Archives for category: The Road to Super Bowl 50

With anticipation building as the NFL returns to Los Angeles for the first time in 22 years, HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Los Angeles Rams team up for an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League on the new season of the league’s signature documentary TV program. Debuting this summer, HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE LOS ANGELES RAMS will be there every step of the way as NFL Films cameras follow the organization’s return to Southern California.

The first sports-based reality series – and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV – kicks off its five-episode 11th season Tuesday, August 9 (10 to 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific), exclusively on HBO. Other hour-long episodes of the 12-time Sports Emmy®-winning series debut subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, culminating in the September 6 season finale.

“We are thrilled that the 11th edition of HARD KNOCKS will spotlight a team from the NFC West Division for the first time,” says Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports. “It’s exciting to chronicle a franchise with so many compelling storylines, highlighted by the team’s return to the Los Angeles market and the enormously warm reception the Rams are experiencing. The series has become a summertime destination for TV viewers, and we can’t wait for the premiere on August 9.”

“From the moment it was announced the Rams would be returning to the Los Angeles market, this franchise felt like a natural for the next season of HARD KNOCKS,” says Ken Rodgers, coordinating producer, NFL Films. “We look forward to capturing the move to Southern California, training camp and everything in-between.”

Cameras are already rolling as HARD KNOCKS is set to document the Rams’ exciting homecoming.  In August, the cinema verité series will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as the Los Angeles Rams, who compete in the powerhouse NFC West division, conduct the franchise’s first training camp in Southern California since the team’s 1946-1994 tenure there. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE LOS ANGELES RAMS will chronicle fifth-year head coach Jeff Fisher and an intriguing mix of Pro Bowl veterans, emerging stars, free agents and rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason schedule.

Each week, players will experience drills, instruction, meetings and fun, while striving to prove they have what it takes to make the team and leave their mark on the NFL.

“The Rams are proud to partner with NFL Films and HBO Sports to document the Rams’ return to Los Angeles and the preparations for our upcoming season,” says Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ COO. “HARD KNOCKS will give fans an in-depth look into our young team and provide us a unique opportunity to tell the story of this historic season.”

A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at the Rams’ training camp at team headquarters in Southern California, shooting more than 1,500 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to the players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.

“This is an exciting time for our franchise,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told the Los Angeles Times, KCBS-TV and USA Today. “HARD KNOCKS will be an outstanding way to bring our fans into our training camp and preseason, and give a glimpse of the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and staff as we prepare for the 2016 season.”

No other sports reality series can match the production excellence, critical acclaim, awards and audience numbers posted by HARD KNOCKS, which has produced 52 memorable episodes and one anniversary special in its first ten seasons. The five-part 2015 series on the Houston Texans registered the second-highest viewership level for the show since 2002.  Houston, which went on to win the AFC South championship, averaged 4.4 million viewers per episode, a 20% increase from 2014.

Winner of 12 Sports Emmy® Awards to date, HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002 and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014) and Houston Texans (2015).

The last six teams featured on HARD KNOCKS have equaled or improved their win-loss record in the regular season. Teams who have recently earned playoff berths immediately following their appearance on HARD KNOCKS include the Bengals (2009, 2013), Jets (2010) and Houston Texans (2015).

The Washington Post wrote, “Turning football players into people is what HBO’s HARD KNOCKS series does so well. The massive scope, meticulous editing and time-hopping special effects that highlight a production under massive time constraints are all impressive but it’s the film crew’s access to NFL players that makes the program special.” New York’s Daily News termed it “the gold standard of sports reality programming,” while espnW wrote, “The return of the NFL season also means the return of one of the best shows on television, ‘Hard Knocks.’ This [is a] rare look at how any given moment can be the end of a season or even a career.”

The series, created by Marty Callner in 2001 and has been narrated by Liev Schreiber since 2001, with the only exception being the 2007 season which was narrated by Paul Rudd, a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and Washington Redskins each declined to be the show’s featured team for the 2013 season, while the Cincinnati Bengals accepted, marking their second appearance on the show. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell subsequently said that he wanted more teams to be featured on the series, on “some kind of formal rotation.”

Despite the difficulty each year in finding a team willing to participate, NFL Films announced on July 18, 2013, that it had signed a “multiyear” contract extension with HBO to continue producing the show.

In October 2013 the NFL announced that, in the absence of a team volunteering to participate in Hard Knocks, the league could force a team to participate. Teams are exempt from being forced to participate in three circumstances: (1) they have appeared in the past ten years, (2) they have a first-year head coach or (3) they reached the playoffs in either of the two preceding seasons.

Winner of 121 Sports Emmy® Awards, NFL Films remains a gold standard in sports television, providing unprecedented access to and legendary storytelling about the sport of professional football. NFL Films is a part of NFL Media, the owned and operated media division of the National Football League, which comprises NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

NFL content has never been more popular across the media landscape. According to the Nielsen Company, 199 million people tuned into the 2015 NFL regular season, representing 78% of all television homes and 67% of potential viewers in the U.S. NFL games accounted for the top 25 – and 46 of the top 50 – most-watched TV shows among all programming in 2015.

HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE LOS ANGELES RAMS will be narrated by Liev Schreiber.

2001: Baltimore; 10-6 in AFC Central (2nd place, won AFC Wild Card at Miami, lost AFC Divisonal at Pittsburgh)
2002: Dallas; 5-11 in NFC East (4th place, did not make playoffs)
2003: No Show
2004: Jacksonville; 9-7 in AFC South (2nd place, did not make playoffs)
2005 and 2006: No Show
2007: Kansas City; 4-12 in AFC West (Tied for 3rd place, did not make playoffs)
2008: Dallas; 9-7 in NFC East (3rd place, did not make playoffs)
2009: Cincinnati; 10-6 in AFC North (won division, lost AFC Wild Card to New York Jets)
2010: New York Jets; 11-5 in AFC East (2nd place, won AFC Wild Card vs. Indianapolis, won AFC Divisional at New England, lost AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh)
2011: No Show
2012: Miami; 7-9 in AFC East (2nd place, did not make playoffs)
2013: Cincinnati; 11-5 in AFC North (won division, lost AFC Wild Card vs. San Diego)
2014: Atlanta; 6-10 in NFC South (3rd place, did not make playoffs)
2015; Houston; 9-7 in AFC South (Won division, lost AFC Wild Card vs. Kansas City)
Combined Records of all teams that have appeared on Hard Knocks to date: 91-85 (.517 pct)

Americans bet on a lot of stuff, some important and some stuff that’s really mundane. It was rumored that Ty Cobb once bet his caretaker in his later stages of his life that one raindrop would pass the other on a window sill. We’re not sure who won that bet or what raindrop won.

We can tell you that there will be a lot of betting on Super Bowl 50 (or Super Bowl L for those that like the Roman numerals) and some of it will be on the game itself. In addition to the game action, there will be those things called prop bets, the stuff that is sometimes related to the game or not.

The good people at Bovada have given us some fun — and a few silly — props that you might feel tremendous about and want to wager on.

(Note: Bets with a negative number mean that you have to wager that much to earn $100. With positive numbers, you bet $100 to earn that total. And odds are, well, odds. So 5/1 means you bet $100 to win $500; 1/10 means you bet $100 to win $110.)

Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the postgame interview? (Note: Must be on live broadcast.)
Yes +500  (5/1)
No -1000 (1/10)

Will Peyton Manning be seen crying at any point during the entire Broadcast? (Note: Live pictures only, must clearly see a tear.)
Yes+600  (6/1)
No -1200 (1/12)

How many times will “dab” or “dabbing” be said by the announcers during the Broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Over 2 (EVEN, 1/1)
Under 2 (-140, 5/7)

How many times will Cam Newton do the Open Shirt Superman motion during the game? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

Over 2.5 (EVEN, 1/1)
Under 2.5 (-140, 5/7)

If Steph Curry is shown on TV during the Broadcast what will he be wearing?
Personalized Carolina Steph Curry Jersey 1/1
No Jersey 2/1
Cam Newton Jersey 3/1
Any Other Carolina Jersey 5/1

Will Mike Carey be wrong about a challenge? (Note: He must be consulted on live broadcast and must clearly take a stance on his position. If not consulted wagers will be No Action.)
Yes +110 (11/10)
No -150 (2/3)

Will there be an earthquake during the game? (Note: Announcer must indicate there was during live broadcast from kickoff
until final whistle.)
Yes 10/1

Will the Panthers player who scores their first TD give the football to a Boy or Girl?
Boy -200 (1/2)
Girl +150 (3/2)

How many times will the Golden Gate Bridge be shown during the Broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Over 0.5  -300 (1/3)
Under 0.5 +200 (2/1)

How many times will “John Fox” be said during the Broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Over 1 (-140, 5/7)
Under 1 (EVEN, 1/1)

How many times will Archie Manning be shown on TV during the Broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Over 1.5 EVEN (1/1)
Under 1.5 -140    (5/7)

How many times will John Elway be shown on TV during Broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Over 2.5 EVEN (1/1)
Under 2.5 -140 (5/7)

Will the announcers mention that Kubiak was Elway’s backup during the broadcast? (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)
Yes +120 (6/5)
No -160 (5/8)

What color will the liquid be that is poured on the winning coach?
Orange 5/4
Blue 3/1
Clear 4/1
Yellow 4/1
Red 6/1
Green 10/1
Purple 10/1

Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first?
God 2/1
Team 2/1
City/Fans 6/1
Coach 15/2
Family 15/1
Does not Mention Anyone above 9/4

Which song will Coldplay play first during the Halftime show?
Adventure of a Lifetime 2/1
Fix You 7/2
A Sky Full of Stars 9/2
Viva la Vida 5/1
Clocks 15/2
Speed of Sound 9/1
Head Full of Dreams 10/1
Paradise 10/1

What color will Beyonce’s footwear be when she comes on stage for the Halftime show? (Note: Predominant color will be graded winner.)
Black 3/2

Gold/Brown 5/2
White 11/4
Silver/Grey 19/4
Any Other Color 7/1

Will “Left Shark” Make an appearance on stage during the Super Bowl Halftime Show?
Yes 15/1

How many million viewers will Super Bowl 50 have?
Over/Under 117 million

What will the Nielsen Rating be for Super Bowl 50?
Over/Under 48.5

Which Region will have a higher Nielsen Rating?
Denver -140    (5/7)
Charlotte EVEN (1/1)

How many wings will Buffalo Wild Wings Sell on Super Bowl Day?
Over/Under 12 million

TEAM/GAME PROPS

Coin Toss
Heads -105 (20/21)
Tails -105 (20/21)

Will the referee redo the Coin Toss?
Yes 20/1

Will the team that chooses Heads or Tails in the coin toss be correct?
Yes -105 (20/21)
No -105 (20/21)

Team to win the coin toss
Carolina Panthers -105 (20/21)
Denver Broncos -105 (20/21)

Will the team that wins the coin toss win the game?
Yes -105 (20/21)
No -105 (20/21)

Team to score first in the game
Carolina Panthers -150 (2/3)
Denver Broncos +120 (6/5)

Will the team that scores first win the game?
Yes -160 (5/8)
No +130 (13/10)

Total Team Points – Carolina Panthers
Over/Under 24½

Total Team Points – Carolina Panthers – First Half
Over/Under 11½

Total Team Points – Denver Broncos
Over/Under 20

Total Team Points – Denver Broncos – First Half
Over/Under 9½

Will there be a Score in the First 7m30s of The 1st Quarter?
Yes -160 (5/8)
No +130 (13/10)

Will there be a Score in the First 1m30s of The 1st Quarter?
Yes +1000 (10/1)
No -2500 (1/25)

Our advice: No hedging again. “No” again.

Which will be the Highest Scoring Quarter?
1st Quarter 5/1
2nd Quarter 8/5
3rd Quarter 9/2
4th Quarter 5/2

Will there be a penalty for excessive celebration?
Yes +250     (5/2)
No -400     (1/4)

Will either backup QB take a snap in the game?
Yes +200 (2/1)
No -300 (1/3)

Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored?
Yes +150 (3/2)
No -180 (5/9)

MVP AND FIRST TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN ODDS

Super Bowl 50 – Odds to Win MVP
Cam Newton 5/7
Peyton Manning 11/4
Luke Kuechly 14/1
C.J. Anderson 20/1
Ted Ginn Jr. 20/1
Von Miller 20/1
Greg Olsen 22/1
Emmanuel Sanders 22/1
Jonathan Stewart 22/1
Demaryius Thomas 22/1
Josh Norman 28/1
Aqib Talib 33/1
DeMarcus Ware 33/1
Corey Brown 66/1
Owen Daniels 66/1
Graham Gano 66/1
Ronnie Hillman 66/1
Brandon McManus 66/1
Darian Stewart 66/1
Danny Trevathan 66/1
Chris Harris Jr. 75/1
Devin Funchess 100/1
Brandon Marshall 100/1
Derek Wolfe 100/1
Kurt Coleman 150/1
Mike Tolbert 150/1
Field 33/1

PLAYER PROPS

Will Peyton Manning throw a Pick 6 in the game?
Yes +300 (3/1)
No -500 (1/5)

Will Cam Newton break the Super Bowl record of most rushing yards by a QB? (Note: The record is 64 by Steve McNair in Super Bowl XXXIV.)
Yes +275 (11/4)
No -450 (2/9)

Will Luke Kuechly record a pick 6 in the game?
Yes +600  (6/1)
No -1200 (1/12)

CROSS-SPORTS PROPS

Cross Sport Props – What will be higher?

