Get ready for the Super Bowl with the 53 things you need to know ahead of the big game
Winter has come. So has the biggest event of the year. On Sunday, Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams will finally arrive. It’s a game that’s been a full year in the making.
Last year, the Patriots came up excruciatingly short of capturing their second championship in as many seasons. They were then forced to navigate a tricky offseason filled with questions pertaining to Rob Gronkowski’s future in football, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s relationship, and how exactly they were getting better after they traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams, lost Matt Patricia to Detroit, and watched first-round pick Isaiah Wynn suffer a season-ending injury in August. None of it mattered. We spent all year gushing over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but ol’ reliable won out in the end. The Patriots are playing in their third straight Super Bowl and their ninth overall with the Belichick-Brady partnership. They’ll face the same team (but from a much different city) that they started their remarkable dynasty against all those years ago.
This time a year ago, the Rams were licking their wounds after a surprising one-and-done. They would go on to win the offseason by trading for Cooks, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters, signing Ndamukong Suh, and coming to an agreement with Aaron Donald. It’s rare that the offseason champion finds a way to meet expectations, but that’s what the Rams did, winning 13 games and besting the Cowboys and the Saints (with some help from the officials along the way) to make it to Atlanta.
It’s a game that’s a year in the making, so it deserves a significant preview. Below, you’ll find the 53 things you need to know about Super Bowl LIII — from the logistics of the game, to the details of the halftime show, to the football itself.
From Gladys Knight’s anthem to who will score first to Maroon 5 to the Super Bowl MVP, get everything you need to make the right picks for Sunday in our Ultimate Super Bowl Props guide.
Without further ado, here are 53 things to know about Super Bowl LIII.
1. The game will be played between the Patriots and Rams at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. CBS will be broadcasting the game on TV and you can also stream the game on CBSSports.com or on the CBS Sports App.
2. The game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the home of the Falcons. This is the stadium’s first Super Bowl, but Atlanta’s third Super Bowl overall. The game will be played in indoors, so don’t worry about the weather (unless you’re traveling to Atlanta, in which case, click here).
3. This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, which was played in February 2002. In that game, first-year starting quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots on a game-winning drive to cap a stunning upset over a Rams team — coached by Mike Martz and quarterbacked by Kurt Warner — that entered the game as 14-point favorites. Adam Vinatieri booted the game-winning field goal as time expired and thus, the beginning of the Patriots’ dynasty began. Seventeen years later, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl with the same coach and quarterback while the Rams not only have an entirely different roster and coaching staff, but also reside in another city. Jared Goff, 24, said on Opening Night that he doesn’t remember watching that Super Bowl.
4. The Patriots are entering the game as the second seed in the AFC after an 11-5 season and playoff wins over the Chargers and Chiefs (on the road and in overtime)
5. The Rams enter the game as the second seed in the NFC after a 13-3 season and playoff wins over the Cowboys and Saints (on the road and in overtime).
6. This is the Patriots’ 11th Super Bowl appearance overall, the most in NFL history. This is their 10th Super Bowl appearance under owner Robert Kraft, their ninth with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and their third straight. The Patriots are the third team in NFL history to go to three straight Super Bowls. All of those stats come via the Patriots.
7. With a win, the Patriots will break a tie with the Steelers for the most wins in playoff history (36) in addition to tying the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins (six). As of now, the Patriots are tied with the Cowboys and 49ers with five Super Bowl championships.
8. Counting his years as an assistant, this is Belichick’s 12th Super Bowl appearance. That’s the most in NFL history, per the Patriots.
9. If the Patriots win, Belichick will match George Halas and Curly Lambeau with six championships. No coach has won more, per the Patriots.
10. This is Brady’s ninth Super Bowl. He already owns the record for the most Super Bowl appearances by any one player.
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11. If the Patriots win, Brady will set the record for the most Super Bowl wins by a player with six. He’s currently tied with Charles Haley with five.
