2019 Super Bowl: Cheat sheet for casual fans who don't know Tom Brady from Tom Hanks

Folks, Super Bowl LIII is almost upon us. We're just days away from the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams squaring off for the Lombardi Trophy.

Undoubtedly, you're headed to a Super Bowl party this weekend. Why wouldn't you be? Everybody is. Perhaps you're a huge football fan and already know everything there is to know about the game and the teams and the players involved. But perhaps you're not. Perhaps you're just going to a Super Bowl party because it's the social thing to do. Maybe you don't know all that much about anything related to the Super Bowl. 

In this case, we've got you covered. This is the casual fan's guide to Super Bowl LIII.

From Gladys Knight's anthem to who will score first to Maroon 5 to the Super Bowl MVP, get everything you need to make the right picks for Sunday in our Ultimate Super Bowl Props guide.

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

First and foremost, it's important to know everything about the participants in the NFL's title game. Representing the AFC, we have the New England Patriots. They're favored by 2.5 points as of this writing. That means betting experts generally think they're going to win by somewhere around a field goal. Most people are betting on the Patriots at this point.

Representing the NFC, meanwhile, are the Los Angeles Rams. If you can't tell the Patriots and Rams apart by the logos on their helmets, you should know that the Patriots are wearing white jerseys and the Rams are wearing these sweet, sweet blue and yellow throwback duds

It's called Super Bowl LIII because it's the 53rd Super Bowl, and 53 in Roman numbers is LIII. The NFL has 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?

The Super Bowl starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. There will also be several hours worth of pre-game coverage leading up to kickoff. You can watch all of that on CBS (America's most-watched network!) or stream it right here on CBSSports.com and on the CBS Sports App. The game will be played in the home stadium of the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It's a retractable-roof stadium, so weather will not be a concern during the game. (Though it might be during the week.) 

(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 Atlanta 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 Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been home to the Falcons.) 

And how long is it going to last?

As our Cody Benjamin noted a couple years back, 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! Seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight is singing the national anthem this year. Knight is an Atlanta music legend who has been a chart-topper since the 1960s and has been universally recognized as one of the greatest singers of all time. 

"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," she said. "The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year."

In addition to Knight's performance, performance and deaf activist Aarron Loggins will sign both the anthem and "America The Beautiful" on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).

Who's performing at halftime?

Maroon 5, who will be joined by Big Boi and Travis Scott

As our Sean Wagner-McGough wrote

Maroon 5, who have sold over 53 million albums and 48 million singles, are best known for hits like "This Love", "She Will Be Loved", "Harder to Breathe", "Moves Like Jagger", "One More Night", "Payphone", "Sugar", "Makes Me Wonder", "Maps", and "Animals". With nine No. 1 singles, Maroon 5 set the record the most No. 1 singles by a group in the 20-year history of the top-40 chart. They've been nominated for 13 Grammys, winning three times. Their most recent and sixth studio album, "Red Pill Blues", came out in 2017.

As for the special guests, Scott has been nominated for a Grammy six times. All three of his studio albums have gone platinum. His most recent album, "Astroworld", was released in August and has been nominated for Best Rap Album at next month's Grammys. The album produced the song "Sicko Mode", which is nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Meanwhile, Big Boi is best known for his work in Outkast, a hip-hop duo that has sold 25 million albums and won six Grammys. You've probably heard of songs like "Hey Ya!", "Ms. Jackson", "Roses", and countless others. Big Boi's most-recent album, "Boomiverse", came out in June 2017. 

Who wins Patriots vs. Rams? And which side of the spread has all the value, making it a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the computer model that has returned nearly $4,000 to $100 bettors over the past two seasons!  

Who are the quarterbacks of the Patriots and Rams? 

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. Nick Foles won Super Bowl MVP last year, for example. 

