Whether you are a dedicated NFL follower or not, there is no denying the Super Bowl gets people’s attention.
The 2014 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks was the most watched television show in U.S History, with over 115 million viewers tuning in.
The 2016 Super Bowl is the 50th and will be staged in Santa Clara, California. An area just outside San Francisco and home to the San Francisco 49ers. The host of the Super Bowl is chosen a few years in advance on the selection process is based on stadium quality and a few key factors such as capacity, space and facilities on offer. Given the criteria, the Super Bowl is often a driver for cities and franchises to renovate and upgrade their stadiums, just as the 49ers did with Levi Stadium. Considered the ‘greenest’ and one the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world it opened in 2014 and cost $1.8 billion to build.
The 49ers are well and truly out of the running this year for the Super Bowl, but four of the biggest teams in the league are left to battle out for a place in Super Bowl 50.
The conference championship round will see old rivals and two of the best quarterbacks in the league, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning battled it out for a place in the decider. Their teams the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will go to battle in the thin mountain air of Denver, Colorado. It is likely to be the last time these two great warriors go to battle. Manning is approaching age 40 and has been in and out of the Broncos starting line-up as he battled injury and form. Brady the reigning Super Bowl MVP and champion has had to deal with the ‘deflategate’ circus at the start of the season and a mid-season slump as his team lost several star players.
Both teams finished the regular season at 12-4, and the Broncos pulled off a last minute victor over the Patriots earlier in the season to claim home field advantage. Brady will be aiming for a 7th Super Bowl appearance and whilst he takes much of the focus and accolades, the success of the Patriots will rely on his support cast of Julian Edelan and Rob Gronkowski and their ability to get into the end zone and provide a target for Brady. Many had written Peyton Manning and the Broncos off earlier in the season as their offense struggled. Held together by their all-star defence, the Broncos have found a way to score enough and keep progressing. They will need to continue to find a way to score to make it through to the Super Bowl and much of that will depend on the veteran Manning. Will one final chance at glory be enough motivation for him to find something in his bag of tricks? Sunday Night Football in Denver will determine that.
On the other side of the country, the two forms teams in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals will battle it out for the NFC Championship, in what is shaping up as an even better game than the Super Bowl decider. The Panthers blitzed through the 2016 season, dropping only one game to finish 15-1. The Cardinals were just as impressive at 13-3, but almost didn’t make it this far with an outrageous last second Green Bay Packers play sending their playoff game into overtime. They held on to win and will need to find something special again to move into the big dance.
The Panthers have been lead exceptionally well by quarter back Cam Newton, who is the MVP favourite and looking for a debut Super Bowl appearance. Newton is a beast and has racked up some stunning numbers this season. He has thrown 35 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions but what makes him so dynamic and dangerous, is his ability to run the football. 636 yards rushed and 10 personal touchdowns are wow stats and the Cardinals will need to find a way to stop him.
All four teams will be looking for a piece of the Super Bowl pie. The chance to become part of Sporting Folklore and Super Bowl history beckons.
The football is just one small part of the Super Bowl show. Coldplay are headlining the half time entertainment this year, with rumoured special guests Beyonce and Rihanna. Expect to also see plenty of blockbuster adverts from the likes of Budweiser, Visa and Victoria Secret.
With over 115 million viewers, there is something for everyone on Super Bowl Sunday.
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