It's the Super Bowl, at long last! Enough with Ray Lewis and Harbowl and deer antlers and possible teammates in the closet and N'Awlins and everything else. It's almost time for kickoff, but before that, we've thrown open the doors to your questions on anything and everything. Today's topics include home team advantage, Ray's tears, Colin Kaepernick's ascendance, Baltimore's secret weapon, and of course, Star Wars. Let's begin:
Why the Super Bowl can’t be moved to a Saturday? It would make so much more sense then having soooooooo many people call in “sick” on that Monday.
— Kathy Campbell
There are a few reasons why the Super Bowl will stay on a Sunday, forever and ever, amen: tradition, parties and ratings. First off, the Super Bowl's on a Sunday because it's always been on a Sunday. What, that's not a good enough reason for you?
"We hear this each year," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told Sports Illustrated back in 2011. "The concept of playing the Super Bowl on a Sunday has worked well for 44 years and we don't anticipate moving away from this tradition. Fans expect to see the Super Bowl on a Sunday, the day on which 89.2 percent of NFL games are played."
Yes...the fans. However, putting a game on Saturday would lop a day off of the hotel stays in the host city, which would cut severely into the city's revenue. And while the Super Bowl on Sunday draws millions of casual viewers, a Super Bowl on Saturday night likely wouldn't pull in nearly as many. So the Super Bowl is here to stay on a Sunday. But then, there's another option ...
Will the petition to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday gain enough signatures by kickoff?
There's a White House petition already out there to make Super Bowl Monday a national holiday, which would be just delightful ... if a bit of a mixed message about what to honor in American culture. The petition needs to get to 100,000 signatures to be considered, and it's at about 13,000 right now. Time to start a two-minute drill, Monday supporters!
But would it be a good idea? No. Think about what this would tell your boss: I can't control myself when watching a football game. I've got to drink and eat myself into a stupor. And you know there'd be some sanctimonious twit who comes in and works on the "off" day just to kiss up to the boss. Every office has one. Better to continue in the fine American tradition of sickening yourself out of work.
Interlude: The Worst Super Bowl Commercial Ever
Everyone loves talking about how wonderful Super Bowl commercials can be, from Michael Jordan and Larry Bird dueling over fries to mini-Darth Vader using the Force on his parents' car. But what about the worst? Every year brings a new crop of cringe-inducing, moronic ads that cost untold millions to make and broadcast. USA Today focuses on the winners with its Ad Meter, but what about the losers? The suicidal robot in the GM ad and the creepy office dude licking everyone's fingers for the last crumbs of Doritos dust both brought parties around the nation to a screeching halt. But for sheer WTF'ery, it's hard to top this aired-once-and-never-again spot from Holiday Inn, which appears to combine prostitution and a transgender makeover into a hotel promotion:
The NFC is the home team in odd-numbered years, the AFC in even years. How many times has the “home” team won?
— Stuart Nichols
Home teams enjoy a decided advantage across all sports; according to the fine book “Scorecasting,” NFL home teams enjoyed a 57.6 percent winning rate from 1966 to 2009. (The reason why? Pressure on the refs. Really. Read the book.)
But determining the “home” team by year alone is the very definition of a random selection. With a large enough sample size, you'd expect the “home” team to win 23 of the 46 Super Bowl games to this point. We're not quite there yet: the “home” team has won 20 games, with the visiting team winning 26. More than a third of those “home team” wins came during the NFC's decade-plus run of dominance from 1985 through 1997.
You'd think, then, that such statistics favor the 49ers, this year's home team. But there's no such thing as a “law of averages”; from a purely statistical perspective, the home-visitor outcome is as random as a coin flip. By the time your great-grandchildren tune into Super Bowl CXI in Beijing, things will likely be closer to evening out.
Another note: as you may know, no team has ever played in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. For most of the last decade, this hasn't even been a remote possibility; the chances that the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Lions or Jaguars would make the Big Game in their designated years were remote indeed. The three teams that came the closest? This'll win you a bet: Miami (1972) and Atlanta (1999) were a year early; Arizona (2009) was a year late. And two teams played in their own neighborhoods, if not their home stadiums: San Francisco beat Miami in Stanford Stadium, 30 miles from Candlestick. And Los Angeles lost in Super Bowl XIV in 1980, played in the Rose Bowl, which is about 14 miles from the Rams' then-home. In LA traffic, though, it would've been faster to fly to Miami.
What happens if there is a tie? Is there a special rule?
If there's a tie, everybody shakes hands and hugs at midfield, then jaunts off to Disney World arm-in-arm. Then Commissioner Goodell decides that keeping score is a bad idea, and turns the NFL into a Pee Wee-style just-play-to-have-fun rec league. Pray this never happens, Slim.
Nah, of COURSE there'd be a winner. This is America we're talking about. We get into fights over parking spaces; you think we're going to let our country's biggest game end in a tie? This ain't soccer!
No Super Bowl has yet gone to overtime, though some have come very close, most notably Super Bowl XXXIV. In that game, the Rams' Mike Jones tackled the Titans' Kevin Dyson three feet short of the goal line as time ran out; the Titans were down by 7 points.
