American Sports

An Englishman’s Guide to the Super Bowl

guide to the super bowl

With Super Bowl 51 touching down imminently on a screen near you, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to one of the world’s most-watched sporting events so you can look like a true NFL boffin in the pub without even needing to ask Siri what a “hail mary” is.

Hail Mary – “A long, typically unsuccessful pass made in an attempt to score late in a game”

What is “The Super Bowl”?

First things first, The Super Bowl is the NFL’s equivalent of the FA Cup… If you took the FA Cup, pumped it with testosterone, strapped a couple of pyrotechnics onto it and demanded a Coldplay concert at half-time.

Throughout the season, the NFL’s two divisions, the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC) play “regular season” matches to determine which side will play in the big game and have the chance to lift the famous old Vince Lombardi Trophy.

A brief glossary of NFL terms…

  • Mike, Sam, Will – The codenames given to line-backers when the quarterback is calling plays.
  • Red Zone – The 20-yard area closest to the oppositions “goal line”
  • Goal Line – American Football’s equivalent of a “try line”
  • Pigskin – The name sometimes given to the football. You can imagine why.

Who’s Going to be Playing?

This year, the two teams who’ve made it to the big event are the ever-popular New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are, for all intents and purposes, the NFL’s version of Manchester United. A dynastic head coach who dragged the team to trophy success single-handedly? Check. A controversial star player who continues to defy expectations? Check. A huge global fanbase? Check, check, check.

The Falcons are the Leicester City of the NFL. The Atlanta side had the fifth-worst odds of winning the championship before the start of the season at 80/1, while their opponents were the betting favourite before a ball had even been kicked at 6/1. So, there could be a gigantic upset on the 5th of February.

Where is the Super Bowl?

This year’s Super Bowlis the 51st edition of the championship match and will be played at the mammoth NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The ground covers a total area of 1,900,000 square feet, boasts an epic 97,000 sq ft playing surface and has an expanded total capacity of 80,000. That’s the size of nearly two Stamford Bridges.

Super Bowl LI Fact – In 2009, the NRG Stadium also hosted WWE WrestleMania XXV in 2009 with an attendance of 72,744.

What’s the “Half-time Show”?

Because America simply can’t have a sporting event on this scale without some kind of celebrity involvement, each year the Super Bowl welcomes a band or song artist to perform at the infamous “half-time” show – An event worthy of the TV time by itself.

Last year Coldplay headlined the show, and before that it was the (drop dead gorgeous) Katy Perry. This year Lady Gaga will be serenading the NRG Stadium bringing her back catalogue of club anthems, electrifying stage persona and quite possibly a dress made of meat.

Super Bowl LI Fact – 26% of 111.9 million viewers watch the Super Bowl for the commercials alone. While air-time during a Super Bowl ad-break costs an enormous $5,000,000 for 30 seconds of TV.

What Time is it on TV?

Here in Blighty, you’ll have to stay up to the ripe old time of 11:30pm GMT (5.30pm local time) for the game to kick off and you can expect to stay up well into the early hours if you’re willing to watch the clash of champions to its conclusion.

The Super Bowl is shown live on both Freeview and Sky, so at least you won’t need to fork out a small fortune on subscription passes to watch the big game.

Got a hunger for American sports? Teams on Tour can arrange Ice Hockey sessions, Dodgeball games and, sigh, “Soccer” on Hotel Football’s rooftop pitch.