Well, folks, it's Super Bowl Sunday once again. If you like football, you're in heaven. If you hate it, ignore your Facebook and Twitter accounts for the next 12 hours, because that is all anyone will be talking about.
Love it or hate it, the Super Bowl takes over the United States in about 9 hours. And when I say take over, I mean take over. Last year, more than half the population of the Unites States watched at least a few minutes of the game. That's as close to conquest as we can get in an era of five hundred channels, YouTube and Netflix. So, because you're statistically likely to be parked on a couch with a tray of nachos watching the game later, your friendly neighborhood Mystery Man is here now to help you prep. I'm going to give you all a quick rundown of the matchup, the storylines, and what to watch for on the field, during commercials and at halftime. So, behold:
The Guyspeak Guide To The Super Bowl
The Matchup: The San Francisco 49ers are taking on the Baltimore Ravens, after each team won their way through the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl. The 49ers finished the regular season with 11 wins, 4 losses, and a very rare tie, while the Ravens had a somewhat more normal record of 10 wins and 6 losses. Most of the 49ers wins came with heavily tattooed rookie Colin Kaepernick as quarterback, after their original quarterback, Alex Smith, got a concussion midway through the season. Kaepernick played so well that he remained the starter for the rest of the season, and through the playoffs. He and the rest of the 49ers offense will be facing a Baltimore Ravens defense that has had a great reputation for many years. The Ravens have several famous names on the defensive side of the ball, but none more famous that Ray Lewis, who is playing in his last game (more on him later). So the big question is whether or not a rookie quarterback can outplay an experienced but aging defense in the biggest game of his career. That's the kind of thing that makes for good television.
The Storylines: There are two big stories that have hogged the headlines over the past two weeks. The first is that the two Super Bowl head coaches are brothers, which is a first in the National Football League. John Harbaugh, the older brother, coaches the Ravens while Jim, the younger, coaches the 49ers (and sometimes gets in fights with people). Both brothers have great reputations as coaches and have been handling the media attention well, even joking that they would hire each other to work for them. The second is that it is famed Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced his retirement during the season, making the Super Bowl his last game. Ray Lewis is a polarizing figure, celebrated by fans for his passion and leadership, but derided by his critics for being arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and (potentially) a murderer. Yes, a murderer. Ray Lewis, along with two of his friends, went to trial over the murder of two men in 2000. Lewis was eventually convicted of a much reduced "obstruction of justice" charge after he testified against his two friends. Afterwards, he reinvented his image as something of an on-field holy man, talking (loudly and often) about God, fate, and destiny. He's spent the last decade giving fiery speeches to teammates, talking about faith to the press, and dancing before every game. This has rubbed many people the wrong way, and so he has become a very interesting figure for the press. Some root for his success, but others root just as hard for his failure.
The Commercials: Corporations are shelling out millions of dollars for 30 second commercials at this year's Super Bowl, as they do every year. To get their money's worth, they try to build pre-game buzz with Facebook pages, online contests and other such web-based tactics. Because of this buzz, we know that Doritos has fan-made commercials, Volkswagon has a commercial that many consider racist, and AXE Body Spray has people in bikinis. Whether or not the ads will be more interesting than the game is yet to be determined.
The Halftime Show: Beyoncé will be performing at halftime, and has been making sure everyone knows that she'll be singing live at it (instead of using a pre-recorded version like she did at the Presidential Inauguration). If you're not interested in what is surely going to be a musical medley full of pyrotechnics, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet is a time honored alternative. Watching adorable puppies run around may be more intriguing than hearing 30 seconds of Single Ladies before it crossfades into Upgrade U.
The Mystery Man's Mysterious Prediction: The old football adage is that defense wins championships, and that's going to be the case here. The 49ers quarterback is brand new and the Ravens defense is the exact opposite. It will be an ugly game, because the Ravens offense won't be able to do much with the football, and the final score is going to be close. My prediction - 17-13 Ravens.
Have fun, everyone. Enjoy the game, and get good catering!