Super Bowl 50 is just around the corner- an event NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has called “an important game for us as a league.” He has vowed to make Super Bowl 50 “spectacular,” which may be a tad difficult to live up to, given the excitement of last years Super Bowl, the caliber of the two teams in this year’s game (with one seemingly poised to blow out the other), and the caliber of the last three halftime shows, which featured extraordinary performances from Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry, respectively. This year’s show is certainly shaping up to be something interesting, however, as Coldplay, the show's headliner, will be accompanied by Beyonce and Mars, who are both performing in their second halftime shows in the last 4 years. It’s really anybody’s guess how this halftime show will shape up. How will it compare with the last 49 halftime shows, though? Today we take a look at the top 10 halftime shows to ever grace the 50 yard line at the NFL's biggest game of the year.
Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, & Missy Elliot- Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
Setlist: "Roar," "Dark Horse," "I Kissed a Girl," "Teenage Dream," "California Gurls," "Get Ur Freak On"/"Work It," "Lose Control," "Firework."
The most recent halftime show performance, Katy Perry had a lot to live up to: Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. However, the pop diva came to play, entering on a GIANT FREAKING LION PUPPET to her powerful single "Roar." Her unexpected duet with Lenny Kravitz on "I Kissed a Girl" worked to perfection, as that may have been the most underrated song in the set. And then there was Missy Elliot. If you're wondering where she's been all this time, we've found her. But for all that, for all the pageantry and dancing and puppets, what is this halftime show remembered for? Left Shark.
Shania Twain, No Doubt, & Sting- Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)
Setlist: "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!," "Up!" "Just a Girl," "Message in a Bottle."
I really, really wanted the Oakland Raiders to win this game. So I was crushed when the score ended up being a 48-21 beating at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The halftime show wasn't half bad, though. When Shania began her lip-synced set with "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" I was sure we were in for a snooze-fest. I was almost asleep when she decided to sing "Up!" However, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt brought the crowd in San Diego to its feet, and Sting followed up with one of my personal favorites, "Message in a Bottle," which he and Stefani sang together to close the set. Pretty solid show, no?
Diana Ross- Super Bowl XXX (1996)
Setlist: "Stop In The Name of Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Baby Love," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "Chain Reaction," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "I Will Survive," "Take Me Higher."
The queen from the Supremes at the Super Bowl gave rousing live renditions of some of her greatest hits out in Arizona in 1996. The most important thing about this halftime show, however, is how Ms. Ross left in a helicopter. Like, a helicopter flew into Sun Devil Stadium, landed, Diana got in it and it flew away. HOMEGIRL LEFT IN A FREAKIN' HELICOPTER.
The Rolling Stones- Super Bowl XL (2006)
Setlist: "Start Me Up," "Rough Justice," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
Give Mick Jagger credit- the 60-plus-year-old (at the time) can still rock like it's 1965. On a massive tongue-shaped set, the Jagger and the Stones powered their way into Detroit's Ford Field, and gave strut-worthy renditions of three of their best. Given, this was only two-years removed from "Nipple-Gate" (which I will get to shortly), so ABC had to air this one on a five-second tape delay, and removed a part of "Start Me Up," that may or may not have been deemed too "controversial for national television."
The Top 10:
10. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- Super Bowl XLIII (2009)
Setlist: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born To Run," "Working on a Dream," "Glory Days."
So, full disclosure- I've never been the biggest fan of The Boss. I always feel like his songs sound the same, and I'm not a fan of his voice. But there's no denying he's been a relevant music figure for the last 40 years, still producing new work, even today. In this Super Bowl halftime show, Springsteen manages to effectively combine both the classics and newer songs into one kickass set. With his concerts typically running at lengths of sometimes up to three hours, the effect is still there even after only two and a half minutes of "Working on a Dream." No doubt a great performer with a legendary career, with a halftime show to match.
9. Janet Jackson, P Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock & Justin Timberlake- Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
Setlist: "All For You," Diddy," "Hot in Herre," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy," "Rhythm Nation," "Rock Your Body."
Who knew that Nelly, P Diddy, and Kid Rock performed in this halftime show too? Say what you want about this halftime show and its controversies. People will be talking about the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" until the end of time. But, MTV did a really great job putting together this halftime show. The hits just kept on coming, one after the other, from Janet's "All For You," to Nelly's "Hot in Herre," to Diddy's "Mo Money Mo Problems," even to JT's "Rock Your Body." It's a really solid halftime show (not to mention an amazing game surrounding it), in hindsight. It's just really a shame that people only remember the last two seconds.