Trump % Points in the New Hampshire Primary -200 (1/2)

Total Points scored by the winning Super Bowl team +150 (3/2)

Cross Sport Props – Exact Outcome
Carolina wins Super Bowl – Trump Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 13/4
Carolina wins Super Bowl – Cinton Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 7/4
Carolina wins Super Bowl – Sanders Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 5/1
Denver wins Super Bowl – Trump Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 7/1
Denver wins Super Bowl – Clinton Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 9/2
Denver wins Super Bowl – Sanders Wins 2016 Presidential Election: 10/1

Cross Sport Props

What are the odds the Carolina Panthers win the 2016 Super Bowl and the Golden State Warriors win the 2015-2016 NBA Title?
Yes: 2/1

Cross Sport Props – What will be higher?
Total Goals in the Montreal vs Carolina NHL game on February 7th or Total Receptions by Greg Olsen

Cross Sport Props – What will be higher?
Tiger Woods 1st Round score at 2016 Masters or Emmanuel Sanders Receiving Yards

Cross Sport Props – What will be higher?
Arsenal Total Goals on February 7th or Peyton Manning TD Passes

Football fans will have a chance to go gaga over the national anthem Sunday.

The National Football League announced that Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl 50 pregame festivities at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday, February 7. The performance will be televised live on CBS prior to kickoff.

More than 118.5 million viewers watched last year’s Super Bowl, the most-watched television program in history. The pregame show, including the National Anthem, and Super Bowl 50 will be broadcast worldwide.

In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, The West Wing, Law & Order:SVU) will perform in American Sign Language the National Anthem.

The NFL previously announced global superstars COLDPLAY will be one of several special artists performing in the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show. The pregame and halftime shows are an NFL Network Production and will be executive produced by Ricky Kirshner.

In other NFL/Super Bowl news…

The National Football League introduced its Super Bowl Babies campaign that will feature a :60 TV commercial slated for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7 on CBS.  The campaign kicks off with a long-form music video  that launched on youtube.com/nfl.

The new commercial called “Super Bowl Babies Choir” is the latest chapter in the NFL’s campaign titled “Football is Family.”  It features the biggest collection of Super Bowl Babies: fans born in Super Bowl winning cities approximately nine months after the game. This group encompasses 49-year-old Green Bay Packer babies all the way to year-old Seattle Seahawks babies.

“For 49 years, our fans have rallied around their favorite teams on Super Bowl Sunday and passed their pride and passion down to the next generation,” said NFL Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Hudson. She told the Associated Press, “We are excited to celebrate our football families by shining the spotlight on Super Bowl Babies, those fans born into a lifelong love of their team and the game.”

In the anthemic commercial, created by Grey New York and directed by Lance Acord and Chris Wilcha of Park Pictures, Super Bowl Babies of all ages recruited from eight champion teams form an NFL choir. In the film, the choir sings a specially written song set to the music of “Kiss from a Rose,” the international hit by the Grammy award-winning superstar Seal. Seal also makes a cameo standing on a hilltop overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl Babies.

“I was honored to be part of one of the biggest sporting events on the planet and to work with the NFL on such a fun family campaign,” said Seal. “An event like this brings so many people together and to have a song I wrote 25 years ago still be so loved is very special for me. I can’t wait to be at Super Bowl and be a part of Super Bowl 50 with the NFL.'”

The :60 commercial, airing on the heels of the 3rd Quarter, will be supported by :10 teasers introducing the featured Super Bowl Babies.

The NFL worked with the eight clubs to find Babies spanning decades, including the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some of the featured fans and their families shared their experiences of what it means to be part of this football family and those videos also will be available on youtube.com/nfl.

In addition, on Tuesday Buzzfeed and the NFL launched the “Are You A Super Bowl Baby?” quiz, so fans of all 19 Super Bowl-winning teams have the opportunity to discover whether they are part of this football family.

Carolina (15-1) vs. Denver (11-5), 6:38 p.m. on CBS. Newton vs. Manning. Separated by 13 years in age, 1,579 miles in distance. They meet in Super Bowl 50 (or Super Bowl L for those that are fans of Roman numbers), the final football game of the 2015 season. One has a Super Bowl ring, the other man wants one. When this one comes to an end, there will be no more football until the pre-season. It’s finality. It’s the end. It’s the Super Bowl.

SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP: Denver defeated New England 20-18 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, earning a spot in Super Bowl 50. This is the Broncos eighth Super Bowl appearance, tying Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh for the most in NFL history.

​​The teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:

TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Dallas – 8
Denver – 8
Pittsburgh – 8
New England – 8
San Francisco – 6

CAROLINA CRUISING: The CAROLINA PANTHERS defeated Arizona 49-15 in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday to advance to Super Bowl 50.

The Panthers, who went 15-1 en route to the NFC South division title and the conference’s top seed, became the ninth team in NFL history to lose one or fewer regular season games and advance to the Super Bowl.

The teams with one or fewer regular season losses to reach the Super Bowl:

TEAM – SEASON (SUPER BOWL REACHED, REGULAR SEASON RECORD)
Oakland Raiders – 1967 (II, 13-1)
Baltimore Colts – 1968 (III, 13-1)
Miami Dolphins – 1972 (VII, 14-0)
Oakland Raiders – 1976 (XI, 13-1)
Washington Redskins – 1982 (XVII, 8-1)*
San Francisco 49ers – 1984 (XIX, 15-1)
Chicago Bears – 1985 (XX, 15-1)
New England Patriots – 2007 (XLII, 16-0)
Carolina Panthers – 2015 (50 or L, 15-1)
*Nine-game regular season

Two teams. One game. It all comes down to this.

On Sunday, February 7, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will meet in Super Bowl 50 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

For the third consecutive season, the game will feature the top seeds in each conference.

“It means so much to us to get to the Super Bowl,” says Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. “We put in so much work this whole offseason and during the season. I’m just so proud of our team. We stuck together all year. We stayed together as a team and that’s all that matters.”

Super Bowl 50 will pit the NFL’s top-scoring team – Carolina (500 points, 31.3 points per game) – against the league’s top defense – Denver (283.1 total net yards per game).

“We’re a complete team,” says Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown. “We play as a team. It’s not about one person. It’s not about two people. If one guy goes down, the next man steps up. We are a complete team.”

Denver advanced to the Super Bowl by defeating New England 20-18. Carolina defeated Arizona 49-15 to earn its second ever trip to the Super Bowl. The AFC and NFC Championship Games averaged 49.7 million viewers, up eight percent from last year and topping the 45 million mark for the third consecutive year.

The NFC Championship Game between Carolina and Arizona earned 45.7 million viewers and the AFC Championship Game between Denver and New England garnered 53.3 million viewers, the second-most watched AFC Championship Game ever (New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh, January 23, 2011, 54.8 million viewers).

The Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history (Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2003 season) with a 49-15 win over Arizona at Bank of America Stadium. With the victory, Carolina capped off a perfect season at home, winning all eight regular-season games and both playoff contests.

“Our fans have been awesome all year,” says Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. “There’s a sense of community in the whole Charlotte area and throughout the Carolinas. Panthers fans have been awesome to us and I’m proud to be here and happy to be a Carolina Panther.”

Carolina led the NFL in scoring with 500 points during the regular season and has scored a league-best 80 points in the postseason. The team’s 49 points in the NFC Championship Game are the second-most by a team to gain a berth in the Super Bowl (Buffalo, 51 points, 1990 season).

“We came out and had a pretty successful game,” says Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. “But I know there are a lot of people who feel just like me – we’re not done yet.”

Newton passed for 335 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for two scores in the NFC Championship Game victory. He is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for multiple touchdowns in a playoff game. Newton led the NFL during the regular season with 45 total touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing) and became the first player in league history to pass for at least 30 touchdowns and rush for at least 10 touchdowns in the same season.

“It’s been fun watching Cam because every year he’s improved,” Carolina center Ryan Kalil told the Charlotte Observer and USA Today. “We knew from the get-go when he got here and broke all those NFL rookie records that we had someone special. Watching him grow each and every year, it’s been incredible. This has been a big year for him.”

In the win over Arizona, the Panthers forced seven turnovers. During the regular season, Carolina led the NFL with 39 takeaways, 24 interceptions and a +20 turnover differential. That dominance has continued into the postseason as the Panthers lead the league with nine takeaways, six interceptions and a +8 turnover differential. Kuechly, one of Carolina’s Pro Bowl linebackers, has recorded an interception-return touchdown in each of the team’s playoff games this season and is the only player in NFL history to have an INT-TD in consecutive games in a single postseason.

“This was a great team performance and this is who we are,” says Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. “This is what we’re capable of and we came out and played together as a group. We can truly dominate football games. We just have to be ready to play week in and week out.”

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, who has guided the team to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, is aiming to become the fourth person to win a Super Bowl as both a player and a head coach (Mike Ditka, Tony Dungy and Tom Flores). Rivera was a linebacker for the 1985 Chicago Bears, which is the last team to win at least 15 regular-season games and also win the Super Bowl in the same season, something the Panthers hope to accomplish this year.

“We have talked a lot about what our goal is,” says Rivera. “We are a step away. We are going to have to play a very good football team. They have a Hall of Fame quarterback and a lot of playmakers. This is a team we will have to get ready and prepare for.” Carolina manhandled Arizona 49-15 in the NFC Championship Game in Charlotte. The Panthers led the Desert Angry Birds 24-7 at the intermission and never looked back, outscoring Arizona in the second half 25-8. Arizona was held to 60 yards on the ground at Bank of America Stadium, while Carolina picked off Carson Palmer four times, sacking him three. Newton threw for 335 yards with a pair of TD passes and used his feet to work his way into the end zone for two more TDs in the game as Carolina ran for 152 yards, with RB Jonathan Stewart leading all rushers with 83 yards. Carolina was 8 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 36:39, while Arizona was 3 of 10 on third down conversions but hit pay dirt on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and held the ball for 23:21.

That Hall of Fame quarterback – Peyton Manning – and that team – the Denver Broncos – will be waiting. The Broncos advanced to their eighth Super Bowl, tied for the most in NFL history (Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh), by defeating New England 20-18 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“The victory in the AFC Championship Game was a great example of what this entire season has been like,” says Manning. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a lot of different people stepping up and doing their part at different times. That was a unique football game but everybody did their part and it truly was a team game.”

Manning threw two touchdown passes – both to tight end Owen Daniels – in the win. The veteran quarterback has now guided both the Indianapolis Colts and the Broncos to multiple Super Bowls and Manning is the first quarterback in NFL history to lead two different franchises to multiple Super Bowls. Denver led 17-9 at the break before holding off New England in the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver outrushed New England 99-44, while Manning was out-passed by Tom Brady 310-176 (Manning was sacked three times, while Brady was sacked four) with Brady throwing his only TD pass to TE Rob Gronkowski with 12 seconds left. New England then went for two in hopes of tying the contest up but the conversion try failed. The Pats had one more trick up their sleeves as they went for the onside kick. That attempt failed as Denver recovered the ball and ran out the clock, ending New England’s reign as world champions. New England on third down tries went 2 of 15 and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 30:12, while the Broncos were 6 of 17 on third down, holding the pigskin for 29:48 (New England was 2 of 4 on fourth down in the contest).

“I’ve tried to take it one week at a time all season long,” says Manning about returning to the Super Bowl. “I’ve tried to stay in the moment and take it one week at a time. I’m taking it one week at a time and trying to stay patient. Staying patient in these past two playoff games has served our team well and it’s definitely served me well.”

Manning, who won Super Bowl XLI with the Colts, can become the first starting quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl with two different franchises. He has 13 career postseason victories and with a win in Super Bowl 50, he will tie Pro Football Hall of Famers John Elway and Terry Bradshaw for the third-most playoff wins in NFL history by a starting quarterback.

“I’m so proud of him,” says Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak about Manning. “He worked really hard to get back. This football team believes he’s going to get the job done. He’s done a tremendous job leading this football team.”

Denver’s defense, which topped the NFL with 52 sacks during the regular season, recorded four sacks and two interceptions in the AFC Championship Game. Linebacker Von Miller had 2.5 sacks and an interception in the victory over New England, becoming the first player in more than 20 years to record at least 2.5 sacks and an interception in a playoff game.

“We’re back,” says Miller about the team’s second Super Bowl appearance in the past three seasons. “It feels great. I wanted to get back here.”

Kubiak became the first head coach to earn a Super Bowl berth in his first season with a team since Jim Caldwell accomplished the feat with Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. Kubiak is attempting to become only the fourth head coach to win a Super Bowl in his first season with a new club (Don McCaffery, George Seifert, Jon Gruden).

“One thing we’ve done all year long is we just grind as a football team,” Kubiak told KUSA-TV and the Rocky Mountain News. “We played our tails off all year long and we’ve found ways to win the close ones.”

Kubiak, who played for the Broncos (1983-1991), is the first person to appear in a Super Bowl with the same team as both a player and a head coach.

“It means the world to me to come back to my football home,” says Kubiak about advancing to the Super Bowl with the Broncos. “I’m just so proud to be part of this organization and this football team.”

All of their meetings have taken place in the regular season and Denver leads the overall series 3-1 and have outscored Carolina 100-61. Denver’s last win in the series came in 2012 in Charlotte by a final of 36-14 at Bank of America Stadium, while Carolina’s only win in the series also came in the Tar Heel State in 2008 by a 30-10 final.

For the Panthers, this will be their second trip to the Super Bowl, with their last time going to the big game in Super Bowl XXXVIII, known as the “Wardrobe Malfunction Bowl” in Houston. In that contest, they faced Brady and the New England Patriots and came away on the short end of a 32-29 final at what was then Reliant Stadium (now NRG Stadium). Tom Brady and the Pats treated the fans to another exciting finish that ended with a game-winning Adam Vinatieri field goal with four seconds remaining in the contest. Brady completed 32 of 48 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns to become the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to start and win two title games before his 27th birthday.

Denver fans would like to somehow forget what happened to them the last time they were in the Super Bowl and for the Broncos and Manning, it was not a good day in the Meadowlands in Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle trounced Denver 43-8 at Met Life Stadium and Seahawks LB Malcom Smith became the first defensive player to win the Pete Rozelle Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award since Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson earned the honor in Super Bowl XXXVII. Smith helped lead a Seahawks’ defense that forced four turnovers. Smith intercepted a Peyton Manning pass in the second quarter and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to give Seattle a 22-0 advantage. Smith also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to stop a Broncos drive deep in Seahawks territory and finished with nine total tackles.

