A beginner’s guide to Super Bowl 50

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-5 5:03:03

Everything you need to know about the NFL’s showpiece game

Quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers participates in drills during practice prior to Super Bowl 50 at San Jose State University on Wednesday in San Jose, California. Photo: AFP

It's Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, or Monday Morning Football if you are here in China, and the likelihood is that you might be part of the huge global audience that will watch the biggest game in American sport. There's also a strong chance that this might be your first-ever football game and you have no clue as to what is going on. Here's a handy bluffer's guide so you'll know what's ­going on in Super Bowl 50 - or at least you won't seem the dumbest newbie in the room.

The rules

Put simply, the aim of the game is to score more points than the other team. You do this by moving the ball up the field to the opponent's end zone. This is done in 10-yard (9.14-meter) increments called a first down and a team gets four attempts to make that 10 yards, or first down, and then the chance to make it another 10 yards up the field. If they can run or pass the ball into the end zone then they score a touchdown. The defending team will try to stop the offensive team from making their first down so that they gain possession and the chance to attack. There's more to it than that but this is the core. Keep your eye on the quarterback, the man who calls the plays.

The teams

When the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers at the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday night, it will be the third year in a row that the No.1 seeds from the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference will meet in the Super Bowl.

The Denver Broncos come into their eighth Super Bowl, becoming the fourth team to do so after the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. In their most recent appearance, in Super Bowl XLVIII just two years ago, they lost 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks. Their record in seven Super Bowl appearances - two wins and five losses - puts them well out in front as the team who have lost in the showpiece the most times. They won't want to stretch their lead on Sunday. The Carolina Panthers have reached the Super Bowl just once before, losing to the New England Patriots in 2004.

This game essentially boils down to the best attack - the Panthers have gained the most yards - against the best defense - Denver allowed the fewest yards in the regular season. It could go down to the wire, just as four of the last five Super Bowls have gone to the last play - the only one that didn't was when the Broncos were mauled by the Seahawks two years ago.

The quarterbacks

Peyton Manning is 39 years old and playing in what might be his final Super Bowl. His record so far as a starting quarterback is played three, won one, lost two. He has only thrown two touchdowns in those three appearances. He is respected by his opposite number, though. Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers QB, referred to Manning as "the sheriff." Newton, on the other hand, is the new poster boy of the NFL. The Panther is likely to be named as league MVP before the Super Bowl and that is a decision that Manning has backed: "Cam Newton is MVP of the league," he told ESPN. Newton is 6'5" (1.96 meters) and has the ability to run the ball as well as he passes, making him a handful even for the Broncos impressive defensive line. Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib called Newton "super unique" and neither Talib or his teammates will want to let the Panther indulge in his signature touchdown celebration dance.

The opposing quarterbacks have met just once before on the field, back in November 2012. The Broncos beat the Panthers 36-14 on that occasion.

The players

It's not only the two QBs that will be lining up in Santa Clara. Both teams have 53-man rosters and on those there are other players who can make the headlines. Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis will be playing with a broken arm if he plays, while you might know Michael Oher as the subject of the Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock film The Blindside. On the Broncos, look out for Von Miller, the defenseman who could challenge Newton for league MVP and who missed out on the Broncos' last Super Bowl appearance through injury.

The commercials

The Super Bowl is the most watched show on US TV and this year is expected to break records yet again. With nearly 120 million Americans glued to the screen it is no wonder that advertising tries to capture the captive market. It costs $5 million for a 30-second halftime spot and they are some of the most anticipated of the year, by both the advertising ­industry and consumers.

The halftime show

British rockers Coldplay have been booked to perform in the Pepsi Halftime Show and they are expected to be joined by Beyonce, who will become the first solo female star to make an appearance at the interval. Rumors abound that there will be more guests and the loudest rumors are of Bruno Mars. As entertaining as the halftime show might prove, the real interest may lie in the fact that Americans are expected to gamble $4.2 billon on the big game, according to the American Gaming Commission. They expect that only $100 million of that will be done legally.


Teams that have returned an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl have gone on to win on all 12 occasions. In the run up to this Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers have returned six interceptions for TDs. Denver's Manning has thrown 17 interceptions this season.

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