8. The Who- Super Bowl XLIV (2010)
Setlist: "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley," "See Me, Feel Me," "Won't Get Fooled Again."
There is nothing better than seeing rockers who still got it rock an arena full of football fans. The Who is no exception, as they performed during halftime of Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey performed a stunning- both audibly and visually- medley of the band's best songs, including "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley," and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Also, for the first time since Super Bowl XXXIV (whose halftime show is terrible...), there were no paid-to-cheer-and-dance-with-their-hands-in-the-air fans surrounding the stage. I think it would have taken away from the glorious spectacle that was the concert. And that stage though....
7. Michael Jackson- Super Bowl XXVII (1993)
Setlist: "Jam," "Billie Jean," "Black or White," "We Are the World," "Heal the World."
Gone were the days of the marching bands. Gone were the days of Motown cover groups. Gone were the days of showtunes during football games. Gone were the Elvis impersonators doing card tricks (I'm not kidding. Super Bowl XXIII. Elvis Presto. Look it up.). This was the Super Bowl. This was Michael Jackson- the king of pop. MJ (the first to be solely featured in the halftime show) pops up out of the stage, and just stands there in one of his "Dangerous" poses while the fans at the Rose Bowl applauded for over two minutes. He flips his hair. Another thirty seconds of applause. Then came the show itself, which was pure spectacle. This halftime show was, to that point, the most watched in history, and the first where the Super Bowl viewership figures actually increased during halftime. It was Super Bowl XXVII's halftime show that the NFL made a deliberate effort to sign the top tier talents of the day- which gives us a lot of the Super Bowl halftime shows we see today.
6. Prince- Super Bowl XLI (2007)
Setlist: "We Will Rock You," "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby, I'm a Star," "Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower," "Best of You," "Purple Rain."
Again, not the biggest fan of Prince either. I don't really... get him, I suppose. However, this show was killer. In the rain down in Miami, Prince put on a show to remember. I think it may very well be the only halftime show that features a singer-guitarist who can actually shred on it. The Artist Formerly Known As started out with the hits, then broke out into an array of fantastic covers, which included the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Foo Fighters. Keep in mind, this was still only three years removed from "Nipplegate," so it was an odd choice for the NFL to go with Prince here, given the sexual nature of many of his performances. Do we care, really? Not at all. This show was bomb.
5. Aerosmith, Nsync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, & Nelly- Super Bowl XXXV (2001)
Setlist: "Bye Bye Bye," "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," "It's Gonna Be Me," "Jaded," "Walk This Way."
Once again, another solid outing by MTV productions, who put this show together, complete with a pre-recorded skit from Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock. This halftime show came when bubblegum pop was at its peak, hence the appearances of Nsync and Britney. However, the inclusion of Aerosmith, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige tied the show together, in a true collaboration of rock and pop. Nsync began the show with the iconic "Bye Bye Bye," with Steven Tyler following up with a stirring "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Nsync countered with "It's Gonna Be Me," to which Aerosmith responded with their new single, "Jaded." To finish, all of the acts got together to perform a star-studded version of "Walk This Way." This one had just about everything you could want in a multi-star show. Well played, MTV. Well played.
4. Paul McCartney- Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)
Setlist: "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die," "Hey Jude."
This was the year the NFL was nervous. We are one year removed from Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, and MTV has been permanently axed after producing that show. The NFL went with Sir Paul McCartney for this halftime show down in Jacksonville, and the former Beatles bassist did not disappoint. Delivering standards of the Beatles and his own, McCartney brought a needed easiness and a break from controversy to the Super Bowl. His last number, "Hey Jude," featured a massive audience card stunt, in which 78,000 people were on their feet dancing and singing along to the iconic chorus. A pretty cool sight to say the least.
3. Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers- Super Bowl XLVIII (2014)
Setlist: "Locked Out Of Heaven," "Treasure," "Runaway Baby," "Give It Away," "Just the Way You Are."
It's February in New Jersey. The Seahawks are holding a 22-0 lead over the Broncos at halftime. It is understandable if many Denver Broncos fans headed for the exits and missed this one, although they missed one hell of a show. Bruno Mars, fresh of a new album, followed up Beyoncé's legendary show with one of his own, bringing a halftime show filled with fun and excitement to the cold New Jersey night. What began with a sizzling drum solo by Mars' twin brother (yes, he's got a twin brother) turned into a concert that was part James Brown, part Elvis, and part Michael Jackson, with some Four Seasons thrown in for good measure. Mars' dance moves, vocals, and energy were infectious, and bringing out the Red Hot Chili Peppers only upped the excitement. Finally, the show ended with an emotional "Just the Way You Are," which featured pre-recorded messages to home from various U.S. Military personnel. A show filled with so many emotions, I think Bruno Mars followed up his predecessor just fine.
