What’s ‘The Big One’ for you? The FA Cup Final? Wimbledon? The Open Championship? C’mon, everyone has an annual sporting event that really gets them excited. It might even be the PDC darts world championship, snooker’s World Championship or even WrestleMania (hey, we don’t judge anyone here).
For many people, it’s the Super Bowl. America’s biggest sporting event, the crescendo of the NFL season is an absolute ratings crusher. And not just in the USA. American football is now popular across the world, with fans from all continents tuning in to see pigskin thrown about the place.
Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for anyone not down with Roman numerals) is upon us and sports fans from all over are gearing up for another epic showdown. You don’t even need to be a huge football fan to enjoy proceedings. It’s a global event that hundreds of millions of people will be tuning in for and there’s more than enough to enjoy even if you’re not an NFL nut.
Whether you’re staying up at home or pulling an all-nighter down your nearest Rileys for this year’s Super Bowl, you’re going to need some information ammunition. So here’s your at-a-glance guide to the action…
This year’s Super Bowl is replay of the 2005 showdown. NFC champs the Philadelphia Eagles face off against the much-fancied might of AFC supremos, the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick’s Boston warriors are expected to win, in what’s being called the biggest mismatch in two decades of Super Bowl action. But don’t write off the Eagles completely. Doug Pederson’s charges are no pushovers, as they demonstrated in their play-off hammering of the Minnesota Vikings.
You may remember the Pats won last year after a HUGE comeback. Losing 28-9 going into the fourth and final quarter, star quarterback Tom Brady smashed through the pack with a late surge, before James White went over to score an incredible late winning touchdown. Queue, as the kids say, ‘scenes’.
Where’s it taking place?
America’s most spectacular annual sports event will take place in Minneapolis this year. Home to beaten play-off hopefuls the Minnesota Vikings (who, had they have won would have become the first team to ever play at home in a Super Bowl), the US Bank Stadium is a beast of a venue. It seats 66,665 football fans, it’s entirely indoor and was built only two years ago at a cost of just over $1.12bn.
Atmosphere is all but guaranteed as the stadium was built with intentionally acoustically-reflective materials, making for a seriously LOUD place to be when the crowd starts to ROAR.
The action, as ever, takes place on a Sunday night. Ideal if you’ve got a little holiday to take for Monday – it’s the ultimate weekend stretcher. Less so if you absolutely have to go to work the next day. Still, it’s only once a year, eh?
This year’s Super Bowl is going down on February the 4th. Get it in your diaries.
What time is the Super Bowl on?
The game kicks off at 5.30pm. The only trouble is for us lot this side of the Atlantic… That’s not GMT. It starts at 11.30pm UK time. So expect a late one. A very, very late one.
What channel is the Super Bowl on?
Sky Sports subscribers can watch all the action over on, the appropriately-titled Sky Sports Action. It’s also being shown on Sky Sports Main Event and even Sky Sports Mix (which doesn’t require a subscription). Build-up should start from around 10pm.
The BBC are also airing the whole thing, likely to be from a little later. Perhaps around 11pm their coverage should start.
You can also catch it if you have a Now TV Sports Pass. Yet another option is to watch it all as part of the NFL Gamepass Playoffs package. If you have access to whatever that is.
What to eat, drink and do during the game
There’s a very strict eating and drink regime to Super Bowls. If you want to do it right, that is.
Drinks – If you’re boozing, it’s light beer all the way. Preferably bottled, we’re talking American, of course. You want Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra… Also acceptable are normal Budweiser, PBR or Sam Adams. European lagers like Amstel, Heineken and Beck’s will do if you’re stuck.
If you’re driving or just don’t really appreciate Monday morning hangovers, it’s Pepsi or Coke. Unless you have access to Mountain Dew or – for that real sporting kick – a vat of Gatorade for dumping over someone’s head when your team wins.
Now onto the food. You need to eat throughout, with no breaks. We’re talking pizza and buffalo chicken wings, mostly. And while you’re waiting for the hot stuff to cook/arrive, it’s all about keeping yourself full of crisps (sorry, ‘potato chips’) and nachos.
