It’s Super Bowl week and after 298 games, including preseason and playoffs, it comes down to one final contest to crown a champion. Before the season began, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, along with the San Francisco 49ers, were the betting favorites to reach the Super Bowl. And in a rare occurrence, we had two preseason favorites make the Big Game. Here is what you need to know for Sunday’s game on the teams, players, owners, coaches, betting and other storylines.
1. First the basics on when and where. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:25 ET on Feb. 2 from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are calling the game for Fox. For the diehards, Fox is kicking off the pre-game show at 2 on Sunday. For those that can’t get to a TV, Fox is streaming the game online and to mobile devices.
2. If you don’t have a ticket yet, it is going to be pricey. The average list price on TipIQ is $3,449, although that is down from $4,064 the day after the AFC and NFC Championship games. Some reports have ticket prices dropping further this week.
3. The Broncos’ seventh Super Bowl appearance ties the New England Patriots for third most all-time (the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers have the most at 8). A loss would be record fifth for the Broncos.
4. The Seahawks are making their second Super Bowl appearance. They lost Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many Seahawks fans still think the refs gifted the game to the Steelers.
5. The Super Bowl features the NFL’s top-ranked defense in both scoring and yards (Seahawks) versus the top-ranked offense in both scoring and yards (Broncos). The last time the top defense faced the top offense, defense prevailed when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills after the 1990 season.
6. One of the biggest storylines is Peyton Manning’s chance to further his legacy with a second Super Bowl win and put his name in the short conversation of the best two or three QBs of all-time (if he is not there already). A Super Bowl win that would match the two for brother Eli. Peyton is expected to win a record fifth regular season MVP award in a landslide after throwing a record 55 regular season TD passes.
7. Manning remains the NFL’s most marketable player. His off-field income of $12 million ranks first in the NFL and 21st overall across all sports.
8. Richard Sherman? Maybe you heard the name once or twice last week? Sherman made himself one of the game’s biggest storylines and nearly blew up the Internet after his memorable post-game interview with Erin Andrews. Sherman offers a unique dichotomy as a trash talking cornerback, who ranted like a crazy person before 56 million people a week ago, as well as a man who graduated second in his high school class and finished his time at Stanford with a 3.9 GPA.
9. Did you hear the game was being played outdoors in the cold? The weather is the third big storyline of this Super Bowl, along with Manning and Sherman. The latest forecast includes temperatures in the low 30s with mild winds and low chance of precipitation.
10. The previous coldest Super Bowl was in 1972 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans where the temperature was 39 degrees.
11. Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is the NFL’s richest owner by a mile with a net worth of $15.8 billion (Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke is second at $5.3 billion). The wealth of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and his family is tied up almost entirely in the Broncos, which Forbes valued at $1.16 billion in August. Click here for a full list of billionaire NFL owners.
12. Allen bought the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and the Seahawks in 1997, but has endured 42 seasons without a championship. The Blazers currently have the NBA’s fourth best record in the NBA.
13. The city of Seattle has not celebrated a championship in a major pro sport (we’re not counting the two titles by the WNBA’s Seattle Storm) since the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979.
14. Players on the winning team earn $92,000. The losers make do with $46,000. Manning’s weekly check during the season was $882,353.
15. If Manning loses the Super Bowl and plays next season, his N.J tax rate would be 102% of his earnings based on the convoluted tax code.
16. The Broncos and Seahawks were both the top seeds in their conference during the playoffs. Both top seeds met in the Super Bowl only one other time in the past two decades (Colts-Saints after the 2009 season).
17. Manning is shooting to be first QB to win the Super Bowl as starter for two different teams
18. Broncos’ coach John Fox led the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII where the Patriots narrowly won 32-29. It will be the first trip to the Big Game for Seahawks’ head man Pete Carroll.
19. Carroll is one of the best paid coaches in the game and pulled down $7 million this season. Fox makes due with half that from the Broncos. 2014 is the last year of the contracts for both coaches. Look for both to get extensions at hefty raises during the offseason.
20. Carroll would join Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only head coaches to win a college National Championship and Super Bowl. Carroll’s first NFL head coaching job was with the New York Jets in 1994. He was fired after one 6-10 season.
21. The Broncos and Seahawks are both middle of the pack in the NFL’s financial hierarchy. The Broncos rank No. 13 in Forbes NFL team valuations with a value of $1.16 billion (Bowlen paid $78 million for the team in 1984). The Seahawks rank No. 15 at $1.08 billion (Allen spent $194 million for the team in 1997).
22. Bruno Mars is the featured artist for the halftime show. He has sold 10 million records in just three years and he had the two biggest hits of 2011 as both “Just The Way You Are” and “Grenade” were the only singles of the year with more than 10 million digital downloads. He was nominated for four Grammy Awards this year and picked up one trophy for Best Pop Vocal Album.
23. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are also scheduled to play at halftime. Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea made noise on Twitter about flashing his privates 10 years after the infamous Janet Jackson nipple-gate. Flea backtracked and says he’ll keep it in his pants.