2. Beyoncé- Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Setlist: "Countdown"/"Run The World (Girls)"/"Love On Top," "Crazy in Love," "End of Time," "Baby Boy," "Bootylicious," "Independent Women Part 1," "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," "Halo,"
THIS was a halftime show. The stage was in the shape of Beyoncé's face. There was a silhouette of her that was on fire. Destiny's Child was there. This halftime show had it all. In an adrenaline-packed, emotionally charged performance, Beyoncé took everyone in the Louisiana Superdome and punched them in the face. With a performance of "Crazy in Love," whose energy has never been matched, Queen Bey tore the roof off the place. And that was just the first number. After Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child joined the Queen onstage, the three got back to business where they had left off in the early 2000s, performing "Bootylicious," "Independent Women Part 1," and "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." To top it off, Beyoncé finished with an emotional, deeply personal rendition of "Halo." Need I remind you that this halftime show was so spectacular, the power at the Superdome went out for 34 minutes during the game. The Beyoncé halftime show is the one of the most tweeted-about event of all time, and for good reason. Did I mention she's playing at the Super Bowl again this year? God save the Queen.
1. U2- Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)
Setlist: "Beautiful Day," "MLK," "Where The Streets Have No Name."
In the first Super Bowl after the September 11th attacks, U2 came into the Louisiana Superdome and performed one of the most moving tributes to America and the victims of 9/11 ever. The Irish rockers, fresh off a new album and subsequent world tour, opened with their brand new single "Beautiful Day," with Bono entering through the crowd. The band followed up with the poingant lullaby "MLK." As the second number began, the names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks scrolled upward on a massive black curtain. Finally, the band concluded with "Where The Streets Have No Name," where Bono altered a few of the lyrics to evoke hopefullness and peace, throwing in a few allusions to the city of New Orleans itself (not to mention softly uttering the words to Psalm 51 during the intro of the song). A truly wonderful moment for a nation still in immense pain. The ending of the show is the absolute best- Bono opening up his jacket to reveal a stars-and-stripes inner lining. Chills and tears. The best halftime show in the last 49 years of the Super Bowl.
What Super Bowl halftime shows were your favorite? Leave a comment down below.
I had a dream last night that I missed the game today.
I had a dream that last night, that the Patriots ended up defeating the Broncos, 35-24, and would move on to Super Bowl 50 out in Santa Clara.
Of course, this was a dream. And, in reality, the Patriots are not moving on to the Super Bowl in 2 weeks time. So as I put away my Tom Brady jersey for the next 8 months, and have the NFC Championship game in the background, it's time to reflect on the fine piece of football I just witnessed.
So the Broncos controlled a lot of the first half of the game. Peyton Manning came out slinging the ball all over the field, which the Patriots were just not prepared for. The Patriots had too much faith in their offense, and weren't able to move the ball effectively on their opening drive. Denver got the ball and quickly went to work. 7-0, Denver early.
If it weren't for the Patriots defense (and a few lucky breaks), this game might have been 31-9 at halftime. Peyton Manning's failed lateral ended up as points for the Patriots, however, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point. 7-6, Denver.
Peyton Manning goes back to work and shreds the Patriots on third down (Denver was 6-17 on third down. Not spectacular, but better than the Patriots, who were only 2 for 15). Just like that, a quarterback with only one touchdown pass at home all season suddenly has 2 in the AFC title game. 14-6, Denver. The teams exchange field goals, and it's 17-9 at halftime.
One more time trading field goals, and we sit at 20-12 with 2 minutes to play. The Patriots come down to the 1, end up with the touchdown, but don't get the 2-point conversion to tie the game with 12 seconds to play. 20-18, Denver. Peyton Manning goes on to his 4th Super Bowl, his second as a Denver Bronco.
