Today is the 8,779th day since the Cincinnati Bengals last appeared in the Super Bowl -- a gut-crushing and heart-splitting 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Yes. The same 49ers playing Cincinnati's intra-divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday. The Bengals have had their opportunities, with the 2005 squad expressing a sense of destiny prior to Carson Palmer's injury. Unfortunately the team's postseason efforts in three of the past four years have been fairly insignificant. So for another Super Bowl our couches are filled with bodies, half-eaten bags of chips while the overflowing trash can is a coloring book of empty two liters, crushed cans and the favorite meals that were exhausted well before kickoff.
When the world's media crashed the New Orleans party this week, an overflow of overexposed storylines, and even controversy, ballooned. This year involved homophobia, deer antlers, apologizes, denials and the promise of sensitivity classes. True with mostly every team in the NFL, there is a local flavor. Former Bengals Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Bobbie Williams are looking for their first rings. Everyone has a story -- did you know that the head coaches are brothers? -- an interesting perspective, heading into the biggest event on the NFL schedule. Bigger than the NFL draft. Bigger than opening weekend.
Because that's what this is. An event, long departed from the comfortable routine of a typical NFL weekend -- those days of normalcy and simplicity that began with waking up, enjoying some pregame, ordering a pizza while concluding a series of football games, are over.
Now it's about prop bets, recipes and commercials with the quality that's long declined from funny and appealing to just above what you see during afternoon Soap Operas. Players answer the same questions for over a week, with the momentary annoyance of practice reports built around events. It's a celebration void of discussion about what's being celebrated. Every fan wants their team to play in the Super Bowl. But if you're one of the 30 remaining NFL teams, then it's an exhaustive shrug of the shoulders that parts internal interest and resolves to making sure you complete the final game of the season after watching close to 100 games.
Yet when the game kicks off the storylines fade into strategy and matchups. Will the Baltimore Ravens find a solution to contain Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers rushing offense or are they facing a significant disadvantage against one of the league's strongest offensive lines? Can San Francisco's pass rush pressure Joe Flacco or will he have enough time to find Torrey Smith deep? Will the self-proclaimed greatest wide receiver in NFL history win his first ring? These are the pregame stories that interest us the most.
- Baltimore Ravens (10-6 regular season) vs. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1 regular season)
- Date: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS (BBC, Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and CTV in Canada. A full list of international broadcasters is available here.)
- Live stream: CBS.com starting at 6 p.m. EST
- Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, sideline reporters Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots
- Dial Global radio announcers: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason
- Point spread: 49ers -3.5
- Money line: Ravens +140, 49ers -170
- Over/under: 47.5
- Picks: 49ers
- Lots of Super Bowl prop bets
- Previews of the Super Bowl commercials
- Tasty Super Bowl recipes and food ideas
- National anthem: Alicia Keys (Make sure you check out the prop bet on this)
- Super Bowl halftime show: Beyonce