24. The Weed Bowl? Colorado and Washington are the only two states in the U.S. where marijuana is legal for recreational use. The states also have two of the brightest and healthiest workforces in the U.S. Weed=smart and healthy? The two states rank among the top three when it comes to concentration of high-tech workers.
25. The Broncos are wearing their home orange jerseys in the game. They lost their three previous Super Bowls in orange by a combined score of 124 to 30. The Broncos are 9-1 in orange this season.
26. Both the Broncos and Seahawks already visited MetLife Stadium this year. Both won handily against the Giants with the Broncos winning 41-23 on Sept. 15 and the Seahawks shutting out the G-Men 23-0 on Dec. 15. The Broncos and Seahawks have not faced each other since 2010.
27. Peyton Manning had the NFL’s top selling jersey this season. Russell Wilson was No. 2.
28. This game has chance to break the 2012 record for viewing audience of 111.3 million people set during the Giants-Patriots matchup in Super Bowl XLVI.
29. Advertisers are expecting a big audience to tune in. They are paying $4 million on average for 30 seconds of air time. By one measure, advertisers bang for the buck is down 84% from the first Super Bowl.
30. Peyton Manning is aiming to win a Super Bowl in the home stadium of his brother Eli. Eli won a Super Bowl two years ago in Indianapolis, where Peyton called home for 14 years. It will be the fifth Super Bowl appearance by a Manning brother in seven years. Eli’s duties for this week include securing enough tickets for the game for Peyton.
31. The Mannings’ dad, Archie, played 13 years in the NFL and never had a winning record as a QB. He finished with a final record of 35-101-3 as a starter. It is the worst winning percentage in the history of the NFL among QBs with 100 starts.
32. Betting is one of the engines that makes the NFL go, and the Super Bowl is the most bet on sporting event annually in Nevada. Last year, a record $99 million was bet legally. Of course millions more are bet illegally. Vegas’ sports books have lost money only twice in the past 23 Super Bowls.
33. You can bet on just about anything with the Super Bowl (i.e. “What color will the Gatorade be that is dumped on the winning coach”). Bovada has more than 500 prop bets. My favorite prop bet: Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first in his speech? Teammates are leading God by a small margin at this point.
34. There is a decent chance that Broncos’ running back Knowshon Moreno will cry during the national anthem (you can even bet on it). It won’t be Moreno being caught up in the moment, but instead he ponders the turbulent path he took to this point during the anthem.
35. It is the first Super Bowl where two states are sharing hosting duties, although some think New Jersey is getting shafted.
36. While Manning gets most the QB attention, Wilson has done pretty well quarterbacking the Seahawks. The second year player racked up a 100 passer rating in each of his first two years, along with over 1,000 yards rushing, while leading the Seahawks to 27 wins. He has done it at a bargain rate as a third round draft pick on his first contract. His 2014 salary was $526,217, providing the Seahawks ample salary cap room to address other needs.
37. Fox gave its New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine series the primo lead-out spots after the game. Something tells me you’ll see a promo or two for this during the game.
38. Super Bowl media day is a giant circus. It takes place this year on Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark and is expected to attract 7,000 fans and 2,000 members of the media. Here are some of the most memorable media day moments.
39. MetLife agreed to pay $425 million over 25 years starting in 2011 for naming rights to the Giants and Jets home stadium after the stadium secured the 2014 Super Bowl.
40. Running back Marshawn Lynch, nicknamed “Beast Mode,” was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, but was traded to the Seahawks during the 2010 season after a couple of off the field incidents. Lynch has put up three straight 1,200 yard seasons rushing for the Seahawks.
41. Renee Fleming is the first opera singer to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl (bet on what color gloves Fleming will wear or if she screws up a word or how long the anthem will take).
42. Football replaced baseball as America’s pastime a long time ago. Apparently, America also likes chicken wings. The National Chicken Council estimates that 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed during the Super Bowl. Denver’s residents are 5% less likely to consume wings, while Seattle is 44% below the average. This year represents the 50th anniversary of the “Buffalo Wing.”
43. Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest day of food consumption in the U.S. after Thanksgiving. There are expected to be 48 million take-out pizzas ordered on Sunday.
44. Manning is the only player on either team to have won a Super Bowl. No one on the Seahawks has ever appeared in the Big Game.
45. Broncos’ legend John Elway retired after winning the Super Bowl in each of his last two seasons. He returned to the team three years ago as vice president of football operations in charge of building the roster when the team was coming off a 4-12 season. The Hall of Famer was instrumental in luring Manning to the Broncos as a free agent in 2012.
46. Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the first legally deaf player on an NFL offense. Duracell features the inspiring undrafted second-year player in a new commercial.
47. Speculation has been swirling that Manning might retire if the Broncos win. The whole going out on top thing. Also fueling the rumor is ESPN’s Chris Mortensen report that a post-season examination of Manning’s four-time surgically-repaired neck could push him to retire. Manning dismissed retirement talk Sunday.
48. And most importantly: Who is going to win? The latest odds have the Broncos favored by 3 with the over/under set at 47. The line opened with the Seahawks favored, but swung as early money poured in on the Broncos.
Enjoy the game!