Welcome to the wonderful world of football! While otaku and football don’t seem to align (we all have seen the jocks vs. geeks mentality that society tries to throw at us), the reality is much different. Like any other sport, football has a wide audience and can be enjoyable to watch. A few of our staff are football fans who have been watching all season, and as such, we’ve seen the ups and the downs of an interesting 2019 season.
The goal of any football game is for each team to score the most points by moving the football from one end of the field to the other. Getting the football on foot across the goal line gives a team 6 points (touchdown), allowing for an opportunity for one or two extra points. Getting it across the line in the air by kicking it through the uprights gives them 3 points (field goal). Each team gets 4 chances to move the ball forward when they are on offense. If they move the ball a total of 10 yards, those chances (downs) restart at 1 again. A more detailed listing of the rules of play can be found on the NFL’s official website here.
The season ends with the strongest team of the two conferences of the NFL (AFC and NFC) battling it out in an annual match called the Super Bowl.
Why it Matters
Now, you may be asking yourself—why does the Super Bowl matter? For someone who does not watch football much, it is understandable why you may not be interested in the big game, but consider this—the Super Bowl is an annual cultural touchstone.
Every year, the Super Bowl is by far the most watched program on television for the year. Having a passing understanding of what it is and what happens can be helpful as the world around you discusses the event. It is also one of the few remaining shared experiences in American culture—a single day, a single game that nearly all Americans watch.
Does that mean it will be a good game? Not necessarily. Does it mean it can be fun? Absolutely. Sharing this game with a group of friends can make the experience all the better.
Also, even if you do not love the sport, let’s not forget what a capitalism means in the case of a television event—advertising agencies step up their game. Lots of money and lots of eyes on the game means lots of clever, new advertisements. While a silly reason to watch, these ads can be a lot of fun as mini-distractions between the game itself.
As inferred above, the Super Bowl isn’t just about the game—there’s a full schedule of events on the calendar, some that might interest you more than others. Wanna check out the National Anthem? Be sure to get there on time. Not interested? Grab your guac and chips while the singer wails.
Here’s the basic info:
The National Anthem, to be sung by Demi Lovato, occurs shortly before kick-off. Even before that, Yolanda Adams will perform “America the Beautiful.” The halftime show lasts about 20-30 minutes and starts at varying times, depending on how quickly the game is being played, though somewhere around 8:00 p.m. is expected. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be the performers.
The AFC had a wild ride. Before the season began, everyone had the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs on their radar screen. By the end of the season, the Baltimore Ravens were unexpectedly the number one seed with a 14-2, the best in the NFL. The New England Patriots, who won the 2019 Super Bowl, were overall in 3rd place in the playoffs and did not receive a by-week for the first time in nearly a decade. The Browns ended up the season with a losing record of 6-10. The Chiefs, however, were the AFC Champion and proceed to the Super Bowl
The biggest surprise of the playoffs was the fantastic run of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans entered the playoffs in 6th place with a 9-7 record. Their season ended hot and their shot at the playoffs required losses by other teams, wins by them, and their victory strength being high enough. There are a ton of tie-breaking rules that went into the Titans favor. Then, in back-to-back away games, the Titans defeated the #3 ranked New England Patriots and #1 ranked Baltimore Ravens on their way to the AFC Championship game. The Titans lost in the AFC Championship to the #2 ranked Chiefs in a 35 to 24 loss.
It’s been quite a year in the NFC as well. Though they came off a lost in last year’s Super Bowl (the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams), the conference was widely considered the stronger one coming into the season, which bore that out.
Speaking of the Rams, last year’s NFC representative, they were among the disappointing teams this year. Despite as strong second half, they missed the playoffs, as did the Dallas Cowboys, another team many predicted to go the Super Bowl (they fired their head coach after the season; the Rams did not).
Three teams in the conference finished with 13-3 records this season and as the regular season ended, they were all considered strong possibilities to advance to the championship. New Orleans, on of the 13-3 teams, was upset early in the playoffs. The other two, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, met in the NFC Championship game, where the latter dismantled the earlier, 37-20.
