2018 Super Bowl: Cheat sheet for fans who don't know the Patriots from 'The Patriot'

So the Super Bowl is almost here. You're going to a Super Bowl party this weekend. Obviously. Who isn't? 

But maybe you're one of those people that's going to a Super Bowl party because it's the social thing to do and you're not necessarily a big football fan. And because you're a social butterfly, you want to be prepared. You want to have all the pertinent information so that you know exactly what's going on before, during, after, and around the big game. 

We've got you covered. This is the casual fan's guide to Super Bowl LII. 

Who's playing in Super Bowl LII? And why is it called Super Bowl LII?

First and foremost, it's important to know the participants. Representing the AFC, we have the New England Patriots. They're the favorite. (That means betting experts generally think they're going to win.) Representing the NFC are the Philadelphia Eagles. If you can't tell the Patriots and Eagles apart by the logos on their helmets, you should know that the Patriots are wearing white jerseys and the Eagles are wearing green

It's called Super Bowl LII because it's the 52nd Super Bowl and 52 in Roman numbers is LII. They've been using Roman numerals for every Super Bowl (except Super Bowl 50) since Super Bowl V (five). According to the NFL's media guide, "The Roman numerals were adopted to clarify any confusion that may occur because the NFL Championship Game -- the Super Bowl -- is played in the year following a chronologically recorded season. Numerals I through IV were added later for the first four Super Bowls."

What time is the Super Bowl? Where is it? And how long is it going to last?

The Super Bowl starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. You can watch it on NBC or on a variety of streaming platforms. The game will be played in the home stadium of the Minnesota Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 

(Note: The NFL rotates the location of the Super Bowl every year because it generally wants to provide a neutral site so no team has home-field advantage. That has worked every year, as no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. This one is in Minnesota because the league likes to reward cities that built new stadiums with the honor of hosting a Super Bowl, generally in the second or third season of the stadium's existence. This is the second year U.S. Bank Stadium has been home to the Vikings.) 

As our Cody Benjamin noted last year, the average Super Bowl broadcast over the past 20 years has been about three and a half hours. It's pretty long. That includes a halftime show that generally lasts 20-30 minutes, but more on that later. 

Who's singing the national anthem? 

We're glad you asked! Three-time Grammy winner Pink is singing the national anthem this year. 

Can you bet on the length of the national anthem? OF COURSE YOU CAN! It's one of the most popular Super Bowl bets every year. As of this writing, the over/under is 120 seconds. 

Who's performing at halftime?

Justin Timberlake!

J.T.'s new album, "Man of the Woods," will be released two days before the Super Bowl, and you can bet that several tracks will be featured prominently during the halftime performance. The bet here is that we hear a bunch of classic hits as well, with several "surprise" guests popping up during the performance. 

We seem pretty unlikely to see Janet Jackson, with whom Timberlake performed at the Super Bowl back in 2004. The pair created a good deal of controversy when Timberlake ripped off a portion of Jackson's outfit to expose her breast to everyone watching. That incident, which was later deemed a "wardrobe malfunction," is undoubtedly the single-most infamous moment in halftime show history.

Who are the quarterbacks of the Patriots and Eagles? 

It's always a good bet that the quarterbacks will play a big role in the Super Bowl. A quarterback usually wins MVP of the game, after all. 

The quarterback of the Patriots is a guy named Tom Brady. You may have heard of him before. He's pretty good. 

Brady is generally considered the best quarterback of all time, though some fans of the Colts and 49ers may quibble with you if you say that out loud. He has been the Patriots' quarterback since 2001 and this is the eighth time he'll play in the Super Bowl. He's won five of his seven previous Super Bowl starts, including last year against the Falcons. He's one of two players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls, the only player to win five Super Bowls with the same team, and the only player to win Super Bowl MVP four times. 

Brady has made the Pro Bowl (the NFL's equivalent of the All-Star Game) 13 times and has also won MVP twice, though he seems likely to add to that total at the NFL Honors show the night before the Super Bowl. 

The quarterback of the Eagles is Nick Foles. He is not quite as good as Tom Brady but he does hold the NFL record for best touchdown-to-interception ratio in a single season. But that was not this year. Back in 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions and led the NFL in passer rating. 

He quickly regressed over the next couple seasons, however, and ended up bouncing around the league for a few years. He re-signed with Philadelphia this offseason to back up Carson Wentz, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz was an MVP candidate for the Eagles this season, but he suffered a torn ACL late in the year and Foles has been playing QB for the Eagles ever since. 

