Some call it the greatest sporting event in the world. Others tune in for the half-time entertainment or to spot A-list celebrities in the crowd.
Whatever the reason, more than 160 million people worldwide are expected to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.
On the pitch, veteran Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, possibly playing his final game, faces counterpart Cam Newton, one of the game’s most exciting talents. It also pitches the league’s best offence against the best defence.
Off the field, Americans will consume an estimated 325.5 million gallons of beer as well as 1.3 billion chicken wings.
Here’s all you need to know for the big showdown:
Who, when, where?
The Denver Broncos – seeking their third Super Bowl – and the Carolina Panthers, aiming for their first, play at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday, 7 February, 23:30 GMT kick-off.
How did they get here?
For the third year in a row, the Super Bowl will be contested between the top seeds from the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.
The Panthers won 15 games and lost just one in a highly impressive regular season, before seeing off the Seattle Seahawks and thrashing the Arizona Cardinals in the play-offs. The Broncos went 12-4 in the regular season, and then disposed of the Pittsburgh Steelers and defending champions the New England Patriots in the play-offs.
Who are the key players?
As ever, the quarterbacks will play a vital role. Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton is expected to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player after a stellar season in which he has thrown for 38 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more. Behind centre for the Broncos is the legendary Peyton Manning, a player at the opposite end of his career, who has faced plenty of criticism for his performances this season but is well versed in the game management that the Broncos’ strategy demands.
The Broncos have been the league’s best defensive team this season and their game plan will hinge on stopping Newton. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are among their key pass rushers. On the Panthers’ defensive side, linebacker Luke Kuechly is the star.
Who are those guys in the headsets?
Ah, you mean the coaches. The Broncos are coached by Gary Kubiak, who is out for redemption after finishing on the losing side in each of his three Super Bowls as a player with the Broncos. The Panthers are coached by former Chicago Bears linebacker Ron Rivera, nicknamed ‘Riverboat Ron’. This – disappointingly – is a reference to his gambling instincts, not an extensive barge collection.
Is there any British interest?
Yes! Well, kind of. Panthers kicker Graham Gano was born in Arbroath, Scotland. However, he grew up in Florida, pronounces his name ‘Gram’ and writes about “cooking mac n’ cheese” and “having some fun on the shooting range” on his Twitter page. So he’s not exactly Ally McCoist.
Who’s doing the half-time show?
Can’t you at least pretend to be interested in the football? If you must know, it’s Beyonce and Coldplay. It could be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare.
Who are the celebrity fans?
Both teams have more than their fair share of star backing on the sidelines. In the Panthers gang are supermodel Brooklyn Decker, tennis player John Isner, CSI actress Marg Helgenberger and basketball star Steph Curry.
Famous Broncos fans include actress Kate Hudson, Olympic skiing champion Lindsay Vonn, Oscar-winning actor Don Cheadle and even Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen.
Rumours he likes to support the Broncos by shouting ‘Thou shalt not pass!’ when the opposition QB has the ball remain tantalisingly unsubstantiated…
How many people will be watching?
Last year’s showpiece was watched by 114.4 million people in the US alone, a figure rising to about 160 million worldwide – making it the most-watched TV event of the year. This year’s broadcast is expected to beat those records.
Super Bowl 50 is also expected to smash social media records – with last year’s mark of 28.4 million tweets about the game set to be well beaten.
Bet those half-time adverts cost a packet
Yep. Fortune magazine reports advertisers are shelling out $5m (£3.45m) for a single 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl 50 broadcast.
How many hot dogs will be eaten?
Past Super Bowls have seen more than 40,000 frankfurters scoffed – that’s more than four miles, or 14 times the height of the Empire State Building. And that’s just at the stadium.
Nationwide, it’s estimated that during the game Americans will guzzle 1.25 billion chicken wings, 11.2 million pounds of crisps, and 325 million gallons of beer – enough to fill 500 Olympic swimming pools.