The Buffalo Bills are going to win the Super Bowl. You can almost smell an upset in the making.
I know what you're thinking: This guy is losing his marbles, picking Buffalo.
Hey, I'm not saying the Bills have a better football team than Dallas. The Cowboys are a powerhouse, favored by 10 1/2 points -- and, gamblers say, they may close at 11 or 12. But the better team doesn't always win. Everybody should know that, especially in this town.
Were the New York Jets better than the Baltimore Colts when they met in Super Bowl III?
Of course not. That's why the Jets were 17 1/2 -point underdogs. But the Jets won the game, 16-7, and that's all that matters.
I learned something at that Colts-Jets game 25 years ago that still applies today. It applies to Buffalo-Dallas.
In Miami, the day before the game, I asked the Colts' Ray Perkins what he honestly thought the outcome would be. Ray was considered a thinker, an analytical guy, which was born out later when he became a big-time coach.
"Off the record?" Perkins said.
"Sure," I agreed.
"You promise you won't write this and give the Jets something to put on their bulletin board?" he asked.
"I'm finished writing my pre-game stuff," I told him.
"We'll beat them easy," Perkins said disdainfully, almost as if the question were silly. "We just beat the Cleveland Browns, 34-0, to win the National Football League championship. The Browns are a better football team than the New York Jets."
So much of any sport is psychological. If a team thinks it has it made, it's probably in trouble. All it takes is the loss of a slight edge. And Dallas has every reason to think it's in for an easy time.
I can imagine a Dallas player, asked by a wife, a sibling, a parent -- someone he confides in -- how he thinks the Cowboys will do. And he answers, Ray Perkins-like:
"We'll win easy. We just crushed the 49ers, 38-21, to win the NFC championship. The 49ers are better than Buffalo."
And then there's last year's Super Bowl and the lingering humiliation of the Bills' 52-17 loss.
The Bills were horrible that day. No question. Nine turnovers. The game was as good as over even before Michael Jackson's
halftime show. It was the third straight Super Bowl loss for Buffalo.
When it was over, people were saying, only half-kiddingly, that the AFC should be disqualified from Super Bowls. No AFC team has won one since the Raiders in 1984.
No wonder the headlines this week have been a monumental insult to the Bills: "Not So Super Bowl" is becoming a cliche. A New York tabloid headlined: "Pokes vs. Jokes."
Do you know which is the NFL's winningest team in the '90s? It's the Buffalo Bills, who have won 49 regular-season games and are in their fourth straight Super Bowl.
That doesn't sound like a joke to me, but the more the critics pour it on, the better it is for Buffalo.
It would be hard for the Cowboys not to be overconfident. On Media Day in Atlanta this week, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson may have made a Freudian slip when he said: "There's got to be frustration with Buffalo. They've lost four Super Bowls in a row."
The Bills, with nothing to lose, should have a great attitude. They're a joke, remember?
The Bills have character. After last year's Super Bowl, I thought they were finished. I certainly didn't think they would be back for this Super Bowl but here they are. That took character.
The Bills come into this at the top of their game. They were impressive in beating Kansas City, 30-13, last week for the AFC title.
"They have a hell of a football team," said Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer after that game. The Bills didn't look like a joke to him.
Dallas probably has better talent than Buffalo. Emmitt Smith is the best running back in the game, but Thurman Thomas is close. Troy Aikman may be the man at quarterback, but Jim Kelly remains one of the best and is coming off his two best games of the year.
Don't forget: Dallas is a different team without Smith, and his shoulder is only 90 percent.
The concussion Aikman suffered against the 49ers may not hurt him Sunday, but it sure won't help. The tabs are calling him "Ache-Man." Joe Montana, KO'd the same day, is out of the Pro Bowl Feb. 5.
It won't take a miracle, you know, for Buffalo to beat Dallas. The Bills have already done it once this year, 13-10, when Smith was holding out.
Final score: Buffalo 24; Dallas 21.