The complete guide to Super Bowl XLVII

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All the information you need as the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday

This Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII, the 47th for those who struggle with Roman numerals, as ever pits the winner of the National Football Conference (NFC) against the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC).

Facing off this year in America’s biggest sporting contest are AFC champions the San Francisco 49ers and NFC winners the Baltimore Ravens with the winner becoming the only remaining NFL team to appear in multiple Super Bowls without losing one.

 

The teams...

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens won their first and only Super Bowl 12 years ago, with many surprised that they haven’t managed to make the big game since. This is their fifth successive season of making the playoffs, continuing coach John Harbaugh’s impressive record of making the postseason every year he’s been in charge. Traditionally the Ravens’ success has centred around their excellent defence although this season was the first that they did not rank amongst the league’s best statistically. However an improvement in their offensive game and a career-best season from quarterback Joe Flacco has propelled them into Sunday’s final.

San Francisco 49ers – Five-time Super Bowl champions, the 49ers have suffered a lean period over the last couple of decades, with their last conference championship win coming in 1994, the last time they won the Super Bowl. Enjoying a return to form under head coach Jim Harbaugh, they have made the playoffs for the second consecutive season and a combination of solid defence and the bold installation of the mercurial rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which has brought their running game to life, has put them in contention for their first Super Bowl title for almost 20 years.

 

The venue...

The game gets underway at 11.30pm GMT in New Orleans’ 76,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Superdome and it will be the tenth time the city has hosted the Super Bowl – the most by any city in America. It is the first Super Bowl to be held there since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. 

 

The (very) basics...

The game is made up of two halves of 30 minutes divided into four quarters of 15 minutes. Points are most commonly scored via a touchdown, worth six points, or a field goal, worth three. Each team may have up to 11 players on the field at any one time and these rotate depending on whether the side is attacking or defending, with a specialist kicker also deployed at key moments.

 

The halftime show...

While usually, professional American football games have a 12-minute half time, the Super Bowl has an extended intermission to allow for the traditional halftime show. Previous performers have included Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones and Madonna – whose performance was the most watched in Super Bowl history with an estimated 114m viewers. This year Beyoncé has been chosen as the headline performer and while a reunited Destiny’s Child and husband Jay-Z have been mooted as potential collaborators, most attention will be focused on whether or not she is singing live following the outcry after her lip-syncing at Obama’s inauguration.

 

The commercials...

At a staggering $3.8m (£2.4m) per 30-second slot, ads for Super Bowl XLVII are by far the most expensive buy on television. Featuring Hollywood actors such as Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and The Rock as well as stars of Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory, they are easily some of the most hotly-anticipated advertisements in the world.

 

The talking points...

Given the enormous amount of hype and media attention the Super Bowl receives, every year throws up a few controversies and this Sunday’s game has been no different. Chief of these is the accusation by Sports Illustrated that Ravens’ star linebacker may have used a banned substance in the past, which is bizarrely alleged to be a deer pheromone pill. However the 49ers have not escaped controversy either with cornerback Chris Culliver causing a stir by telling a radio host that gay teammates would not be welcome in his locker room with the extraordinarily worded statement:   “No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.”

 

The coaches...

Observant readers will have noted the shared surname of both sides head coaches and Sunday’s game will pitch brothers John and Jim Harbaugh against each other – a phenomenon which has led to the game being variously dubbed as the Harbaugh Bowl, HarBowl, SuperBaugh and coined countless other crudely crafted puns. It is the first time two brothers have met in the Super Bowl as head coaches, although they have met in a 2011 Thanksgiving Classic won by elder brother John’s Ravens 16-6.

 

The key players...

Baltimore Ravens...

Joe Flacco (Quarterback) – Holds the NFL record of leading his team to playoff win in first five pro seasons and has eight touchdowns and no interceptions in this year’s postseason. Threw a career-best 3,817 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the regular season to propel his side to the playoffs.

Ray Lewis (Linebacker) – The 37-year-old is the only surviving member of Baltimore’s last Super Bowl win where he was the Most Valuable Player. His defensive work has been the cornerstone of the Ravens’ game for a decade and his hits are some of the biggest in the sport.

San Francisco 49ers...

Colin Kaepernick (Quarterback) – Dynamic and somewhat unorthodox, the 25-year-old replaced injured Alex Smith in November and has kept the job. He has only started nine games so far but looks set to be a tricky proposition for the Ravens defence to cope with. Owns a giant turtle called Sammy.

Randy Moss (Wide Receiver) – The self-proclaimed ‘greatest receiver to play the game’ although he is yet to win a Super Bowl in his 15-year career. He holds the NFL single season touchdown reception record (23, set in 2007), the NFL single-season touchdown reception record for a rookie (17, in 1998), and is second on the NFL all-time regular season touchdown reception list with 156.

 

The odds...

To win...

Baltimore Ravens – 2.62

San Francisco 49ers – 1.61

 

Most valuable player:

Baltimore Ravens:  Joe Flacco – 3.45, Ray Rice  – 9

San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick – 2.4, Frank Gore  – 7.6

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