A Super Bowl guide for people who don’t follow football

Here’s what to know about the Patriots and the Rams.

The Super Bowl, of course, is the NFL’s annual championship game. More importantly for non-football fans, it’s an excuse to get together with friends and party.

Not everyone will give a hoot about what the New England Patriots or Los Angeles Rams are up to Sunday night, but those who want to pick up a little knowledge about the game and its participants need not look any further than amNewYork’s casual guide to Super Bowl LIII.


Patriots: Foxborough, Massachusetts (Boston suburb)

Rams: Los Angeles

Favored to win

Most sportsbooks have the Patriots as 2.5-point favorites, as of Thursday.

Tale of the teams

Patriots: You’d have to look pretty hard to find someone attending a Super Bowl party that hasn’t heard of this team. After decades of relative irrelevance in the NFL landscape, the Pats emerged in the 21st century as the dominant franchise in all of professional sports. It all began with a huge Super Bowl upset against the Rams (then in St. Louis) to cap the 2001 season — New England was a 14-point betting underdog. With quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick leading the way throughout, the Patriots have won five Super Bowl championships. Sunday’s game is their ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 years. Their run also has been marked by controversies, including accusations of spying on opponents (dubbed "Spygate") and circumventing rules on how much air is in the game footballs ("Deflategate").

Rams: “Wait, wasn’t this team in St. Louis?” Totally understandable thought for a casual football follower. The team played in the Gateway to the West from 1995-2015 before returning to their previous home in the shadow of Hollywood. The franchise reached its peak 19 years ago when it won its first and only Super Bowl crown, defeating the Tennessee Titans. The title came during a period when the team earned the nickname “The Greatest Show on Turf” thanks to their high-scoring, pass-oriented offense. After the Pats’ upset of them in Super Bowl XXXVI, the franchise failed to make the playoffs from 2005-16. Hiring head coach Sean McVay in 2017 sparked a turnaround for the team, which looks poised to compete for many years to come.

Notable names

Patriots: Most folks are familiar with Brady — he’s the 41-year-old superstar quarterback who married Victoria’s Secret model Gisele Bündchen. Belichick, the gruff, taciturn coach, engineered the team’s consistent success both on game days and in the offseason as an executive. Rob Gronkowski, aka Gronk, is the affable tight end who stars in silly commercials for Tide Pods and looks like he’s having fun all the time — when he’s not injured.  

Rams:  Running back Todd Gurley is one of the biggest names on the fantasy football scene because he’s one of the best in the NFL, period. At 33, McVay is the youngest coach in Super Bowl history. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best defensive player in football, known for his ability to sack opposing quarterbacks. L.A.’s own QB, Jared Goff, was the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Why you should root for the . . .

Patriots: You love a good bandwagon . . . You love anything that’s red, white and blue . . . You’re from New England — or St. Louis.

Rams: You’re sick of those cheatin’ Patriots . . . You hate Boston, . . . You want Gurley to be rewarded for carrying your fantasy team.

Scott Fontana