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A Vermonter's guide to Super Bowl Sunday

Two people sitting on tall chairs and holding microphones look at each other during a discussion
Ross D. Franklin
Associated Press
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts speak to the media during the NFL football Super Bowl 57 opening night, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Phoenix. The Kansas City Chiefs will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

It’s time to find a comfortable couch, a big screen and a pile of nachos. The Super Bowl is Sunday, and Vermonters can find plenty of reasons to watch even without the Patriots playing this year.

Here’s what you need to know going into the big game.

This post was adapted from Vermont Edition host Connor Cyrus’ conversation with Mitch Wertlieb, which aired Friday, Feb. 10. 

What are the basics?

Super Bowl 57 is Sunday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs will be facing off at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

What's different about the Super Bowl this year?

The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs were the only teams this season to amass 14 wins. Surprisingly, having the two best regular season records match up in the final game is rare. This will be the sixth time that this has happened since the 1970 merger.

This is also the first time in Super Bowl history that two siblings will face off: Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce is the brother of Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

This year will be the first time two Black quarterbacks will face off in the biggest football game.

“The first Black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl was Doug Williams in 1988. And when you think about it, the Super Bowl started, the first one was in 1967,” said Wertlieb. “So it took that long just to have one Black starting quarterback, now we have two facing each other for the first time ever.”

This is a step forward in terms of the representation of Black athletes in the Super Bowl. This also points to where there are more steps to be taken.

“There are only three Black head coaches in the NFL. And that's ridiculous in a league where 70% of the players are Black,” Wertlieb said.

Who are some key players to know?

“It's all about the quarterbacks in this game,” Wertlieb said. On the Kansas City side, watch quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

“He's a dynamic young player, he's got just a cannon for an arm,” Wertlieb said. Mahomes turned in an outstanding win in 2022’s divisional round playoff against the Buffalo Bills with 13 seconds left on the clock. “That might have been the greatest playoff football game ever in the history of the NFL,” Wertlieb said.

Mahomes has been nursing a high ankle sprain over the last couple of weeks. He’s had some time to rest leading up to the Super Bowl, but it could affect his signature mobility in the game.

Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts is “just as good, also with a very powerful arm and an incredible running quarterback,” Wertlieb said. Hurts led the league for quarterbacks in rushing this year. “And at 24 years old, you're going to be hearing his name a lot in the years to come,” Wertlieb said.

Why Rihanna's halftime show is a big deal 

After turning down an offer to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in 2019, Rihanna is due to take the stage this year for a massive performance.

“This is really exciting because she has not performed in quite some time,” Cyrus said. “She has been working on her beauty brand, Fenty Beauty, and that has really taken off, making her a billionaire.”

It’s been more than six years since Rihanna’s last album release (she did release two songs for the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack). Fans are dying to hear more from her.

More from NPR: Everything leading up to Rihanna's Halftime Show

Are there any Vermont or New England connections to the 2023 Super Bowl?

Joe Thuney is the only player in the Super Bowl this year with ties to New England. After being drafted by the Patriots in 2016, he played five seasons with the squad and won two championships.

Thuney was part of the Patriots team that lost to the Eagles in 2017. Now with the Kansas City Chiefs, he looks to grab his third championship against the reigning NFC champions.

The Patriots have struggled to make it past the wild card stage in the post-Tom Brady era.

“Look, Patriots fans have been spoiled for so long through the Brady years. All those championships, all the playoff appearances, all divisional wins,” Wertlieb said. “It's fine, I think, to let other teams have their glory moment.”

Mitch Wertlieb and Connor Cyrus’ predictions for the outcome and spread

Mitch Wertlieb’s advice: “Pick the team with the city that has the best food.” That means a classic Philly cheesesteak squaring off against Kansas City barbeque (and sauce).

Wertlieb: Philadelphia by 3

Cyrus: Kansas City by 7

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Marlon Hyde was Vermont Public’s first news fellow, from 2021 to 2023.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.