February 25, 2021, 20:40

Super Bowl LIII Essential Guide: New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams

Super Bowl LIII Essential Guide: New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams

The climax to the American football season is much more than just a sports event.

It is a cultural juggernaut which mixes athleticism, politics, showbiz and obscene amounts of food and drink into an international event that often makes as many headlines for what happens when the players are off the field as when they step between the white lines.

Here’s everything you need to know about Super Bowl LIII…

When is the game? NFL Super Bowl LIII

February 3, 2019, 10:00pm

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The 53rd annual instalment of the National Football League’s championship game will be played on Sunday.

The New England Patriots (winners of the AFC) will face off against the Los Angeles Rams (winners of the NFC), with kick-off at 11.30pm UK time.

Where will it be played?

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia will host its first Super Bowl, having opened in 2017. It is one of the few NFL stadiums with a retractable roof.

The $1.6bn (£1.2bn) arena can hold more than 70,000 fans and is the home of the Atlanta Falcons, who were on the end of a miraculous comeback from the Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

The stadium replaced the now-demolished Georgia Dome, which hosted Super Bowls 28 (1994) and 34 (2000).

Where can I watch it?

Ahead of the game, you can follow the build-up all week on the Sky Sports website, app and on Twitter through @SkySportsNFL.

On the night itself, Sky’s coverage will get underway at 10pm. The game will be available to all Sky subscribers via the Sky Sports Mix (121) channel, while the game is also available on both Sky Sports Main Event (401) and Sky Sports USA (407).

You can also watch on the move via Sky Go – online, on iPhone, iPad or selected Android smartphones – or via NOW TV, with the Sky Sports Day Pass.

NFL defensive coach of 17 years – and Super Bowl winner with the Patriots – Rob Ryan joins the live coverage in Atlanta, as does former NFL player, scout and now NFL Network broadcaster, Bucky Brooks.

Neil Reynolds heads the coverage, with resident coach Jeff Reinebold also in the studio, and Super Bowl champion Shaun Gayle pitchside.

Who will play the half-time show?

Maroon 5 and rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi (previously one half of Outkast) will take to the stage to perform at half-time, amid reports some stars turned down the chance to headline the biggest sporting and television event in the US.

Rihanna, Cardi B and Pink apparently turned down the offer because of their support of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who sparked the national anthem protests in 2016 by taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner.

Maroon 5 are considered a “safe” choice by the NFL, who will be hoping the group’s medley of mainstream pop will be well-received.

But the choice has provoked disquiet ever since it was mooted at the tail end of last year, with more than 100,000 people signing a petition calling on Maroon 5 to drop out.

Who will sing the national anthem?

Atlanta native Gladys Knight will sing the Star Spangled Banner before kickoff.

The 74-year-old “empress of soul” has defended her decision to perform, after receiving criticism from those supportive of players who have used the anthem to protest against racial injustice in the US.

The seven-time Grammy Award-winner said she did not need to prove her commitment to civil rights, saying: “I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl.”

How much food and drink will be consumed?

Lots.

According to previous estimates, Americans are expected to eat more than one billion chicken wings and 11 million slices of pizza, washing this gargantuan haul down with $1.2billion (£850m) worth of beer.

It costs HOW much for an ad?!

US broadcaster CBS, which will show the game, is reported to be selling 30-second adverts for a whopping $5.1m to $5.3m (roughly between £3.8m and £4m).

Sarah Jessica Parker will reprise her role as Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw in a promo for Stella Artois, while Olay will be airing a horror film spoof featuring Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Coca-Cola will reportedly not be running an ad during the game itself, opting instead to air a 60-second commercial right before kick-off.

It will promote the themes of diversity and inclusion, the firm’s senior vice president of marketing was quoted as saying by Variety.

What happened in last year’s Super Bowl?

Nick Foles wrote himself into Philadelphia Eagles folklore, giving the City of Brotherly Love its first championship in a classic shootout against the Patriots.

The unfancied backup quarterback threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his touchdown catch on a trick play known as the Philly Special that was the game’s defining moment.

Patriots QB Tom Brady threw for 505 yards, a Super Bowl record, but it was not enough and the Eagles prevailed 41-33.

If this year’s game is half as good then we are in for a treat.

Enough preamble, tell me more about this year’s game…

Young v old. Resurgent upstarts v the dynasty. The contrasts between the two teams are there for all to see.

The Rams are playing in their first Super Bowl since 2002. Just a few years ago, they were the definition of mediocrity and considered one of the league’s most boring teams.

But that all started to change when they hired Sean McVay in January 2017, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, then aged 30. The previous year they had moved back to LA, following two decades in St Louis.

The Rams went from scoring the fewest points in the NFL in 2016 to the most in 2017.

Quarterback Jared Goff (who they took with the number one overall pick in the draft) and running back Todd Gurley started playing like stars, but a deep playoff run eluded them.

This year, everything has come together. A roster bursting with talent posted a 13-3 record, enough to earn the number two seed in the NFC.

They swept aside the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round (30-23), before rolling into New Orleans and knocking off the number one seed Saints in overtime, 26-23, to win the NFC Championship game.

The victory was sealed through a remarkable 57-yard field goal from kicker Greg Zuerlein, the longest game-winning kick in playoff history.

But this was overshadowed by a notorious no-call in regular time.

The Saints had the lead and were deep in Rams territory when they were denied an obvious pass interference call that would have allowed them to run down the clock and likely win the game.

Nevertheless, victory on Sunday would give the Rams their second Super Bowl, following their maiden victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl 34 back in 2000.

It is an understatement to say the Patriots have been here before. This is their third Super Bowl in a row and ninth appearance since the turn of the millennium, winning five of the previous eight.

If you are a Patriots fan, it has been a glorious time to be alive.

But for the rest of America, it has grown pretty tiresome.

The obituaries for Brady and coach Bill Belichick have been written many times and proven to be ill-timed.

But this year there was a real sense this could be the beginning of the end. The Patriots were winning, but were not quite as good in recent years.

They entered the playoffs as the number two seed and demolished the LA Chargers 41-28 in the divisional round, booking their place in an eighth successive AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots were confronted by the number one seed Kansas City Chiefs, who had been winning plaudits throughout the season for their explosive offence.

The fact that the game was in Kansas City was considered a big advantage for the Chiefs, but the Patriots pulled off a 37-31 overtime victory to break the hearts of the Chiefs and second-year quarterback sensation Patrick Mahomes.

It feels like this game is the Patriots dynasty coming full circle – their maiden Super Bowl victory came against the Rams in 2002.

Could a defeat in Atlanta herald the beginning of the end of their golden period?

Who are the favourites?

Sky Bet odds (correct on 28 January):
Los Angeles: 11/10
New England: 8/11

You can check out all the other betting markets, here.

What do the winners get?

The Vince Lombardi trophy is named in honour of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach and is made of sterling silver.

It stands 22in (56cm) tall, weighs seven pounds (3.2kg) and features a football in a kicking position on a three concave sided stand.

@SkySportsNFL are in Atlanta all week – follow us for live videos and a flavour of the madness.

For 90 minutes of Super Bowl LIII build-up from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with Rob Ryan and Bucky Brooks, join us on Sky Sports USA, Main Event and Mix from 10pm on Sunday, February 3.

Source: skysports.com

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