The quarterback of the Patriots is some guy named Tom Brady. You may have heard of him before. He's pretty good. We're just going to copy/paste and update our description of Brady from last year, because, well, he's the same guy: 

Brady is generally considered the best quarterback of all time, though some fans of the Colts and 49ers may argue with you if you say that out loud. Brady has made the Pro Bowl (the NFL's equivalent of the All-Star Game) 14 times and has also won MVP three times, including last year. He has been the Patriots' quarterback since 2001 and this is the ninth time he'll play in the Super Bowl. He's won five of his eight previous Super Bowl starts, including two years ago against the Falcons, though he did lose last year against the Eagles. 

Brady is 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 is the only quarterback 40 years old or older to have ever started in a Super Bowl, which he did last year. If the Patriots win, he'll become the first 40-plus-year-old quarterback to actually win a Super Bowl. 

The quarterback of the Rams is Jared Goff. He is not quite as good as Tom Brady but over the last two years he has directed the high-powered Rams offense that has become one of the best and most creative in the league. Goff is a former No. 1 overall pick out of the University of California. The Rams traded up to get him in the 2016 NFL Draft, back when they were coached by Jeff Fisher, who is now out of the league. Goff was an absolute disaster during his rookie season and looked like a lost cause, but thanks to improved coaching (more on that later) and better teammates, now looks like a rising star. The Rams went from last in the league in scoring during Goff's rookie season to first in scoring during his sophomore year and followed up that performance by ranking second in scoring this season. 

Goff overcame long odds to win the NFC title game on the road against the New Orleans Saints, becoming just the sixth quarterback age 25 or younger to take his team to the Super Bowl. One of the previous five was Brady, by the way. 

The respective ages of Brady (41) and Goff (24) give this game the largest age gap (17 years) between the two starting quarterbacks in the history of the Super Bowl. 

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

Of course! 

Let's start with the Patriots: 

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski. Everybody calls him Gronk. He is enormous, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 265 pounds. He wears No. 87 and during games sports a large brace on his elbow that makes him unmissable on the field. Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Injuries slowed him down during the regular season but he was incredible during the AFC title game against the Chiefs
  • Wide receiver Julian Edelman. If you see a person on the Patriots with the exact opposite body type as Gronk, that's Edelman. He's 5-foot-10, weighs 198 pounds and will be wearing No. 11. He is a former college quarterback that the Patriots converted into a slot receiver and has been Brady's most reliable target for years. Edelman missed all of last year with a torn ACL and was suspended for the first four games of this season for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. 
  • Running backs Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. The Patriots rotate three different running backs into the game depending on situation. Michel, who wears No. 26, is a rookie that serves as a power runner and is likely to lead the team in carries. White, No. 28, is more of a pass-catcher and plays on third downs, in the two-minute drill, if the Patriots are losing late in the game, or against teams whose linebackers struggled in coverage. Burkhead is No. 34 and he has the most versatile skill set of the trio, but is neither as good a runner as Michel nor as good a pass-catcher as White.
  • The <strong>offensive line</strong>. If somebody is talking about how Brady has so much time in the pocket, it's all because of them. Be sure to talk about how underrated their role in the Patriots' dominance has been over the years. 
  • Defensive lineman Trey Flowers. He wears No. 98 and is arguably the Patriots' best defensive player. He is extremely versatile and can play all over the defensive line, excelling against both the run and the pass. He's the key to the Patriots getting pressure on Jared Goff. 
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He wears No. 24 and is a shadow corner. That means the Patriots like to use him to cover the opposing team's best wide receiver, no matter where that player lines up on the field. He used to be on the Patriots' division rival Buffalo Bills, but prior to the 2017 season New England handed him the largest free-agent contract ever signed by the Patriots. The 2018 season was arguably his best ever.  

And what about the Rams? 

