MILLIONS of sports fans from around the world will be switching their attention to New Jersey in the early hours of Monday morning for the game dubbed by many as the biggest in all of sport.
Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks go head-to-head in American football’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford - a game which is likely to be watched by a global audience topping more than 100 million and will help facilitate Americans consume more than 1.23 billion chicken wings washed down by 325 million gallons of beer.
While sports fans across Swindon are likely to swap the usual round ball for the pig skin, the players on the town’s American football team, Swindon Storm are likely to be more interested and more informed than most.
When the Advertiser asked Storm players Sam Mendoza, Dan Thorne, Sean Harper and Dan Pour for their opinions on the big game, all aside from Harper predicted a Denver win, but all four had strong opinions on what will happen in the early hours of Monday morning.
How much are you looking forward to Sunday night? Where and with who will you be watching the game?
Sam: I am having a gathering of Storm players round my house for a pizza and a few (well, a lot) drinks. I'm looking forward to it, the two number one seeds facing each other, one with the best offence the other with the best defence. Should be intriguing
Dan P: I’ll be watching the game after the event at home with my partner and our daughter. I can’t watch it live as I have work early in the morning so I got to hope no one spoils it for me.
Sean: I will be doing the usual Super Bowl ritual of watching it at Sam’s with food and drink.
Dan T: I'm looking forward to it as it will be a good match up, both teams are strong in all three phases of the game. I'll just be watching with a few mates.
Who will you be cheering for?
Sam: I’m not overly fussed who wins, as long as it’s a good game
Dan P: I kind of want both teams to win but I’ll be a Seahawks fan for the night . I’m a big fan of a strong defence and a solid run game and that is the Seahawks all over even.
Sean: I will be supporting the Seahawks, with Peyton not adding to his ring collection it may keep Tom Brady just in front in the argument as to who is the greatest of the two.
Dan T: I'll be cheering the Broncos, I want to see Manning have a good day and win another ring to help in his hall of fame career.
Are you at all surprised by the two teams which have made it there?
Sam: Not really, the manner in which the Patriots rolled over in the AFC Championship game was the most disappointing. Seattle’s home field advantage is so big they were always going to be tough to beat once they got the number seed. Despite my obvious bias, I think only Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay from the NFC could have gone and beaten them there.
Dan P: No not really. The Seahawks have been an up and coming team for a while now and whenever you have Payton Manning as your QB he going to get that team to the playoffs. I mean all you have to do is look how good the Colts were for the year with no Manning, he just makes any team better but this is the primetime. I’m not sure how much longer he will be playing at this level for.
Sean: The only real surprise is that there is no dark horse, very rare to have the two best teams, the best offence and best defence from throughout the season competing in the showcase event.
Dan T: I'm not surprised at all to be fair, they were favoured by many going in, and have performed the best throughout the season. The playoffs went to the script this year and the best two teams made it to the Super Bowl.
Where does Peyton Manning stand amongst the game's greats right now? Where would another Super Bowl ring put him?
Sam: I think too much prominence is placed on Super Bowl rings. Manning is one of the best ever, no doubt, but it must be hard for him knowing his brother has two rings.
Dan P: I think he is one of the best already and if he does win then he’s got to be top five. I mean how many people take two different teams to Super Bowl wins? Denver has been primed for a while now but the fact he is an instant upgrade to any team makes him one of the greatest Sean: I think he is already going straight to Canton and the Hall of Fame, but I think another ring may help him in his battle with Brady as to who is the best of their generation.
Dan T: I would say he is one of the best anyway, his win/loss record and his statistics in all catergories show that. Another ring will just add to his legacy and will help people who argue he is the greatest of all time.
How does Russell Wilson stand up to Manning?
Sam: No comparison, Wilson is an athlete, but his defence and running back (Lynch) win them matches Dan P: He doesn’t, not yet. I don’t want to take anything away from him, I mean he is a good player but without his defence and beast mode I’m not sure how far they would have got this year but hey, this is only his second year and he’s at the Super Bowl so he’s only going to get better and better.
Sean: He can’t yet stand up to him, he needs to be competing and leading his team to these games constantly to be compared in that term. Otherwise they are completely different style of quaterbacks.
Dan T: He doesn't. Manning is the best QB playing today and one of the best ever. Wilson is a younger more athletic QB who has been very good with the ball this year but isn’t in Manning’s league yet.
Do you think the weather conditions in New Jersey will play a part?
Sam: It may slow the Broncos offence down a little, but both teams are fully prepared!
Dan P: I’m not sure because both teams are from cold weather city’s anyway so not as much as people are saying, but I am against playing it in a place that the weather will play a factor, if they had a roof it would be better if it snows it changes everything I don’t like that for the most important game of the year
Sean: Not at all, unless it rains, sounds daft but the rain stops the big receiving plays from happening as often.
Dan T: I think it will be cold, possibly snowing, but both these teams play in parts of America where it gets real cold and does snow so they shouldn't effect either team too negatively.
Richard Sherman, hero or villain?
Sam: Hero, he backs up everything he says. He does a lot for charity too, so he gets a thumbs up in my book
Dan P: just a normal guy when I first started playing and I was put on the D-line I was like that all the time maybe not as crazy as him but smack talking the Offence and just being aggressive what did they think was going to happen I have no problem with it but hay the second he mucks up that going to be thrown straight in his face but that just how it gose
Sean: Villain, but he plays it so well and I do think it’s a nice change that they come out and don’t hide behind vanilla answers when being interviewed post game.
Dan T: I would say he has made himself a villain, but he may not think that is a bad thing. He obviously has a lot of confidence in his play and has drawn a lot of attention on himself, and he will reap the rewards of his fame. Just as long as it doesn't distract the team.
Do the Seahawks have any hope of stopping the Denver offense?
Sam: Yes, they have to. I don’t see them competing in a high scoring game. If seahawks win there will be under 45pts
Dan P: I don’t think so I mean they got a really good D infacted the best but these just to many passing options and Peyton gets the ball out so quick I don’t think there’s going to be any time for the pass rush
Sean: If the Patriots playing poorly can keep Denver under 30pts then the Seahawks should accomplish that task with relative ease. It’s just can they score enough to keep up with them.
Dan T: Its a great matchup, Denver has a great offence, full of big recievers who can run and go up and get a ball. The Seahawks d is one of the best, full of big defensive backs who will be to hang with denvers playmakers. I think they can slow denvers o, but not stop it.
Who is your player to watch?
Sam: Lynch, he’s an Animal. If Seahawks are to win, he has to have the ball a lot and take time off the clock
Dan P: marshawn lynch if he goes off the game is done he will be the player that will make or break this game for the Seahawks and I want him to have an epic game in the biggest show
Sean: Wes Welker, his short yardage gains, experience and avoidance of the ‘Legion of Boom’ could be critical for Denver keeping drives alive.
Dan T: It’s going to be the obvious one for me, Peyton Manning. Hopefully it'll be a game where he shows he is the best, controls the game like he does and gets the win.
Finally who will win on Sunday? Score prediction?
Sam: Denver win 31 – 17
Dan P: 28-14 broncos
Sean: Seattle win 27-24
Dan T: I think Denver will win it. Itll be close but i think Denvers offence will have the edge over that Seahawks defence. I'll go with Denver 27 - 20 Seahawks