The Super Bowl is one of America’s most treasured traditions, bringing together many of the elements that make this country so great.
It’s a spectacle of tremendous athleticism, over-the top musical productions and $4 million commercials that often overshadow the game itself.
A large part of America’s most popular sporting event is, of course, the Super Bowl party. It’s the time-honored ritual where friends, families, uninvited girlfriends and awkward semi-strangers can sit in unison for hours, eating disgusting amounts of food while simultaneously yelling at the television during a three yard screen pass (we’ll get to that).
The biggest challenge for any football newbie (aside from avoiding buffalo wing stains on your clothing), is having some basic knowledge of the game and its elements.
So if you’re not a real football fanatic and have plans for the big game, lose the anxiety. We've got a nice little Super Bowl XLVII cheat sheet, along with some talking points that will help guide you through the night.
First things first: This year, the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers are facing off against the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens. They will be playing in New Orleans, and it looks like it's going to be an incredibly action-packed game.
Here's Your Football Cheat Sheet:
- Sack: When a defensive player tackles the quarterback while he still has the ball
- Screen pass: Short forward pass where the receiver is protected by a “screen” of blockers
- Hail Mary: A long, desperate pass thrown into the end zone, where you “pray” someone will catch it because the odds are not good
- Quarterback sneak: When the quarterback holds on to the ball and tries to sneak a few yards running behind his offensive line
- Forward progress: How far the ball got in the possession of an offensive player, even if that player is pulled backwards immediately after
Here Are Your Talking Points:
One of, if not the biggest storyline for the game, is that the two head coaches are brothers. John Harbaugh is the elder brother and coach for the Ravens, and Jim Harbaugh is the younger and coach for the 49ers. In the days leading up to the game, the term “Har-Bowl” will become about as annoying as pre-teens uttering the phrase “YOLO.” You’ve been warned.
One Last Dance
Ray Lewis is the incredibly vocal middle-linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. A future first-ballot hall of famer, he is already on the short list for the best linebackers to ever play. He recently stated that this will be his last year in the NFL, and his announcement seems to have given the Ravens even more reason to surge into the Super Bowl.
Crystal Ball Colin
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is an incredible NFL story. Offered only one college football scholarship to Nevada, he defied the odds and got drafted by the 49ers in 2011. After starting QB Alex Smith suffered a concussion, he stepped up and has been playing out of his mind. The coolest part of the story, however, is that Kaepernick wrote a letter to himself in 4th grade predicting that he would playing in the pros … for the 49ers! Write down your goals people, you never know.
Lucky Number 6
If San Francisco wins, they will have earned their sixth Super Bowl trophy, tying Pittsburgh for the most of any team. It would cement the franchise as one of the most powerful and successful football organizations (if it wasn’t already), and would complete a remarkable turnaround from relative football obscurity only a few years ago. If the Ravens win the game, it’ll be their second Super Bowl in franchise history, their first coming in 2000.
Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice Up the Middle
Again, this is another annoying catch phrase that you may hear leading up to the game. Rice is Baltimore’s top running back, who averages a little over 70 yards per game with his small (but powerful) frame and his enormous offensive line. He will surely be a force that could be the deciding factor if the 49er defense isn’t prepared.
Justin Smith and Aldon Smith (no relation) make up the best pass rush in the league and will be key to stopping Ravens QB Joe Flacco and putting a stop to Rice (see above). Alex Smith (also no relation), was the starting QB for the 49ers during the first half of the season, and was the league’s most efficient passer. When a concussion sidelined him, their coach decided to go with Colin Kaepernick — a great decision, seeing as he helped take the team to the Super Bowl. Unless Kaepernick gets hurt during the game, expect to see very little of the former No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith.
A Mind Blowing BONUS!
During Ray Lewis’ rookie year, he recorded the first sack of his career in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. The quarterback on the other end of his first sack? None other than 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who will be COACHING against Lewis on Super Bowl Sunday. I know.
Conquer that Super Bowl Party
Since you’re basically an expert now, watch out for deep post route by Torrey Smith of the Ravens, and be sure to keep an eye on the “Pistol” formation that the 49ers run to exploit the defense on the option. Oh yeah, be sure to keep an eye on the “flip right double-X jet 36 counter naked waggle seven X quarter,” especially with Kaepernick in the huddle.