Super Bowl XLVIII has locked the New York City metro area into its pigskin-obsessed tractor beam—there is no escape.
Jersey City has been festooned with team banners as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos settle into their hotel rooms, and across the Hudson River, fan festivities have taken over a large swath of Broadway, stretching nearly a mile through Midtown Manhattan.
We've got everything you need to get ready for the game regardless of whether you're fighting through Super Bowl traffic or sunning yourself poolside. Here are the game info, early odds, predictions and forecasts.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: FOX Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider
Over/Under: 47, per CBS Sports
The polygon-obsessed bunch over at EA Sports have run through their usual video-game prediction using Madden NFL 25. In a predictable result, they say the Broncos will win and Peyton Manning will be the MVP, but they also say it will be a closely contested game that will require overtime to decided the 31-28 victor.
Madden predictions have been shockingly accurate of late. Last year, the Madden simulator correctly predicted the Baltimore Ravens would win by three points. The previous year, it correctly chose the New York Giants and missed the final margin of victory by only one point.
The simulation also correctly predicted the winner and exact margin of victory in Super Bowls XLIII and XXXVIII. It has tabbed the correct team eight out of 10 times.
The folks over at SB Nation weighed in and bucked the trend, as four of their six staff experts declared that Seattle would win.
LVH Superbook initially posted a spread favoring the Seahawks, but the line swung solidly to Denver within 12 hours of the conference championships ending.
20 sportsbooks on my odds screen, #Broncos now favored at EVERY ONE (average: Denver -2 over Seattle)— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 20, 2014
LVH has also posted an exhaustive list of more than 350 prop bets for the Super Bowl, which you can review via Sporting News.
These range from the the total number of first downs to whether the first player to score a touchdown will have a uniform number over 79.5 to whether the Boston Celtics will score more points against the Orlando Magic than Marshawn Lynch gets rushing yards. Good luck figuring all that out.
And speaking of difficult things to figure out, much speculation in advance of the first cold-weather Super Bowl has been devoted to the weather in Northern New Jersey.
On a neutral field, in a dome, Denver would have a better chance...If it is going to be anywhere between 19 and 25 degrees, the colder it gets, the tougher it gets because gripping the football can become a problem. If it's going to be sleety or rainy, that's going to be a problem that [Manning] is going to have and that will definitely have an impact on the game.
And while predicting the weather is a near-impossible game, any New Jersey resident can tell you that the conditions in early February tend to be objectionably frigid.
As observed by Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal, Manning has, indeed, been off his game when the mercury drops in the thermometer:
In playoff games when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, Manning has an 0-4 record, a 56.1 percent completion rate and a cumulative passer rating of 57.3, compared with an overall rating of 90.1 in playoff games...In his four cold-weather playoff games, Manning has thrown just four touchdown passes, nine interceptions and has never eclipsed 300 passing yards.
His teams have been held to 14 points or fewer in three of those games, including a disastrous 41-0 shutout loss to the Jets in 2003, which ranks as the heaviest defeat of his career. In that game, Manning tossed two interceptions, completed just 14 of 31 attempts and was badly outplayed by Chad Pennington.
Who ya got?
While I would never compare Russell Wilson to Pennington, Wilson could outplay Manning due to his prudence and knack for ball protection. Wilson was unfazed by his early fumble against the San Francisco 49ers and played efficiently to put his team in position for victory.
If it is chilly or if there is sleety precipitation, then weather will be a huge factor favoring the Seahawks and their 25-year-old QB, not to mention their marauding defense.
Then again, regardless of the weather, Manning and the Broncos have the all-important video-game vote of confidence as he seeks to become the first quarterback to lead two different teams to a Super Bowl title.