Volume 91, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

grape vine



Buckin' Broncos

For the first time in over a decade, football fans have something more to look forward to on Super Bowl Sunday than just keg parties and junk food. They are going to see a great football game between the National Football League's best two teams, the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers.

Never mind the fact an American Football Conference team has not won since 1983, the tide is about to turn. Facing a 13-point spread favouring the Packers and countless naysayers, the Broncos will become the first AFC team in 15 years to wear a Super Bowl ring.

History has never won football games, players have. Bookies can talk about lacklustre performances of AFC teams in recent years until they lose their breath. They can also mention how the skill in that conference doesn't compare to the National Football Conference. But the fact remains Denver will be making some pretty confident people do a double-take come Sunday.

Anchored by the AFC's top running back, Terrell Davis, the Broncos have fought their way through a tough playoff run and have become only the fifth wild-card team ever to get to the big show. With 424 yards rushing and five touchdowns in three playoff games, Davis is getting set to run over the much-heralded Packer defence.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' defence had not allowed a 100-yard game by any running back all season until Davis trampled them for 139 yards in the AFC championship game on Jan. 11. The Kansas City Chiefs' offensive linemen also watched Davis sprint past them the weekend before when the Broncos won 14-10 and he rushed for 101 yards. The 184 yards in the 42-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars also speaks volumes towards his incredible skills.

However, the passing prowess of the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the last two years, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, can not be dismissed. He ranks among the top passers the league has seen in recent years and has the ability to gun his way to a Super Bowl championship. Favre's competitive hunger should make for a good game, but if the AFC's top-rated defensive unit, the Broncos, can step up like they have throughout their playoff run, the Packers won't walk away with this game.

This is partly because Favre's counterpart, veteran Bronco quarterback John Elway, is ready to shine. After being within sniffing distance of a championship ring three times, Elway is now at the helm of the NFL's number one offence and unless he's been taking lessons from former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly over the past two weeks, his day of glory will come this weekend.

Frustration and bad luck has plagued the Broncos in recent years but throughout the playoff drive they have been seeking revenge on every opponent they face. An upset in the playoffs last year dealt by Jacksonville was heartily avenged in a first-round blood-bath while vengeance was also dealt in the next two games they played against Kansas City and Pittsburgh – teams Denver lost to during the regular season. Green Bay is just the next target for the Broncos to seek vengeance on the NFC for the last 15 years.

Two top-ranked offences squaring-off against defences that would both make a 300-pound offensive lineman wet his pants, sets the stage for a game which could even overshadow the commercials at half-time.

The 32nd Super Bowl promises to be a squeaker, but after fighting for two road wins and beating the odds so far, the Broncos are looking pretty strong. Their book of destiny has been written and all football fans have to do is flip to the last few pages. Sunday will see a new champion crowned.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998