Cam Newton is trying to be the 7th player in the history of the National Football League to win MVP & SB MVP in same season and if he does it, he’ll be in some pretty good company: Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith, Steve Young & Kurt Warner.

Both clubs did have opponents in common in 2015: Green Bay and Indianapolis. Carolina is 2-0 against the Packers and Colts, both winning in consecutive weeks and both wins coming in the Tar Heel State (29-26 win in week eight over the Colts, 37-29 win over the Packers in week nine. Denver split their two meetings (also in consecutive weeks), taking a 29-10 win over Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay in week eight in the Mile High City, dropping a 27-24 decision at Indy to Andrew Luck and the Colts in week nine).

Carolina’s favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. After all, it’s the last game of the season and there’s going to be no more football until the pre-season gets underway in July. With that being said, for this one to not be “DRILL WORTHY” would be like Bugs Bunny not liking carrots. With that, this is the final drill (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 56 last June and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

When the dust settles, there will be a new Super Bowl champion. Someone will be holding the Lombardi Trophy and taking it home, while the losers will wonder why they fell short of their intended marks. Will it be Cam? Will it be Peyton? Carolina makes this one a good one to watch but Peyton prevails in what some are guessing is his final NFL contest. Denver covers the 5 1/2 and wins in Santa Clara.

BROADCAST INFORMATION: 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Evan Washburn (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, James Lofton, Mark Malone (field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Carolina), 82 (Denver). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (Carolina), 82 (Denver).

Injury Report
Carolina – No injuries to report.

Denver – No injuries to report.

Weather Outlook: Sunny and 71 degrees

Broadcast information and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Dons Best and USA Today, weather courtesy The Weather Channel.

 

Super Bowl 50 marks a milestone in NFL history and NFL Digital Media is celebrating the occasion with up-to-the-minute coverage and interactive content, including in-game voting that helps decide the Super Bowl 50 MVP. Fans can follow all the events from San Francisco and the Bay Area across all devices on NFL Now, NFL.com, NFL Mobile from Verizon, SuperBowl.com and more.

The following are highlights from NFL Digital Media’s coverage of Super Bowl 50:

NFL NOW LIVE: SUPER BOWL 50: Starting Monday, February 1 and all the way through Super Bowl Sunday, keep up with all of action from San Francisco and the Bay Area with NFL NOW LIVE: Super Bowl 50. NFL Now is the NFL’s next-generation video service which reaches millions of NFL fans around the world and is available via the NFL Mobile app, NFL.com/NOW and on the official NFL app on Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku, and other connected devices. NOW LIVE: Super Bowl 50 will be anchored by a host of top talent to bring fans every highlight of Super Bowl week:

Throughout the week, Colleen Wolfe and Marc Istook will anchor coverage from The Huddle, the NFL’s social media command center, following the latest trending topics and Super Bowl buzz across the social media landscape. Additionally, Matt “Money” Smith, Dave Dameshek, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ike Taylor and Adam Rank will be live from Radio Row at the Moscone Center’s Fan Gallery, providing in-depth analysis and interviews with the biggest names in sports and entertainment.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Wolfe and Istook will be monitoring all things social from The Huddle while Dameshek, Jones-Drew and Taylor are live from the field at Levi’s Stadium providing pregame news and information.

In addition to NFL NOW LIVE: Super Bowl 50, The Rich Eisen Show returns to the Super Bowl with a week’s worth of shows originating from the Presidio of San Francisco. The Rich Eisen Show will have a packed lineup of current and former NFL players, Hall of Fame honorees and continue to be a go-to landing spot for actors and musicians who have become a staple during Super Bowl Week.  The shows start Monday, February 1 – Friday, February 5 and will stream live on NFL Now.

LIVE STREAMING OF SUPER BOWL 50: Both NFL.com and SuperBowl.com will link to CBS Sports’ live stream of Super Bowl 50. PC and tablet access to the live stream will be available at CBSSports.com, and fans can also tune into CBS Sports on Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku players and Roku TV models and Chromecast, as well as Windows 10 and other tablet devices. Live streaming of Super Bowl 50 on mobile devices is available for Verizon customers via the NFL Mobile app. On Microsoft devices, fans can also access the live stream on the NFL on Xbox One and Windows 10 apps, including in-game highlights and interactive Next Gen Stats replays.

For you international fans, you’re not going to be left out of the party. NFL Game Pass will show Super Bowl 50 live in HD
(certain restrictions apply depending on your country) on desktop, mobile, tablet and connected devices. NFL Game Pass comes complete with full DVR controls to allow pause, rewind and replay live capabilities and archived game
action from the 2015 NFL season. For more information on NFL Game Pass, visit NFL.com/GamePass.

MOBILE APPLICATIONS: NFL Digital Media has created the ultimate VIP experience for on-the-go fans using NFL Mobile from Verizon as well as two new Super Bowl 50-themed apps:

NFL MOBILE FROM VERIZON: With NFL Mobile from Verizon, Verizon customers can access live streaming video on their smartphone of the Super Bowl 50 broadcast on CBS, the 2016 Pro Bowl on ESPN, and a 24/7 live stream of NFL Network which includes exclusive Super Bowl content. NFL Mobile from Verizon also provides access to NFL Game Pass which offers subscribers every play of the entire 2015 NFL regular season and postseason, commercial-free, complete with DVR controls (after the game has aired on television). Super Bowl 50 will be available on Game Pass immediately after the game concludes.

To download NFL Mobile from Verizon, visit NFL.com/Mobile.

ON-SITE SUPER BOWL 50 APPS: In addition to NFL Mobile’s daily news coverage of Super Bowl, including a 24/7 live stream of NFL Network, the new ROAD TO 50 app was built exclusively for fans in the San Francisco Bay Area was for Super Bowl 50. ROAD TO 50 will showcase all of the Super Bowl celebrations in the local area and help fans celebrate the history of the big game. It includes a comprehensive schedule so fans can find details and explore maps for Super Bowl events at NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, the 50th Mile, Super Bowl City presented by Verizon and more. The ROAD TO 50 app will be home to Fan Mobile Pass. By registering for Fan Mobile Pass and checking-in at specified activations, fans can collect badges, unlock exclusive Super Bowl content and be entered for a chance to win Super Bowl 50 tickets. The app allows fans to add events to their calendars, share via social media, and stay in touch with all of the happenings around the city with location-based alerts. The ROAD TO 50 app can be downloaded by visiting NFL.com/SBApp or the app store on Windows 8.1+, iOS, and Android smartphones.

SUPER BOWL STADIUM APP: The SUPER BOWL STADIUM APP is a must-have for any fan going to the big game. The SUPER BOWL STADIUM APP will enrich every fan’s Super Bowl 50 experience from before kickoff until the last piece of confetti falls in Levi’s Stadium. Before the game, fans can use the app to explore transportation options and events at GameDay Fan Plaza Presented by SAP. During the game, fans can use the app to watch Super Bowl commercials, watch instant replays from four different camera angles and explore interactive stadium maps. The SUPER BOWL STADIUM APP can be downloaded by visiting NFL.com/SBApp, the iOS and Android app store and through NFL Mobile on Windows 8.1+ devices.

SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATIONS: Whether they are on-site in San Francisco or on the couch at home, NFL fans and social media enthusiasts alike can immerse themselves in Super Bowl 50 culture from their preferred mobile devices. Fans can find behind-the-scenes photos and uniquely packaged video content across YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Facebook, and Instagram.  Join the conversation by using
the big game’s official hashtag, #SB50, and check out Snapchat NFL Live Stories on Opening Night and Super Bowl 50.

On game day, the Super Bowl Live Story will provide an inside look at the excitement and celebrations surrounding Super Bowl 50, from the grounds crew
preparing the field, to the fan activities around the Bay Area, to the celebrations of victory both on the field and in the stands. In addition, a
first-of-its-kind “Super Bowl Worldwide” Live Story will highlight unique fan-submitted perspectives from around the world, giving fans the opportunity to
share their own Super Bowl viewing experiences.

On Twitter, the NFL launched Twitter emojis for #Broncos, #KeepPounding and #SB50. Additionally, a Twitter Video Q&A will be featured at Opening Night, allowing fans to tweet questions to the @NFL using #OpeningNightFan. Fans can follow @NFL, @NFLNetwork and @superbowl for coverage throughout the week.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the NFL will be engaging with audiences new to the sport on Twitter by encouraging fans to ask their football-related questions using #NFLRookie. New fans around the world will be able to Tweet their questions about the game, the rules, and the Panthers and the Broncos in three different languages – English, Spanish or Portuguese – and get direct answers from the @SuperBowl handle.

Other Super Bowl 50 social media activities include:

THE HUDDLE: Stop by The Huddle, the NFL’s social media command center, in Super Bowl City and witness how all things NFL social media come to life. Hang out with athletes and celebrities visiting the NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL Now sets and watch them give their take on the latest trending topics—from Brady to Bieber.

Want to see your official NFL selfie on the Super Bowl big board? Check out The Huddle’s photo booth and give us your best game face. And when you’re done, make sure to scope out all the latest social news, memes and GIFs on NFL Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine, as the NFL Social Team will be hard at work in the background.

THE WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR, Presented by Nationwide: Throughout the season, NFL social media has celebrated previous and current nominees for the prestigious The Walter Payton Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide. Be sure to follow @NFL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for vignettes, articles and videos surrounding this year’s finalists: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin and   New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson.

NFL.COM & SUPERBOWL.COM: The official websites of the NFL and Super Bowl 50 commemorate this moment in history by featuring analysis and exclusive multimedia content accessible across all platforms.

NFL Media’s award-winning team of columnists, analysts and writers including Judy Battista, Jeffri Chadiha and Michael Silver, Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick, and Around The NFL writers Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Conor Orr, Marc Sessler and Chris Wesseling will cover Super Bowl 50 from all angles leading up to the game between the Panthers and Broncos.

Fans will be able to watch Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, February 1, NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual Super Bowl press conference on Friday,
February 5, and access a live feed from NFL Network on NFL.com.

Exclusive features available on NFL.com and SuperBowl.com include:

SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS: NFL.com, SuperBowl.com, the NFL app on Xbox One, Windows 10, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Apple TV and other connected devices will post all of the Super Bowl commercials once they have aired on the television broadcast and will update throughout the big game. Fans can view, rate (thumbs up or down), comment and sort the commercials by quarter by visiting NFL.com/SuperBowlCommercials.

To view the commercials from Super Bowl XLIX – NFL.com/superbowl/49/commercials
To view the commercials from Super Bowl XLVIII – NFL.com/superbowl/48/commercials
To view the commercials from Super Bowl XLVII – NFL.com/superbowl/47/commercials
To view the commercials from Super Bowl XLVI – NFL.com/superbowl/46/commercials

MVP VOTING: During the fourth quarter, fans will be able to vote for the Super Bowl 50 MVP online and on web-enabled mobile devices at NFL.com. The fan vote counts as 20% of the overall vote, with the remaining 80% determined by the media. Visit NFL.com/MVP for more details.

ROAD TO THE SUPER BOWL: The road to the Super Bowl is paved with great plays, adversity and season-defining moments. NFL Media’s Road to the Super Bowl offers fans a look at the each playoff team’s journey from Week 1 of the regular season to Super Bowl 50. Start from day one of your playoff picks’ season by going to NFL.com/roadtosuperbowl. NFL Media’s Road to the Super Bowl is presented by Hyundai

GREATEST SUPER BOWL OF ALL TIME: Vote to determine the holy grail of Super Bowls with NFL.com’s Greatest Super Bowl of All Time. A panel of experts including Gil Brandt and Elliot Harrison created a list of 32 Super Bowls to choose from, and fans will be able to watch highlights of each game and vote through the rounds to determine which match is No. 1. The winner was revealed on Friday. Visit NFL.com/greatestsuperbowl for more
information. NFL.com’s Greatest Super Bowl of All Time is sponsored by Home Depot.

NFL FAN PASS: The ultimate insider pass to all things NFL, NFL Fan Pass provides a unique way to experience Super Bowl 50 with unparalleled access leading up to and during the big game. Visit NFL.com/fanpass for exclusive interviews with your favorite players, a behind-the-scenes look at San Francisco’s biggest Super Bowl attractions and more. NFL Fan Pass highlights during Super Bowl week include:

Red Carpet Style – NFL Media’s Akbar Gbajabiamila and Megan Collins, founder of StyleGirlfriend.com recap the hottest fashion from the NFL’s biggest stars on the red carpet at NFL Honors.

Fan Pass at Radio Row – Pro Bowl DE Gerald McCoy, Colts Punter Pat McAfee and other NFL stars take over hosting duties and ask the NFL’s biggest names the questions only they can ask.

SUPER BOWL 50 VIDEO CHANNEL: All Super Bowl, all the time. The Super Bowl video channel includes content from NFL Network and NFL Digital Media produced throughout the 2015 NFL regular season leading up to Super Bowl 50. From lost footage of Super Bowl I to highlights from the NFL’s “Honor Roll” initiative celebrating the high schools of Super Bowl winners, the NFL Super Bowl Video Channel Presented by Bud Light brings fans all of the compelling Super Bowl related video from the past forty-nine years.

YOUR VIEWER’S GUIDE TO SUPER BOWL 50: From incredible catches, to the  commercials, to family traditions, fans at any age and every level of fandom look forward to Super Bowl. NFL Digital Media takes a 360 degree look at the Super Bowl by creating a casual fans guide that touches on the Xs & Os and the ancillary traditions.  For a simple and succinct break down of the teams and players participating, NFL analysts will use short FAQs, creative infographics, editorials, and photos.  This hub will also feature fan-favorite commercials from over the years as well as the opportunity for guest celebrity bloggers that discuss their favorite football recipes, party tips, etc.