  • Running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. Gurley wears No. 30 and is easily identifiable on the field by the long dreadlocks hanging out of his helmet. He is one of the best, most versatile running backs in the league but suffered an injury toward the end of the season, which led to the Rams signing Anderson. The two players have split carries during the playoffs. Anderson wears No. 35 and is easily identifiable by his girth, which is extremely abnormal for a running back. He has been incredible during his four games with the Rams and could be an X-factor in the game. 
  • Wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Cooks is the smaller of the two and wears No. 12, and is generally considered a speed receiver. (He was also on the Patriots last season. They traded him to the Rams for a first-round pick back in March.) Woods wears No. 17 and is a possession receiver who now plays most of his snaps in the slot due to the absence of Cooper Kupp, who suffered a torn ACL earlier this season. Cooks and Woods will be on the field for almost every snap, while Josh Reynolds and tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett will rotate in and out of the game. 
  • Defensive lineman Aaron Donald. He wears No. 99 and is arguably the best player in all of football. He is a defensive tackle, which is a position where most players fill a limited role as either a run-stopper or interior pass-rusher, but Donald is the best in the league at both of those things. He briefly became the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history this offseason before the Bears' Khalil Mack signed a larger contract shortly after. If the Rams win the game, it will very likely be because Donald dominated the line of scrimmage. 
  • Defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. These guys play next to Donald on the Rams' defensive line, which is arguably the best in the league. Suh wears No. 93, and this is his first year with the Rams, who signed him as a free-agent this past offseason. He once had the largest non-quarterback contract in NFL history. The Dolphins waived him during the offseason for financial reasons but he is still really, really good. He's elite against the run. Brockers wears No. 90 and while he is not quite as good as Donald or Suh, he's still awesome. 
  • Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Brady called these guys two of the best interceptors in the history of the NFL. Peters, No. 22, was acquired in a trade from the Chiefs last offseason. He is a high-risk, high-reward player who likes to gamble to get interceptions. This was his worst NFL season but he is capable of extremely high-level play. Talib, who wears No. 21, was acquired last offseason in a trade from the Broncos. Like Cooks, he used to play for the Patriots. He is a big, physical corner who can cover on the outside or in the slot, and has been used against tight ends in the past, which means he may be assigned to cover Gronk. 

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

Who are the coaches of the Patriots and Rams? 

The head coach of the Patriots is Bill Belichick. We'll do the same thing for him that we did for Tom Brady, just copy/pasting and updating the section we wrote about him last year in this space. 

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 last season that he has seen Belichick smile twice, ever. And that guy has been on the Patriots since 2009.) 

He's considered the greatest coach in NFL history and, like Brady, has won five Super Bowls with the Patriots. He is 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 Rams is Sean McVay. He is widely considered the best young coach in the league. At the time he was hired, he was the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. (He was 31 at the time he was hired and is now 33.) Pretty much every team that hired a new coach this offseason was trying to find the next McVay, and the Cardinals even included the fact that their new coach is merely friends with McVay in their official press release announcing the hiring. He is known as an offensive savant and is widely credited with turning around both the Rams' offense and Goff's career. 

Belichick and McVay are somewhat friendly and texted after every game this season

The Patriots and Rams also each have well-known assistant coaches. The Patriots' offensive coordinator is Josh McDaniels, who like McVay is considered one of the best young offensive minds in the league. He has previously been the head coach of the Denver Broncos and last offseason he spurned the Indianapolis Colts by agreeing to become their head coach before changing course and returning to New England with an apparent understanding that he would eventually take over for Belichick whenever he retires. 

New England's defensive coordinator is Brian Flores. Not that many people know his name now because Belichick runs the defense, but a lot more people will know him soon because he is going to become the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins after the Super Bowl. The Dolphins are not allowed to officially announce his hiring yet due to league rules. Like McVay and McDaniels, he is considered a young coach on the rise. 

