOG: Last year, the Ravens won the Super Bowl as a slight underdog. But we have seen some big dog upsets.

Including this game, over the past 9 Super Bowls, 6 of them had a team whose playoff seed was either 4, 5 or 6.  Those teams are 5-1 when they get there (only the 2008 Cardinals didn't win ... and they nearly did) with those teams beating either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.  

Here is a short list of some notable Super Bowl upsets:

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset.

Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.

Super Bowl VII: Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.Super Bowl XXV: The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.

Super Bowl XXXII: The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.

Super Bowl XXXVI: These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.

Super Bowl XLII: The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game.See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

#23-THE NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS ... YET ... : The NFC somehow won 14 consecutive coin tosses in the Super Bowl until the last two years. 

The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 23-24 in the game. That averages out to ... well ... the flip of a coin. However, the coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 11 of the last 16 games.
SB 47: Ravens won the toss ... and the game
SB 46: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

SB 45: Packers won the toss ... and the game
SB 44: Saints won the toss ... and the game
SB 43: Cardinals won the toss, lost the game*
SB 42: Giants won the toss ... and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss ... and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss ... and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

*A little aside to this is that the Arizona Cardinals won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers chose to receive which means the Cards were the first team in Super Bowl history to win the coin toss and kickoff.

#22-SOME MORE STATITUDES: Here is another piece of trivia for you. 

-There has been at least one successful field goal in 45 of 47 Super Bowls.

-Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-18. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.

-Only one Super Bowl featured teams from the same state. Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and 49ers. The Giants and Bills both are "New York" teams, but the Giants play their home games in New Jersey.

-Also, teams that intercept a pass for a TD are 11-0 in the Super Bowl. No losing team has returned a pick-six.

#21-NFC WEST VS AFC WEST:  Super Bowl XLVIII matches up teams from the NFC West and AFC West.  This will be the fourth time these two divisions have met and the third time that teams that currently comprise these two divisions are meeting for the Super Bowl.  Remember that the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC West from 1970 to 2001, which included their XXXIII appearance.  Here is how the other meetings turned out.  

XXIV:  49ers beat Broncos
XXIX:  49ers beat Chargers
XXXIII:  Broncos beat Falcons

Also, the NFC West is on a 4-game Super Bowl losing streak.  It started with the Rams losing Super Bowl XXXVI to the Patriots.  The Seahawks lost Super Bowl XL to the Steelers.  Then the Cardinals lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.  Last year, the 49ers lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.  

#20-THINGS NON FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAY TO BLEND IN: Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because ... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. I've also come to find that there are actually guys out there that get dragged to Super Bowl parties because of their women (that's sad). Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a wuss, I'm here to help.

Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time the rest of us don't make fun of you once you leave. Just print this out, study it and you will at look somewhat less wimpish around the real men at the Super Bowl party.

"The Seahawks just need to limit turnovers and control the clock if they want to pull the upset."

"How do you feel about what Richard Sherman said to Erin Andrews?  Man!"

"What a magical season Peyton Manning has had."

"You just gotta convert those third downs!"

"Don't sleep on Wes Welker!"

"Marshawn Lynch needs a lot of touches."

"Third and long? I'd blitz."

"Hard to believe that Russell Wilson made a Super Bowl before Andrew Luck or RG3."

"Remember the Bud Bowl?"

"I got a few bucks on this game."

"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"

"It's nice to see the Broncos back in the Super Bowl!"

When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"

"How long will it be before they show Archie and Eli in the stands?"

"I'm just not a fan of having a Super Bowl in cold weather like this!"

"I hope they show some of those old John Elway highlights."

"Seahawks got screwed in their last Super Bowl appearance."

Use only in a close game: "This could come down to who has the ball last."

#19-WEARING WHITE IS THE KEY:  Since the Broncos are designated the home team, they will be wearing their home orange jerseys for the Super Bowl. That means the Seahawks will go with their white jerseys. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms had won the last eight of nine Super Bowls (Ravens, Giants, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots).  The Packers won three years ago wearing green. The Ravens won last year's Super Bowl victory while wearing white.

#18-ALTERNATE VIEWING: Wife doesn't watch the Super Bowl?  Are you forced to go somewhere where football isn't recognized?  Well, here are some alternatives for her or what you may be forced to watch.

