7 things to know before Super Bowl LIII
On Sunday, the entire country will once again unite in hatred of the New England Patriots as they face off against the Los Angeles Rams during America's favorite television holiday, the Super Bowl. Kickoff for the 53rd edition is set for 6:30 p.m. ET; here's everything else you need to know.
1. You have a ton of options for where to watch.
If you live in Atlanta and have a spare $3,000, you can buy a last-minute ticket to see the game in person. If you own a TV, turn on CBS. And if you have internet, stream the Super Bowl for free on CBSSports.com or the CBS All-Access app.
You can also watch the Super Bowl through the CBS app on your Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, or Amazon Fire. If you subscribe to YouTube TV, Hulu's Live TV, or Playstation Vue, then you're also good to go. Pro tip: Most of these options also have free trials, so if you don't want to get roped into paying for a whole package but need to watch on your Playstation, you can still do it for no cost.
2. Pretty much everyone expects the Patriots to win ... again.
The photo you've been waiting for. pic.twitter.com/ylymVAzlUp
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 10, 2017
The big question of Super Bowl LIII is, of course, will Tom Brady need another finger for his ring collection? Experts say yes.
While the Patriots began to show a little wear and tear this season, they are still the agreed-upon favorites to beat the Rams on Sunday. Of ESPN's panel of 72 experts, 62.5 percent picked the Patriots to win the game. At SportingNews, five of six experts picked the Patriots. The advanced computer simulation SportsLine gives the Patriots a tighter 53 percent chance of winning.
On the other hand, EA Sports' Madden predicts a Rams upset. And most people seem to believe the game, at the very least, could be close: "In a game that could be decided by seven points or fewer, L.A.'s special teams have the potential to make the game-defining play that leads to a Rams Super Bowl title," writes Bucky Brooks for NFL.com. Chin up, Angelenos.
3. Rams fans see this as a Spygate rematch.
The last time the Rams and the Patriots met in a Super Bowl was in 2002, a match that later got wrapped up in the "Spygate" controversy after The Boston Globe reported that a Patriots employee secretly videotaped the then-St. Louis-based Rams' walk-through at the Louisiana Superdome. While no evidence of such allegations was ever found — the Globe went as far as to retract the story — that doesn't mean there aren't fans who are still sore about the whole affair.
"I'll say this to all the Boston fans, as I watch them on social media: We want a rematch in L.A.," Rams hall of famer Eric Dickerson told FS1's Undisputed. "We want them back again, because they cheated us." The Rams have only won the Super Bowl once, in 2000.
Funny enough, there is plenty of controversy around the Rams being in Super Bowl VIII after a missed pass-interference call in the championship clincher against the New Orleans Saints. No wonder Louisiana is one of the few states rooting for the Rams to lose:
— theScore (@theScore) January 29, 2019
4. Crazy age records are being broken on both sides.
Everyone knows that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made a shady deal at a crossroads somewhere to play football long past when the rest of us are dead and buried, and if his team does indeed succeed over the Rams on Sunday, he will officially become the oldest quarterback, at 41, to win a Super Bowl (for the time being, that record still belongs to Peyton Manning, who was 39 when he won Super Bowl 50). Pats coach Bill Belichick, at 66, could also become the oldest coach to ever win a Super Bowl on Sunday night.
While the "newcomers vs. veterans" storyline is a sports cliché, there is some real truth to it this year. Taking on the Patriots' witchcraft is noted millennial Sean McVay, who, at 33, is the youngest person to ever coach a Super Bowl. On his team is another youngster, 24-year-old Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who was the youngest player of his position to win an NFC championship. A whole 17 years younger than Brady, Goff will help set the record for the biggest age gap between quarterbacks in a Super Bowl, Sports Illustrated reports.
5. There are more players in the game than just Brady and Gronk.
If you are only a casual watcher of football, then let me get you quickly up to speed. In addition to Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski (who once again finds himself deflecting retirement rumors), you'll be hearing a lot about Julian Edelman, who missed last year's Super Bowl due to an ACL injury and will be catching Brady's passes at LIII. He seems to particularly thrive during the playoffs, holding the record for the most punt returns and most punt-return yardage, and he sits only behind Jerry Rice for postseason receptions.
Also keep an eye on Sony Michel, a rookie running back who is a large part of why the Patriots are in the Super Bowl at all. Michel will unexpectedly be on the field opposite a former teammate — the Rams' Todd Gurley, who he played with when he was a Georgia Bulldog. "I remember when he first came in ... I had to teach him how to do all that stuff," Gurley told ProFootballTalk, jokingly adding: "Hopefully … he just plays like he used to play before I taught him everything."
Then there is the Rams' Goff. The cool-headed quarterback's career got off to a bit of a rocky start, but he has done well to silence his detractors under McVay as he's grown more accurate. And finally there is Aaron Donald, who was named the best defensive player in the NFL last year and is the presumed frontrunner again this year. Working with star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the pair will be looking to pressure Brady from the interior, where he is weaker:
Aaron Donald & the Rams defense has generated the highest pressure rate from the interior (16.6%) this season.
Tom Brady has been significantly more effective against edge pressure (118.7 passer rating) than interior pressure (63.1).
Who wins this matchup?#SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/k7pl3QJuf8
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 29, 2019
6. Commercials are toning down the politics this year.
Anyone who watches the Super Bowl "for the commercials" can expect less politics during the breaks from the game this year. "The big theme is a return to light-hearted humor," University of Virginia professor Kim Whitler told The Associated Press.
Instead, star power is going to be on full display with Jeff Bridges, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cardi B, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Steve Carrel just some of the names expected to grace your screen. Those spots don't come cheap: CBS is reportedly charging around $175,000 per second of ad time this year, CNBC reports.
7. When in doubt, there's always the Puppy Bowl
If the Rams-Patriots game is a blowout, you can always switch during the Maroon 5 halftime show to the annual Super Bowl counter-program on Animal Planet. The 2019 Puppy Bowl will feature a total of 93 adoptable kittens and puppies dashing around a fake football field. (Don't have Animal Planet? Sign up for a free trial of one of the digital bundles suggested earlier).
Thank goodness that the starting lineup is already available for perusal.