SUPER BOWL DEBATE: Throughout the playoffs, NFL Media reaches out to its current roster of talent including former players such as Deion Sanders, Bucky Brooks, Maurice Jones-Drew and more to get their reactions to the hot topic of the moment. Each day, our experts debate the most talked about topics such as will this be Peyton Manning’s last game? Could this be the first of many Super Bowl appearances for Cam Newton? Fans will get the quick reactions and insights from the most well-known former NFL Players with Super Bowl Debate presented by Lexus.

Additional Super Bowl related features from NFL Digital Media include the following:

NFL GAME PASS: NFL Media’s NFL Game Pass offers every play of the entire 2015 NFL regular season and postseason online, via mobile, Xbox One and other connected platforms in HD and commercial-free, complete with DVR controls (after the game has aired on television). Super Bowl 50 will be available on NFL Game Pass immediately after the game concludes.

LIVE AUDIO: Radio broadcasts of Super Bowl 50 will be available to fans on terrestrial, satellite and digital platforms. On terrestrial, the Westwood One postseason broadcasts can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations across the country. On satellite, SiriusXM will carry the following radio broadcasts: Westwood One feed (SiriusXM NFL Radio – Sirius 88 / XM 88), Denver Broncos radio broadcast (Sirius 82 / XM 225)
Carolina Panthers radio broadcast (Sirius 83 / XM 226)

These games will also be available on the SiriusXM App for SiriusXM satellitesubscribers who also receive SiriusXM Internet Radio. Subscribers may also access news and analysis on SiriusXM’s 24/7 NFL channel, SiriusXM NFL Radio (Sirius 88 / XM 88).

On digital, TuneIn Premium subscribers can listen to the home and visiting team broadcasts as well as the Westwood One national feed of Super Bowl 50 at TuneIn.com and via the TuneIn apps. Fans can also catch news and analysis on TuneIn’s 24/7 NFL channel, NFL on TuneIn, which is free to all users. Gameaudio will also be available digitally to NFL Game Pass subscribers.Additionally, a Spanish language radio broadcast of Super Bowl 50 will be available on ESPN Deportes.  The ESPN Deportes broadcast will also beavailable to SiriusXM and TuneIn Premium subscribers.

PODCASTS: NFL Media will feature the following podcasts as part of the NFL NOW LIVE daily show that will also live on NFL.com and iTunes:

Move the Sticks Podcast
Monday, February 1: Former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks hold down the fort in Culver City and examine Super Bowl 50’s key matchups and expectations.

R&B Podcast
Tuesday, February 2: NFL veterans Nate Burleson and Michael Robinson break down the latest in Super Bowl 50 news and popular culture from a player’s perspective.

Around the NFL Podcast
Tuesday, February 2, Thursday, February 4 and Sunday, February 7: Catch up on the major headlines and updates heading in to Super Bowl 50 with Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Chris Wesseling.

Dave Dameshek Football Program
Wednesday, February 3 and Friday, February 5: NFL Media’s Dave Dameshek gives his take on the latest Super Bowl 50 news and predictions for the big game, presented by McDonald’s.

Super Bowl 50 brings much more than football to the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout the weeks preceding the game, more than 30 charitable activities and community outreach events will enrich the community and provide lasting legacies.

Super Bowl Week activities include the announcement of the annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide winner, NFL PLAY 60 activities and a series of community projects made possible by millions of dollars in NFL Foundation Super Bowl Legacy Grants and the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

During the week, the NFL and Verizon will host an Unsung Heroes luncheon for volunteers and employees at local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organizations and shelters. The league is also working with local organizations on social issues including human trafficking and homelessness, providing financial grants to address these issues in the Bay Area.

The following are just some of the ways the NFL and Super Bowl 50 will positively impact the community. Player names will be added in the coming weeks in media advisories. Below is a list of events in the San Francisco area, along with the contact person or persons in the event there are questions (all times listed are Pacific Standard Time, unless otherwise noted).

NFL EXPERIENCE DRIVEN BY HYUNDAI

NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai – pro football’s interactive theme park – will be held in the Bay Area for the first time, offering fans a unique chance to get involved in the festivities surrounding Super Bowl 50.

Celebrating the history of the game and electrifying atmosphere of Super Bowl 50, the Moscone Center in San Francisco (747 Howard Street) will be home to the 23rd edition of NFL Experience, which will be open to the public from Saturday, January 30 to Sunday, February 7.

The event provides visitors of all ages an opportunity to test their football skills in a variety of interactive attractions, meet current and former players, learn the history of the game and get up close with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Located in one of the tech capitals of the world, NFL Experience features innovative technology and interactive exhibits. Highlights of how technology will be integrated into NFL Experience include: live game action viewing using virtual reality technology, immersive digital experiences for social media and an expanded Hall of Fame exhibit with customizable 3D sharable imagery.

Tickets to NFL Experience are $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at SUPERBOWL.com. Beginning Saturday, opening day of NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, fans can purchase tickets at NFL Experience Box Office located in the Moscone Center’s west building. Tickets sold at NFL Experience box office will go on sale two hours before opening daily. For more information and to find out about special family packages available online only, visit SuperBowl.com. Tickets purchased online are subject to a Ticketmaster service charge.

2016 NFL Experience Schedule of Events (events and time are subject to change):

Saturday, January 30: General Public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, January 31: General Public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Monday, February 1: General Public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday, February 2: General Public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Wednesday, February 3: General Public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday, February 4: General Public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, February 5: General Public from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, February 6: General Public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, February 7: General Public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

NFL Experience’s complete schedule of events, attractions, digital fan experience and more will be posted on SuperBowl.com. Fans are encouraged to follow @SuperBowl and tag their posts and photos using hashtag #SB50. For exclusive access to NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai and other Super Bowl events, fans can visit NFL.com/FanMobilePass to download Fan Mobile Pass.

For more information, contact Crystal Fukumoto at 818-921-8091 or CrystalF@bzapr.com.

SUPER BOWL CITY PRESENTED BY VERIZON

Super Bowl City presented by Verizon is the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee’s free public fan village designed to celebrate the milestone Super Bowl 50. Located in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, Super Bowl City will showcase the best the Bay Area has to offer with interactive games and activities that highlight the region’s technological prowess, culinary excellence and cultural diversity, as well as celebrate Super Bowl 50 and the Bay Area’s place in professional football history. Along with the NFL Experience and the 50th Mile, it will be the hub of fan activities for Super Bowl 50 from Saturday, January 30 through Sunday, February 7. Event highlights include the Fan Energy Zone powered by SAP with interactive, digitally-immersive games and the City Stage presented Levi’s featuring live musical and performing arts entertainment.

For more information, contact Stephanie Martin at stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or
415-565-9234.

PLAY 60, PLAY ON POWERED BY PLAYWORKS IN SUPER BOWL CITY

PLAY 60, Play On powered by Playworks will provide hundreds of children from local Bay Area schools the chance to get sixty minutes of physical activity playing football-themed games that promote positive social values, higher self esteem and a healthy lifestyle. The program will occur daily in Super Bowl City at Sue Bierman Park in San Francisco Saturday, Janaury 30 to Tuesday, February 2 from 11 a.m. to Noon. PLAY 60, Play On is an initiative of the NFL Foundation and the 50 Fund.

For more information, contact Stephanie Martin at Stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or 415-565-9234.

50 FUND PLAYMAKER PARTY SPONSORD BY LEVI’S®
As a partner of 50 Fund’s Playmaker grant program, Levi’s® brand will host the 50 individual Playmakers and their affiliated charities, including the five “Rookie Playmakers drafted by Levi’s® brand”, for a private reception to celebrate their achievements on Saturday, January 30 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Sue Bierman Park in San Francisco.

For more information, contact Stephanie Martin at Stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or
415-565-9234.

NFL FLAG CHAMPIONSHIPS AT SUPER BOWL POWERED BY USA FOOTBALL

NFL FLAG Championships at Super Bowl powered by USA Football will be held Sunday, January 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, February 1 from 4:30 p.m. to  7:30 p.m. Thirty-two teams from across the country – eight regional champions in four divisions – will compete and each will represent a different NFL club. Divisions include 9-10 coed, 11-12 coed, 13-14 boys and 13-14 girls.

The January 31 pool play games will take place at the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields in Golden Gate Park (1500 John F. Kennedy Drive, San Francisco). Each division’s National Championship game will be played on February 1 at NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai at the Moscone Center. NFL Players and legends will serve as guest coaches, encouraging the teams as they compete for the national title. Nickelodeon will broadcast the NFL FLAG Championships on February 6 at 6 p.m. (Eastern, 3 p.m. Pacific) and it will be simulcast on Nicktoons.

NFL FLAG powered by USA Football promotes physical fitness and teaches the sport’s values and life skills on and off the field to nearly 250,000 young people. A non-contact version of traditional football offered for boys and girls ages 5-17 in cities across the country, NFL FLAG emphasizes fun, safety, teamwork, self-esteem, discipline and goal-setting.  USA Football is the sport’s national governing body in the United States.

For more information, contact Crystal Fukumoto at 818-921-8091 or CrystalF@bzapr.com.

THE RE(A)D ZONE FAMILY LITERACY CELEBRATION AND PARTNER ‘THANK YOU’ PARTY

Celebrating the families, supporters, and partners of 50 Fund’s signature early literacy initiative, The Re(a)d Zone Family Literacy Celebration at Children’s Fairyland (699 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, California, 94610) will bring together 1,000 families for a daylong of literacy event with celebrity story hour, a cooking demonstration with a White House chef and children’s musical guests at America’s oldest storybook-themed park on Sunday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day concludes with a Partner ‘Thank You’ Party from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, California, 94612) to acknowledge the staff of The Re(a)d Zone’s grantees, community partners and corporate supporters and to announce new early literacy investments for Summer 2016 and beyond.

For more information, contact Stephanie Martin at Stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or 415-565-9234.

ON THE FIFTY – A CHARITABLE DINING EXPERIENCE

The NFL and NFL Foundation teamed with world-renowned chef MICHAEL MINA, founder of MINA Group, to create On the Fifty – A Charitable Dining Experience restaurant at RN74 (301 Mission Street, San Francisco). The restaurant will be open Monday, February 1 to Sunday, February 7 for lunch and dinner service.

On The Fifty will also showcase autographed memorabilia available for purchase onsite, current and former NFL player appearances and more. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on a number of unique NFL memorabilia and special experiential auction items on NFLAuction.NFL.com/OnTheFifty. Money collected from sales of items, along with a portion of Super Bowl 50 restaurant proceeds, will support NFL Foundation charities.

For more information, contact Ana Blinder at 212-450-2467 or ana.blinder@nfl.com.

KaBOOM! Playground Build

In Celebration of Super Bowl 50, more than 200 volunteers from the NFL, LifeSTEPS, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, ESPN and Disney will join organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the San Jose community on Tuesday, February 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to give area kids the play-filled childhood they deserve by building a new playground at Blossom River Apartments(1000 Blossom River Way, San Jose, California). The playground is based on the kids’ drawings from a special Design Day event in December.

For more information, contact Bruno Tager at btager@kaboom.org or 202-464-6162.

NFL PLAY 60 Challenge School Visit

NFL players will visit Maya Lin School on Tuesday, Febraury 2 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to reward them for successfully completing the Super Bowl 50 edition of the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, developed in conjunction with the American Heart Association, is the primary in-school curriculum for NFL PLAY 60. Fifth-grade students at Maya Lin School successfully completed the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a Super Bowl program that taught students the importance of getting 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Maya Lin School will also receive a $2,500 NFL PLAY 60 grant from the NFL and American Heart Association to be used to support the school’s health and fitness education efforts.

More than 12,000 fourth and fifth graders from San Francisco counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano registered for the Challenge in the months leading up to Super Bowl. The schools that successfully completed the Challenge are invited to NFL PLAY 60 Kids Day at NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, on Wednesday, Febraury 3.

For more information, contact Ana Blinder, NFL, at 212-450-2467 or ana.blinder@nfl.com.

NFL PLAY 60 CHARACTER CAMP

On Tuesday, Febraury 2, the NFL will host a free Character Camp on the field at NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, at 10 a.m. before NFL Experience is open to the public. The event will include 300 predominantly-Hispanic youth from the greater Bay area. The non-contact football camp will be led by Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz.

The NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps program is a partnership between the NFL and the Muñoz Agency. The mission of the camps are to make a positive impact on youth through teaching football skills, emphasizing exercise, and reinforcing the importance of character in athletics and life. The camp is part of a series of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps hosted as part of the NFL’s year-round Hispanic outreach initiative, focused on offering youth opportunities to play and experience the game of football. Since the inception of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps in 2012, 50 camps have been held impacting more than 15,000 youth across the country.

For more information, contact Darlene Capiro, NFL, at Darlene.Capiro@nfl.com.

SUPER BOWL HIGH SCHOOL HONOR ROLL SCREENING

On Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Super Bowl 50 Media Center Presented by Microsoft (Moscone Center West, 747 Howard Street, Press Conference Room B) the NFL will preview NFL Films’ one-hour Super Bowl special “Super Bowl 50: Before They Were Pros” which will air on CBS Sunday, February 7 at 11 a.m. Eastern kicking off CBS’ Super Bowl Sunday pregame show.

Through the lens of Super Bowl 50 and the Super Bowl High School Honor Roll, we showcase the impact of high school football across America. In “Super Bowl 50: Before They Were Pros” we follow NFL players and Legends who have made it to the pinnacle of their sport as they go back to the communities that helped shape them into men of high character. NFL Films follows these players to capture the lessons that the game of football has taught them by highlighting stories of family, resiliency, teamwork and mentorship. NFL players featured in the show will be available for interviews following the screening.

For more information, contact Ana Blinder, NFL, at 212-450-2467 or ana.blinder@nfl.com.

Special Olympics Skills and Drills

The NFL, Special Olympics of Northern California and the San Francisco 49ers will host a Special Olympic Skills and Drills Clinic and Flag Football scrimmage Tuesday, February. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California. (100 Skyway Drive #130, San Jose, California 95111). Special Olympics Northern California will announce flag football will become its 12th sport beginning fall of 2016.

