Why you should care
All eyes are on superduo Brady and Belichick, but there’s a lot else to watch at this year’s Big Game.
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WHAT TO KNOW
What’s happening? Are you living under a rock? Super Bowl LIII, which kicks off Sunday at 6:30 pm ET and will air on CBS, has taken over the airwaves this week, a clash between the much-decorated New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams were the league’s hottest team early in the season but stumbled a bit down the stretch, while the Patriots — as they always seem to do — are peaking at the right time.
Why does it matter? This year’s Big Game is best understood as a generational clash. Pats head coach Bill Belichick (66, baby boomer) and quarterback Tom Brady (41, Generation X) are seeking their sixth Super Bowl title together — which would make Brady the player with the most rings ever and give Belichick a tie for the most as a coach. Here in Atlanta to teach them about Instagram and avocado toast are the millennials seeking their first titles: Rams head coach Sean McVay (33) and quarterback Jared Goff (24). Both teams arrived by the skin of their teeth: The Rams benefited from a botched pass interference call against New Orleans late in the NFC championship, while the Patriots topped Kansas City in overtime thanks in large part to winning the coin toss and getting the ball first. On Sunday, watch the ground game: Since 2001, the Patriots are 11-0 in the postseason (51-1 in the regular season) when a player rushes for more than 100 yards. So the key to the game isn’t Brady, it’s rookie running back Sony Michel.
How to Think About It
Who’s performing? Maroon 5, along with rappers Travis Scott (pictured) and Big Boi, will perform at halftime after Rihanna reportedly turned down the NFL in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who started national anthem protests for racial justice and is now out of a job. The performers have been lobbied by fans to drop out, but it’s hard to turn down One More Night with 100 million viewers.
Doesn’t Boston win everything? Basically. This century, Boston-area teams in the four major professional sports have won 11 championships. Baseball’s Red Sox just won in October against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This means most of the country has developed quite the sporting grudge against Bostonians who, let’s face it, aren’t always the most gracious of winners.
Keep your eye on the ball. Most sports fans might not like New England, but gamblers do: They are 2.5-point favorites. Of course, this is the Super Bowl, and there are a million ways to bet. Some of our favorites: What color Gatorade is poured on the winning coach (purple is the long-shot at 10-1 odds); how many replays will be shown of “get back” coach Ted Rath trying to keep McVay off the field (over/under 1.5); and the classic how long will the national anthem, this year performed by Gladys Knight, take (over/under 1 minute, 47 seconds).
May the ads be ever in your favor. Some people watch the game just for the commercials, and this year brands are paying a record $5.25 million for a 30-second ad spot. During the game, you’ll be enticed to drink a Bud, but not to toke any bud: CBS rejected a one-minute ad from a New York medical marijuana company, saying it had a policy against cannabis ads. But Doritos are still totally cool.
Get in the game. Follow @ozysports on Twitter to get all the tastiest sports news and commentary you need in your feed — and look out for our exclusive sports newsletter dropping soon.
What to Read
Gerald Everett Is the Perfect Tight End for the NFL’s Space Age, by Ray Glier on OZY
“As a hybrid, Everett allows the Rams offense to suddenly shift from one tight end and three wide receivers to a four-wide receiver set — sending opposing defenses scrambling.”
Rams’ Male Cheerleaders Make NFL History at Super Bowl, by Bill Plaschke in the LA Times
“Their dance moves are powerful, their presence strong. They blend so seamlessly with their celebrated teammates it makes you wonder, what took so long?”
What to Watch
Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams vs. Patriots
Highlights from the last time the Rams and the Pats went head-to-head.
Watch on NFL on YouTube:
Tom Brady Says There’s ‘Zero’ Chance Super Bowl LIII Is His Last Game
“I know how hard it was this year and the commitment it takes. … Every year is tough.”
Watch on ESPN on YouTube:
What to Say at the Watercooler
Football’s Nostradamus. Tony Romo sees the future. The former Dallas quarterback — who will be in the booth on Sunday with Jim Nantz — has a knack for calling out plays before they happen. He did it brilliantly at the close of the AFC championship, predicting where Brady would throw and when he would hand off. If only, the satirical newspaper the Onion mused, he could have read defenses so well during his up-and-down playing career.