Let's say you know that the wine that best pairs with the bean dip served at your Super Bowl Party is sangiovese.
Let's also stipulate that you are aware that of all the songs in the catalog of the halftime act, the only Who song co-written by Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey was "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere."
Your problem is, you know next to nothing about the game itself. Well, maybe you know the broad outlines. You have heard that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is adept at orchestrating late-game comebacks, and that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees led the top offense in football.
What you need is the type of Super Bowl tipsheet to strap on your forearm and consult when there's a lull in the conversation.
So here, we give you some Super Bowl conversation starters (or, depending on your consumption of sangiovese and your volume as you sing along with Who songs, potential conversation killers):
1) The Saints were established in 1967 and scored a touchdown the first time they fielded the ball. But they lost the game. Then they lost the next game. Then they lost the next five games. They won three times that first season, and didn't enjoy a winning season for the first 20 years of their existence. Their best player was a quarterback by the name of Archie Manning, who you might know as the father of ...
2) Peyton Manning, who has quarterbacked the Indianapolis Colts to double-digit wins in 10 of the last 11 seasons. The Indianapolis Colts had never won more than nine games in a season in the 15 years before Peyton Manning showed up. That streak extends to 21 seasons if you include the Colts' time in Baltimore. Oh, and speaking of Baltimore ...
3) Colts owner Jim Irsay is the son of Robert Irsay, who moved the Colts out of Baltimore under cover of darkness in 1984. It ripped the heart out of that eastern city, and Jim has for years tried to live down his father's reputation as a crass and often cruel businessman. Jim, who enjoys poetry and rock 'n' roll, bought the original scroll that Jack Kerouac used to write On the Road. The Colts, by the way, are a much better team at home than on the road.
4) The Saints receive around $6 million a year from the state of Louisiana, the only team to receive a direct payment from their state. The Saints' owners have argued, plausibly so, that the lack of Fortune 500 companies located in New Orleans hurts their ability to sell luxury suites. As a result, they could generate more income in a city like San Antonio. Rumors of the Saints leaving town have long haunted the Big Easy.
5) Only six Saints players, and none of their coaches, were on the team when Hurricane Katrina hit. But Drew Brees cited his desire to help the city when he decided to sign with New Orleans as a free agent in 2005.
6) Colts center Jeff Saturday was undrafted out of college, but has been a fixture for the past decade. The four-time pro-bowl selection is so close to Manning, that as Peyton watched his brother Eli win Super Bowl XLII, he was constantly phoning Saturday from the stadium. The two almost always know what the other is thinking, and Saturday is responsible for making the Colts' entire offensive line gel.
7) Listed at 6 feet tall (in college, he was listed as 6'1") Brees is among the shortest starting quarterbacks in the game. To compensate for his inability to see over the monstrous linemen in front of him, Brees has a keen knowledge of the game, and also has exquisite "touch" — an ability to drop a pass into a narrow window better than just about any quarterback in the NFL.
8) Saints defensive back Darren Sharper, along with Manning and Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, were named to the NFL's All-Decade team a few days ago. Sharper, who played in a Super Bowl as a member of the Green Bay Packers, is sixth on the all-time list for interceptions, and this year set the single-season record for most return yards after an interception. When you think about it, Sharper was the team's fifth-leading receiver and tied for third, having caught three touchdowns off the quarterback's hands. Unfortunately, it was the other team's quarterback.