For more information contact Angela Alfano at Angela.Alfano@NFL.com.

NFL PLAY 60 KIDS’ DAY AT NFL EXPERIENCE

NFL PLAY 60 Kids’ Day gives more than 2,000 local children the opportunity to spend time with NFL players at the NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai at the Moscone Center (747 Howard Street), on Wednesday, Feb 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Local Bay Area children will take part in the excitement of Super Bowl Week alongside NFL players.

Kids will learn more about the importance of healthy living during Kids’ Day as part of NFL PLAY 60, aimed at helping youngsters get 60 minutes of exercise each day. Classrooms earned their invite to Kids’ Day by completing the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, in partnership with the American Heart Association, in the months leading up to Super Bowl. Additional Kids’ Day invitees include Make-a-Wish recipients and their families, as well as Special Olympians, who will host unified flag football games for all Kids’ Day participants to join.

As part of their Kids’ Day experience, local children will participate in interactive PLAY 60 fitness activities and take part in games including Punt, Pass & Kick, speed and mobility drills, quarterback challenge games and extra point kicking stations.

This year’s ‘NFL PLAY 60 Super Kid,’ Marlo Mosley, a Bay Area native, will be a special guest at Kids’ Day. Mosley’s entry video on how she ‘plays 60,’ keeps fit and eats right was selected from thousands of entries into this year’s NFL PLAY 60 Super Bowl Contest. Learn more about the contest at
NFLRUSH.com/superkid.

For more information, contact Crystal Fukumoto at 818-921-8091 or CrystalF@bzapr.com.

SUPER BOWL 50 BUSINESS CONNECT CELEBRATION

The NFL and the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee will host “A Celebration of Business Connect: Teamwork. Success. Legacy.” event on Wednesday, February 3 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at The Bently Reserve (301 Battery Street, San Francisco). The event is a celebration of the Super Bowl 50 Business Connect program recognizing the success of the endeavor in the Bay Area and spotlighting local businesses that have grown and thrived under the tutelage of the program’s professional development initiatives.

More than 400 Bay Area businesses in 60 vendor categories participated in the Business Connect program, which is designed to create Super Bowl 50 contracting opportunities for local, experienced and diverse business owners. To qualify for participation in Business Connect, businesses must be 51 percent owned by a minority, woman, disabled veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individual or business. The Celebration of Business Connect is a ticketed event for participating business owners. Networking reception will precede and follow the formal program.

For more information, contact BJ Waymer, NFL Business Connect, at BJ.Waymer@NFL.com or Stephanie Martin at Stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or 415-565-9234.

THE PURPOSE OF SPORT SYMPOSIUM SPONSORED BY IN/PACT

The Purpose of Sport sponsored by in/PACT, on Thursday, Februayr 4 from 8 to 10 a.m. at 50 Club (Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, 4 Embarcadero Center #1, San Francisco), will explore the role of purpose in building successful organizations for the 21st century, the detail around the Host Committee’s purpose driven strategy and how brands are engaging with fans and activating their purpose through sport. The program features a keynote by Jim Stengel, President/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company, LLC, author of How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, speaker with the Washington Speakers Bureau® and adjunct professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

For more information, contact Stephanie Martin at Stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com or 415-565-9234.

NFL FAMILY FOOTBALL CLINIC

Presented by NFL Player Engagement, boys and girls ages 6 – 12 are invited to participate in fun football activities with their parent or guardian on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the NFL Experience Youth Field in the Moscone Center. Kids and parents will learn how fun it is to PLAY 60 and create new football memories as a family. Within each football activity, kids and their parents will participate in an exercise designed to foster engagement and relationship building among family members. Special guest NFL players will help lead the activities and will share how they create family football memories with their kids. Player media availability will take place at 10:15 a.m. and the clinic will begin at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Crystal Fukumoto at 818-921-8091 or CrystalF@bzapr.com.

SUPER BOWL LEGACY GRANT EVENT

The NFL seeks to improve the surrounding communities of the Super Bowl host city with a Super Bowl Legacy Grant donation. This year, the NFL Foundation provided a $1 million grant to the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee via the 50 Fund to support a new Super Bowl 50 initiative for Bay Area youth and communities called PLAY 60, Play On. The NFL Foundation and 50 Fund, which matched the $1 million contribution for a total of $2 million, have partnered with KaBOOM!, Playworks and UNICEF Kid Power to develop this program which brings the nation’s best play initiatives together for Super Bowl 50 with charitable projects revolving around the goal of PLAY 60 – helping kids get active for 60 minutes a day.

PLAY 60, Play On features a three-part platform – Where We Play, How We Play and Why We Play – and includes a community grants program with KaBOOM! to turn every day spaces into places for play, a series of play extravaganzas and youth worker trainings, the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, and UNICEF Kid Power, a new 30-day program that helps kids get active and save lives. The campaign will help reach tens of thousands of Bay Area kids and young adults throughout the nine-county region, while also impacting children around the globe.

On Thursday, February 4 at 11 a.m., NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Super Bowl 50 Host Committee President & CEO Keith Bruce amongst others will take part in the Super Bowl Legacy Grant press conference at Malcolm X Academy Elementary School (350 Harbor Road) in San Francisco. Prior to the press conference, students will participate in football-themed group games led by Playworks, beginning at 10 a.m. Students will also participate in the UNICEF Kid Power as part of the grant initiative, which includes the world’s first Wearable-for-Good™ band, allowing kids to help save the lives of severely malnourished children around the world while getting active themselves and earning points to unlock therapeutic food packets. At 11:30 a.m., attendees will participate in a park clean-up initiative and Imagination Playground activation at Community Youth Park (245 West Point Road) which is located next to the school. Volunteers will help transform an overgrown picnic area into a family-friendly zone encouraging fitness and imaginative play. This historic park will undergo a community-led refurbishment later this year.

The 50 Fund (50fund.org) is a 501(c)(3) created by the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee to carry out the charitable legacy work done annually by the NFL Foundation and the local Host Committee.

For more information, contact Angela Alfano, NFL, at angela.alfano@nfl.com or Stephanie Martin, San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, at stephanie@sfsuperbowl.com.

NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION SCREENINGS

On Thursday, February 4 and Friday, February 5, the NFL Player Care Foundation (PCF), supported by the NFL Alumni Association, are proud to partner with one of the nation’s premier medical providers, Tulane University School of Medicine, to conduct its annual Super Bowl Healthy Body and Mind Screening program. This complimentary national program is open to all former NFL players and includes private and confidential cardiovascular and prostate screenings and mental health resources and education.

NFL Player Care Foundation screenings are offered as part of PCF’s research programs, which help to advance public awareness and scientific understanding of health issues that affect former NFL players. The screening will take place at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square (333 O’Farrell Street, 4th Floor) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The PCF is an independent foundation created in 2007 by a partnership between NFL owners, the NFL Players Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Alumni Association. Since its inception, the organization has screened more than 3,000 retired NFL players and provided over $9 million in emergency financial assistance.  For more information, visit nflplayercare.com.

(Please note that because of privacy laws, the screenings are closed to the public. Media inquiries may be directed to Dana
Lihan at Dana.Lihan@nfl.com.)

MAKE-A-WISH®

Through the assistance of the NFL, Make-A-Wish will grant the wishes of 13 children to attend Super Bowl 50. Attending the Super Bowl continues to be a wish that transcends generations: every year since 1982, one or more wish kids has wished to attend the big game.

This year, the children and their families will arrive in San Francisco on Thursday, February 4 for a welcome reception. Wish children and their families will participate in several other activities related to the Super Bowl and will attend the game at Levi’s Stadium through the support of the NFL and other organizations.

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 27,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 37 minutes. It has granted more than 254,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 14,200 in 2014 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.

For more information on wish kid activities and media opportunities during Super Bowl week, contact Josh deBerge at 602-792-3185 or jdeberge@wish.org.

WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE

The three finalists for the 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide will be made available to media at a press conference Friday, February 5 at 11 a.m. at the Super Bowl 50 Media Center Presented by Microsoft (Moscone Center West, 747 Howard Street, Press Conference Room C).

The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Presented by Nationwide will be announced at the NFL Honors Award Show on Saturday, February 6. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.

For more information, contact Ana Blinder, NFL, at ana.blinder@nfl.com.

DON SHULA NFL HIGH SCHOOL COACH OF THE YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE

The winner of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award will be made available to media at a press conference Friday, February 5 at 11:15 a.m. at the Super Bowl 50 Media Center Presented by Microsoft (Moscone Center West, 747 Howard Street, Press Conference Room C).

This award was created in 2010 to honor exemplary football coaches at the high school level that display the integrity, achievement, and leadership demonstrated Shula. The national Shula Award winner will receive $25,000 from the NFL Foundation and attend the Super Bowl.

For more information, contact Alexia Gallagher, NFL, at alexia.gallagher@nfl.com.

21st ANNUAL REBUILDING TOGETHER “KICKOFF TO REBUILD”

On Friday, February 5 from 9:30 a.m. to Noon, in conjunction with Super Bowl 50, Rebuilding Together – a leading national nonprofit in safe and healthy housing – and its local affiliate Rebuilding Together San Francisco, will join together for its 21st annual Kickoff to Rebuild project, presented by Lowe’s, in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. This year’s event will be the culmination of a series of projects across the Bay Area by five Rebuilding Together affiliates. This effort is made possible through the generous support of the event’s national and local partners, including lead partner Lowe’s, as well as CBRE, Bose, Bridgestone and Swinerton Builders.

For 21 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL in Super Bowl cities across the country, rebuilding houses and bringing together neighborhoods. Together, we have repaired 112 homes and engaged more than 3,700 volunteers. This year, with more than a hundred volunteers from corporate and community partners, it will provide six low-income families with home repairs, restore a community shelter and revitalize the Bay Area community.

Rebuilding Together’s work in the Bay Area goes beyond making homes safe and healthy. As one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, affordable housing options are disappearing rapidly. Rebuilding Together’s efforts both through its Bay Area affiliates and Kickoff to Rebuild helps revitalize communities and keeps people in their homes, helping to preserve intergenerational wealth and ensuring families, neighbors and communities remain together.

Profiles of the homeowner stories are available upon request. Media are invited to tours of the project at 1573 Quesada Avenue; interviews will be available with homeowners, corporate sponsor volunteers and Rebuilding Together local and national staff.

To learn more about Rebuilding Together’s Kickoff to Rebuild project, visit rebuildingtogether.org/ktr/. For more information, contact Casey Pola at cpola@rebuildingtogether.org or 202-302-1139.

NFL FOUNDATION BOWLING TOURNAMENT

The 10th annual NFL Foundation Bowling Tournament, presented by GoBowling.com, the top online destination for bowling fans, will take place on Friday, February 5 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Lucky Strike San Francisco (200 King Street). The tournament is partnering with the NFL Legends Community to celebrate Super Bowl 50.

Teams of amateur bowlers will be captained by NFL Legends, Super Bowl MVPs and Pro Football Hall of Famers. Proceeds from the event will benefit the NFL Foundation to support NFL Legends’ philanthropic initiatives, including the Player Care Foundation.  Celebrity captains entered thus far include are GoBowling.com spokesman Ed “Too Tall” Jones along with Jouque Bell, Elvin  Bethea, J.B. Brown, Mark Clayton, Garry Cobb, Donovin Darius, Dermontti Brown, DawsonParnell Dickinson, WArrick Dunn, Carl Eller, Ahman Green, Rodney Hampton, Thomas Henderson, Rocket Ismail, Kent Kramer, Floyd Litte, Curtis McGriff, Tom Nowatzke, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle, Mike Rucker, Scott Turner and Leonard Wheler.

Entry fees include a $3,500 contribution to the NFL Foundation for a bowling team of four and $250 for a non-bowling spectator. To register for the tournament, contact Toby Brown at 817-385-8444 or toby@stemarketing.com.

For more information, contact Liz McCollum at 813-421-0550 or elizabethm@bzapr.com.
SUPER BOWL GOSPEL CELEBRATION

The 17th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will take place on Friday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland, California). The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration brings together Super Bowl champions and Pro Bowl players with Grammy Award-winning contemporary Christian, gospel and mainstream artists all on one stage. The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration also gives back to the community. Each year, the event identifies a charity to donate a portion of its proceeds.

For more information visit superbowlgospel.com

MILITARY OUTREACH

The following is a sampling of events planned for service members and their families in the San Francisco Bay Area during Super Bowl Week:

Active Duty Servicemembers and their families invited by the NFL, USO and USAA will attend a Military Breakfast only breakfast Saturday, February 6. Former/current players will be in attendance. Attendees will also be provided with complimentary admittance to NFL Experience.

USAA is creating a ‘Military Lounge’ within NFL Experience Saturday February 6 – an exclusive area for current and former military members and their families to enjoy complimentary food and beverage, games, player meet and greets and more.

The NFL and USAA will recognize the winner of the 2015 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA at the 5th Annual NFL Honors awards show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Saturday, February 6, the night before Super Bowl 50. Created in 2011, the Salute to Service Award acknowledges the members of the NFL for their exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community and their families.

For more information, contact Daniel Bailey, NFL, at Daniel.Bailey@NFL.com

NFL FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT

NFL Legends, Super Bowl MVPs and Pro Football Hall of Famers will lead the field of golfers for the 30th Annual NFL Foundation Golf Tournament on Saturday, February 6 starting at 8 a.m. at Half Moon Bay Golf Links in Half Moon Bay, California. The tournament is partnering with the NFL Legends Community to celebrate Super Bowl 50 and to host an 18-hole tournament on the internationally-renowned courses.

