Super Bowl Sunday is America’s biggest unofficial holiday and an integral part of our culture. Six of the seven most watched television programs in American history are Super Bowls, with the most recent game, Super Bowl XLIX, attracting 114.4 million viewers (according to NBC). While a few lucky fans can tailgate outside the stadium, many attend Super Bowl parties, watching the Big Game from the comfort of their homes or wherever else there is a screen. Excitement for the game borders on insanity, even for yours truly.
This year, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos face off in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California. Here’s a guide for what to watch.
Storyline to Watch: Peyton’s Last Rodeo
Peyton Manning, the all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, nears the end of his 18th and possibly final season. Manning is viewed as one of the best players in NFL history, but only one Super Bowl win in 16 playoff appearances is a detractor. Unlike most of his career, Peyton is a supporting actor on the Super Bowl stage, with his job being to not turn the ball over. Super Bowl 50 could be Peyton’s ride into the sunset, just like Denver legend and general manager John Elway did 17 years ago.
Best Part to Watch Aside from the Game: The Ads
A 30-second advertisement in the Super Bowl costs $5,000,000, which means only the best of the best fill the gaps in the action. Sometimes, the part of the game that gets the most attention is the ads, which range from memorable to hilarious to strange. Love them or hate them, the ads ensure that the Super Bowl never has a break in the action.
Player to Watch: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
The mobile, athletic quarterback is taking over the NFL. Like the last two quarterbacks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Panthers, is dangerous on the ground and through the air. Newton, who at 6’5” and 245 lb towers over other players, ran for 12 touchdowns and passed for 38. The favorite to win the MVP award, Cam presents a huge challenge (in more ways than one) for the vaunted Denver defense and his performance will determine the winner of Super Bowl 50.
Performances to Watch: Pregame and Halftime Shows
Many viewers of the Super Bowl don’t tune in for the game but for the star-studded performances. This year, the British band Coldplay will perform at halftime, along with an appearance from Beyonce. The pregame festivities, which include the national anthem and “America the Beautiful”.
Stat to Watch: Turnovers
In their 49-15 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, the Panthers forced 7 turnovers- 4 interceptions and 3 fumbles. Carolina has a plus 20 turnover differential, which means that they have forced 20 more turnovers than they have given up. That mark is the best in the league by far, but the Panthers are also the best at converting those turnovers into points. Denver has allowed the second-most turnovers in the NFL, with Manning (17 INT, second-most in NFL) being a big culprit. In Super Bowl history, the team that forces more turnovers is 36-4. If the Broncos cough up the football early in the game, the Super Bowl could be over before the first quarter ends.