Philadelphia won the NFC's No. 1 seed largely due to the record Wentz staked them to before his injury, and thus the Eagles were underdogs in their two playoff games prior to the Super Bowl. They nevertheless won both games and earned the right to represent the NFC on Sunday. 

Are there any other notable players I should be prepared to talk about? 

Of course! 

Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history. He plays for the Patriots and he is a gigantic human that cannot be stopped. (He also might be an insane person. When in doubt, say something like, "Gronk is so crazy.") He suffered a concussion during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and he has not yet been cleared to play this weekend. If he's out, it's a big deal. But if he plays, the Eagles could be in trouble.

Dion Lewis is the Patriots' No. 1 running back. He's tiny. He also used to play for the Eagles, but they basically never used him. Lewis had more carries during the Patriots' final two regular season games in 2017 than he did in two years playing for the Eagles. He started the season fourth on the depth chart but worked his way to the top throughout the year and now he's the No. 1 running back. 

Malcolm Butler is a cornerback for the Patriots. He made one of the best plays in Super Bowl history when he intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to seal a win for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. If the Eagles get near the goal line at any point, it's a pretty safe bet that you'll see this replay. 

One of the Eagles' running backs is LeGarrette Blount. He was on the Patriots last year, when he led the NFL in touchdowns. He has pretty much only been good during his career when he's been on the Patriots, but he nevertheless considers his former teammates to be his enemies this week. 

The strength of the Eagles' team is their defensive line. (More on them below.) The names you should know are Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett and Beau Allen. Those guys are all really good players,  but Long is especially notable because he donated every single one of his game checks this season to charity.

There are obviously more notable players, but this is a good start.  

Who are the coaches of the Patriots and Eagles? 

The coach of the Patriots is Bill Belichick. He's grumpy. He wears hoodies. He never gives a real answer to any question unless it's about special teams or college lacrosse. People either love him and his shtick or absolutely can't stand him and call him a cheater. The TV broadcast will probably show him about 100 times during the game and he will be smiling a grand total of zero times. (One of his players stated this season that he has seen Belichick smile twice, ever. And that guy has been on the Patriots since 2009.) 

He's considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history and, like Brady, has won five Super Bowls with the Patriots. He is tied for third all time in regular season wins and has the most playoff wins of any coach in the history of football. He's also the only coach ever to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. Before becoming a head coach, he was also a longtime assistant coach under Bill Parcells, and there is a documentary about them called "The Two Bills." 

The head coach of the Eagles is Doug Pederson. This is his second season as a head coach. He has one Super Bowl win in his career, and it's against the Patriots. (He was Brett Favre's backup quarterback on the 1996 Green Bay Packers.) After a long career as a backup quarterback for the Dolphins, Packers, Eagles, and Browns, Pederson became a high school head coach. After a successful stint at Calvary Baptist Academy that included a district title, Pederson was hired as an assistant coach by former Eagles coach Andy Reid, who had coached Pederson during his playing career. 

Pederson then coached under Reid in Philadelphia from 2009 through 2012, working his way up from quality control assistant to quarterbacks coach. When Reid left the Eagles for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, Pederson left with him. He served as Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City from 2013 through 2015, and when the Eagles fired Chip Kelly, they replaced him with Pederson. 

The Patriots also have very famous assistant coaches that will be named the head coach of other teams soon. There's an NFL rule prohibiting teams from announcing their new head coach if the coach's team is still in the playoffs, so Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are officially still Patriots coaches until Monday at the earliest. 

McDaniels is the Patriots' offensive coordinator. He looks like he's about 11 years old. You'll likely see him talking to and/or being yelled at by Tom Brady on the sideline during the game. He'll be coaching the Indianapolis Colts soon. Patricia is the Patriots' defensive coordinator. He is currently most famous for his gigantic beard and the fact that he was an aeronautical engineer before he became a football coach. He'll be coaching the Detroit Lions soon. 

What's a good talking point to bring up with fans of each team? 

  • Patriots fans: Roger Goodell hates/is scared of us
  • Eagles fans: Talk about the defensive line! (And maybe don't bring up what happened the last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl. Hint: they lost to the Patriots.) If you want to sound super smart, say something like, "Everybody knows that the best way to beat the Pats is to get pressure on Brady without blitzing. And the Eagles can definitely do that with guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and Chris Long up front. If those guys control the game, the Eagles have a real shot to take this one."  

When will people start caring about next year's Super Bowl? 

Literally the second this game ends. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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