ABC: America's Funniest Home Videos marathon
NBC:  Dateline marathon
AMC:  Walking Dead marathon
BRAVO: Real Housewives Of Atlanta marathon

COMEDY CENTRAL:  Tosh.0 marathon
ESPN: 30 for 30 marathon
E!:  Sex And The City marathon

HISTORY:  Swamp People marathon
HBO:  This Is 40
ID:  Wives With Knives marathon
NAT GEO WILD:  Goldfish swimming in a fishbowl

OXYGEN:  Snapped! marathon
TBS:  Shrek marathon

TLC:  Sex Sent Me To The ER marathon
TNT: Tyler Perry movie marathon

USA:  Law & Order SVU marathon

#17-RELOCATING TO TITLES: The Colts (Baltimore/Indianapolis) are one of two teams to win a Super Bowl in two different cities. The other team is the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. The St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have been to Super Bowls from two different cities and join the Colts as the only franchises to lose Super Bowls in two different cities.

#16-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants): People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers): ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys): Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills): Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

David Tyree (Giants): Tyree will always be a legend for his amazing catch in Super Bowl XLII. A guy pretty much no one had heard of before and hasn't done anything since will be immortalized with possibly the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

Jordy Nelson (Packers): Nelson caught 9 passes for 140 yards (both career highs) and a TD in Super Bowl XLV.

Mario Manningham (Giants):  He only caught 5 passes for 73 yards in Super Bowl XLVI, it was a huge 38-yard reception on the Giants' final, game-winning drive that will stick among the Super Bowl's greatest moments.

#15-SUPER BOWL MVP'S IN CANTON: Winners of 22 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and John Elway. Other winners, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 26). Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees also have a shot at the Hall.  So could Eli Manning.

Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

#14-THE FIVE WORST SUPER BOWLS: 1-Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts ... who won ... committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game sucked so bad that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley ... of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game ... but even that was set up by a turnover.

2-Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing that the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times ... and completed just eight passes). Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible -- he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns. Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3-Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitement came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty much all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4-Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the endzone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot ... but not Walter. A shame.

5-Super Bowl VII: The one where the Dolphins completed the perfect season? A dud. Miami is the only team to be shut out for an entire half and still win the game. The Phins got out to a 14-0 lead before halftime and hung on for the win. If not for that botched field goal attempt (where Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's "pass" was picked off by Mike Bass and returned for a TD), the Redskins would've been the only team shut out in Super Bowl history. That score, with 2:07 left in the game, is the longest it has taken for a Super Bowl team to score.

#13-DOUG WILLIAMS:  Doug Williams is still the only black quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title.  Williams, who won Super Bowl XXII with the Washington Redskins, won MVP honors with his magical performance.  Steve McNair (Titans), Donovan McNabb (Eagles) and Colin Kaepernick (49ers) are the only others to even start a Super Bowl.
Russell Wilson has a chance to become the 2nd black quarterback to win a title if Seattle beats Denver.

It is quite odd that only Williams has been successful in a Super Bowl and doesn't mirror the progress made in the NFL as a whole.  In the NFL, Wilson, Kaepernick and Cam Newton (Panthers) led their teams to the postseason.  Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Geno Smith (Jets), EJ Manuel (Bills), Terrelle Pryor (Raiders) and Jason Campbell (Browns) had starting roles for their teams and should keep those roles in most places.  Plus, a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and, eventually, Jameis Winston will be heading to the NFL soon.

#12-PASSING FANCY: One would gather that Peyton Manning will have more passing attempts in this Super Bowl than Russell Wilson.  Not a certainty, but a solid guess.  Manning set the NFL single season record for passing yards this year.

Of the ten most pass attempts in a Super Bowl game in history, nine were for the losing team.  Jim Kelly threw 58 passes for the Bills against the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI,  Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is 2nd with 51 passes in their Super Bowl XXXIX loss.  The lone winning QB in that mix is New England's Tom Brady who threw 48 passes in their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Carolina Panthers.

On the flip side, of the 11 most passing yardage games in Super Bowl history, 7 played for the winning team.  Kurt Warner owns the top three passing yardage Super Bowls in history.

Also, of the top 10 player rushing games in Super Bowl history, only Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXV played for the losing team.  

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 2-41. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit and win is the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII and the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. The Saints scored 31 of the next 38 points after trailing 10-0. That also makes those Super Bowls the only ones where both teams faced a double digit deficit. Also, it is quite amazing that 41 of 47 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

#10-SUPER BOWL DATES: Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was and will always be the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 7th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, and 23.

This will be the first Super Bowl held on February 2nd.

Jan 9-XI
Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX

Feb 4-XLI
Feb 5-XL, XLVI
Feb 7-XLIV

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: There are now four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans). But there are ten others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Bengals and Eagles have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip.

And while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) haven't been to the big game, they don't have quite the drought as some other franchises. The Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season. The Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls but their last appearance was after the 1969 season.

It's been a while since the Vikings (1976), Dolphins (1984), Bengals (1988) and Redskins (1991) have been there as well.

