Everything you need to know about the Super Bowl
A quick crash course before the big game
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What you need to know about the Super Bowl
The NFL's championship game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET. Whether you're a big football fan or you just want a little backstory to feel more in the loop at your Super Bowl party, here's some key info to get you ready for the game:
The New England Patriots are favoured to beat the Los Angeles Rams. The consensus betting line is 2.5 points. That means if you wager on the Patriots, they have to win by three for you to collect. Gamblers have come in pretty heavy on them. L.A. was actually a slight favourite when betting opened, but bookies had to move the line after taking a lot of New England money. If you want to know more about how to bet on the Super Bowl, check out our gambling guide from yesterday's newsletter.
New England is going for its sixth Super Bowl title. That would tie it with Pittsburgh for the most ever by a franchise. All five of the Patriots' titles have come since 2002 and been anchored by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Both are among the best ever at their jobs. This is the third Super Bowl appearance in a row for the Patriots. They lost a thriller to Philadelphia last year. In 2017 they were down 28-3 midway through the third quarter before rallying to beat Atlanta in overtime.
Brady has won four Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards — the most ever. And he's still going strong at age 41. That's really old for a football player, but his work ethic is legendary. He's especially fanatical about his flexibility, hydration, sleep and diet. He'll even avoid some seemingly harmless foods like tomatoes, mushrooms and olive oil. He famously doesn't eat strawberries either, but he says that's just because he doesn't like them. Yeah, he's... different.
Some people say the Rams don't deserve to be here. New Orleans fans, mostly. To be fair, the Saints would almost certainly have beaten L.A. for a spot in the Super Bowl if an obvious pass-interference penalty had been called late in their playoff game. But the Rams went on to win in overtime to earn their first Super Bowl appearance since 2002 — back when they played in St. Louis. The Patriots upset them as 14-point underdogs in Brady's first year as a starter.
L.A.'s biggest star is its head coach. Sean McVay just turned 33 — that's younger than some of his players. But he won their respect by turning a stagnant offence into one of the NFL's best with his creativity. Young quarterback Jared Goff looked like a bust until McVay helped turn him into a decent player (though he's still no Brady). Todd Gurley has been the best running back in football for most of the last two years, but he hasn't looked like himself since hurting his knee late in the regular season. L.A. also has the NFL's best defensive player. Aaron Donald's main job is to overpower the offensive line and get to Brady.
The halftime headliner is the band Maroon 5. They'll be joined by rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Rihanna reportedly turned down an offer to star in the show. She has criticized the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested racial inequality during the U.S. national anthem.
Yes, you'll be able to watch the American commercials — for now. That's been the case since 2016, when the CRTC told the Super Bowl's Canadian broadcast rights holder that it could no longer force its own signal overtop the American one during commercial breaks. Just make sure your TV is on CBS (the U.S. broadcaster this year) if you want to see all the good ads. And enjoy them while they last. The pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal has a clause saying Canadian networks won't have to show them anymore. Why would something like that be in the deal? Reportedly, the answer involves greedy NFL owners and Donald Trump.
So who's gonna win? L.A. is a very good team and certainly capable of winning this game. But New England has the much better quarterback, the better strategic coach and a lot more Super Bowl experience. The defences are pretty much a wash. A lot of stats suggest these teams are evenly matched, but the Patriots usually overperform when it matters most. That makes it really hard to bet against them. I'll lay the 2.5 points and take New England.
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