The Rams' defensive coordinator is Wade Phillips. He is the second-oldest coach in the entire league and is more than twice the age of McVay. He has been in football pretty much all his life, as his father was the legendary Bum Phillips, who coached in Houston for years. Phillips was previously a head coach in New Orleans (interim), Atlanta (interim), Denver, Buffalo, Dallas, and Houston (interim), and a defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo, Atlanta, San Diego, Houston, and Denver again before joining the Rams in 2017. He is widely considered one of the best defensive minds in the history of football and he has a long history coaching against both Brady and Belichick.  

The Rams' quarterbacks coach is Zac Taylor. He works directly with McVay and Goff on a weekly basis, but not for long. He's set to become the next head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals after the Super Bowl. 

What's an interesting talking point to bring up with fans of each team? 

  • Patriots fans: Nobody believes in us! The Patriots, one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports, routinely like to pretend that they are underdogs and nobody believes in them. Yes, it is just as strange as it sounds. But you will be able to ingratiate yourself to Patriots fans if you talk about how gritty and determined they are and how everyone had counted them out, but here they are anyway! 
  • Rams fans: Revenge for 2002! The Patriots dynasty started all the way back in 2002, when a young Tom Brady led the team to its first Super Bowl title against ... the Rams! They played in St. Louis back then and there isn't a single player or coach who was in the organization at that time who is still with the team now, but who cares. It's fun to reminisce anyway. 

But what about the commercials? 

Are you watching the game just to see the commercials? That's OK too! Check out our guide to all the leaked commercials right here. There are already some pretty good ones out there. 

Before I start watching, are there any important rules I should know about?

Sure! It's difficult to know which rules will be important and why before the game actually starts, but it's a pretty safe bet that you'll hear at least something about some or all of these: 

  • Pass interference. (This rule is exactly what it sounds like. It's when one player interfere's with another's ability to catch a pass.) There's a better than even chance you will hear about this in connection with the Rams at least once. First of all, the Rams made it to the Super Bowl after a controversial missed pass interference call near the end of the NFC title game. Second of all, given the strength of the Rams' wide receivers, it's possible the Patriots' cornerbacks will dare officials to call pass interference on every snap by being overly physical on the perimeter. When pass interference is committed by the defense, the offense gets a first down at the spot of the foul. When it's committed by the offense, they lose 10 yards and have to replay the down. Illegal contact is a less serious version of pass interference because it generally occurs before the ball is thrown and interferes with a player's ability to run his route, not catch the ball. It's a five-yard penalty that also results in a first down. 
  • False start and offside. These are pre-snap calls that result in five-yard penalties for the offense (false start) and defense (offside). A false start requires that the play be blown dead immediately, but there are several version of offside penalties, one of which does not require that the play be blown dead and instead results in a free play for the offense. 
  • Holding, illegal block in the back, and illegal hands to the face. Each of these penalties is exactly what is sounds like. It's illegal for players to grab hold of each other's jerseys and impede the opposition's ability to make a play. Offensive holding is a 10-yard penalty that necessitates a replay of the down, while defensive holding is a five-yard penalty that results in a first down for the offense. An illegal block in the back will most often be called during a kick or punt return, and it's a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul. Illegal hands to the face penalties are usually called either on offensive or defensive linemen when they are trying to either block or get off a block, or on a cornerback trying to jam a wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. When called against the offense, it results in a 10-yard penalty and replay of the down, and when called against the defense, it's a five-yard penalty and automatic first down for the offense. 
  • Roughing the passer. Again, this penalty is exactly what it sounds like. It's when a defensive player engages in a rough or dangerous play against the quarterback. Hitting him too low or too high or too late or too hard or in too strange a way can and usually will result in this penalty being called. Enforcement of the penalty is extremely inconsistent across the league. It's a 15-yard penalty and results in an automatic first down.
  • Targeting. When a player lowers his helmet and hits another player in the head or neck area, he gets flagged for targeting. This can happen with an offensive player or a defensive player, though it's worth noting that only one offensive player was flagged for it all season. This is also a 15-yard penalty. 

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

Literally the exact second this game ends. Get ready. 

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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