Thanksgiving is over, the season is turning and the nights are drawing in for some. With that in mind, many eyes are going to start turning to the mega event that will be the 55th Super Bowl.
The days when the Super Bowl was just an event for the football fans, or even sports fans as a whole, are well behind us.
Sure, the 2020 event was a blockbuster game. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers convincingly with a scoreline of 31 – 20, marking their first win in the Super Bowl in nearly 50 years.
And yes, Patrick Mahomes did himself proud when he took home the MVP title. 26 out of 42 successful passes for 286 yards’ gain, two touchdowns and two interceptions plus a 29 yard run resulting in a touchdown of his own made for a firmly deserved MVP nomination.
With performances from Shakira and Jennifer Lopez at half time the game was also a pop extravaganza, however (particularly for fans of a certain age).
– 2021 will be a very different year for football.
While Super Bowl 55 is liable to look and feel a little different to its predecessor, the heat it attracts will be all the more powerful thanks to fans need for a bit of escapism going into 2021.
The game will be played in Tampa, Florida, at the Raymond James Stadium, after the venue was changed back in 2017 when Los Angeles gave up 2021 in favour of 2022.
Fans will be able to watch it on CBS or stream it through CBS All Access after another change around – it swapped games with NBC so that the latter network could show both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics in 2022.
– Considering the odds
Fans used to think of the NFL as a week to week league, but increasingly it’s more like second to second. A team can be riding high and grabbing headlines one moment, only to have it all change in a heartbeat.
As things stand, the Kansas City Chiefs are favourites to win at 7 – 1. While they’re a pretty good bet, though, unpredictability seems to be the name of the game for 2020.
Anything can turn on a dime, even (or perhaps especially) the Super Bowl odds. A handful of key players could make all the difference between now and the final, and if you want to speculate on the outcome of Super Bowl 55 it’s worth putting them under a bit of scrutiny.
– Players feeling the pressure on Super Bowl
Going into the second half of the season the pressure has been piling up on Aaron Rodgers. The Packers got a lot of hopes up at the beginning of the season that he might be enough, but flash forward and a lot of fans are unhappy that they didn’t go shopping for another wide receiver. Now, it looks a lot like Rodgers will have to haul the team to the end of the season himself.
Another player feeling the pressure, however, is Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. He might have been an MVP last season, but his record as we head towards the close of 2021 doesn’t look so impressive.
Losses against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans have left him looking shaky. Many are questioning whether we might have seen his peak last season, and whether he can hold up in high pressure games against teams on the same level, or even on a level below, the Ravens.
His recent positive test for Coronavirus won’t help, either.
Russell Wilson, meanwhile, is under pressure at the Seattle Seahawks for the opposite reason. Midway through the season, many are calling him league MVP thanks to the 26 touchdown passes he already had under his belt by the start of November.
The Seahawks, however, need that. Their defence is weak, dropping points left right and centre, and they need a player like Wilson to make up for their shortcomings.
All the above makes for interesting second halves of the season for the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
Another interesting outsider team hails from Indianapolis. The Colts currently top AFC South. Their defense is rock solid, and while the NFC North leaders the Packers got them on the back foot halfway through the month they turned the game around.
They’ve turned the half time turnaround into a knack, in fact, having trailed the Titans at half time a week prior before thoroughly trouncing them in the second half without conceding a single point.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Raiders have proven themselves worthy contenders by being the only team to take down the Chiefs this season, and nearly pulling it off a second time in mid November.
Derek Carr took on Patrick Mahomes in that game and some would say he proved the better passer on the day. He’s definitely a player to watch, and despite fairly long odds (40 – 1) could prove a serious weapon (alongside Nelson Agholor) in propelling the Raiders right through the end of the season.
With unpredictability proving the name of the game, keeping a watchful eye on a handful of key players could be prudent for keen-eyed football fans.