Cameron McMillan looks at the key talking points for today's Super Bowl matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
Australia may have the race that stops a nation but that only lasts a matter of minutes. A large chunk of America, and the world, will be on alert for around four hours when New Orleans plays the host to Super Bowl XLVII as the National Football Conference champions the 49ers take on the American Football Conference champions the Baltimore Ravens.
The 49ers, the name originates from the California gold rush of 1849, were the dominate team in the 1980s and early 90s when they won all of their five Super Bowl titles with legendary quarterback Joe Montana claiming four of them. But there hasn't been much to celebrate since Steve Young led them to their last title in 1994. It's just their second trip to playoffs since 2002, however victory will tie San Fran with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the most successful franchise.
The Ravens' brought NFL back to Baltimore in 1996 after the city's former franchise the Colts upped and left for Indianapolis one night in 1984. After taking over the Cleveland Browns franchise, it took only four years for the Ravens to win their first and only Super Bowl with a convincing win over the New York Giants. Their name comes from the Edgar Allan Poe poem 'the Raven'.
Neither side have ever lost a Super Bowl.
On one side you have Ravens QB Joe Flacco who since being drafted in
2008 has been consistently effective leading them to five straight playoffs but despite an impressive résumé is rarely mentioned among the NFL's elite quarterbacks. He was the first quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons, which he stretched to five this year. Not a flashy quarterback, but equipped with one of the strongest arms in the league, he often plays second fiddle to the Ravens staunch defense which often gets the credit for the team's success.
While Flacco is often forgotten, it's hard not to miss Colin Kaepernick - despite the fact he's two inches shorter.
With tattoos all the way up his arms and an explosive running game, the 49ers rookie has had a standout season since taking over from regular starter Alex Smith in week 11. He led the side into the playoffs before orchestrating victories over the Packers and Falcons to reach today's big game. Under the pistol offence scheme, Kaepernick has flourished with the ball under his arms having scoring five rushing touchdowns to go with his 10 passing TDs. He also created a new term 'Kaepernicking'.
It will be a tough match to watch for Jack and Jackie Harbaugh as their two sons go up against each other in the biggest games of their lives. Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and John (Ravens) will become the first brothers to coach against each other in Super Bowl history, in what is being dubbed the HarBowl. The two have played against each other before when John, the elder brother, came out on top when the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 in 2011.
Their parents have said they will visit the losing coach first.
Defence v defence
The Ravens have for a long time been known for their hard-hitting defence thanks largely to linebacker Ray Lewis who has been with the franchise since the Ravens' inaugural season. He was MVP in their last Super Bowl win and is looking for a Hollywood ending to his career with this game being his last after 17 seasons. Along with the likes of Terrell Suggs, Bernard Pollard and Haloti Ngata they make up a formidable defensive unit who should give the young 49ers quarterback plenty of trouble (and pain).
But San Francisco are equally as adept in defence. They gave up the second least points in the NFL all season and have a top five defence against both passing and rushing. With linebacker Patrick Willis leading the way, the 49ers kept the Atlanta Falcons scoreless in the NFC Championship game. Don't expect the points the flow in today's encounter.
All going to script
Lewis is not the only one seeking a Hollywood ending, although you could argue teammate Michael Oher has already had his. The Oscar winning movie the Blind Side was based on the Ravens offensive linesman's journey of facing life on the street as a child to playing college football after he was adopted by a wealthy white family from Memphis. Surely it won't be long before Blind Side Part II is in the works if the Ravens win today.
There's a game on?
For those who don't care about the game but watch for the pomp and
spectacle: Alicia Keys will sing the anthem, Beyonce will play the halftime show, companies will air 30 second ads which they've paid $4 million for and Americans will consume an estimated 50 million cases of beer.
I picked the Ravens to win it all in my season preview and I'm not changing now.
Super Bowl XLVII
When - Coverage begins 12pm, kickoff 12.30pm - SkySport Channel 34
Where - Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Odds - 49ers $1.50 Ravens $2.50
Super Bowl lingo
P.A.T: Stands for point after touchdown, or in other words a conversion. Worth one point.
Incomplete: Dropped catch
Punt: Team kicks away possession.
Field goal: Kick at the posts. Worth 3 points
Sack: When the QB is tackled with the ball
Safety: When QB is tackled inside his goalline. Worth two points
Challenge: Third umpire type video review on a play
Kaepernicking: When Colin Kaepernick kisses each bicep after scoring a touchdown