Teams of amateur golfers will be captained by NFL Legends in 18-hole team scramble events to be played on both the Old and Ocean courses at Half Moon Bay. The celebrity captains scheduled to participate are J.B. Brown, Joique Bell, Elvin Bethea, Mark Clayton, Garry Cobb, Parnell Dickinson, Donnie Edwards, Carl Eller, Ahman Green, Rodney Hampton, Thomas Henderson, D’Qwell Jackson, Dexter Jackson, Jeff Janis, Ed Jones, Kent Kramer, Kwamie Lassiter, Curtis McGriff, Nat Moore, Tom Nowatzke, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle, Will Shields, Darrin Smith, Mack Strong, Jim Taylor, Scott Turner and Paul Warfield. Additionally, NFL Legends’ Community Directors and Coordinators that serve as ambassadors across the country will also be in attendance and facilitating the tournament.

Hospitality golf packages are open to the general public, with a tournament entry donation of $10,000 per team (teams of three paired with a NFL Legend) benefiting the NFL Foundation and NFL Player Care Foundation. To register for the tournament, contact Caroline Keyes of the NFL at Caroline.Keyes@NFL.com.

For more information, contact Damian Secore at damians@bzapr.com or 951-454-6047.

SUPER BOWL BREAKFAST

The 2016 Super Bowl Breakfast will be held Saturday, February 6 at 8 a.m. at the Hilton Union Square (333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco).  The breakfast will feature the presentation of the Bart Starr Award, presented by Super Bowl Champion Coach, Tony Dungy. The award, voted on by NFL players, honors outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.

In addition to Tony Dungy and the 2016 Award winner, the program will include Tim Brown, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver, Mike Ditka, NFL Analyst-ESPN and former NFL coach, Brent Jones, three-time Super Bowl Champion, Jerry Kramer, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Benamin Watson, New Orleans Saints tight end.

For more information, contact Kaity Marstella at Kaity.Marstella@athletesinaction.org or 800-416-9472.

NFLPA SMOCKS & JOCKS

On Saturday, February 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Bistro Boudin (160 Jefferson Street) the NFL Players Association will hold its annual art auction and jazz brunch, supporting the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund and a local arts charity. Artwork from active and former players and others connected to professional football will be auctioned as part of the charity event.

For more information, contact Jilane Rodgers at Jilane.Rodgers@nflpa.com.

TROUPE21’S 16TH ANNUAL PLAYER NETWORKING EVENT™

The 16th Annual Player Networking Event™ (PNE) will place Saturday, February 6 from Noon to 6 p.m. at San Jose State University’s Student Union (211 South 9th Street, San Jose). Current and former NFL players will be in attendance to network with the corporate community and connect to career transition resources. PNE is a collaboration of over 50 organizations committed to helping players prepare for life after football through various post-event opportunities (e.g. group counseling, career coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, internships, entrepreneurial training, franchising, employment, etc).

For more information, email pne@troupe21.com; visit pneinfo.com or follow @NFLPNE on Twitter.

Taste of the NFL

Taste of the NFL (TNFL) is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to raising awareness and funds for hunger relief organizations in the 32 NFL cities and across the country. Proudly celebrating its 25th anniversary at Super Bowl 50, the organization conducts national and local fundraising events throughout the year, culminating in the annual Party with a Purpose® on Super Bowl Eve. Since its inception, Taste of the NFL has raised more than $24 million, which has provided more than 192 million meals for Americans. All proceeds raised are donated directly to local and national food banks in each of the 32 NFL cities.

This season’s Party with a Purpose® will be held at the legendary Cow Palace (2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, California) on Saturday, February 6 from 7 to 11 p.m. This star-studded fundraising event celebrates two of America’s favorite pastimes—food and football—by bringing together exceptional cuisine, prominent chefs from around the country, celebrities, NFL players, coaches, legends and more, all to support the fight against hunger. James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef and author Andrew Zimmern is the Culinary Host for this year’s Party with a Purpose®.

Other special guests and supporters for the evening include actress and philanthropist Alyssa Milano, comedian Larry the Cable Guy, singer-songwriter Nick Lachey, TV personality and culinary host Adam Richman, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, Joey Faugno and Mauro Castano from TLC’s television show “Cake Boss,” FOX Sports Broadcaster Daryl Johnston, Super Bowl XLVII Champion Matt Birk, Super Bowl 1 Kansas City Chiefs player Bobby Bell and Super Bowl 1 Green Bay Packers player Donny Anderson.

Tickets to this event can be purchased at TasteoftheNFL.com. Media wishing to cover the event should visit the online press room at tasteofthenfl.com/pressroom to request credentials. For more information, contact Pamela Spiegel and Marcus Braham at spiegel@sunshinesachs.com and braham@sunshinesachs.com or at 212-691-2800.

Follow @TasteoftheNFL on Instagram and Twitter as they #KickHunger this season or visit Taste of the NFL on Facebook at facebook.com/TasteoftheNFL.

SUPER BOWL 50 ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM

The NFL and the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee teamed to develop a series of initiatives reducing environmental impact of Super Bowl activities and to leave a “green” legacy throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Super Bowl 50 Urban Forestry Project: In January, throughout the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, NFL Environmental program and Verizon joined forces in several of these projects including the Super Bowl 50 Urban Forestry Project and a public E-Waste Recycling Rally. Hundreds of trees were planted in parks, playgrounds, schoolyards and other public spaces. A large-scale reforestation project, in partnership with American Forests and Verizon, will plant 28,000 trees in the Sierra Nevadas – many of these trees will restore the watershed area that provides drinking water for the entire San Francisco Bay area.

Food Recovery: The NFL and Host Committee are teaming with a coalition of nearly a dozen food banks and food recovery organizations to recover prepared food from kitchens and minimize food waste. Prepared food will be distributed to soup kitchens and community centers throughout the Bay area. There will be an intensive drive to collect and donate everything left over from Super Bowl 50 events. Building material, décor, fabric, carpeting and sign materials will be donated to local organizations that can reuse, repurpose or remanufacture the material. This project keeps material out of local landfills and also turns this material into valuable items for resale or reuse.

Renewable Energy Project: In partnership with PG&E, much of the energy to power Super Bowl 50 related activities will be renewably generated. Gen 4 temporary power generators used in Super Bowl City will run on Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel. Where renewable power is not feasible, renewable energy credits (RECs) will be utilized to reduce greenhouse gas impact. Travel emissions for Super Bowl teams and officials are being offset in partnership with TerraPass. TerraPass will also provide RECs where needed to offset emissions from other venues including Levi’s Stadium, site of Super Bowl 50. TerraPass works with businesses and individuals to create sustainable solutions to fight climate change. TerraPass helps customers determine and mitigate their environmental footprint through carbon offsets, renewable energy and water restoration certificates.

The Play Your Part Campaign (Saturday, January 30 – Sunday, February 7) – The Play Your Part online campaign is collaboration between the Host Committee, 50 Fund, in/PACT and Citizen Group focused on engaging with fans and inspiring them to personally contribute towards the Host Committee’s goal of delivering Super Bowl 50 as a “Net Positive” event. As a reward for Net Positive behavior, the 50 Fund will enable fans to decide how $200 000 from the Sustainable Environments Game Changer Grant is allocated amongst Bay Area environmental nonprofits, as well as providing fans a chance to win one of nine daily Super Bowl 50 related prizes including tickets to The Big Game.

Enhanced Transportation (Saturday, January 30 – Sunday, February 7) – Host Committee is working with regional transportation agencies to enhance public transit during Super Bowl week (January 30 – February 8). This will include additional service on WETA and GGB Ferry and BART and Muni. Super Bowl 50-branded Clipper cars help promote the use of public transit via the Host Committee’s partnership with the MTC. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Host Committee has coordinated a special ‘SB 50’ pass with VTA and Caltrain to ensure that public transit remains a viable option to get to Levi’s stadium.

The Super Bowl 50 Fan Express and Car (Sunday, February 7) – The Super Bowl 50 Fan Express and Car Share, the Host Committee’s Fan Express motor coach program, will provide fans with convenient, sustainable transport to Levi’s stadium on gameday. Pick-up points will be spread throughout the Bay Area and will include buses being utilized are locally based running on Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel.

For more information, contact Jack Groh, NFL Environmental Program Director, at 401-952-0886 or Jack.Groh@nflenvironment.com.

Emmy award-winning and late night talk show host Conan O’Brien will take the stage as host of NFL HONORS on Saturday, February 6 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The two-hour primetime awards special recognizing the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2015 season will air nationally at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CBS.

O’Brien, an avid New England Patriots fan, is host of the late-night show “CONAN,” on TBS. “CONAN” has a strong influence in both the broadcast and digital space, with clips from the show often going viral. His recent historic trips to Cuba and Armenia were marked with both critical and ratings success.

A Harvard graduate and two-time president of the venerable and notorious Harvard Lampoon, O’Brien has a resume that also includes writing and producing roles with “Not Necessarily the News,” “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons.”

He succeeded David Letterman as the host of “Late Night” on NBC in 1993. During his time at “Late Night,” O’Brien and his writing team received ten consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, winning the prestigious award in 2007. O’Brien and the “Late Night” writing staff also won six Writers Guild Awards for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series, including two consecutive wins in 2002 and 2003.

“NFL Honors,” which debuted in Indianapolis in 2012, is an annual event hosted from the Super Bowl city the evening before the AFC and NFC champions meet. O’Brien joins Alec Baldwin and Seth Meyers on the list of award-winning celebrities to host the NFL’s awards show.

The show includes the announcement of THE Associated Press’ annual accolades and the newest Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Below is the full list of awards that will be presented:

AP Most Valuable Player presented by Verizon

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide

AP Coach of the Year presented by Lenovo

AP Comeback Player of the Year

AP Offensive Player of the Year presented by Microsoft

AP Defensive Player of the Year

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year

Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year​

FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year

NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year presented by SAP

Courtyard’s Greatness on the Road Award

Salute To Service Award presented by USAA

Rooney Sportsmanship Award presented by McDonald’s

Deacon Jones Sack Leader

Clutch Performer of the Year presented by Castrol

“NFL Honors” is an NFL Network production in association with Rock Garden Media. For more information about “NFL Honors” fans may visit http://www.nfl.com/honors and follow the #NFLHonors conversation on Twitter.

The National Football League announced the five finalists for the 2015 Pepsi NFL Rookie of The Year award.

2015 PEPSI NEXT NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Player, Position (Team)
Amari Cooper, WR (Oakland)
Todd Gurley, RB (St. Louis)
Tyler Lockett, WR/Special Teams (Seattle)
Marcus Peters, CB (Kansas City)
Jameis Winston, QB (Tampa Bay)

Starting today, fans can vote for one of these five players on NFL.com/Rookies through Thursday, January 28 to determine the 2015 Pepsi NFL Rookie of The Year.

The 2015 Pepsi NFL Rookie of The Year award will be recognized in San Francisco during the Super Bowl festivities and online at NFL.com/Rookies.

The five finalists were selected for their outstanding performances throughout the 2015 NFL season.  Each week, five nominees were chosen for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com. Those results were used to help determine the finalists.

A closer look at the finalists:

•Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper

Cooper led all rookies with 72 receptions and 1,070 receiving yards, which were also both franchise rookie records. Cooper had five games with at least 100 receiving yards and he became the first rookie with three 100-yard receiving games in his team’s first six games since Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka in 1961.
•St. Louis Rams RB Todd Gurley

Gurley ranked third and led all rookies this season with 1,106 rushing yards. Gurley, who was selected to the Pro Bowl, had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most ever by a rookie. Gurley rushed for 10 touchdowns and was one of six players in the league to have 10+ rushing touchdowns.

•Seattle Seahawks WR-PR-KR Tyler Lockett

Lockett was selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist, but also contributed as a wide receiver. Lockett finished the season with 664 receiving yards, six touchdown catches and added a punt-return (Week 1) and kick-return touchdown (Week 3). Lockett joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five touchdown catches, a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown.
•Kansas City CB Marcus Peters

Peters finished tied for the most interceptions in the NFL this season with eight and was selected to the Pro Bowl. His 280 interception-return yards and 35.0 INT-return average were the most in the league. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns, a 90-yarder in Week 15 and 55-yarder in Week 2. Peters finished the season with 60 total tackles, 26 pass defensed, eight interceptions and a forced fumble.

•Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston

Winston set franchise records for most passing yards (4,042) and touchdown passes (22) by a rookie. Winston’s 4,042 passing yards are the third-most by a rookie in NFL history and his 22 touchdown passes are tied for the fourth-most by a rookie in NFL history. In Week 11, Winston threw five touchdowns with no interceptions and joined Ray Buivid (December 5, 1937) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

This is Pepsi’s 14th year as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL and the 13th year that Pepsi will present the NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL Rookie of the Year awards.

#  #  #

About PepsiCo:

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2014, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth and shareholder value. In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment and reduce our operating costs; providing a safe and inclusive workplace for our employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where we operate. For more information, visit http://www.pepsico.com.

The National Football League and FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) announced today quarterbacks Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) and Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) are the finalists for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year honors, while running backs Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams), Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) are the finalists for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year.

During the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, fans have the chance to cast their vote for the one quarterback and one running back they feel had the year’s most epic Air & Ground performances. Fans can select their picks for each category on http://www.nfl.com/voting/players-air-and-ground/2015/YEAR/0​​ until Thursday, February 4 to determine the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year.

As part of the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week program, FedEx will donate $25,000 to the local American Red Cross chapters of the winners of the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year awards. The charitable contributions will help assist the Red Cross in its efforts to provide disaster relief and recovery services to individuals and families across the country.

Throughout the 2015-16 season, FedEx supported its commitment to serving the community by making weekly $2,000 donations to local Red Cross Chapters in each of the weekly winning players’ names. This amounted to a total contribution of $118,000 this season.

FedEx will announce the 2015 FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year winners at the “5th Annual NFL Honors” awards show in San Francisco, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on February 6 on CBS the night before Super Bowl 50.

A closer look at the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year finalists:

•New England Patriots QB Tom Brady led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and joined Peyton Manning (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons. Brady moved up the all-time list for career passing yards (58,028) and touchdowns (428), ranking fifth in passing yards and tied with Drew Brees for the third-most touchdown passes.

