After surviving all season, the unavoidable Sunday looms. Perhaps soccer or hockey dominate the heart. Maybe music or painting excite more than anything. Or maybe sports simply ignite a hatred and frustration no matter the ball, puck or equipment used.
Whatever the reason, for those reading that do not have a football-shaped heart, we feel for you.
Super Bowl Sunday can overwhelm. The uninterested and uninitiated so often get forced to attend parties for the big game, even after successfully ignoring every down in regular and postseason play. Small talk, irritating in general, suddenly sounds like a foreign language, sentencing the anti-fan’s ears to three-hours plus of gibberish.
We’re here to help.
Our handy Super Bowl LVI Party Survival Guide serves as a quick primer for all partygoers that hate the game. While the guide won’t morph one into an analyst, readers will come away with enough general knowledge to survive the football-related chatter surrounding this year’s championship clash.
First things first: What is the Super Bowl?
Since 1966, the Super Bowl ends the season for the National Football League when top teams from the National Football Conference and American Football Conference face off in the championship game.
Prior to that year, teams competed in the NFL Championship Game. The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls against the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, and the Oakland Raiders, 33-14, under head coach Vince Lombardi. Super Bowl winners now receive the Lombardi Trophy, named after the prolific Packers leader.
Who is playing this Super Bowl? How can people watch?
- Who: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams
- When: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 13
- Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.
- TV: NBC, Telemundo
- Stream: Peacock
- Announcers: Al Michaels, play-by-play; Cris Collinsworth, analysis; Michele Tafoya, sideline reporter; Kathryn Tappen, sideline reporter; Terry McAuly, rules analyst
Do these teams play in the big game often?
No. Sunday marks the third time the Cincinnati Bengals will play in the Super Bowl and the fifth time for the L.A. Rams. The Bengals franchise, which joined the league in 1967, made its big-game debut in Super Bowl XVI which took place 40 years ago at the Pontiac Silverdome, the former home of the Detroit Lions. Cincinnati lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 26-21. The teams had a rematch in Super Bowl XXIII and the Niners won again, 20-16. Until this season, the Bengals hadn’t won a playoff game since 1991.
The Rams have had better success, with one Super Bowl win against the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, in Super Bowl XXXIV. For that win, the franchise was still in St. Louis. The Rams’ franchise debuted in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1937-45. From 1946-94, the franchise moved to Los Angeles before heading to St. Louis from 1995-2015. Since 2016, the team has been back in Los Angeles.
In Super Bowl LIII, the most recent of the Rams’ five big-game appearances, they fell to the New England Patriots, 13-3. That remains the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history.
Awesome! So who coaches these teams?
One storyline you’ll hear about is the youthful coaches. Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turned 36 in January, was the youngest coach in modern NFL history to get hired in 2017 at age 30. McVay then became the youngest coach to win a playoff game and appear in a Super Bowl.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is just 38. Taylor was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams when they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
Tell me about the quarterbacks
Both Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (2020) and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (1999) were the No. 1 overall draft pick in their time. This game wraps season No. 13 for Stafford and the second for Burrow, whose rookie season got cut short by a brutal knee injury that included a torn ACL and MCL.
Stafford’s season, of course, follows his first 12 seasons in Honolulu Blue (those are the Lions colors). Since the Bengals won a playoff game, the Detroit Lions now have the longest playoff-win drought. They lost three postseason games in the Stafford era. Has this come up where you’re watching? Do you feel like adding spice to the gathering? Simply say to the speaker/group: “Yeah, but the Lions failed Stafford, man.” The ensuing response will be either agreement or a passionate recount of Stafford stats/Lions games that did not end in wins.
Who is correct here? Nobody can really know. We do know that Stafford went 3-0 in the playoffs during his first season with the Rams.
I don’t smoke but my friend’s Uncle Gary keeps trying to sell me a square?
Squares are the easiest way to “bet” on the Super Bowl, as winning comes down to pure luck. A person creates a grid of blank squares for people to purchase. Some buyers pick the preferred square and others let the seller choose.
Once the grid is filled out, numbers 0 through 9 are drawn for each team down two sides of the grid. These numbers correspond with the last digit for each team’s score at the end of each quarter. Let’s say your name appears by a 0 for the Bengals and a 1 for the Rams, and the score at the end of the first quarter is Bengals 10, Rams 21.
You’re a winner! Some squares add spice, like paying out for a reverse. Meaning, if someone had 0 for the Rams, and 1 for the Bengals in the previous scenario, they, too would win, although usually a lower amount.
Does this feel too easy for you? Then by all means, jump into the world of online gambling. We have a handy guide here if words like moneyline or parlay make no sense.
Have the Lions won any Super Bowls?
Ahh, so you’re choosing violence, then. Just kidding. Detroit actually has won championships in the league, they just happened before the Super Bowl was a thing. The franchise we know as the Detroit Lions started out in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans, from 1930 to 1933. After becoming the Lions in 1934, the team won the league in 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957.
The Lions lost the 1954 title game to the Cleveland Browns. Two dominant players from the 1950s, quarterback Bobby Layne and halfback Doak Walker, attended Highland Park High School in Texas, where Stafford also went. If Highland Park comes up on the broadcast, though, they’ll likely mention L.A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who also went there.
What do I do at halftime?
While others argue about the game and pretend that they are one call away from coaching in the league, you get to enjoy a decent halftime show including Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige and Eminem. The accolades for these artists extend longer than a CVS receipt.
Any other storylines I can talk about?
The NFL has a diversity problem, especially with lacking Black men in head coaching and front-office positions. Men’s minds and bodies get banged up and sometimes destroyed for sport, for the fans’ benefit. Consuming thoughtfully is a must and we need more honest chatter about these issues.
OK, there’s still a whole quarter left. What else can I possibly talk about?
Just say: So what do you think about Tom Brady’s legacy?