Talk all you want to about NFC dominance; about San Francisco's edge on defense; on the experience of the 49ers in big games (some of which, by the way, they've lost.)

But the reason they will win the Super Bowl comes down to one thing - more 49ers have spent the week enduring the sideshow: 20, compared to seven for the Bengals.So Roger Craig will smile when the guy with the microphone tells him: "David Fulcher says he'll kick your butt, what do you say to that?" But Ickey Woods, who shuffles better than than he answers questions, may growl when the same guy tells him Jeff Fuller has said that about him.

And what will the Bengals do on picture day - the misnamed media session that also allows pencils and microphones at the players? That was the one at which another microphone spent the session last year telling players: "I talked to the Top Gun pilots and they all say they admire you. What do you think of them?"

So by the time the Bengals get at the 49ers, their brains will be muddled.

The game plan will be confused with visions of people asking, as one did last year: "If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?" Just as Jerry Rice is making a move on Eric Thomas, Thomas will be thinking of the guy who asks the question asked every year: "What's the dumbest question you've been asked this week?"

"That one," Dan Marino replied in 1985.

In reality, the Bengals probably have as good a chance of beating the 49ers as any AFC team has had in the four years the NFC teams have won by an average score of 41-14. They have a balanced offense, an underrated defense and considerable confidence.

But the 49ers have the experience. They also have, in Michael Carter, the man who can disrupt Woods, James Brooks and Stanley Wilson and force Boomer Esiason to throw first and run second - the Bengals are better off the other way.

Moreover, the Cincinnati secondary is good. But it's also young. And without too much pass rush, it's hard to conceive of anyone there holding Rice to less than 100 yards and a touchdown or two.

The running game? Tim Krumrie is a good nose tackle, but the ends are undersized, the linebackers nothing special and Roger Craig should get enough room to gain 100 yards or so.