12. But with a loss, Brady would tie Jim Kelly for the most Super Bowl losses by a starting quarterback in NFL history.
13. Brady will be going for his fifth Super Bowl MVP award. The only time he didn’t capture Super Bowl MVP after a Patriots win was when Deion Branch took it home in Super Bowl XXXIX.
14. Patriots receiver Julian Edelman needs only 46 catches on Sunday to tie Jerry Rice for the most postseason receptions of all time. All jokes aside, Edelman is already second all time in playoff catches.
15. While we all debate how easy the Patriots’ path to a dynasty has been due to the terrible state of the AFC East, their treacherous path to Atlanta cannot be debated.
16. This is the Rams’ fourth Super Bowl appearance and their first since February 2002. They’re 1-2 in Super Bowls with their lone win coming after the 1999 season.
17. Jared Goff is 24 years old. Tom Brady is 41 years old. As our Jared Dubin wrote, “The 17-year age difference is almost surely the largest of any Super Bowl in history. After all, there’s only been one 40-plus-year-old quarterback to start a Super Bowl. It was Brady, last year.”
18. If the Patriots win, Brady will become the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, a record that Peyton Manning (39) still holds.
19. Both Goff and Brady are from the Bay Area. Goff is from Marin County (north of San Francisco) while Brady is from San Mateo (south of San Francisco).
20. Bill Belichick is 66 years old. Sean McVay is 33 years old. The 33-year age gap between coaches is a Super Bowl record.
21. How young is McVay? To put it into perspective, consider that McVay once played against Edelman in college. McVay played receiver for Miami University. Edelman played quarterback for Kent State. And look, there’s video evidence:
22. With a win, McVay will become the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.
23. The Rams might have the formula to stop Brady, who struggles against interior pressure.
24. Speaking of Aaron Donald, he’s coming off a completely bonkers 20.5-sack season. His career-high before this season was 11 sacks. He’s the best defensive player in football and quite possibly the best overall player in football.
25. The offensive line, however, is arguably the strength of this Patriots team, ranking third in run blocking and first in pass blocking, per Football Outsiders. Go read Jared Dubin’s story on the Patriots’ offensive line.
26. The Rams’ offensive line has had tremendous continuity over the past two seasons.
27. The Patriots haven’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl under Belichick. In fact, last year’s Super Bowl, when they kicked a field goal in the first quarter, was the first time they’d managed to score any points in the first quarter of a Super Bowl under Belichick. We’ll see if they can take the next step on Sunday.
28. Maroon 5 will headline the halftime show. The band will be joined by special guests Travis Scott and Big Boi.
29. Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem. The over/under, per Bovada, is set at one minute and 47 seconds.
30. The Rams will wear their blue and yellow throwback jerseys.
31. The Patriots will be wearing white jerseys, a sight that is all-too-familiar.
The Patriots are 3-1 in the Super Bowl under Belichick when they wear white. Twelve of the last 14 Super Bowl winners have been dressed in white. The Patriots wore white last year and lost, though.
32. Goff is currently working his way through a cold streak. In games 1-11 this season, Goff completed 67.7 percent of his passes, averaged 9.3 yards per attempt, and threw 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. In games 12-18, he completed 58.9 percent of his passes, averaged 6.5 yards per pass, and threw seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
33. Todd Gurley has insisted he’s not hurt, but the Rams’ running back dealt with a knee injury at the beginning and end of the regular season, and he barely saw the field against the Saints in the conference championship game when he garnered five touches for 13 yards. His involvement on Sunday is worth monitoring. Since entering the NFL in 2015, Gurley leads the league in rushing yards and touchdown runs — both by a wide margin.
34. Since signing with the Rams in mid December, C.J. Anderson is averaging 116.5 rushing yards per game. Like Goff, Anderson played college ball at Cal, but the two did not overlap in Berkeley.
35. The Rams’ offense loves Pac-12 players.
36. The Patriots immediately opened as underdogs before the market quickly corrected that mistake. As of Monday, the Patriots are favored by 2.5 points.