So, things to take away from this game:
1. Patriots MVP: The entire defensive unit.
Without various defensive stops for New England, this game wouldn't have been close. Actually, the game really wasn't as close as the score indicated, but the defense gave New England hope. Time and time again, the Patriots stopped the Broncos on third down. Given, they still converted four more times than the Patriots did, but still. The game, at least on the scoreboard, was never out of reach for New England, Denver was never able to get more than 8 points ahead. In the fourth quarter alone, the defense gave the offense multiple chances to tie the game. First around the 10 minute mark, then again at the 5:30 (or so) mark, then again at the 2-minute warning, when Amendola's punt put the Patriots in position at the fifty-yard line. If the phrase "Defense wins championships" held true at any time, it definitely held true in this game for the Patriots.
2. Broncos MVP: Von Miller.
So there was just no way to stop Von Miller today, plain and simple. The guy was everywhere. He had 2.5 sacks, an interception, and was just there on multiple attempts to stop the Patriots (and I think he might have even been there on the 2-point conversion- not that I'm going to sit through it again) on critical third down situations. The offensive line looked like shit on the right side, with Marcus Cannon getting beat by Miller on almost every pass play. New England really missed Nate Solder in this game, who was gone for the year with a torn bicep. But even if you were going to switch lineman assignments, and have Cannon switch with Sebastian Vollmer on the other side, DeMarcus Ware would have beaten Cannon on every play, and we'd have blind side hits on #12 left and right. Offensive line issues aside, hats off to Von Miller today. He came to play, and New England was just too overwhelmed and undermanned to handle him.
3. Julian Edelman being on the field does not equal automatic production.
Let's be clear on this. Yes, the Patriots were able to beat the Chiefs in the annual "Tomato Can Game," as Dan Shaughnessy calls it. Kansas City had played almost NOBODY in their 10-game win streak. The two teams they beat that were good down the stretch were Pittsburgh (who had no Ben Roethlisberger), and Denver (the game where Manning threw 5 picks). Other than that, it was Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Cleveland. So when Brady comes out in the Divisional game and throws short ball after short ball to Edelman, that doesn't mean that the offense is suddenly back. What it comes down to, and we saw this in the game today, is the play of the offensive line, which was in shambles against Ware and Miller. Brady took too many hits today, and wasn't able to get the ball to his receivers, who were also masterfully covered by Wade Phillips' secondary. I mean sure, the Broncos had some key players go down late like Wolfe and TJ Ward, giving a little bit of leeway for Brady to throw, but the majority of the game was won by Denver up at the line of scrimmage. Edelman had 7 catches for 53 yards in this game. Against Kansas City, he had 10 catches for 100 yards. It doesn't matter if Julian Edelman is back, and the offense was flying high again. One player can't do it all.
4. You cannot blame Stephen Gostkowski for this loss.
I mean, you absolutely can blame Stephen Gostkowski for this loss. The extra point was literally the difference in this game. Everyone who was livid at the new extra point rule obviously didn't live in New England, as Gostkowski hadn't missed an extra point since 2006. But the new rule eventually came back to haunt the Patriots, as the potential game-tying field goal sailed wide right. However, I think of the Seattle-Minnesota game and Blair Walsh's missed field goal. You can't blame the kicker for this shit, especially when he accounted for ALL of your team's points. Gostkowski kept the Patriots in this game, scoring 6 of the 18 points in this game. If he doesn't hit the field goal to make it 17-12, this game is over when CJ Anderson bursts through the line for a gain of 30, and McManus puts it through to make it 20-9 with 10 minutes to go (or worse, Manning throws his 3rd touchdown of the game, which would have made it 24-9). I don't blame Gostkowski for this loss. Kicking field goals ain't easy, and no one's perfect. Also, he got us that win over the Giants, so I give him a free pass on this one. He's still the best kicker in football. Everyone has a screwup moment, it's just unfortunate that this one came in the AFC Championship.
5. Bill Belichick actually could have used his kicker TWICE in the 4th and won the game.
Fourth and 1 from the Denver 16. 20-12. If Belichick sends Gostkowski onto the field for a 33 yard field goal (Gostkowski's not missing two of those in one game), it's 20-15. He could have even done it AGAIN when it was 4th and 6 at the Denver 14. 20-18. Instead, Belichick opts to go for it twice, and gets stuffed both times. In both instances, New England stopped Denver for a 3-and-out: as in THREE plays. On BOTH drives. The game could have easily been won, 21-20.
6. Can we blame the two losses at the end of the year for this loss NOW?
I think we can. You decided to rest up and play for health instead of playoff seeding and look where it got you- a seat on the couch on February 7th. You had to win ONE game out of your last two. You had to win THREE games, basically out of your last SIX, and you couldn't. The loss at Miami is unforgivable, in hindsight. The Dolphins didn't want to win that game. If you win any of those four games (at Denver- which I understand the loss to, Philadelphia- another unforgivable loss, New York- which I understand the loss to, and Miami- *shakes head in disgust*), the AFC title game is in New England, and you might be going back to the Super Bowl. But you're not. I really hope Bill decides to think a little differently next year if he's in this position.