•New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees’ 4,870 passing yards were the most in the NFL this season and he is the first player to lead the league in passing yards six times. Brees threw 32 touchdowns this season and has thrown for at least 30 touchdowns in an NFL-record eight consecutive seasons. Brees has the fourth-most career passing yards (60,903) and is tied with Brady for the third-most touchdown passes (428).

•Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer led the Cardinals to a 13-3 record after throwing for 4,671 yards, the fourth most this season. Palmer was tied for the second-most touchdown passes with 35 this season and had the third-best passer rating in the league (104.6). His passing yards and touchdown passes this season were both franchise records.

A closer look at the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year finalists:

•St. Louis Rams RB Todd Gurley ranked third and led all rookies this season with 1,106 rushing yards. Gurley had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most ever by a rookie. Gurley rushed for 10 touchdowns and was one of six players in the league to have 10+ rushing touchdowns.

•Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin ranked second in the league with 1,402 rushing yards. Martin ranked first in NFL with a 4.87 rushing average (minimum 150 attempts) and finished with seven total touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving).

•Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson finished the season with an NFL-best 1,485 rushing yards and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns. Peterson is just the third player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards after his 30th birthday. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (eight) and LaDainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.

As the Official Delivery Service Sponsor of the NFL, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, FedEx is proud to sponsor the 13th annual FedEx Air and Ground NFL Players of the Year awards. The awards highlight the league’s leaders at the quarterback and running back positions, recognizing the players that consistently delivered the best results throughout the season.

About FedEx Corporation: FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services.  With annual revenues of $48 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 325,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

The National Football League today announced the five finalists for the 2015 Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of The Year. The “Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Year” is the best performer or performance of the week that represents strength in key moments.

2015 CASTROL EDGE CLUTCH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

Week 8 – Drew Brees throws seven touchdowns in Saints’ win
Week 9 – Antonio Brown’s has 284 receiving yards in Steelers’ win
Week 10 – Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard field goal in Patriots’ win
Week 13 – Jameis Winston’s third down scramble in Buccaneers’ win
Week 14 – Khalil Mack records five sacks in Raiders’ win

Fans can vote for one of these five performers on NFL.com/Castrol-EDGE through Thursday, February 4 to determine the 2015 Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of The Year.

The winner of the 2015 Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of The Year will be announced at the “5th Annual NFL Honors” awards show in San Francisco, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on February 6 on CBS the night before Super Bowl 50.

The five finalists were selected among 17 of the most memorable Castrol EDGE Clutch Performers during the 2015 NFL season. Each week the NFL selected five nominees for the performers of the week in which the fans voted for the winner on NFL.com/Castrol-EDGE.

“Castrol EDGE is known for its strength under severe pressure, maximizing your car’s performance,” said Rich Pond, Castrol’s vice president of marketing, Americas region. “These five finalists for the Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the year have proven their strength under pressure to lead their teams to thrilling victories. They are five individuals who have helped make this another exciting NFL season.”

A closer look at the nominees:

Week 8 – Drew Brees throws seven touchdowns in Saints’ win: Brees completed 39 of 50 passes for 505 yards and seven touchdowns with a 131.7 passer rating in the Saints’ 52-49 win over the New York Giants. His seventh touchdown pass tied the game with 0:36 remaining in the game. The Saints would go on to convert the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Week 9 – Antonio Brown’s has 284 receiving yards in Steelers’ win: Brown recorded 17 catches for 284 yards (16.7 average) in the Steelers’ 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders. His 17 receptions and 284 receiving yards were both franchise records. Brown caught a 57 yard pass on the last drive to set up the game-winning field goal with 0:02 remaining.

Week 10 – Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard field goal in Patriots’ win:

Gostkowski converted a 54-yard field goal with 0:01 remaining to give the New England Patriots a 27-26 victory over the New York Giants. The Patriots trailed 26-24 with 1:47 remaining and made a last minute drive to set up Gostkowski’s kick.

Week 13 – Jameis Winston’s third down scramble in Buccaneers’ win: With Tampa Bay trailing Atlanta 19-16, Winston scrambled on third and 19 and converted the first down with a 20-yard run. The run extended the drive and set up the game-winning touchdown pass from Winston to Mike Evans with 1:39 remaining to give the Buccaneers a 23-19 win.

Week 14 – Khalil Mack records five sacks in Raiders’ win: Mack led the Raider defense with five sacks and recorded seven tackles as Oakland defeated Denver 15-12. With Oakland trailing 12-7 with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter, Mack sacked Brock Osweiler in the end zone and forced a fumble that resulted in a safety, pulling the Raiders within three points entering the final quarter. His five sacks tied the single-game franchise record set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long against Washington on October 2, 1983.

For more information on the 2015 Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of The Year, visit NFL.com/Castrol-EDGE.

About Castrol: Castrol, a global leader in lubricant technology, serves customers and consumers in over 140 countries in the automotive, marine, industrial and energy production sectors. Our leadership brands include the Castrol® EDGE ® line of advanced full-synthetic super premium motor oils that offer unsurpassed strength and performance, Castrol® GTX® — a premium conventional motor oil, Castrol® GTX® High–Mileage™ – a premium synthetic blend designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles, as well as our range of commercial transport lubricants. To find out more about Castrol products and programs, please call 1–888–CASTROL or log on to http://www.castrol.com/us

The National Football League announced the officials that will be calling Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. The league annonced that Clete Blakeman will be the referee heading the Super Bowl 50 officiating staff on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California.

Blakeman worked the overtime Divisional Playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals last Saturday. Each of Blakeman’s crew members worked a Divisional Playoff game but no more than three appeared on the same crew.

Officials in the Super Bowl must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino. Accuracy percentages are a large part of the ranking scheme but Blandino indicated there are other factors he considers. Past practice has allowed officials who have not had a previous Super Bowl assignment but are near the top rank at their positions, to receive preference.

This is the first Super Bowl assignment for Blakeman. He has worked 3 Wild Card games and 2 Divisional Playoffs and only missed one postseason out of the ones he’s been eligible for. He has been an official in the NFL for 8 seasons, with 6 of them at the referee position. Blakeman’s crew has worked a combined 4 Super Bowls: Jeff Rice (XXXVI and XXXVIII), Boris Cheek (XLII), and Keith Ferguson (XLIII).

The crew that has been confirmed for the big game is as follows:

Position – Jersey Number and Name
R – 34 Clete Blakeman
U – 44 Jeff Rice
HL – 106 Wayne Mackie
LJ – 59 Rusty Baynes
FJ – 41 Boris Cheek
SJ – 3 Scott Edwards
BJ – 61 Keith Ferguson

And then there were four.

Four left standing out of 32 teams that started the journey toward the Lombardi Trophy. At the end of the day, two will remain and fight for that trophy. 28 other teams are at home and have cleaned out their lockers by the end of the week, preparing for the draft and the 2016 season.

It’s football’s answer to the NCAA’s Final Four.

The goal remains the same.

Win and advance to Santa Clara in two weeks.

Lose? Your season is over and your next game is in September of 2016.

It’s a process so simple even a kindergardener understands it.

Number ones hosting number twos. The NFL couldn’t have done it any better.

CLOSE GAMES: The NFC Championship Game has featured close games in each of the past eight seasons, including four overtime games. There have been eight consecutive NFC Championship Games decided by seven points or fewer, the longest streak in conference championship game history.

The NFC’s number 2 seed Arizona will travel this Sunday to play number 1 seed Carolina. The Panthers had seven games this season that finished within seven points or fewer, while the Cardinals had five such games.

The past eight NFC Championship Games decided by seven points or fewer:
SEASON – FINAL SCORE
2007 – New York Giants 23, Green Bay 20 (OT)
2008 – Arizona 32, Philadelphia 25
2009 – New Orleans 31, Minnesota 28 (OT)
2010 – Green Bay 21, Chicago 14
2011 – New York Giants 20, San Francisco 17 (OT)
2012 – San Francisco 28, Atlanta 24
2013 – Seattle 23, San Francisco 17
2014 – Seattle 28, Green Bay 22 (OT)
2015 – Arizona at Carolina
*Overtime

SUPER FOLLOW-UPS: The defending Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots defeated Kansas City 27-20 last week in the Divisional Round. With a win Sunday against Denver, the Patriots can become the 13th team in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season.

Eight Super Bowl winners won the title game the next year and four lost it.

The teams to reach the Super Bowl after winning it the previous season:

SEASON – SUPER BOWL (WINNER, NEXT SEASON)
1966 – I (Green Bay, won Super Bowl)
1972 – VII (Miami, won Super Bowl)
1974 – XI (Pittsburgh, won Super Bowl)
1977 – XII (Dallas, lost Super Bowl)
1978 – XIII (Pittsburgh, won Super Bowl)
1982 – XVII (Washington, lost Super Bowl)
1988 – XXIII (San Francisco, won Super Bowl)
1992 – XXVII (Dallas, won Super Bowl)
1996 – XXXI (Green Bay, lost Super Bowl)
1997 – XXXII (Denver, won Super Bowl)
2003 – XXXVIII (New England, won Super Bowl)
2013 – XLVIII (Seattle, lost Super Bowl)
2015 – XLXI (New England, ???)

?SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP: In 2015, New England won the AFC East title for the 17th time and has advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the 12th time and fifth straight. The Patriots are 8-3 (.727) in AFC Championship Games all-time.

With a win against Denver on Sunday, New England (eight) can surpass Dallas (eight) and Pittsburgh (eight) for the most Super Bowl berths in NFL history.

Denver (seven) can tie New England, Dallas and Denver for the most Super Bowl berths with a win on Sunday.

The teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:
TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Dallas – 8
Pittsburgh – 8
New England – 8*
Denver – 7*
San Francisco – 6
*Active Sunday

CAROLINA CRUISING: Carolina, who went 15-1 en route to the NFC South division title and the conference’s top seed, hosts Arizona on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

With a win on Sunday, the Panthers will become the ninth team in NFL history to lose one or fewer regular season games and advance to the Super Bowl.

The teams with one or fewer regular season losses to reach the Super Bowl:
TEAM – SEASON (SUPER BOWL REACHED, REGULAR SEASON RECORD)
Oakland Raiders – 1967 (II, 13-1)
Baltimore Colts – 1968 (III, 13-1)
Miami Dolphins – 1972 (VII, 14-0)
Oakland Raiders – 1976 (XI, 13-1)
Washington Redskins – 1982 (XVII, 8-1)*
San Francisco 49ers – 1984 (XIX, 15-1)
Chicago Bears – 1985 (XX, 15-1)
New England Patriots – 2007 (XLII, 16-0)
Carolina Panthers – 2015 (50, 15-1)**
*Nine-game regular season
**Plays Sunday in NFC Championship Game

SUPER COMBINATION: New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have made six Super Bowl appearances together, the most appearances by any head coach-quarterback combination in NFL history.

With a win Sunday against the Broncos, the Patriots can extend their NFL record for the most such Super Bowl appearances.

The head coach-quarterback combinations with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history:
QUARTERBACK/HEAD COACH, TEAM (SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES)
Tom Brady/Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (6)*
Roger Staubach/Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys (4)
Jim Kelly/Marv Levy, Buffalo Bills (4)
Terry Bradshaw/Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
*Active

With a win, Belichick (six) would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (six) as the only head coach to lead their team(s) to seven Super Bowls.

The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls:
HEAD COACH – SUPER BOWL BERTHS
Bill Belichick – 6*
Don Shula – 6
Tom Landry – 5
Five tied with 4
*Active Sunday

TERRIFIC TOM: New England quarterback TOM BRADY has played in 30 career postseason games in his 16-year career. On Sunday at Denver, Brady can surpass ADAM VINATIERI (30) for the most postseason games played in NFL history.

The players with the most postseason games played in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM(S) (POSTSEASON GAMES PLAYED)
Tom Brady – New England (50)*
Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis and New England (30)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle (29)
D.D. Lewis – Dallas (27)
*Plays Sunday in AFC Championship Game

HEISMAN HYPE: Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer will face off against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2002 at the University of Southern California, while Newton, who won the award in 2010 at Auburn, will become the first pair of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in NFL history to start against each other in the playoffs.

AFC TROPHY PRESENTATION:  The Lamar Hunt Trophy will be presented to the winner of the AFC Championship Game.

The late Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and American Football League, helped professional football attain its stature as America’s number 1 sport. In the 10-year history of the AFL, his team posted the most wins (87) and earned berths in two of the first four Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl IV.

In 1972, Hunt became the first person from the AFL to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NFC TROPHY PRESENTATION: The winner of the NFC Championship Game will be presented with the George Halas Trophy.

Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears and a founder of the NFL, is the second-winningest coach in history (324-151-31) behind Don Shula (347-173-6). He won six NFL championships with the Bears and is a charter enshrinee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).
CHAMPIONSHIP GOAL: New England defeated Kansas City 27-20 on Saturday and clinched their fifth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game. It also marks the 12th time the defending Super Bowl champs will appear in a conference championship, the fourth-most all-time since 1970.

​The teams with the most appearances in a Conference Championship Game since 1970:

TEAM – MOST APPEARANCES IN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
Pittsburgh Steelers – 15
San Francisco 49ers – 15
Dallas Cowboys – 14
New England Patriots – 12
Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders – 11

TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS: New England tight end Rob Gronkowski had seven receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 27-20 victory over Kansas City. Gronkowski now has eight career postseason touchdown catches, surpassing Keith Jackson (six), Jay Novacek (six), Vernon Davis (seven) and Dave Casper (seven) for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in postseason history.

The tight ends with the most postseason touchdown receptions in NFL history:

TIGHT END – MOST POSTSEASON TD RECEPTIONS
Rob Gronkowski – 8
Dave Casper – 7
Vernon Davis – 7
Keith Jackson – 6
Jay Novacek – 6

CATCHING ON: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight receptions for 176 yards and a game-winning five-yard touchdown catch in the Cardinals’ 26-20 overtime victory over Green Bay.

