Understanding the Super Bowl

Everything you need to know about the American football grand final.

Super Bowl Sunday is widely-considered by Americans as the biggest – most revered – sporting event of the year.

Broadcast to Australian audiences on Monday, 3 February, (coverage starting 9.30am) the Super Bowl is likely to be on screens in offices, bars, homes and cinemas around the country.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the game, there is something to enjoy for everyone, from the half-time show to the hilarious commercials.

Follow our guide and get up to speed on America’s biggest sporting spectacle.

What is the Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl is America’s equivalent to the NRL or AFL grand final.

In 2020, Super Bowl 54 (LIV) will feature the San Francisco 49ers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The game will be held in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. It may be a tough one to watch for local Miami Dolphins fans, who lost Super Bowl 19 (XIX) to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16.

Who should I cheer for?

That answer depends on whether you prefer to back a favourite or an underdog.

The San Francisco 49ers are considered this year’s favourites and are vying for their sixth Super Bowl victory, which would tie the NFL record. The 49ers are led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was Tom Brady’s former understudy. The 49ers finished the top seed in their division following a dominant 13-3 season.

The Kansas City Chiefs are this year’s underdog and have not won or played in a Super Bowl since 1970. The Chiefs are led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes who won the NFL MVP award in his first season as a starting quarterback in 2018.

NFL pre snap

How does the game work?

NFL is a complicated game, with an extensive set of rules. We won’t delve into the specifics, but rather provide a general understanding.

Each NFL team is essentially made up of three smaller teams: Offence, Defence and Special Teams.

As their names would suggest, the offence is responsible for driving the ball down the field and scoring. The defence’s job is to stop the offence and special teams are primarily used for kick returns, punting and field goals.

When the offence has the ball, they have four downs (plays) to get the ball 10 yards (about nine metres). If the team makes 10 yards, they’re rewarded with another set of four downs. Teams will continue to do this until they score, turnover the ball, punt the ball away or run out of downs.

A down (play) is ended when a player is tackled, runs out of bounds or a pass is incomplete. If a team cannot make 10 yards, they will generally punt the ball on fourth down to the opposing team, who take over on offence. The ball is also handed over to the opposing team if a player loses the ball and it is recovered by the defence or it is intercepted.

If that is too complicated, just cheer when the word touchdown appears on screen.

Scoring

Touchdown (six points)

A touchdown is scored when a team crosses their opponents goal line into the end zone with the ball.

Field goal (three points)

The ball is kicked through the yellow uprights at the end of the field.

Extra point (one or two points)

Similar to a conversion in Rugby, a point is scored by kicking the ball through the yellow uprights after a touchdown. Teams can forgo the kick and elect for a two-point conversion attempt following a touchdown. During two-point conversion attempts, the offence is given one play on the defences five-yard line and must cross into the end zone with the ball.

Safety (two points)

Awarded to the defence if they tackle a member of the offence with the ball in their own end zone.

NFL ball close to yard line

Who’s performing at the half-time show?

Headlining this year’s Pepsi Super Bowl 54 half-time show is actress, singer and dancer Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez will be joined on stage by three-time Grammy award winning artist Shakira, best known for her song Hips Don’t Lie.

Lopez has sold more than 80 million records worldwide and will follow in the footsteps of Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars who have performed at previous half-time shows.

Where can I see those hilarious Super Bowl commercials?

Unfortunately, it will be difficult to see the commercials on Australian networks as they will be airing their own.

Luckily, the movie trailers and hilarious adverts will be uploaded to YouTube once they have aired.

You won’t want to miss any of the commercials with a 30-second spot costing upwards of $5 million each, ensuring advertising companies bring their ‘A’ game.

Here are a few commercials from 2020 that have been released prior to the Super Bowl.

How can I watch the Super Bowl?

You can watch Super Bowl 54 in several ways with live coverage starting at 9.30am on Monday, 3 February.

  • Free to Air: Broadcast on 7mate
  • Foxtel: Watch on ESPN
  • Stream: You can stream the Super Bowl for free via Plus 7 or on paid subscription services  Foxtel GO, Kayo, NFL Gamepass and the Fetch mobile app.
  • Cinemas: Event Cinemas are showing Super Bowl 54 at select cinemas around Australia.

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NFL Super Bowl Trophy