What to know for Super Bowl LVII

Whether you’re a big football fan or just want to sound like one at your Super Bowl party, here are some key things to know about the biggest sports spectacle of the year.

A primer for the big game between Kansas City and Philly

A male football player wearing number 15 jogs across the field without his helmet on.
MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes can win his second Super Bowl title on Sunday. (Chris Unger/Getty Images)

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The NFL's championship game kicks off Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Arizona. Whether you're a big football fan or just want to sound like one at your Super Bowl party, here are some key things to know about the biggest sports spectacle of the year:

The Philadelphia Eagles are (ever so slightly) favoured to beat Kansas City. Even if you're sick of all the sports gambling ads on TV these days, you can still use the betting markets to glean insights into the game. The current line — Eagles by 1½ points — implies Philly has about a 53 per cent chance of beating K.C. in this matchup of teams that both went an NFL-best 14-3 in the regular season. Along with a close game, we should expect a lot of scoring. The consensus "over/under" betting total of 51 points is a touchdown higher than the NFL's regular-season average of 44 points scored per game.

This is Kansas City's third trip to the Super Bowl in four years. The triumvirate of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and head coach Andy Reid won their first title together in 2020, defeating San Francisco. After a blowout loss to Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021, Kansas City got upset in last year's AFC championship game by Cincinnati. But K.C. avenged that defeat by beating the Bengals 23-20 in their rematch a couple of weeks ago.

This Eagles team is quite different from the one that won the Super Bowl five years ago. Unlike Kansas City, Philly's core has undergone a massive overhaul since the 41-33 upset of Brady's New England Patriots that gave football's angriest fanbase its first Super Bowl title. Not a single Eagle who recorded a pass, catch or carry in that game is still playing for the team, and the coaching staff has turned over too. But two critical pieces remain: All-Pro offensive linemen Jason Kelce (at centre) and Lane Johnson (at right tackle) anchor a dominant blocking unit that helped Philly win its two playoff games (vs. the Giants and the QB-depleted 49ers) by a combined score of 69-14.

Kansas City has the best player in football. And maybe the best tight end in history. After K.C. lost electrifying wide receiver Tyreek Hill in an off-season trade with Miami, many wondered whether Mahomes would be the same without his superstar deep threat. Turns out, he was better. Playing with a ragtag group of receivers, Mahomes bounced back from an off year to easily lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns, making him the favourite to win his second MVP award. The key to Mahomes' monster season was strengthening his almost mystical connection with Travis Kelce, who set career highs in catches (110) and touchdowns (12) to reaffirm his status as the best pass-catcher ever among tight ends.

But the Eagles seem built to slow down Mahomes and Kelce. Philly's overall defence is one of the best in the league and, more importantly for a matchup with Kansas City, its pass defence is ranked No. 1. The best way to beat a great quarterback is with a strong pass rush, and the Eagles certainly have that. Led by savvy free-agent pickup Haason Reddick, they racked up 70 sacks this season — 15 more than second-place K.C. and one of the highest totals of all time. 

Philly's offence is quite powerful too. While Kansas City likes to put the ball in the air, the Eagles prefer to grind you to dust on the ground. Philly's NFL-best running game is spearheaded by dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, who led all QBs with 13 rushing touchdowns this season, and running back Miles Sanders, who had 11. But this is a modern offence that can attack through the air as well. Hurts isn't the greatest passer, but he developed into the likely MVP runner-up this season by making good use of one of the top receiver tandems in the league in powerful A.J. Brown and slippery DeVonta Smith. Kansas City's average defence will have its hands full, though star pass rusher Chris Jones and company seem to rise to the occasion in the biggest games.

Injuries could be a big factor. The biggest concern is Mahomes' right ankle, which he hurt in a Jan. 21 playoff win over Jacksonville. Mahomes then beat a very tough Bengals team despite the painful injury clearly limiting his mobility, though not enough to keep him from running for a critical first down to set up the game-winning field goal. In the Super Bowl, Mahomes will be throwing to a banged-up group of pass-catchers. Kelce suffered back spasms before the AFC title game, while multiple K.C. receivers are dealing with injuries. The Eagles have stayed remarkably healthy all season, though it's not clear whether Hurts is fully recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered late in the regular season and Johnson is playing through a groin injury that will require surgery in the off-season.

Donna Kelce is torn. With Travis and Jason Kelce set to become the first set of brothers to face off in the Super Bowl, their mom says her plan is to just "scream loud every time someone has the ball." Like any good parent, Donna claims she doesn't have a favourite, and she's showing it in the most mom ways possible. She showed up to media day this week wearing a half-and-half Philly/K.C. jersey and bearing a container of chocolate-chip cookies for each of her boys.

Rihanna is back. The pop superstar is headlining the halftime show, which will be her first live performance in five years. Rihanna was offered the Super Bowl gig in 2019 but turned it down, she said, because she didn't like the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested during the U.S. national anthem. No guest performers have been announced, but the Super Bowl halftime show always features guests and Rihanna's could possibly include her rapper boyfriend A$AP Rocky and/or hip-hop legend Jay-Z, whose entertainment agency represents Rihanna and produces the show.

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