Fitzgerald now has 10 touchdowns receptions in his postseason career and is tied for the third-most postseason touchdown receptions in NFL history.

The players with the most postseason touchdown receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – TD RECEPTIONS
Jerry Rice – 22
John Stallworth – 12
Larry Fitzgerald – 10
Fred Biletnikoff – 10
Antonio Freeman – 10
Randy Moss – 10
Hines Ward – 10

The final four teams are set and this Sunday will determine the two teams to play in Super Bowl 50. They are the last ones standing.

“There are only four teams playing next week and we’re one of them,” New England quarterback Tom Brady told the Boston Globe. “The Championship Game means a lot.”

In the first round of the 2015 playoffs, the visiting teams took wins in all four contests. Last week, the home teams got the message, woke up and smelled the coffee and took wins in all four games. Championship Sunday begins with the AFC title game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots in a rematch of a Week 12 overtime thriller won by Denver 30-24. The Broncos defeated Pittsburgh 23-16 in the Divisional round and New England won against Kansas City 27-20. The NFC Championship Game will feature the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers, the first meeting between the clubs since the Panthers defeated the Cardinals in the Wild Card round last year. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Cardinals knocked off the Packers 26-20 in overtime and the Panthers won against the Seahawks 31-24.

With each of the four remaining playoff clubs looking to capitalize on the momentum built this past weekend in hopes of advancing to Super Bowl 50, they’ll have their work cut out for them on Championship Weekend. As for last week, another 3-1 week (not bad), which means that we’re 165-89. A new NFC champ will be crowned this week and there could be a new AFC champ as well when the winners get the Halas and Hunt Trophies at the end of the day. Here are the Sunday afternoon picks for Championship Sunday.

AFC Championship – New England (12-4) at Denver (12-4), 3:05 p.m. on CBS. Their names are as well known as the Beatles.

Manning.

Brady.

Football’s answer to Jabbar vs. Chamberlain.

Ali vs. Frazier.

Connors vs. McEnroe.

You get the picture.

They meet for the 17th time overall and fifth time in playoff history as the defending Super Bowl champs travel west to face off against the Denver Broncos. Both the top seeds enter the early afternoon contest with close wins under their belts and both won at home to set up the matchup for all the marbles and a chance to go to Santa Clara in two weeks time.

New England advanced one step closer to its second Lombarbi trophy as they beat Kansas City 27-20 in Foxboro last Saturday afternoon. Brady and the Patriots led 14-3 at the break and started the scoring in the game when he and TE Ron Gronkowski connected on a 8-yard TD pass. A pair of Chris Santos field goals in the first half made the contest closer before Gronkowski and Brady connected again, this time from 16 yards away. The Chiefs would make a contest of it when RB Charcandrick West scored from a yard away with 73 seconds left to play. Kansas City would then go for the onside kick and fail, allowing New England to recover the ball and run out the clock. The Chiefs did manage to outrush New England 135-38 but Brady outpassed Alex Smith 302-246 in the win at Foxboro. Kansas City was 12 of 20 on third down tries and 1 of 2 on fourth down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 37:51, while the Pats were 6 of 12 on third down, holding the ball for 22:09.

New England head coach Bill Belichick, who has an NFL record 23 playoff victories, will coach in his 10th Conference Championship Game, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry for the most in the Super Bowl era. The Patriots are 6-3 in AFC Championship Games under Belichick. “It’s great to move on to the AFC Championship Game,” Belichick told the Boston Globe. “It’s always an honor to be part of that game. We’re excited about that.”

“It’s pretty special to get back to another AFC Championship Game,” said Brady, who will play in his 10th career Conference Championship Game, the most by any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. “It’s pretty cool. It’s hard to do. You’ve got to grind throughout the entire year.”

The top-seeded Broncos advanced to their 10th AFC Championship Game with a 23-16 win over Pittsburgh last week at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver enters the game with a 7-2 all-time record in AFC Championship Games, including a 5-1 mark at home. That record includes a 26-16 victory over New England in the Broncos’ most recent AFC Championship Game appearance, when Denver Manning passed for 400 yards with two touchdowns to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII. Denver trailed 10-9 at the half and took the lead back for good when Manning led a 13-play, 65 yard drive that used 6:52 of time when RB C.J. Anderson scored on a 1-yard run. Manning and WR Demaryius Thomas then connnected on a two-point conversion to give the home team a 20-13 lead with 3 minutes left in regulation. Broncos kicker Brandon McManus then added a 45-yard field goal to make pull them a little further away with 53 seconds left. It would be a good thing that Denver did tack on those points, because Pittsburgh narrowed the gap to a TD when Chris Boswell connected on a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left. Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick, which Denver recovered and the Broncos ran out the clock for the win. Although they outrushed the Steelers 109-85, Roethlisberger outpassed Manning 339-222, with both being sacked four times (Roethlisberger three times, Manning once) and Denver forced the only turnover in the contest, a fumble by Francis Tousaint, allowing them to take the ball back. Both clubs had problems on third down tries (Pittsburgh was 2 of 12, while Denver was 3 of 15) and both failed in their fourth down tries (the Steelers were 0 of 2, the Broncos were 0 of 1) in the late afternoon affair in Denver, who ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:33 to Pittsburgh’s 28:27.

Manning ranks second in playoff history in passing yards (7,022), completions (619) and attempts (972), trailing only Brady (711 of 1,127 for 7,647 yards) in all three categories. Manning (38) ranks fourth all-time in postseason touchdown passes.

In his first year as head coach of the Broncos, head coach Gary Kubiak guided the team to a 12-4 mark and the conference’s top seed. This week, Kubiak will attempt to become the first head coach to earn a Super Bowl berth in his first season with a team since Jim Caldwell accomplished the feat with Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2009.

“There hasn’t been one way that we’ve won,” Kubiak told KUSA-TV and the Rocky Mountain News. “We’ve kind of won all kinds of different ways. We’ve had a lot of different players contribute to our success when we’ve been successful.”

The game will mark the 17th meeting in the historic rivalry between Manning and Brady. The two quarterbacks have represented the AFC in nine of the past 14 Super Bowls, earning Super Bowl MVP honors in four of those contests.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” says Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller about facing the Patriots. “They’re one of the best teams in the AFC. Let’s go out and play and see who wants to go to the Super Bowl.”

They met in week 12 in the Mile High City and it wasn’t Manning under center in that Sunday night affair. Instead, it was Brock Osweiler who took the snaps for the Orange and Blue, while Manning was nursing a foot injury. New England led 14-7 at the half in a light snowstorm before the Broncos stormed back to take the lead with 69 seconds left in regulation when WR Andre Caldwell and Oswelier connected on a 4-yard TD pass. That lead did not last very long as Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 47-yard field goal as the clock struck :00 to tie things up and send it to overtime. NeW England won the toss to start the overtime but went three and out when Brady threw a pair of incompletions and was sacked. After the Pats punted, Denver took advantange of a somewhat short field as they marched downfield in only three plays, using 1:19 of clock when Anderson, who rushed for 113 yards scored his second TD of the contest, rushing downfield 48 yards untouched for the game-winning score. Denver outrushed New England 179-39 but Brady did outpass his younger counterpart 280-270, throwing three TD passes, connecting with Gronkowski on one of those tosses (both men were sacked three times in the game). Denver in the overtime win was 4 of 16 on third down tries but struck paydirt in their only fourth down attempt, keeping the ball for 36:31, while the Pats were 2 of 13, 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the pigskin for 25:57.

In the week 12 contest on a Sunday night in Denver, the defending Super Bowl champs were favored by 3 1/2 and Denver covered the spread with their 6-point overtime win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and both clubs covered the 45 with 54 points combined. This time, the oddsmakers like the Pats as 3 point favorites with a 44 over/under. After all, it’s Brady vs. Manning. It’s five Super Bowls combined and it’s for the AFC title. That makes this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 56 last June and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Could this be the last time that Manning and Brady hook up? If that’s the case, then you may want to keep the TV on and not change channels until it’s over. New England will make it close but there will be a new AFC champ crowned. Denver pulls the upset and wins at home, although it will be closer than the 3.

NFC Championship – Arizona (13-3) at Carolina (15-1), 6:15 p.m. on FOX. Palmer vs. Newton. Heisman winners meet at Bank of America Stadium Carolina hosts the Arizona Cardinals in the Tar Heel State as the Panthers host their first NFC Championship game in the club’s history.

The Desert Angry Birds advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2008 and the second time during the Super Bowl era. In the Divisional Playoff last week, Arizona defeated Green Bay 26-20 in overtime.

“Sometimes you’ve got to play harder for more than 60 minutes,” says Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians about Arizona’s Divisional victory. “I can’t be prouder of our guys. We get to practice again this week and play another game.”

Cardinals Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight catches for 176 yards and the game-winning overtime touchdown against Green Bay. Fitzgerald, who set up the game-winning score with a 75-yard reception, has 53 catches for 912 yards (114 per game) and 10 touchdowns in eight career postseason games. Fitzgerald’s 10 touchdown receptions in the playoffs are tied for the third-most in NFL history and puts him in some pretty good company, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (22) and John Stallworth (12). Fitzgerald is the fastest player in NFL history (eight games) to reach 10 postseason touchdown receptions.

“It was a great game,” says Fitzgerald, who now has three career postseason games with at least 150 receiving yards, the most such games by any player during the Super Bowl era. “It was a playoff atmosphere and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Palmer, who has won 27 of his past 32 starts, registered his first career postseason win last week. Against the Packers, Palmer passed for 349 yards and three touchdowns, including two to wide receiver Michael Floyd. Palmer set club records this season with 4,671 passing yards, 35 touchdown passes and a 104.6 passer rating.

“It feels good,” Palmer told the Arizona Republic. “But in no way are we done or satisfied. We’re excited about the win and we’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”

Arizona led Green Bay 7-6 at the half and trailed the Packers 13-10 after three quarters of action in Glendale last Saturday night before they would eventually rally to take the lead back when Floyd caught a 9-yard TD pass from Palmer with 3:44 left in regulation and added a 46-yard field goal by Chris Catanzaro with 1:55 left. Green Bay would not be outdone in the desert and with no timeouts left, marched down the field and once again, Aaron Rodgers pulled another rabbit out of his hat, as he let loose a 41-yard desparation toss to WR Jeff Janis as the clock struck :00. That would be the last time that Green Bay would see the football as Arizona would win the toss in overtime and made they way downfield, using only three plays, 80 yards and 65 seconds for Palmer and Fitzgerald to connect with the game-winning score, sending Cardinals fans home happy campers. Green Bay did outrush Arizona 135-40 but Palmer outpaced Rodgers 349-261, with both combining for five TD passes (Rodgers with two, Palmer with three). The Desert Angry Birds were 5 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 30:51 (including the overtime), while Green Bay was 7 of 15 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:14.

The Panthers, who have won 21 of their past 23 games (including the postseason), advanced to their fourth NFC Championship Game with a 31-24 win against the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional round last week. This will be the first time in team history the Panthers will host the NFC Championship Game.

“They say to get something that you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done,” says Newton, who is the only player in NFL history with 30 touchdown passes (35) and 10 rushing TDs (10) in a season. “For us, we’ve never had that vibe in the streets of Charlotte and I expect nothing less than what we saw on Sunday.”

In Carolina’s win against Seattle, Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown, the first postseason interception return for a touchdown in franchise history. Since he entered the league in 2012, Kuechly has 13 interceptions (including the playoffs), the most by a linebacker.

“They are a well-coached football team with a dynamic quarterback,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera about the Cardinals. “They’ve got some playmakers and then they have an aggressive defense. This is a complete team that we will play as well and we have to be on our game.” Carolina led 31-0 at the half before Seattle rallied to outscore the Panthers 24-0 in the final 30 minutes of action. Seattle managed to make the contest a lot closer than Panthers fans would have wanted when Stephen Hauschka connected on a 36-yard field goal with 72 seconds left in regulation. To no one’s suprise, shock or horror, Seattle then tried an onside kick, which landed in Carolina’s hands, allowing the home team to run out the clock and banish Seattle from the post-season. Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart ran for a pair of TDs, while rushing for 106 of the Panthers’ 144 yards (Seattle was held to 78) but Russell Wilson did manage to outpass Newton 366-161, despite throwing a pair of interceptions and five sacks. Carolina, who did not have a fourth down try at home last Sunday, went 8 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 35:38, while Seattle went 5 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 24:22.

They didn’t meet in the 2015 campaign but they have met twice and split the two meetings in the postseason and both contests have taken place in Charlotte, with Arizona winning the first contest in 2008, taking a 33-13 win. The Cardinals have outscored Carolina 49-40 in the two contests. Their last meeting took place in 2014 and Carolina came away 27-16 winners. Carolina trailed 14-13 at the half and Newton threw a pair of TD passes in the second half to take the lead for good, outscoring the Desert Angry Birds in the final 30 minutes of play. Jonathan Stewart ran for 123 of Carolina’s 188 yards in the contest, while the Panther defense held Arizona to 27 yards on the ground, sacking Ryan Lindley four times and picking him off twice. Arizona, who turned the ball over three times, went 3 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 22:54, while Carolina was 5 of 15 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down, while keeping the ball for 37:06.

In the 2014 meeting in the NFC Wild Card game, Carolina was favored by 5 1/2 and the Panthers covered the spread with their win by 11 in the Tar Heel State. The 37 over/under was covered as both clubs combined for 43 points. The oddsmakers like Carolina as 3 point favorites in the Tar Heel State and the over/under is 48. Both numbers make sense. Both teams have a Super Bowl trip under their belts (Carolina’s last trip to the big game was Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, the “wardrobe malfunction game” where they lost to New England 32-29; Arizona’s last Super Bowl visit was Super Bowl XLIII, losing to Pittsburgh 27-23 in Tampa) and both would like another one in their lifetimes. Arizona’s luck is about to run out in the Tar Heel State. They’ll keep the contest close but Carolina’s finer at home and takes the win, covering the 3.