Originally created 01/27/99

Broncos not overconfident



MIAMI -- The Atlanta Falcons won 16 games this season.

They lost twice.

Repeat: They lost only twice, so that -- if no other reason -- is why Broncos players insisted repeatedly Tuesday that being favored by seven points in Super Bowl XXXIII Sunday matters not at all, and why they scoff at suggestions they might be overconfident Sunday.

"We're playing a team that is at the top of their game," said Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski, who has been to three previous Super Bowls last year with the Broncos and twice with the 49ers without a loss. "We watched the films this week. We know what we're up against.

"We're going to have to play our best."

Aside from the Falcons' record, and the fact they beat the team with the best record in the NFL -- the Vikings -- to get to the Super Bowl, Broncos players said they have another reason for not being overconfident. The Broncos last season beat a team in an almost identical situation to theirs, the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers won the Super Bowl following the 1996 season and entered the game as 12-to-14-point favorites. Denver won, 31-24.

"Common sense tells you that everybody last year was talking about the Packers and that they were the favorites," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

"Atlanta pretty much comes into the situation that we came in last year -- the underdog -- and I don't know how many people are giving them a chance," Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "We learned from the mistake that Green Bay made. You have to respect your opponent and you have to prepare."

BEDTIME FOR BRONCOS: Broncos players believe there are more advantages to Super Bowl experience than fewer pre-game nerves. They figure they know how to behave on Super Bowl week, too.

The Broncos had a 1:30 a.m. curfew Tuesday -- their only off day of the week -- and have a 12:30 curfew until Saturday night, when bed check will be 11:15 p.m.

"Coming down and enjoying the place is good," Broncos fullback Howard Griffith said. "Sure, there a lot of distractions, but you've got to focus. It's one game. You don't play two of three.

"It behooves you to get your rest."

GUARANTEE?: Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is one of the few members of the Broncos taking the words of Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan seriously.

Buchanan last week guaranteed a Falcons victory on HBO's Inside the NFL. This week he said the guarantee was no big deal, but didn't retract it, either.

Shanahan said this week Buchanan will "have to live with his words," but Broncos players said they found the comment more silly than insulting.

"I don't comment on stupidity," Broncos cornerback Ray Crockett said.

"It's funny to me," Broncos receiver Rod Smith said. "It just shows the character of him because he has a lot of confidence in his play.

"Either way it goes, he's going to have to answer to it. Whether they win or lose, he's going to have to answer to his comments. I personally just wait until after Sunday. I can say what happens then."