This Sunday the Super Bowl will be played in the New York Metropolitan area for the first time -- in New Jersey. It will also be the first time the big game will be played in a non-dome stadium in the northern part of the country.
(click for larger version)
Though a storm would have a catastrophic effect on the game, early forecasts say it will be 35 to 40 degrees with a chance of precipitation. Denver, the American Conference champion, is a 2.5-point favorite over Seattle, the National Conference champ.
The game features Peyton Manning, the Denver quarterback who may be the best to ever play the game. This year, at age 37, he shattered every major passing record. He is the older brother of Eli Manning, who has led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories in the past five years.
The Broncos have surrounded Manning with the best set of receivers in the game: DeMaryius Thomas, a legitimated superstar, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and tight end Julius Thomas.
Defense is Seattle's calling card. The Seahawks have the league's best. On offense, second year quarterback Russell Wilson will rely on running back Marshawn Lynch to control the game and keep Manning off the field.
What To Expect When Denver Has The Ball: Manning will attempt to establish his running game with Knowshon Moreno but will quickly revert to what he does best: throw the ball, specifically on short slants and dump offs. Seattle will try to get to Manning and rough him up, a strategy that seldom works. However, the Seahawks have a talented defensive secondary and Manning will find the pickings harder than usual.
What To Expect When Seattle Has The Ball: Lynch will get his 25 carries, but Denver will be stacked to stop him. San Francisco tried the same strategy in the NFC title game and was successful – until Lynch broke through on a 40-yard TD romp. Don't be surprised if Wilson tests the improving Denver defense early by going deep.
Wildcards: Manning is better at home than on the road, and better in warm weather than cold. If it is wet, windy and/or cold it could have a negative impact on him.
Seattle traded a king's ransom to get Percy Harvin, a game-breaking receiver and kick returner who missed 15 of 16 games with assorted injuries but is healthy now. Look for Wilson to get him the ball, perhaps even on a couple end-arounds.
The game will begin at 6:30. It will be played at the new MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Bruno Mars will perform at halftime. It is expected more than 110 million people will watch the game live on television; commercials cost $4 million for a 30 second clip. Super Bowl XLVIII will be broadcast on Fox network with its A Team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, handling the play by play.
Tickets can still be had on the secondary market for around $3000 but those are the cheap seats to be sure. Capacity is 85,000 – plus an estimated 4000 security personnel.
Oddly enough, though football is purely an American game, the list of favorite Super Bowl dishes has a decided South of the Border feel. A recent poll asked fans what they were most likely to eat during the game. Chips and salsa, guacamole, tacos, chili, and Nachos held down five of the first seven spots: the other two were pizza and hot wings.