RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We turn now to competitive fishing and Swedish long ball. OK. I kid. We're going to talk about the Super Bowl because the Broncos and the Seahawks are taking the field tonight to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. We're joined by NPR's Mike Pesca, who is in our New York studios. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello, how are you? I've got my money on the perch in the competitive fishing.
MARTIN: On the perch. The perch. Always the perch. OK. So, you know, this is a huge game. We're talking about the best offense versus the best defense in the league, right?
PESCA: Right. And I think that - and this is true - and in fact with the Broncos, not just the best offense, it's the best all-time offense - 606 points in the regular season. And that alone convinces some people that what's happened so far is past is prologue and is going to predict the game. But I, you know, in the week leading up to the game there's so much talk, and so much of it is statistically based. But I just always come back to the fact that in the sport of football there are only 16 games. It's an extremely small sample size. So, I'm not saying that Denver doesn't have a great offense. I'm not saying that Seattle doesn't have a defense that held opponents to 14 points. But, you know, when you talk about baseball, that's 160 games; when you talk about basketball, it's 81 games, plus they play, you know, almost 20 games before they get to the Finals. I just don't think that statistical set that we see is that indicative. And then add to the fact, you know, the Broncos and Seahawks have both played 18 games but only against 13 different opponents. And the Broncos played against the second-easiest set of defenses and the Seahawks played against second-easiest set of offenses. So...
MARTIN: So, you're saying this is a myth, that the Broncos don't have the best offense and the Seahawks don't have the...
PESCA: I think they absolutely do but I don't know that you can say, hey, 37.5 points in the regular season. That's all you need to know. That's far from all you need to know.
MARTIN: What about the whole Peyton Manning claim? I mean, the greatest quarterback ever, right?
PESCA: I think that's, again, based on the statistic of going into this game he's 11-11 in the playoffs. Now, I get that, and I get the fact that he could be called the greatest player ever if he loses. But, you know, there is something too. There's been a backlash. There had been so many people writing that how could you even question Peyton Manning's legacy. Win or lose, he's one of the greatest. Yeah, but win, he is the greatest. It's the funny thing about legacies. I mean, two Super Bowl wins are an amazing accomplishment. If John Updike had won one Pulitzer Prize instead of two Pulitzer Prizes, that would be less notable. And it's weird - I was thinking about actors and directors and Pulitzer Prizes - the work was already done. So, in the case of, you know, an artist it's just someone looking at it and saying, oh yeah, you deserve a prize. But with Manning, this is his work. So, if the working isn't as good, it's like saying, well, if John Updike didn't write "Rabbit, Run," would his legacy be a little worse? I think it would be a little worse. I think that's fair.
MARTIN: You're not going to tell me who you think's going to win real quick...
PESCA: Yes, I pick Updike. Oh, no. I think it might be the Seahawks but I don't know.
PESCA: Yeah, just because I think everyone's gone crazy for the Broncos. And they're great, but yeah.
MARTIN: All right. Curveball. What you got?
PESCA: Well, speaking of the Seahawks, one of my favorite Seahawks to talk to this week was their place-kicker, Steven Hauschka. He had to decide between dental school and playing in the NFL. He chose the NFL, yes. But I brought him a test. I brought to his attention a chart of the teeth and asked him to name that tooth. Here's some of that. What is tooth number eight?
STEVEN HAUSCHKA: Oh my - oh, my mom's not going to be happy about this.
PESCA: Now, his mom is a dentist. His brother is a dentist. I thought I'd give him another chance to name that tooth.
HAUSCHKA: I should know that. Give me another one.
PESCA: All right - 32. I think you could maybe get 32.
HAUSCHKA: A molar.
PESCA: Yeah, good job. And how about number...
HAUSCHKA: Is this an incisor?
PESCA: Yes, it is. And then he went back. It looks like it was veering left but he split the uprights with incisor. That guy could be a dentist if he wants to be.
MARTIN: You should keep that guy's number in case of a, you know, late-night emergency.
PESCA: I do have this weird pain in the back of my - yeah.
MARTIN: I know, right? NPR's Mike Pesca. Hey, happy game watching, Mike.
PESCA: You too. Enjoy the guacamole.
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MARTIN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Go Broncos.
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