The biggest spectacle in American sports is nearly upon us as the NFL season culminates with Super Bowl LII.
Whether you’re an NFL fan or just eager to get a taste of the experience, there are several venues across the UAE that will open their doors in the early hours for live viewing of the game, which is set to kick-off at 03:30 Monday morning.
Whoever you’re rooting for, be sure to check out the Super Bowl at one of the following places:
Original Wings and Rings
There’s nothing quite like enjoying American football while feasting on buffalo wings, which is why you can’t go wrong heading to this popular spot in DIFC.
Doors will open at 03:00, with entry priced at Dh150 per person, inclusive of one main course and one beverage.
Visitors also have a chance at winning a voucher worth Dh1,000.
Where: Liberty House Building, Level C, DIFC
Contact: Original Wings and Rings Facebook page
Switch it up from the usual sports bar scene by enjoying all the action on the field in the classy setting at Emirates Golf Club.
Featuring 16 televisions and a three metre screen, Spike Bar has you covered for the game and for food and beverage, with a Dh50 breakfast buffet on offer, as well as happy hour drinks for Dh28.
Where: Emirates Golf Club
One of the premier hot spots in the emirate, McGettigan’s will be screening the game while offering specials with beverage bucks deals, a bites menu and their signature wings and burgers.
The venue will also be hosting members of the local Emirates American Football League, so the atmosphere is bound to be electric.
Where: Jumeirah Lake Towers Cluster J
Contact: McGettigan’s Facebook page
Stars ‘N’ Bars
Get the total experience at this American Sports Bar situated in the capital.
The venue will be showing Super Bowls of the past from 21:00 to 03:00, alongside karaoke from 22:00 to 02:00 and a tailgate party from 22:00 to 03:00.
When the game kicks off, you can keep up with the action on 76 TVs and a three-metre large screen outside on the dining terrace.
Where: Yas Marina, Yas Island
Contact: Stars ‘N’ Bars Facebook page
The Sportsman’s Arms
If you’re a fan of brunch, The Sportsman’s Arms may be the ideal spot to catch the game while filling up on delicious food and cold beverages.
The bar will offer a four-hour package of unlimited beverages, bucket of wings, ribs and sliders for Dh295, before breakfast is served from 07:00. You can also opt for bucket deals of 10 beverages for Dh200 and 20 for Dh350.
Where: Zayed Sports City
Contact: The Sportsman’s Arms Facebook page
Super Bowl week has brought with it plenty of media frenzy as always.
The New England Patriots are playing in their eighth Super Bowl since 2002, so they’re used to having all eyes on them in the lead-up to the biggest game of the year. You won’t see Bill Belichick or Tom Brady giving crazy quotes on the media days, although the Patriots coach has been caught smiling multiple times already.
The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, have really embraced their underdog status but aren’t talking like a team short on confidence.
Here are some of the top quotes from the week:
“I think Tom Brady’s earned the right to have that be a decision he makes when he wants to make it.”
-Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, son of owner Robert Kraft, telling NFL Network it’s Brady’s choice when he wants to step away from the game. An ESPN article ahead of the playoffs described a power struggle between ownership, Brady and Belichick, with Brady’s future a topic of contention.
“Why does everyone want me to retire so bad? I don’t get it. I’m having fun. The team’s doing good. I know I’m a little bit older than most of the guys, but I’m really enjoying it.”
-Brady’s response when asked about Kraft’s comments on his decision to retire. The 40-year-old quarterback has maintained he wants to play into his mid 40s and judging by his current form, he may well get there.
“You can’t take it easy on the GOAT. He’s a helluva dude and a helluva player. He’s trying to play a mind game with me. It’s that Jedi mind trick.”
-Eagles defensive end Chris Long speaks on former team-mate Brady, who he won a championship with last year in New England. Brady joked earlier in the week that Long “respects his elders” and not hit him so hard if he gets a chance in the game.
“All of that dynasty stuff, that s*** doesn’t matter to me. I’m not worried about their dynasty. They may have a dynasty but that’s what we are looking to start here in Philly. I am trying to win a trophy man. We want to bring this thing back to Philly for the first time.”
-Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is aware of what the Patriots have accomplished – winning five Super Bowls in the Brady and Belichick era – but he’s not about to bend down and kiss their feet.
“Some of those have worked out maybe a little better for one side than the other. Certainly, Mike got the best of the Chad Johnson trade, still waiting for the payback on that. I don’t think that’s coming.”
