According to Forbes.com, approximately 12.5million pounds of bacon, 11.2million pounds of potato chips, 8.2million pounds of tortilla chips and 3.8million pounds of popcorn will be purchased by fans in America over the course of this week. I also sense Pizza shops will do alright for themselves, come this weekend.
That can only mean one thing- it’s Super Bowl week!
California’s Levi’s Stadium will play stage to America’s biggest sporting event of the year on Sunday, when the Denver Broncos battle it out with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
America’s phenomenal build up to Super Bowl Sunday is rivalled by no other sport in the world and the San Francisco Bay Area hasn’t failed to continue that streak so far, enticing the fans with a friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere as the big day approaches.
It is what makes the Super Bowl so prestigious. There is so much excitement across the US right now, which is why so many young American’s dream of growing up to play in the NFL one day- something that is boosted by the fun coaching sessions that are scheduled for youngsters this week.
The media frenzy leading up until Sunday may be an inconvenience to the players but it is what the fans want. What better way to make the supporters feel like a big part of the event and to engage with them than by inviting them to listen to what their sporting idols have to say about preparations and their hopes going into the game.
From the lengthy build up on the Sunday to the pre-game national anthem to the half time extravaganza, the occasion’s over the top attitude plays to the emotion and the friendly competitiveness amongst the fans- something we lack in England. Most people forget when FA Cup final day arrives here.
While more nations continue to embrace the sport, American Football will always belong to America. The Super Bowl spectacle seems to bring the states together and the borderline cheesiness works so well in evoking a sense of pride, excitement and determination amongst fans and even those who aren’t into the sport.
If you don’t follow the NFL, you know someone that does. There is no getting away from the anticipation spread out over the course of seven days.
Yet again, a tale of two quarterbacks. This could be Peyton Manning’s ‘last rodeo’, as he quietly suggested to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. If so, what better way to go out than with a Super Bowl win? The Panthers should, for this reason, be prepared for one last masterclass by Denver’s veteran quarterback.
If Manning does retire afterwards, the game marks him handing over the reins to a new generation of quarterbacks, led by MVP favourite Cam Newton. He has quality and charisma in abundance. Like him or not, he has been the best player in the NFL this season and has been at the heart of everything Carolina have done well.
He is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and rush for 10 in the same season. He represents something different in terms of his rushing ability equaling that of a running back as well as having the all-important eye for a pass. Besides this, he can dance.
The onus will be on the Panthers defense to put pressure on the Broncos down the middle in order to force Manning out of his comfort zone and stop him from stepping into his passes, thereby giving linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis the chance to pick him off.
Manning must be wary of Kuechly’s qualities given how Denver were intercepted more times than any other team in the regular season. Carolina’s defense will be the foundation to the team’s secondary being able to keep close to Denver’s speedy receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Luke Kuechly kick started Carolina’s swift start against the Arizona Cardinals in the Divisional Championship matchup, returning an interception for a 22 yard touchdown. The Broncos must show caution to how quickly their opponents have started the postseason matches and will be reliant on their number one ranked defense keeping Cam Newton and co quiet early on.
Carolina were 17-0 up after the first quarter against the Cardinals- something Gary Kubiak’s team must stop from happening.
Broncos linebackers Von Miller and Demarcus Ware must get to Newton as quickly as they were able to get to Tom Brady in their most recent win against the Patriots. Stop Newton from building on his lead as top rushing quarterback and stop him from bringing tight end Greg Olsen into the game. Miller recorded 11 sacks in the regular season and has made 2.5 sacks in the post season so far.
It could turn into a game of patience for Denver, who must wait for their chances and be sure to produce yet another solid defensive performance. They must match the aggression shown by the Atlanta Falcons that allowed them to inflict Carolina’s first defeat of the season.
It is so difficult to predict such a big matchup, but you can’t help but feel that the game could be won or lost by the defense. Keep Cam Newton quiet and the Broncos have a good chance of punishing the Panthers with the big plays that they are prone to. Easier said than done, though.
For all Cam Newton has done this season, I can’t see him granting Peyton Manning his fairytale farewell. Both he and his team have been playing too well to look like throwing it away and I just don’t see the Broncos keeping him at bay for the duration.