On the good old days of picking Super Bowl winners — well, runners-up

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Oh, no. It’s here again.

Those of you who read my columns in the paper over the years know that today, the holiest of days on the football calendar, was nearly always a day of disappointment.

Disappointment? I should have been so lucky.

Today was the day my Super Bowl prediction, in tandem with first Rick Shepich, then Brian Beaupied, would fearlessly make the case why my team would win.

And, most of the time, I heard a lot of this: “I read your column,” the smart-alecks would say, “and I won big taking the other team.”

But it was worse than that.

I’d have to go into the office on Monday and endure the preening, the celebrating, the chest thrust out with inordinate pride.

“You’ll win next year,” they’d say. Then laugh maniacally.

I threatened to remember it at evaluation time, which brought more laughter, not that they were in any fear, but because they knew I’d forget it long before then.

Sigh.

For the last decade, I’ve been going to ex-Brighton coach Bill Murray’s house to watch the game with his family and his brother’s family.

I thought it was because they liked me and figured I was a good guy, but the losing streak, and the comic possibilities, were too much to resist, apparently.

Two years ago, when the opening snap whizzed by Peyton Manning’s head for a safety, Bill turned to me.

“You took Denver, didn’t you?” he asked, rhetorically. Seattle 43, Denver 8.

Brian texted me from the office. I suspected he was already twerking at his desk. I didn’t want to know.

Last year, I took New England to win and was all set to go to Bill’s house for the game.

You’ll remember that it snowed that day. About 16 inches. So I stayed home.

The Patriots won.

I go to the office the next day. “How’s it going, Brian?” I asked the next day.

“Fine,” he said. “Who won the game?’ More laughter.

Shucks.

I vowed to wait for my revenge, to lord my supremacy in next year’s dueling columns.

Well, you know how that worked out.

So there’s no one to battle this year, which is good and bad.

I think Carolina will win, because I can’t see the Denver defense pinning Cam Newton down all day. Not sure how Atlanta did it in the Panthers’ only loss of the season.

The Broncos are great on that side of the ball, but they’re human, and if they’re on the field all of the time, fatigue sets in, and bad things often happen after that.

Sentimentality will be a big theme in this game.

Peyton Manning is the oldest starting QB ever in the Super Bowl, and, statistically, he had the worst regular season of any starting quarterback in the game’s history.

But if the Broncos can hold onto the ball and keep Newton off the field, they have a puncher’s chance.

You can say that, by picking Carolina, I’m taking the easy way out. It’s always best to pick the favorite, right?

Take 2012. Please.

I took the Patriots, in part because the New York Giants struggled to get in. Finally, I would be able to go into the office, head held high.

Giants 21, Patriots 17.

So the pressure is off. At last. Until next year.

Carolina 35, Denver 10.