FOR those who prefer chitchat to intense viewing at Super Bowl parties, this year's game may suit them to a T. Many experts predict that the San Francisco 49ers will win a landslide victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Jan. 29, turning ABC's game telecast into white noise for the social set.
Their evidence? Exhibit A is the result of the Dec. 11 regular-season matchup of these teams. San Francisco won easily, 38-15, after jumping out to a 21-0 lead on San Diego's home turf.
This outcome, despite a good effort by Chargers quarterback Stan Humphries, could raise doubts in any National Football League team, and its impact on the Chargers - pro or con - may manifest itself on Super Bowl Sunday in Miami.
Any one game can paint a false picture, but the season-long numbers posted by the 49ers and Chargers confirm the sizable differences between these teams.
What they don't show is that San Diego was a mere .500 team a year ago, although a division champion, and was a 4-12 cellar-dweller not long before that.
The 49ers, by contrast, have become a perennial blue-chip franchise, with 11 playoff appearances in the last 12 seasons.
Now, despite cries that the Super Bowl will be ``anticlimactic,'' the 49ers have plenty of incentive to win. For one, payday is greener for winners - $42,000, versus $26,000 for each loser. Maybe more important, the Niners will be playing for a place in history as the first five-time NFL champion.
The underdog's role suited the Chargers well in the playoffs, and they surely will be happy to bring their Rodney Dangerfield I-don't-get-no-respect attitude to the game. Sometimes it helps to wear a chip on one's shoulder pads, as it did for the New York Jets, whose upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III still serves as a beacon of hope for any underdog.
Many people are just happy to see a new team in the Super Bowl, and welcome the Chargers. History, however, is not been kind to first-time participants.
Only two franchises new to the game have ever beaten teams with previous experience: the Pittsburgh Steelers (over Minnesota in 1975) and the New York Giants (over the Denver Broncos in 1987).