The Super Bowl, a now international spectacle, kicks off tonight in what is sure to be an entertaining affair on and off the pitch.

The Atlanta Falcons will challenge Super Bowl veterans the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 at NRS Stadium, home to the Houston Texans, for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The NFL’s popularity has skyrocketed in Ireland and the UK, so there is plenty to know and do across the capital. The game promises to be phenomenal, but for those not too interested in the sport, it still promises to be a great night out.

For those new to the sport of American Football, the Super Bowl is basically the Champions League final of the NFL. The league is split into two divisions, and the champions of the two divisions, AFC and NFC, duke it out in this winner-takes-all phenomenon for the title of World Champions. American Football is the only sport in America which uses the ’cup final’ system (Basketball, Baseball and Hockey all work off a Best of x series) so the atmosphere is beyond exhilarating.

This year, The Atlanta Falcons will make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1998, and are going in as the underdogs against an efficient Super Bowl machine in The New England Patriots. Head Coach Bill Belichick, and Quarter Back Tom Brady have masterminded 8 previous Super Bowl appearances, winning 4 of them (Tom Brady has won all four, and was voted the game’s MVP for 3).

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The Atlanta Falcons will be the underdogs heading into tonight’s Superbowl.

At the time of writing, Paddy Power has odds of either team to win at 20/31 for New England, and 13/10 for Atlanta.

It’s well documented that the Falcons are the underdogs, but Matt Ryan has played some of his best football this year, and the Falcons are the first ranked team in offence for the season. They are the number one scoring offence with an average of 34 points a game.

However, the Patriots are not far behind in offensive rankings, and they are the number one defence in points allowed, averaging only 15 points a game. They have, however, struggled to defend the passing game, where Matt Ryan and his favourite wide receiver Julio Jones have excelled all year.

For anyone insane enough to do it, or have one or two euro to spare, Paddy Power odds on a game without touchdowns is 300/1. It’s not going to happen… But I’m not a betting man.

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Superbowl veteran Tom Brady will be hoping to lead his New England Patriots to victory.

For those planning a house party, UK broadcasters have this game covered well. Both BBC and Sky Sports will be showing the game. But for you party animals, there’s plenty of venues out in Dublin City showing the game.

DTWO on Harcourt Street will show the game across 20 screens, as well as on a huge 20ft outdoor screen in the beer garden. There will also be free chicken wings.

The first 100 people who book into Harry’s on the Green will receive a free bottle of beer, with the game being shown on multiple screens.

The Trinity Bar will be showing the game live on 17 HD Screens and 2 HD projectors. They open their doors at 8pm.
The Woolshed Bar and Grill offer free entry and food served until 1am.

Fibber Magee’s will be showing the game, with a Red Hot Chilli Peppers cover band taking to stage after the game.

For the home dwellers, there’s plenty on the telly related to the game to tend to your needs. At almost every sporting event, the half time break is utilized for a quick boil of the kettle, beer runs, take-out calls or just that much needed toilet break. But the Super Bowl is different, the ‘Half-Time Show’ is a much-coveted part of the Super Bowl experience.

Each year, there is a huge musical performance during the half time. The likes of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars have all graced the centre of the pitch during the half-hour interval, and each show has been memorable and talked about – for the good, the bad and the very ugly (see 2011 Black-Eyed Peas “performance”).

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The half-time show is an integral part of the Superbowl experience.

That’s not all. A major EU criticism of American football is the excessive ad breaks, but for the Super Bowl, these are often the only reason people watch the game. As silly as it sounds, the ‘Super Bowl ads’ are an infamous source of entertainment, and are searched and shared across social media for days after. Companies spend a fortune to pay for the minute-long slots, so there is pressure to nail it. Companies like Doritos, Bud Light and Skittles have blown them out of the park with hilarity and great marketing, and have people literally anticipating the ad breaks with a bowl of popcorn.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 6.30pm ET, which is 11.30pm GMT

Aidan O’Sullivan