Sunday's Super Bowl figures to cap a banner year for the NFL's TV ratings

With Peyton Manning being face of the NFL and much intrigue about the weather, Sunday's game might set viewership record.

It has been another blockbuster season for the NFL on television, and Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII has a chance to set a record in terms of viewers.

While Seattle and Denver are not exactly marquee cities when it comes to ratings-getters, this Super Bowl has two big things going for it — Peyton Manning and the game's location.

Manning is the face of the NFL right now, and maybe, the face of sports.

Who else does more commercials than the Broncos' quarterback?

Tom Brady has been more successful overall, but doesn't have the easy-going personality of Manning, who plays as well on the wide screens in our living rooms as he does on NFL fields.

The fact that he has had as much failure as success in big games makes his story even more compelling, as does the fact that most people thought his career was done after he suffered a severe neck injury.

America loves a comeback story, especially one forged by what seems to be a likable, media-savvy guy who has a clean record in terms of image.

Plus, Manning has had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history and the Broncos have one of the game's all-time best offenses and they're going against the NFL's best defense.

These two teams have the best records in the league and were Super Bowl favorites even before the season began.

Mix in the Richard Sherman factor and this game would sell even if was played in Siberia.

Then you throw in the New York angle and the fact this is the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather city and you add even more intrigue and viewers who are curious to see the conditions as much as who wins the game.

After all, what is the one thing that people talk about the most and the one thing that ties us all together?

The weather, of course.

"The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" is one of the most uttered lines in NFL history and when you think NFL history, the images from the famous Ice Bowl game — the 1967 NFL title game between the Cowboys and the Packers — resonate as well as any game ever played.

It doesn't look like the weather will be an issue on Sunday. There will be no snow-globe effect that seems to be so popular when the NHL plays its Winter Classic games outdoors.

However, the elements will still add to the curiosity factor of this one.

The all-time Super Bowl record for viewers was set by New England and the Giants two years ago at 111.3 million.

Last year's game dipped to 108.4 million viewers, but interest in this league has never been greater.

Here are a few bullet points from the NFL to highlight that fact:

•The 2013 regular season averaged 17.6 million viewers per game telecast, the second-most-watched season ever behind the 2010 season (17.9 million).





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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