Super Bowl XLIX: what you need to know about the big game

Whether you're a keen NFL follower, a fan of Katy Perry (aka the halftime headliner) or an Americanophile, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Super Bowl

The teams
The Seattle Seahawks will defend their title tomorrow against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks are the first defending champions to make the Super Bowl in 10 years on Sunday while New England, has been the most dominant NFL franchise of the millennium, reaching the Super Bowl no fewer than eight times.

 

The five golden rules
Even if you are a newcomer to the sport of American football, by following these five golden rules you can understand the basics of the game

1. Teams score 6 points for a touchdown, 3 points for a field goal and can kick for an extra point after a touchdown.

2. Teams move the ball in a series of plays (called downs). The play ends when the ball-carier is tackled or when the ball hits the ground on an unsuccessful pass attempt.

3. Teams have to gain a total of 10 yards in 4 plays to keep possession and earn a fresh set of 4 downs. If a team gains 4 yards on its first down, they now face 2nd and 6 (2nd down and 6 yards to go to make the required 10).

4. On each play, teams can choose to run (by handing off to a running back) or pass (quarterback throws to a receiver). On fourth down, teams will usually try to kick a field goal or punt the ball away if they don’t think they can get enough yards.

5. Players on the offensive team (the team with the ball) can protect the man with the ball by blocking opposing tacklers.

The SuperBowl halftime show
 


Last year more than 115 million people tuned in to see Bruno Mars set the stage on fire. This year Katy Perry is set to roar at the SuperBowl half time gig. First though, Idina Menzel of Frozen fame, will perform the National Anthem.

How the NFL season works
The NFL’s 32 teams are split into two conferences - National Football Conference and American Football. Each conference has four divisions of four teams: North, South, East and West. Each team plays its division rivals home and away every season and there is a rotation system that determines which other divisions play which each year. At the end of the season, the four division winners in each conference plus the two other teams with the best records, qualify for the playoffs. Then two conference champions - The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots - then play in the Super Bowl which, this season, is taking place in Arizona tomorrow night (Sun 1 Feb).

Can’t make it to Arizona? Both Sky Sports and Channel 4 will be screening Super Bowl 49 live from Arizona