The Buffalo Bills are six-point favorites to win Super Bowl XXV over the New York Giants. That should be good news for Bills fans, since Super Bowl favorites have a history of proving the oddsmaker's right.

In the 24 previous Super Bowls, 15 favorites have gone on to win the game. That includes five of the past six years and 12 of the past 17. In the early years of the game, favorites took their lumps - winning just three of the first seven.The last time the Super Bowl was played in Tampa Stadium, however, the favorite lost. That year, the Washington Redskins were picked to beat the Oakland Raiders by three points. Final score: Raiders 38, Redskins 9.

For whatever reason, for the past 11 years the Super Bowl has favored quarterbacks whose first name starts with the letter "J."

Sunday's game marks the 11th straight year the game will have a "J" at quarterback. In this case, two of them - Jeff Hostetler of the New York Giants and Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills.

The rundown: 1981, Jim Plunkett, Raiders; 1982, Joe Montana, 49ers; 1983, Joe Theismann, Redskins; 1984, Joe Theismann and Jim Plunkett; 1985, Joe Montana; 1986, Jim McMahon, Bears; 1987, John Elway, Broncos; 1988, John Elway; 1989, Joe Montana; 1990, Joe Montana and John Elway.

Former BYU quarterback Steve Young, the celebrated backup to San Francisco's Joe Montana, came within four seconds and a 42-yard Matt Bahr New York Giants field goal of starting his first Super Bowl game here this week.

Montana injured his hand in Sunday's 15-13 loss to the Giants and had it operated on Monday. He said he wouldn't have been able to play in another game this season.

Said Young to reporters, "This is unbelievable. We were as close as you can get (to trying for three straight Super Bowl wins). How many times do people in sport come so close to this kind of pinnacle?"

ADD FAVORITES: In the only two previous Super Bowls (prior to this one) played without the traditional two-week break, the underdog won (Chiefs over the Vikings 23-7 in SB IV and Redskins over the Dolphins 27-17 in SB XVII).

In an attempt to duplicate the success of their last, and only, Super Bowl visit - a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in 1986 - the New York Giants started out this trip the same way. They contacted the man who flew their charter flight to Pasadena in '86, Augie Stasio, and had him fly the team plane here to Tampa.

Counterfeiters don't figure to have a good week in Tampa. For the first time, Super Bowl tickets will be emblazoned with a special hologram to foil would-be copiers. The hologram is a 3-D view of Tampa Stadium and the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Developed by the Polaroid Corporation, the hologram cannot be dulplicated.

Tickets for Sunday's game are priced at $150 apiece, for all seats, regardless of location.

Veteran Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula thinks the switch this year from two weeks to one week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl is a bad change.

"One week is a nightmare," he was quoted as saying in a Tampa newspaper. "Two weeks give you time to heal up and get your game plan in before the week at the site."

Shula's record in Super Bowls is 2-3. That includes a 27-17 loss to Washington in 1983, when there was just one week between the championship games and the Super Bowl due to a strike that season.

The reason for the switch to one week this season is because of the lengthened regular season to accommodate television.