Just so we go ahead and get this out of the way: Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will be played outdoors. It will be cold and it could potentially snow.
Though that storyline has been overused already, it will continue as the biggest game of the year nears, when actual forecasts are released and the media-day frenzy begins.
Apart from the potentially freezing temperatures and other weather factors, there are still several intriguing storylines to watch. Whether it's Richard Sherman continuing to make headlines or Peyton Manning's legacy—and retirement possibility talk—the discussion leading up to the Super Bowl will surround several hot topics.
Before the game officially kicks off, here is the game information and biggest storylines to watch heading into the Super Bowl.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:25 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider
It's Gonna Be Cold
East Rutherford, N.J. in wintertime does not exactly provide perfect conditions for the Super Bowl. But despite the possible conditions that lie ahead for both teams to play in, it is going to happen.
Though Manning has only played in 11 cold weather games, with seven losses thus far, the narrative is certainly out there. Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports thought it was so interesting that he wrote an entire column about it, with this tidbit thrown in:
Manning's completion percentage in the cold is roughly 5 percentage points lower than his career rate, and his passing yardage is close to 50 yards per game below average. Granted, 11 games isn't an enormous sample size, but it's enough for me to take seriously. Three or four games? That would be statistically insignificant. That would be a fluke. Eleven games? With seven losses? That seems relevant, insightful, even foreboding for Super Bowl XLVIII.
But in a season where he's been statistically the best quarterback for a single year in the history of the game—breaking both the passing touchdowns and yardage mark—Manning is putting together a year that looks like he can buck any trend, even one that only takes into account 11 of his 262 career games.
As for how the cold weather will affect the game, it appears both running backs will have a heavy load against two running defenses that come in playing their best. While Knowshon Moreno is a formidable back that could carry his team in cold conditions, Marshawn Lynch has been in Beast Mode all season, as Pro Football Focus points out on Twitter:
Marshawn Lynch forced another 7 missed tackles vs SF. Now has 106 in 2013 inc playoffs. #Beastmode— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 20, 2014
Cold weather and possible snow is a staple of the regular season for the NFL. But with the conditions now potential for the biggest stage in football, the headlines won't be going away about this topic until after one team lifts the Lombardi Trophy.
Peyton Manning's Legacy and Retirement Questions
After 16 years in the NFL and a potential second Super Bowl ring, Manning could be looking to go out on top. Without that second ring, Manning will face questions about his legacy and whether or not he belongs on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks with just one Lombardi Trophy.
Unfortunately, this is another storyline that won't be going away.
The win could make him a virtual lock as the best quarterback of this generation and the only quarterback to lead two different teams to Super Bowl titles. A loss? Well, he's still behind his brother and isn't clutch enough to win the big one.
But then there are some, like Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, that believe Manning has already cemented his legacy and the second Super Bowl would be simply another addition to an already great career:
Manning has a chance to silence all of the critics that are still out there like Doyel who believe that he can't get it done in cold weather, on the big stage or against a top defense. And if he wins that second Super Bowl ring, the retirement questions will continue after the game like they did for his boss John Elway after he won his second ring.
Richard Sherman Said What?
Who ya got?
Oh, Richard Sherman. Arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the league—or the best if you ask him—has been a source of controversy ever since his postgame comments about Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship Game.
Is he entertaining? Yes. Is he controversial? Yes. Will it get old really, really soon? Also, yes.
But is Sherman a villain heading into the biggest game of the year or even disrespecting the league itself with his words? That's taking it a little too far, as Michael Grady of the Grady & Big Joe Show on ESPN 1070 The Fan points out:
"Disrespecting the Shield" segment now on ESPN. Richard Sherman (of course) is the catalyst. How quickly we've forgotten Aaron Hernandez.— Michael Grady (@Grady) January 21, 2014
Then there's the question of whether or not Sherman's recent remarks make him classless. A billboard in Denver raises that exact question, comparing Sherman to fellow corner Champ Bailey, as Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports tweets:
Just driving around Denver, taking in some sights. pic.twitter.com/zpFxQYMSpA— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 21, 2014
Sherman may be a little over the top for some people's liking, but the headlines will certainly continue. For fans who thought the Super Bowl media days of the past were a spectacle, just wait until Sherman takes the stand and has to answer questions from hundreds of media members looking to get a great quote.
This storyline won't go away, but it's also a really fun one to watch.