FUN/OBSCENE FACT: More than 1.33 BILLION chicken wings will be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday.
A quick reminder of the rules
Well, they’re complicated. As the image above kind of suggests. Alright, here goes…
Each team has 45 players, but only eleven of them are on the field at any one time. The way to score points is to have one of your players in the opposition’s ‘end zone’ while holding the ball. They can either run into the end zone with the ball or catch it while standing there. That’s a touchdown and it’s worth six points.
Points can also be scored for field goals where a player kicks the ball in between the uprights (that’s three points). A kicked conversion counts as a point too, those are available post-touchdown. There’s also a two-point ‘safety’ prize for tackling the team on the offence in their own end zone.
The game is an hour long, split into four fifteen minute ‘quarters’.
Similar to cricket, one side will be playing ‘offense’ and trying to score points, while the other team is ‘defense’ and attempting to limit their opponent’s scoring. This alternates.
The game is all about yardage. The team on the offense/offence is pushing to gain yardage and push the defense/defence back until a scoring opportunity presents itself. It’s all achieved with ‘plays’ and ‘downs’, basically small moves to win yardage/chances.
So, yeah. It’s like that. But a thousand times more complex!
How about the half-time show?
The Super Bowl halftime show is now almost as famous as the game itself. We’ve seen the likes of Pink, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Katy Perry performing in the last few years. And now it’s a lad’s turn. Justin Timberlake, specifically. It’s JT’s third time performing, so he’s an old pro. His first was with NSYNC back in 2001. And the last time? Well, you might just remember that…
It was Super Bowl XXXVIII back in 2004. The year of Janet Jackson’s ‘accidental’ wardrobe malfunction. Will we see something similar with Timberlake’s pants and his little Justin? Let’s hope not, eh?
What’s happening with the famous half-time commercial?
It’s not just the half time show that people get excited about when play breaks midway through. The ads whip up a storm too, weirdly enough. Being the year’s most-watched televised event makes the commercial event the holy grail for advertisers. But it comes with a price tag. A big one. It’s $5m for one thirty second airing!
This year sees a range of messages, many rather lamely tinged with politics. Expect ads from Skittles, M&Ms, GroupOn, Pepsi, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Hyundai. But the stand-out ad? A collaboration between Doritos and Mountain Dew. It’s set to star Morgan Freeman and Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage. And early word stateside is that it’s due to be pretty darn funny. Not that many of us in the UK will see it, of course.
Who do I want to win…?
Well, this will all depend. If you’re already into your NFL, maybe you already follow one of these teams. Or, if you don’t, you prefer one of the sides.
But if you’re new to football or just a casual observer and you fancy cheering one of the sides on, your choice is simple – dominant favourites? Or plucky outsiders? Do you side with class or do you dig the underdog? The Pats go into the game as overwhelming favourites with the bookmakers (they’re 1/2 with most). Whereas their Eagle rivals aren’t much fancied at all (they’re 2/1 to win).
Maybe you fancy backing the city. The Patriots come from Boston, the oldest – and rudest – city in the United States. Home of clam chowder, Yale and Mark Wahlberg, it’s where Cheers was set. The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, hail from The City of Brotherly Love, home of the Philly cheese steak, Will Smith and Rocky Balboa.
Can I watch it out somewhere?
Of course you can. If you don’t fancy having to clear away all those empty cans the next morning, you should head out for it. Chances are your local pub won’t be open all night showing all the action. So why not head down to your local Rileys?
It may not be a British sport or tradition, but it’s increasingly popular the world over and an event that can’t be missed if you’re a sports fan. Or someone who likes Justin Timberlake.
Fancy watching it with us at Riley’s? Of course you do! Tickets are £5 including a selected free drink (£15 at our Central London location, Rileys Haymarket). Just click below…
By the way, if you’re left feeling tired, hungover and full of buffalo wing meat the next day, just email your boss and skip work. We’ve even designed a Super Bowl sick note for you.
We really do think of everything.