Super Bowl LIII: Everything you need (and don’t) to know about the biggest sports event in the US
America’s biggest annual sporting event is set for kick off. On Sunday, February 3rd, the National Football League’s showpiece game, Super Bowl LII (that’s 53 for those that don’t know Roman numerals), will be played between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.
According to the United States’ CBS News, the 2018 game drew an estimated 103.4 million television viewers. It is an incredible number of people, especially when American football is, for the most part, only played in North America. To put that number into context, the World Cup Final between France and Croatia drew a viewership of 163 million people from around the world.
There is the belief that this year’s Super Bowl will draw more viewers – despite numbers slipping in recent years – as Tom Brady’s Patriots battle the exciting offensive minded Rams.
Super Bowl LIII: The Teams
The LA Rams ended the NFL regular season with the joint-best record. Head coach Sean McVay led his team to a 13-3 record, only equalled by the New Orleans Saints. The Rams knocked off the Saints at the Superdome in the NFC Championship Game, 26-23 in overtime, to set up the Super Bowl LII matchup.
New England’s road to the Super Bowl started with an 11-5 regular season record. After beating the San Diego Chargers in the playoffs, the Pats defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in snowy conditions at Arrowhead Stadium. It took Brady three quarters to get warmed up in the cold Missouri weather, but once he did, he led the Pats to a six-point fourth quarter win.
The Rams’ offense averaged the second most yards per game in the regular season with 421.1. Quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ aerial attack was the league’s fifth-best while the team’s running game ranked third best per game.
Not to be outdone, New England ranked fifth in total offensive yards with 393.4 per game. The Pats also ranked in the top five for rushing yards per game. Brady’s team was eighth in passing yards per game, which shows the 41-year-old may be feeling his age. Brady is the ultimate NFL heel but despite his detractors, is still one of the top quarterbacks ever play the game.
Super Bowl LIII: Which Team Will Win?
The old cliché tells us that championships are won on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, New England has Tom Brady lining up under center. Meanwhile, the Rams have a one-two punch of Goff and running back Todd Gurley. Both offenses have plenty of firepower and Brady is the master of the Super Bowl. So, will either defense actually be able to stop the opposing offense?
Los Angeles’ defense ranked just two spots higher than New England’s during the regular season in terms of yards allowed per game. Those rankings were surprisingly low to start with at 19 and 21, respectively. The Rams gave up 358.6 yards a game while New England allowed teams to accumulate 359.1. Really there isn’t much of a difference, but the Pats did allow fewer points per game with 20.3 compared to LA’s 24.
Leading sportsbooks have the Patriots as Super Bowl LIII favorites. They are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in five seasons, which again shows just how great the franchise has been since Brady took over as quarterback in 2002. The team that can shut down its opponent’s offense will win. But as long as Brady is on the field, it is difficult to not believe the Pats won’t win again.
Super Bowl LIII: These Teams Have Previous
Super Bowl LIII is a rematch of the 2002 game. That season saw the Patriots unexpectedly make the playoffs thanks to the play of second year quarterback Brady. The New England No. 12 had taken over for the injured Drew Bledsoe early in the season and little was expected of Brady. Hell, he was a sixth-round draft pick and few would have believed Brady’s career is still going. He was the 199th pick in 2000 and threw just threw passes his first season. But Brady showed the draft is imperfect as he has become the greatest signal caller of his generation.
The Rams were the favorites in 2002 by 14 points. At the time, the franchise was located in St. Louis, Missouri (the Rams re-re-located to Los Angeles in 2016) and had just won the Super Bowl two years prior.
Despite being the “Greatest Show on Turf”, the high-powered Rams lost 20-17 with a second half comeback falling short.
Super Bowl LII: Facts You Need (And Don’t Need) To Know
• The last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl the Rams finished the regular season with the better record (14-2). The Pats were 11-5, which was their identical regular season record this season. What was the Rams’ record when they won the Super Bowl in 2000 against the Tennessee Titans? It was 13-3, the same as this season.
• Many non-football fans tune into the Super Bowl to watch the advertisements. In 2018, the average cost of a 30 second TV advert was $5m.
• Last year’s Super Bowl attracted an estimated 103m viewers, but that number was actually down from the previous year’s 111m. Average individual viewership in the US has dropped since 2015 when the Pats played the Seattle Seahawks. America may be tired of Brady and New England’s chicanery.
• Just a week after the Super Bowl ends, a new American football league known as the Alliance of American Football will begin play. The new rival league will play during the American winter/spring and aims to provide competition to the NFL. The AAF will have different rules to the NFL to offer variety. In 2020, the XFL will also return and compete as a third American football league.
• It was estimated $138.5m was bet legally in the US for last year’s event. However, this year, many states have okayed legal sports betting and millions more should be wagered on the game. According to CBS Sports, the Philadelphia Eagles win over the Pats last season lost sportsbooks millions of dollars. According to Money.com, one Las Vegas bettor wagered $500,000 on an Eagles’ win which won him $1.32m. It is believed the gambler made the same bet at multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Author Drew Farmer