37. As of Monday, the over/under is set at 56.5.
38. The Patriots are 10-7 against the spread when they’ve been favored this season.
39. The Rams have been an underdog just once this season, against the Saints in the NFC title game. So, they’re 1-0 against the spread as an underdog.
40. Expect a close game. You might be sick of the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but you should be thankful they always play in exciting games. The average margin of victory for the Patriots in their five Super Bowls wins under Belichick? 3.8 points. The average margin of defeat for the Patriots in their three Super Bowl losses under Belichick? Five points.
41. Our “Madden” simulation has the Patriots winning 38-31.
Worth noting: Our “Madden” Super Bowl sims have been somewhat accurate in recent years, predicting a huge Patriots comeback two years ago and one of the craziest games in NFL history last year.
42. The Super Bowl will be refereed by John Parry. As our John Breech wrote, the Patriots are 9-5 in games refereed by Parry while the Rams are 7-0, per Pro Football Reference.
43. Before last season’s Super Bowl, Scott Kacsmar wrote over at FiveThirtyEight that since Brady became their starting quarterback, the Patriots were 15-0 in the playoffs against an opponent they didn’t play in the regular season, but 12-9 in rematches from the regular season. Let’s update those numbers after last year’s Super Bowl and their two playoff games this season. In the Super Bowl, they lost to the Eagles, who they did not face in the 2017 regular season. Over the past couple of weeks, they beat the Chargers, who they did not face in the regular season, and they beat the Chiefs, who they did see in the regular season. So, they’re now 16-1 in the playoffs against new opponents and 13-9 in rematches. They did not play the Rams in the regular season.
44. The game features two top-five offenses in terms of yards and points. The Rams ranked second in both categories, and the Patriots ranked fifth in yards and fourth in points.
45. But the Patriots have the advantage defensively. They allowed the seventh-fewest points in the regular season. The Rams allowed the 13th-most points.
46. Special teams matter. And the Rams and Patriots’ special teams units are basically equal in DVOA, ranking 17th and 16th, respectively. The Rams might have the advantage, though, considering Johnny Hekker might be the game’s best punter (at both punting and throwing) and Greg Zuerlein made 87.1 percent of his field goals in the regular season before booting two clutch (and very long) field goals to send the Rams to the Super Bowl. Of note: Zuerlein is dealing with a left foot injury, but the Rams don’t sound concerned.
47. Goff and Brady have contrasting styles of play. According to NFL Next Gen stats, Goff’s throws traveled an average of 8.8 yards in the air in the regular season. Only seven quarterbacks averaged more air yards per throw. Meanwhile, Brady averaged 7.6 air yards per pass, which ranked closer to the bottom of the barrel. On that note, Brady, on average, got rid of the ball 2.61 seconds after receiving the snap. Only six quarterbacks got rid of the ball quicker. Goff’s average time to throw? 2.94 seconds. Only five quarterbacks took longer to release the ball.
48. The Rams have the Patriots outnumbered in terms of All-Pro players. The Rams had four players named to the two All-Pro teams. The Patriots had two players.
49. Stealing this one from reddit: “Patriots are 5-2 against animal teams in the Super Bowl all time; Rams are 1-2 against human/humanoid teams.” Credit goes to reddit user BlackHourglass.
50. Important receiver running stats: Might Cordarrelle Patterson be the x-factor?
51. This is a battle between a disciplined offense and a disciplined defense.
52. Both the Rams and the Patriots are expected to lose top assistant coaches after the game. The Bengals are reportedly expected to hire Rams quarterbacks coach Zach Taylor as their new head coach and the Dolphins are reportedly expected to hire Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores as their new head coach.
53. This is a matchup between the second-highest rated team by DVOA (the Rams) and the seventh-best team by DVOA (the Patriots). On that note, this is very interesting and something to remember when we begin to look ahead to next year’s Super Bowl:
And that’s a wrap. All that’s left to do is to play the game.