The big game is going to be a match up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are high scoring teams who have won a number of come from behind victories. Overall the two teams have scored nearly 150 more points than their opponents in regular season games. That…is a lot. Let’s break it down a little bit.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are led by an explosive young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is on his third season in the NFL only his second as the full time starting quarterback. The 2018-2019 season MVP, Mahomes had a fantastic season throwing for 26 touchdowns and rushing for 2 of them. Mahomes is one of those players that is just fun to watch because you never know what he’s going to do.
The Chiefs are coached by an Elder Statesman in Andy Reid. Teams coached by Andy Reid have accumulated a total of 221 wins in his career, making him the 6th most winningist coach in NFL history. This will be his second time as head coach to go to the Super Bowl; however, the last time he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in in 2005.
The Chiefs’ season has been generally high scoring with big wins the back of Mahomes. Apart from a short period where Mahomes was injured, the Chiefs season has seen victory after victory against strong opponents including the other two top seeds in the AFC (Ravens, Patriots). With the dangers both in the air and ground, the Chiefs are a tough team to beat.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has 2 Super Bowl rings…where he served as the backup quarterback for the New England Patriots. He never really got a chance as the Patriots have Tom Brady as their starter until 2016. In 2016, Brady was suspended for 4 games and Garoppolo started two of them before being injured. After being traded to the 49ers, Garoppolo did not get a chance to start until Week 12 when the starter and backup quarterbacks were both injured. With only one win prior to that, Garappolo led the 49ers to close out the season with 5 wins and 1 loss. In the 2018 season, Garappolo sarted out strong, but was injured early in the season. 2019 saw a healthy Garoppolo throwing for 3,978 passing yards. His strong arm and their solid run offense led the 49ers to one of their first winning seasons in a decade.
The 49ers are coached by Kyle Shanahan, son of 3 time Super Bowl winning Head Coach Mike Shanahan. With a healthy team in 2019, Shanahan’s coaching has seen a dominating season with the 49ers ending with a 13-3 record and the #1 overall NFC seed. The NFC West was a strong division with last year’s Super Bowl contenders (Los Angeles Rams) as well as the Seattle Seahawks (11-5 record).
While generally a high scoring team, the 49ers also have had a number of incredibly close games this season; half of their games were decided by a touchdown or less. Their strong defense have helped them in clutch situations, allowing their high flying offense to get back on the field and win.
As the game gets closer, the stories around the game take on a life of their own. Sometimes, they become the story. This year, though—and unfortunately—the biggest story in sports isn’t Super Bowl-related at all. You’ve almost certainly heard that Kobe Bryant, along with a 13-year-old daughter and a number of other individuals, died in a helicopter crash in California. Because Kobe was the best player in the league during the formative years for many current professional athletes, his death has impacted the community tremendously. Even football players have given their condolences, often very personal ones, about Bryant. It’s created an unusual atmosphere in Miami, as one of celebration is muted just a bit by the seriousness of the crash.
There are other stories that will be referenced throughout the broadcast as well:
- The start of Free Agency, the period where most football players who have completed their contracts or have been released by teams may negotiate with other teams for new contracts, is in March, and the list of available players this year contains some very big names, especially at the sexiest position, quarterback. Tom Brady, considered by many to be the best quarterback in NFL history (the GOAT: Greatest of All Time), will be a free agent for the first time in his career, and has stated that he wants to explore the process, meaning he may not return the only team he’s played for during his 20-year career. Where he and others will impact next season, as well as the upcoming NFL Draft, which occurs in late April, and where at least three QB prospects may be selected in the first few picks.
- The 2019 season was the 100th for the NFL, and the League has celebrated all year in a variety of ways, including the naming of a 100th Anniversary Team. A special group of “centennial” Hall of Fame inductees were also recently announced, while the remaining modern-era class will be named the day before the Super Bowl; they’ll be mentioned frequently during coverage of the big game.
