My series previewing the top 2020-21 college football prospects concludes today with a look at the most paramount position in world sports: quarterback.
The Super Bowl is undoubtedly the single biggest sporting event on the planet. This year’s edition promises to be an even grander affair, with it being Super Bowl 50, held in Santa Clara, California.
The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will fight out for the honours, now let’s get stuck into this comprehensive guide so you know what’s going on.
When is the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl will take place on Monday, February 8, beginning at 10.30am (AEST).
How can I watch the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl will be on both 7Mate and ESPN, meaning that it is accessible to everyone. Both will be in HD so if you have the choice it’ll come down to whether you want to watch Home and Away ads on 7Mate or 30 for 30 doco ads on ESPN.
The announcers are Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. You may be familiar with their work from Thursday Night Football if you have watched NFL during the regular season.
About those ads, aren’t they really expensive?
Yes, Super Bowl ads have a reputation for being incredibly expensive. The going rate for a 30-second timeslot during the coverage is $5 million USD, an absurd amount of money. Unfortunately, in Australia we don’t get the privilege of viewing these ads but here is a collection of some of the best ones from last year.
Isn’t the entertainment kinda famous as well?
The entertainment for some is the biggest part of the Super Bowl, with the most famous Super Bowl entertainment moment being when Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet Jackson’s top and her right breast was exposed.
America went crazy over the incident, but fortunately for Jackson, social media such as Twitter weren’t around which would have made it explode further.
This year Beyoncé and Coldplay are performing. Beyoncé becomes the first woman to perform twice at the Super Bowl, cementing herself as the number one performer in the entertainment industry.
I find gridiron confusing, can you explain the basics?
Firstly, the game itself is called gridiron and the national competition is called the NFL, much like in Australia where the national competition is the AFL but the sport is Australian rules.
The game consists of four 15-minute quarters. There are three separate teams within one football team, offence, defence and special teams. Special teams are primarily made up of both offence and defensive players as well as the punter and the kicker.
On offence, to keep possession of the ball, you must move the ball at least ten yards every three plays, or downs. If you fail to progress the ball ten yards, it is common to punt the ball away on the fourth down. On offence, you can either pass the ball with the quarterback or run the ball with the running back.
If you get close enough to the end zone and use your three downs and haven’t progressed the ten required yards, then you have the option to kick a field goal which is worth three points.
A touchdown is worth six points, with the conversion worth an extra point. You can also attempt a two-point conversion, where you need to score another touchdown with a play starting at the two-yard line.
What about the teams in the Super Bowl?
The two teams in the Super Bowl are the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Both teams finished as the number one seed in their respective conferences.
Carolina finished the regular season 15-1 and the Broncos finished 12-4. In the playoffs, Carolina have accounted for Seattle and Arizona rather comfortably, while Denver have defeated Pittsburgh and last year’s champions New England in rather close games.
Tell me something interesting about the quarterbacks?
The quarterback is traditionally the most important player of any NFL franchise and for these two teams it is no different. The Panthers quarterback is Cam Newton, who will certainly be the MVP of the NFL this season, while the Broncos rely on Peyton Manning, who is a top five quarterback all time but has struggled with injuries and father-time this season.
Both these quarterbacks were drafted with pick one in their respective drafts (1999, 2011). This will be the first time in NFL history that two number one picks will face off in the Super Bowl.
Newton is on the verge of completing something of a ‘Cam Slam’ with a Super Bowl victory as he will become the second man to win the Heisman Trophy (College MVP), College national championship, NFL MVP and Super Bowl. He will also become the sixth man to win both the Heisman Trophy and the NFL MVP, joining many hall of famers.
Speaking of hall of famers, Manning is the biggest certainty of all time to be in the hall of fame at the first opportunity. Statistically, he is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Manning holds the record for the most passing yards, most touchdowns and most quarterback wins. He also has single-season records of most touchdowns and most passing yards in a season, which were both set in 2013, the last time Denver went to the Super Bowl.
In the playoffs, though, his record isn’t as flash as it currently sits at 13-13, giving him the unwanted record of most playoff losses by a quarterback.
Who are some other important players?
The most important player for the Broncos is defensive pass rusher Von Miller, who was picked number two in the draft Newton was taken (2011). Incidentally, this is the first time that the top two picks in a draft have faced off in a Super Bowl.
Miller is so important to the Broncos due to his ability to rush after the quarterback. He is an incredibly fast athlete that terrorised the Patriots and Tom Brady last week recording 2.5 sacks. If Miller is able to get after Newton and stop him, it’ll go a long way to helping the Broncos.
On the Panthers side of the ball, running back Jonathan Stewart is going to be integral to the Carolina gameplan. In the post-season he has averaged 96.5 yards per game.
Stewart is very important for Carolina because it allows the pressure to be taken off Newton and the unheralded Carolina receivers. He is having a career-best season having been previously injury prone. If Stewart is able to pull off big runs and get tough first downs, the Carolina offence may be able to gas the best defence in football.
Who is going to win?
Las Vegas currently have the Carolina Panthers as 6.5 point favourites to win the Super Bowl, indicating that this is theirs to lose. The big difference between the two teams is the current quality of the respective quarterbacks.
With Newton doing things that the NFL has never seen before, it’ll be up to a Denver defence that is one of the greatest of all time to stop him. For the Broncos, it all depends on whether their stuttering offence is able to score points against a Carolina defence that is also one of the elite in the NFL this year.
Super Bowls are weird and things happen that you don’t see in any other game. Unexpected occurrences are expected and coaches bring out trick plays that they have been saving all season for this very game.
This is likely Manning’s last ever NFL game and I believe he will ride off into the sunset with a second Super Bowl ring and the Broncos will come away with a 23-22 victory.
What is your prediction for the Super Bowl? Does Manning have one great performance left in him? Or will Newton continue his ascension to superstardom? Share your thoughts in the comments below.