-Belichick on the trade he made with the Cincinnati Bengals to get former star receiver Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) in 2011. The Patriots coach almost predictably gave a long-winded answer when asked about special teams coverage, but this shot taken at Johnson was definitely a surprise and came out of nowhere.
“When you get to be as old as him maybe your memory is short.”
-Robert Kraft took a friendly jab at Brady, who is 36 years his junior. The joking remark to the Boston Herald was in response to being asked about Brady’s famous words when the two first met. Kraft maintains Brady told him “I’m the best decision this organisation has ever made”, while Brady claims he said “you’ll never regret picking me”. Regardless of who’s account is true, they both ring true for Kraft and the Patriots.
There are so many moving parts on a football field, but games can often come down to who wins certain one-on-one situations – whether it be a wide receiver against a cornerback, an edge rusher against an offensive tackle or a safety covering a tight end.
Both the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will have matchups they favour on both sides of the ball. We highlight three of those pivotal matchups here:
Rob Gronkowski v Malcolm Jenkins
At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, the Patriots tight end is a problem every defence has to solve. Even though he was sidelined with an injury in last year’s Super Bowl and knocked out with a concussion in last week’s AFC Championship Game, the Patriots offence is simply better leaps and bounds better when Gronkowski plays. Since 2010 (including playoffs), New England have scored 2.9 points per drive with Gronkowski and 2.3 without him. The Patriots will move him around the formation in the hopes of drawing a mismatch they can exploit. And when they do get one, Tom Brady will be relentless in attacking.
Philadelphia can choose to counter Gronkowski in a number of ways, opting for double teams, a rotation of defenders or shadowing him with one player. The last option seems most likely, with Jenkins drawing the assignment. The Eagles safety is used to matching up against tight ends, but Philadelphia as a whole struggled to contain tight ends this season, allowing 45.2 yards per game and ranking 17th in DVOA (defence-adjusted value over average) by Football Outsiders. If Jenkins struggles out of the gate, the Eagles may go with double-teams on Gronkowski, opening up the rest of the field for Brady.
If healthy, Rob Gronkowski could be the difference maker in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles have been great defending wide receivers and running backs, but have struggled against tight ends. pic.twitter.com/5qvxFZ8xgL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2018
Nelson Agholor v Eric Rowe
It’s been a breakout year for Agholor, who’s emerged as one of the best slot receivers in all of football. While Zach Ertz led Philadelphia in receiving and Alshon Jeffery is the true number one wideout in the passing game, Agholor plays a crucial role in the middle of the field as a safety blanket for Foles. He was targeted 30 times on third down this season, producing a passer rating of 134.7, according to Pro Football Focus, the best mark among all receivers with at least 30 third down targets. He’s also a factor in trick plays, jet sweeps and RPOs (run-pass options).
Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler are expected to have their hands full with Jeffery and Torrey Smith, respectively, which means Rowe will likely have to chase around Agholor in the slot. New England’s secondary has been at its weakest in the middle of the field during the playoffs, with Rowe often getting beat in the wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville, and Agholor is a better slot receiver than either of those two teams possess. Making things more interesting, Rowe and Agholor are familiar with each other after both were drafted by the Eagles in 2015, before the former was traded to New England.
Look for Nelson Agholor on 3rd down! pic.twitter.com/D3a1I87aD1— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 31, 2018
Brandon Graham v LaAdrian Waddle/Cameron Fleming
Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox may be the most important defensive player in the Super Bowl, but Graham may be the Eagles’ pass rusher most primed to have an impact. Graham will face either LaAdrian Waddle or Cameron Fleming, or potentially both if New England chooses to rotate the right tackles, with either presenting a mismatch in the Eagles’ favour. Graham recorded a career-high 9.5 sacks this season and because Philadelphia have and utilise their depth on the defensive line, he should be mostly fresh throughout the game – fatigue has plagued pass rushers facing the Patriots in the past.
It’s unclear if Waddle or Fleming will start at right tackle, with the former recovering from a knee sprain suffered in the divisional round. When he’s been healthy, Waddle has been the Patriots’ choice after starter Marcus Cannon was put on injured reserve late in the season. However, Waddle has struggled to hold up in pass protection, allowing 17 pressures on just 225 attempts this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Though Waddle may be slotted back in to start the game, Fleming provides some insurance if things go wrong, but both will be in need of double-teams on Graham at times.