The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons meet in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston, Texas. Living across the pond doesn’t mean missing out so Culture Trip guides you through how to plan the perfect Super Bowl party.
This year’s Super Bowl takes place on Sunday, Feb. 5. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET, which means you’ll need to tune in at 11:30 p.m. GMT for the start. Of course, there will be plenty of build up and hype so it makes sense to start the party earlier. Super Bowl games are long. The lengthy break for the half time music performance (Lady Gaga, if you’re interested), means you can expect the game to finish around 3:30 a.m. If you want to see the outcome live you should be booking Monday off, or at least laying in the groundwork for the sickie you’re about to pull – a few coughs and sneezes while mentioning you’re going to keep your head down this weekend to try to recuperate.
For those that care, country singer Luke Bryan will be singing the national anthem and George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush will be taking care of the coin toss (quite how two people do one coin toss remains to be seen), this is Texas after all.
The Patriots are the favourites, no doubt. They’ve won four Super Bowl titles (all in the 21st century) with head coach Bill Belichick captaining the ship and quarterback Tom Brady at the rudder throughout those successes, while the Falcons have never won football’s biggest prize. The Patriots have made it here despite Brady’s four-game ban from Deflategate, they have the league leading rushing touchdown scorer in LeGarrette Blount, and don’t be surprised if running back James White sees a lot of the ball as Belichick playbook becomes even more inventive come Super Bowl time. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a big miss, however.
It’s the offense that has got the Falcons here. They were the highest scorers in the NFC (33.8 points per game), their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been named assistant coach of the year and quarterback Matt Ryan is well on his way to being named MVP. For game time glamour look out for wide receiver Julio Jones who has been sensational in 2016. That said, the Patriots were excellent in shutting down Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship Game. Key to their success however will be pass pressure. If Atlanta can unsettle Brady – easier said than done – their offense may well be good enough to win. It worked against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
Apart from you, it’s the turn of NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. It’s the second time the stadium has hosted the Super Bowl since it opened in 2002 (and the third time the city has hosted), after providing the backdrop to Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. That day holds fond memories for the New England Patriots as they triumphed over the Carolina Panthers 32-29. The stadium holds 71,795 spectators and also hosts the Texas Bowl as well international soccer games, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
It should be big, it should be easy to share and you should be able to dip it into other stuff. Think American food at its best – the type of stuff people can grab and eat while still holding their beer in the other hand. If there’s a southern twang to proceedings then all the better. Pulled pork, buffalo wings, barbecue ribs, chili, fried chicken, nachos and burgers. If you’re feeling more adventurous then you could turn your hand to sizzling hot corn bread, served at the table with all the butter bubbling up at the sides. Remember, however, there’s a balancing act that needs to be judged here. You’ve got to stay up till half three in the morning, at least, loading up on fried food, carbs and beer is a one-way ticket to a nap on the sofa. Another reason to invite a big crowd, safety in numbers.
The BBC have the rights to coverage, with their own team and setup. Expect the excellent and entertaining team that bring British viewers weekly highlights on the NFL Show of Mark Chapman, supported by Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell. For any Americans who long for a sound of home, Sky Sports will be transmitting American coverage. Alternatively, stream it – there’s plenty of options.
And if you frankly don’t want anyone in your house at the ungodly hour British NFL fans have to endure, then head to any one of these great bars in London to catch the action. They’ll do the whole lot for you.