Should a Super Bowl go to overtime, the NFL's new playoff rules would apply: each team would have the opportunity to get the ball provided the team that first received the ball didn't score a touchdown on its opening drive (or surrender a safety). If either of those events happens, game's over; if not, game goes on … hopefully till Tuesday.
Current odds have overtime happening at 9-1 odds, meaning you'd win $90 if you bet $10. In this game, that seems like a decent bet.
Interlude: The Best Super Bowl party food
You know when the best time to attend a Super Bowl party is? When you're nine years old. Think about it: you get driven to and from the party, you're not expected to bring anything, and your parents are so consumed with either the game or yapping with their friends that you can pretty much gorge yourself on everything you can stuff in your little maw. You don't get to drink alcohol, of course (certain backwater counties excepted), but when you're nine, you're hopefully not even thinking about drinking alcohol (again, certain backwater counties excepted).
1. Wings, dripping with sauce that you discreetly wipe off on the couch
2. Pizza, but none of that off-brand cardboard-dough-and-sauce crap, and no wacky artisinal toppings. Pepperoni, cheese and maybe sausage.
3. Chips and salsa (but for the love of God, NOT homemade salsa)
4. Anything else that can be eaten with hands only (hot dogs, sausage balls, pudding, etc.)
5. Cupcakes colored brilliant, skin-staining neon hues not found in nature.
574. The hostess' attempt to make some sort of venue-specific food; this year the “Crawfish Etouffee” will look like something the cat threw up
575. Anything remotely organic. Vegetables are for tomorrow. The Super Bowl is junk and junk only.
What is the over/under on the amount of screen time a weeping Ray Lewis gets?
That's a good drinking game: drink when you see a Ray Lewis teardrop! (Use caution, or you could be comatose before the end of the National Anthem.) Anyway, your initial thought would be that this is contingent on whether or not the Ravens win. We know he's going to bawl like a man sawing off his own arm before the game, then he'll do his Elaine Benes dance:
... and send tears flying into the Superdome crowd. (Video via @houseofwachs.) But I'm thinking that the hydrant's going to be flowing win or lose, either in celebration or why-hast-thou-forsaken-me wailing.
So, with that in mind, I'll put the over/under at 48 minutes. Take the over.
Why will Q (Anquan Boldin) be the difference in the Ravens' Super Bowl win?
Boldin is one of only four Ravens who's been to the Super Bowl before; he was part of the Cardinals team that lost in 2009. (Cue shot of Larry Fitzgerald crying over his Cardinals contract.) He's been a key force in the Ravens' attack; he's averaged 92 yards per postseason game, and he's 3-for-3 when quarterback Joe Flacco targets him in the end zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He and Torrey Smith are going to make life hell for the 49ers secondary, and he'd be a decent bet for your MVP pool.
I really want to make a joke here, but I can't. Boldin's going to be a factor.
Interlude: Our Picks
All right, money-where-our-laptops-are time. Who's going to win? Yahoo! Sports' best and brightest weigh in ... and me, too:
Mike Silver: Baltimore 30, San Francisco 28
Frank Schwab: San Francisco 28, Baltimore 24
Dan Wetzel: San Francisco 24, Baltimore 20
Maggie Hendricks: San Francisco 20, Baltimore 14
Kevin Kaduk: San Francisco 27, Baltimore 24
Eric Adelson: Baltimore 24, San Francisco 21
Jay Busbee: San Francisco 28, Baltimore 24
Make your picks below. Before the game, smart guy.
What happened to take Colin Kaepernick, from not impressing during training camp to starting in the Super Bowl? Some of his teammates said he had issues with accuracy and the heat of his passes. What steps did they take to improve on his weaknesses?
— Redge from the Philippines
I get the impression Kaepernick is like a kid shoved down a hill on a bike for the first time without training wheels. Odds are he'll fall and smear himself all over the asphalt, but every so often a kid learns on the fly, teaching himself how to ride a bike because the only other option is a compound fracture. If Kaepernick does in fact succeed in leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl, no quarterback can ever again use the lack-of-experience shield against criticism. Seriously, Kaepernick went from mining coal in Venezuela* to leading his team to a Super Bowl in just four months. He's an amazing story, and if he wins, tattoos should be mandatory for all 49er fans.
*-Not technically true. But it's a good story, and this is the sports media, so I'm going to report it without even questioning it.
Which Star Wars movie do you most expect this year's Super Bowl to resemble?
— Matthew Simmons
First off, let's forget about the prequels, because they're horrid. Now, you could say that this will be a story like the original Star Wars, where the aging warrior (Jim Harbaugh) mentors the young pup (Kaepernick) into destroying the Evil Empire ... but New England didn't make the Super Bowl, so that's out. It could play out like "Return of the Jedi," with Terrell Suggs as Darth Vader and Ray Lewis as the Emperor, but Randy Moss is way too surly to be an Ewok. So I think it ends the way "The Empire Strikes Back" ends, the way every NFL season ends ... with all of us forlornly snuggling up to our sisters and our household appliances, staring out into the darkness facing the long months until training camp begins again.
But hey, we've got one more game to play before that misery! Let's get to it!
If you'd like to be part of a future mailbag, hit us up with your questions, quips, rants and one-liners at email@example.com, on Facebook here, and on Twitter at @jaybusbee. Enjoy the game, everybody!