#8-HERE ARE THE VARIABLES: Your referee for the Super Bowl is Terry McAulay, who has officiated two other Super Bowls ... XXXIX and XLIII.   Opera singer Renee Fleming will perform the National Anthem, becoming the first opera singer to do so.  Bruno Mars will be the halftime performer.  

#7-WESTSIIIIIIIIDE!!!!: This is the first Super Bowl where both teams reside west of the Mississippi River since Super Bowl XXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers.  The only other Super Bowls that qualify were Super Bowls XXIV (49ers-Broncos), XII (Cowboys-Broncos), XI (Raiders-Vikings) and IV (Chiefs-Vikings).

#6-SIX BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the six best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these six were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1-Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occassions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2-Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take the top two spots. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

3-Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

4-Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0 ... and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

5-Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters sucked. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored ... which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

6-Super Bowl XLIII: What a game this was. You had the ultimate game changer with the interception and 99-yard return for a TD at the end of the first half. You had Arizona's miraculous comeback to take a lead late in the game. Then you had Pittsburgh's Big Ben Roethlisberger finding Santonio Holmes for a wonderful game winning score.

#5-ALL TIME SERIES: As I said earlier, the Denver Broncos are 34-18 against the Seattle Seahawks all-time.  However, the Seahawks won their only postseason battle back in 1983.

The Broncos have won 17 of the last 22 meetings between the two teams, including a 31-14 win in their last meeting back in 2010.  Obviously, neither starting quarterback was with their respective teams on that day.  Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was in his first season (in fact that meeting was in Week 2 of that season) and John Fox was coaching his final season with the Carolina Panthers (he would take the Broncos job the following season).

#4-OTHER SPORTS HAPPENINGS: If you are looking for some other sports to whet your appetite, you may have to starve.  The NBA has just one game happening on Super Bowl Sunday, the Magic at Celtics on local TV (or NBA League Pass).  That's it.  Remember when the NBA used to have a nice noon matchup before you got into some football?  Not anymore.

The NHL knows that is the case.  NBC will have the Red Wings and Capitals face off just after noon.  The Jets and Canadiens (obviously not American teams) start up at 1:00pm.  

There are 9 NCAA basketball games scheduled.  CBS will have Michigan at Indiana at 1:00pm.  ESPNU will show Virginia at Pittsburgh at 12:30pm ET then UCLA at Oregon State following.  Ranked Cincinnati hosts South Florida at 12:30pm on CBS Sports.  

#3-QUARTERBACKS:  Peyton Manning will be the second oldest QB to start a Super Bowl.  Broncos legend and current Manning boss John Elway is the oldest to start and win the big game (XXXIII) at the age of 38.  Manning is 37.  Russell Wilson (25 years old) will be the 6th youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl.

The gap between the two starting QBs ... 12 years and 8 months ... is the largest age difference in Super Bowl history, eclipsing Kurt Warner vs Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLIII.  Warner was 37 and Big Ben was 26.

Manning played his first NFL game when Wilson was just 9 years old.  Yet, both Manning and Wilson joined their current teams at around the same time -- the spring of 2012.  Russell was drafted by the Seahawks and Manning signed as a free agent with the Broncos.

Wilson is just the 6th quarterback to start a Super Bowl in their first two seasons in the NFL.  Three of the previous five won the Super Bowl:  Kurt Warner (XXXIV), Tom Brady (XXXVI) and Ben Roethlisberger (XL).    

#2-THE WEATHER:  This will be the Super Bowl ... probably ... most remembered for the weather.  At least it will be remembered for something.  There was The Blackout last year (XLVII) and The Cold, or The Snow or The Blizzard this year.  
Instead of guessing now, go to the WEATHER CHANNEL for the up to the minute forcast.  

#1-SUPER BOWL PREDICTION:  This is tough for me.  Usually one team has a clear advantage over the other and we know it off the bat.  Then we spend these two down weeks trying to see cracks in the favorite and the light in the underdog.  This year, both were the best in the league and both are legit Super Bowl winners.  A great offense against a great defense.  That's what the glamour is about.  But on the other side of the ball, we have an little suspect offense against a suspect defense.  There's special teams.  And there is the weather.
I will be rooting for Denver.  No other reason than ... and this seems silly ... but I had Peyton Manning as my quarterback in my keeper fantasy league for 7 seasons and grew accustomed to rooting for him to do well.  I'll find myself rooting for the Broncos to win.  But Seattle has these above statistics working in their favor -- the stats about dominant defenses in the Super Bowl -- plus I think the weather will factor into this game, even if there is no snow.  I'd rather have Pete Carroll prepping for this game more than John Fox ... and I think very highly of Foxy.  I also believe Seattle has the commitment to run the ball and keep Peyton off the field and out of rhythm.  To me, those factors point to Seattle as the winners of this game.  

Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, 24-20