The most-hyped and most watched sporting event on the planet takes place on Monday on the U.S. West Coast. The Super Bowl.
This year the league's top two teams have made it to the big game: The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Both good teams. Both have a shot.
For many Aussie fans, the Super Bowl is a once-a-year glimpse into this very complicated, strange game called American football. Here are five things to get you primed for the Greatest Show On Eearth.
1. It's in Jarryd Hayne's new backyard: Super Bowl 50 will be hosted by San Francisco on Hayne's home turf -- Levi's Stadium. The 49ers suffered a down year in 2015 but have a legendary relationship with the Super Bowl, winning four titles in the 80s and one in 1994. You've probably heard of Joe Montana. He's the 49ers quarterback responsible for those four titles in the 80s. This game has very little to do with Hayne, but hey, he's an Aussie playing in the NFL and this game's in his backyard. He'll be watching it from Sydney but there's a nice synergy that his first year in the league will culminate in the city he now calls home.
2. The rules are kind of complicated: They throw the ball forwards, they need to make 10 yards in chunks and they don't have to put the ball down in the endzone. There are myriad complicated rules but it basically works like this: the team with the ball has four chances to make it 10 yards and if they fail they have to punt it away or try for a field goal. If they make the 10 yards, they get a "first down" -- which means the slate is clean. They can attack in two ways: running the ball or passing the ball. The defense has to try and stop them. That's sort of it.
3. It's all about the quarterbacks: We get it, American football is pretty weird. But it's also pretty amazing. The skill it takes for a quarterback to mentally process a playcall (some of which are 18 words long), read what the 11-man defense is doing (they're often showing false reads, putting men in motion, switching positions), drop back, spy an open receiver, withstand the pressure of several 300-pound gentlemen bearing down on them, then deliver a pin-perfect strike 50 yards down the field that is just catchable by his teammate yet just out of reach of his opponent. That's some skill.
The two quarterbacks playing today are at polar points in their career. Peyton Manning, the 39-year-old passer for the Denver Broncos, may be playing his final match. The future Hall of Famer is regarded as one of the greatest to play the position, but he's physically fading.
His opposite number, Cam Newton, is in his physical prime. So much so that he's nicknamed Superman and has just been crowned the NFL's Most Valuable Player.
4. But it's also about the defense: It's a coin flip as to whether the Broncos or Panthers are the league's toughest defense. (Also, FYI, we're going with the American spelling of defense here, so while we still welcome feedback this is not a typo). Luke Kuechly is often overlooked for the league's Defensive Player Of The Year award, but he's the best linebacker in the game (that means he's big, he's strong, he's fast, and he stops the blokes with the ball from making things happen).
On the other side, Denver has two of the best pass rushers in the NFL: Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. They're a lethal combo. They team up to try and 'sack' the quarterback. You've probably heard the word sack. Sacks are great for the defense, bad for the offense. Watch for these supreme athletes to fly off the line and try and bring down Superman Cam. It'll happen.
5. Half-time: And if none of that takes your fancy, there's always the other side of the Super Bowl. Lady Gaga, Coldplay and the famous half-time ads. The Super Bowl is as much a spectacle as a football game. Let's just hope Coldplay stick to their old stuff and keep an eye on the Clocks so we can get back to football.
6. Bonus tip: The Panthers by 10.
7. Bonus top #2:WINGS.
Live coverage of the match is available on 7 and 7Mate. The game starts at 10.30am (AEDT).