- Stories that have dominated all season long include the evolution of the quarterback position into one where a player who runs well and can pass has the ability to dominate the game, as evidenced by the likely season MVP, Lamar Jackson (player awards are announced at a ceremony the day before the Super Bowl), and an unwillingness by referees to overturn pass interference calls when officially challenged by coaches. The earlier won’t be on full display in the game, but the NFL is hoping the latter doesn’t play a part, as referees making or reversing calls that affect the outcome of the game are a bad look for the league.
Non-football entertainment will be important as well! The commercials are what many people tune in for, but to be honest, they’re not all great. They’re not even always generally great, but there will be some fun ones and occasionally some amazing ones. Also they cost $5.6 million per every 30 seconds, so it’s kind of like watching a very short blockbuster film, right?
Many, of course, are also interested in the music. The halftime show draws a ton of viewers. Sometimes the performance is great (Prince), sometimes bad (last year with Maroon 5), and sometimes weird (Katy Perry). This year,the aformentioned Shakira and Jennifer Lopez will share the stage and give a Latin feel to the proceedings. Even if you’re not interested, again, the halftime show is the thing of water cooler talk.
Sometimes, though, the best performance is actually before the game when the National Anthem is sung. Way back in 1991, Whitney Houston sealed her spot as one of the great vocalists by killing it, and right as we were at war with Iraq (never mind that it was lip synched). This year, Demi Lovato will perform. And guess what? Some gambling addicts will actually gamble on how long she’ll sing for! Yep, you can bet on lots of prop bets (novelty bets) and in other ways on the Super Bowl, where well over $100 million will be wagered. Gambling is a big reason as to why football has grown in prominence in the U.S., and you might even here some segments concerned betting.
Finally, it’s time for our picks! We asked football fans on our staff to tell us their predictions, along with two guest pickers: New Orleans Saints superfan and aniblogger, Cajun Samurai, and writer/former aniblogger, Tommy, who is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. Here are our picks, with some thoughts below:
Cajun Samurai: I think this Super Bowl will be a prodigious and a high scoring shootout that may come down to a FG. I got a feeling that Mahomes will bring the Chiefs the “W” with a score of 48-45. I’m pulling for the Chiefs as the 49ers beat my Saints earlier. Yes, I’m still bitter…
Chiefs 48, 49ers 45
Tommy: Chiefs win 38-37. Both offenses march up and down the field, Chiefs passing and 49ers running. In the end, Patrick Mahomes wins MVP for a last-second drive to win the game. Highest-scoring Super Bowl ever.
Chiefs 38, 49ers 37
(Bambi 49ers 27-15, Cajun, MDRMN Chiefs 38-35, Peter Chiefs 35-31, Tommy, Twwk)
MDMRN: I see this as a close game with he Chiefs on top. The 49ers are a strong team, don’t get me wrong; however, against a quarterback that can bring so many different options like Mahomes, I feel their defense will have trouble. The Chiefs defense is also strong, but the 49ers offense is stronger. I foresee this being a high scoring game with the storyline being about the two offenses. I expect the 49ers to lead early with the Chiefs dominating the second half. My guess Chiefs over the 49ers with Patrick Mahomes as the Super Bowl MVP.
Chiefs 38, 49ers 35
Twwk: Like the others, I expect a very close Super Bowl. Rules changes have really helped create excitement in the game and bring many of them down to the last minute, including a number of recent Super Bowls. I feel that the 49ers have the offense to be able to keep up with Kansas City, especially a Chiefs team that could score under 30 against a talented and mighty Niners’ defense. I think the game will be back-and-forth, but in today’s NFL, a great offense often beats a great defense, and I foresee a scenario where the 49ers are leading 27-17 going into the 4th (or somewhere thereabouts), and Patrick Mahomes brings them back to score a couple of times, while Jimmy G won’t be able to do the same.
Chiefs 31, 49ers 27
And that’s it, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed our preview and, if you’re on the fence, that you’ll give the big game a try. I can’t guarantee it’ll be a great game or even be a fun experience—but it’ll be an experience, and that, I guarantee, is worth your time.