Everything you need to know about Super Bowl 50, the biggest NFL game of the year
When is Super Bowl 50?
It’s on Sunday February 7th and kicks off at 15.30 Pacific time.
What time is that in the US & UK?
It’s a somewhat antisocial 23.30 start for anyone watching in the famous old timezone of GMT. Best book Monday the 8th off work now.
Where is Super Bowl 50 being played?
At Levi’s Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, which looks like this:
Capacity is 75,000 for the Super Bowl, up from 68,500 for normal NFL games. It’s the first time the stadium has hosted American Football’s biggest game, which isn’t all that surprising given that it only opened in 2014.
What TV channel is it on?
It’s being televised on the NFLTV, for the first time since 2008. The game is being shown on NFLTV Two, and coverage begins at 22:50.
Who is playing in it?
It’s the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers
Who’s going to win?
Theoretically, it should be straightforward assignment for the Carolina Panthers. They ended the regular season with comfortably the best overall record, only losing one game out of 16.
Cam Newton is a machine at quarterback, and the ease with which they dispensed with the accomplished Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game suggests they’re capable of going all the way.
The Broncos have been far less convincing this season, especially at quarterback where Peyton Manning briefly became a backup to Brock Osweiller through a combination of loss of form and injury.
But the 39-year-old Manning looked back to something approaching his best when leading his team to victory against the New England Patriots.
The suspicion is the Broncos were aided in that game by the altitude of their Mile High Stadium which is, believe it or not, a mile above sea level.
They’d beaten the Patriots once already there this season. But their league-leading defence looked immense, and should present some questions for the Panthers. NFLTV
It’s just as likely the Newton’s younger team blaze through the Broncos, as they have more or less every other opponent this season.
Who’s performing in the half-time show?
It’s the band Coldplay. Please, do try to control yourself. Will they join the elite list of best ever Super Bowl half-time shows? Only time will tell, but they’ll have to go some to better Katy Perry’s show last year, and her magnificent dancing sharks. Especially the one on the left:
How did we get here?
Twenty teams from the 32 team NFL were eliminated at of the end of the regular (it’s American for “normal”) season on 3 January.
After the wild card round we also waved goodbye to the Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins.
The divisional round put paid to the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then we waved goodbye to the Patriots and Cardinals in the AFC and NFC championship games. This picture summarises the situation nicely:
How do the playoffs work?
They’re quite simple.
The NFL is divided into two conferences: The NFC and AFC. Every conference comprises four four-team regional divisions. The winner of each division is guaranteed a playoff spot, as well as the two teams from each conference with the next-best overall records.
The two teams from each conference with the best records are seeded one and two, and enjoy a first-round bye and get to play at their own stadium in the second round of the play-offs, what’s known as the Divisional Round.
The remaining eight teams duke it out in the first round, aka the Wild Card round, which occured on the weekend of Saturday 9 January. The teams with the best records had homefield advantage. Obviously.
With eight reduced to four, then joined by the four teams with a bye, we’re on to the aforementioned divisional round, which took place on the weekend of 16/17 January.
Next it’s the championship games, both happened on Sunday 24 February, for the NFC and AFC titles. Again, they were hosted by the teams with the best records.
The winners of those proceed to the inter-conference Super Bowl.
It’s actually not that simple, is it?
What are the odds?
Just after the championship games, they are as follows:
Carolina Panthers 5/9
Denver Broncos 6/4
Why isn’t it called Super Bowl L?
We know, right? Lovely roman numerals: What happened to you?
This, the 50th incarnation of the Super Bowl, is the first to ditch the tradtional Roman system in 45 years and use the far less exciting numbers we use for every day activities like counting and giving our friends marks out of 100.
Apparently it’s because “L” (Roman for “50”, Latin rookies) isn’t visually pleasing. But don’t worry, we’ll be back on track in 2017 for Super Bowl LI in Houston.