7. This is Peyton Manning's last season in Denver.
And, if he wins the Super Bowl (which I highly doubt), it will be his last season in the NFL. If the San Diego Chargers hadn't freaked out when Manning came in the game in week 17, perhaps we would have a different story, and the AFC Title Game would have been in New England. But they didn't, and it wasn't. Say what you want about Brock Osweiler, the kid's good, and the Denver offensive system really works for him. Peyton Manning's age is a liability. He looked pretty good today, but who's to say that he won't show up next season and do the same thing all over again? I don't think the Broncos are too interested in having that happen to him and their team again. I think Manning will be back for at least one more year, but it will be with another team.
8. What do the Patriots need to do this offseason?
Really take a look at your damn offensive line, that's what. Find a way to protect your quarterback, that's what. Get some new offensive weapons, that's what. Best case scenario: the Patriots will go out and get Calvin Johnson, who has made it evident that he doesn't want any part of being in Detroit anymore. Also, this is Anquan Boldin's final year in San Francisco. This was Brandon LaFell's last game in a Patriot uniform. And you think they're gonna rely on the deep ball to Keyshawn Martin? Keep dreaming. They're going to be looking to get better on the offensive line, which was PITIFUL today, and for much of the season. Brady's getting older and you need to protect him better. They had a chance to get Russell Okung from Seattle, and I was surprised it didn't go through. Additionally, they're going to lose both LaGarrette Blount and Stephen Jackson. Look for the Patriots to find some new running backs in this year's draft.
9. The Super Bowl is going to be a blowout.
Sorry, guys. The NFC Champion is going to blow out the Denver Broncos. Sure, the Denver defense is good, but the offense really sucks something else. If Carolina's in the Super Bowl, and they get rolling early, see ya later. If it's Arizona, they can wear you down on offense and defense. Peyton Manning doesn't have a prayer in this game. It might be "close" on the scoreboard, but the NFC Champion is going to roll over the AFC Champion. Or maybe I'm just bitter. Hopefully the former.
10. Final Takeaway: The better team won today.
I mean, it's simple, but it's true. Could the Patriots have won this game? Absolutely. Does it sting the the Broncos won? Absolutely it does. But the better team won today, guys. There were no bogus, game-deciding calls. With the exception of the missed extra point, the game came right down to the wire, right down to a game-tying two-point conversion- so there were no "oh, THAT'S where the game was lost" plays in the second or third quarters. The Patriots looked so bad on offense because the Broncos looked so damn good on defense. You can't win if you don't score points. You can't score points if you can't move the ball. You can't move the ball if the other team's defense is down your quarterback's throat and his targets are covered all the time. Sure, things might have been easier for New England if they decided to be smarter about certain things, like deciding what to do on 4th down. But overall, I think the Broncos came in for this game ready to face the animal that was the Patriots. They wanted it more, and they played better. The Patriots' weaknesses were laid out for you clear as day in this game: Poor offensive line play, which resulted in lots and lots of defensive pressure on Tom Brady, plus an inability to run the ball effectively; and not allowing Brady's quick receivers to get open. With no real deep threat, and having two or three guys on Gronk, all you really need to do is cover Edelman and Amendola, which Talib and Harris did a great job of today. Put pressure on Tom Brady, and the game is won. That's all there is. Better luck next year, boys.
A look at the 2016 NFL Playoffs- Can anybody beat Carolina? Is Peyton Manning finally back? Are people underestimating Seattle? Are the Patriots really in trouble?
I'm not happy. I'm just not happy with the way things went down in week 17 of the NFL season. I mean sure, I won my fantasy league, but at the end of the day, it's really just a fake game, in a fake league, full of people I don't even know, that I joined on a while, for no prize or money (because my other league- the one that actually counted- I had the best record and lost in the first round, thanks to 46 points put up by one Cam Newton). So I'm upset. The Patriots played about as well on Sunday as the Bruins did in the Winter Classic. All they had to do was win ONE game. And they lost. For the second time. In a row. For the second time this season (Is this what fans of normal NFL teams go through?). Denver's favorite son came off the bench and led his team to victory, as well as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is the same group that, three weeks ago, had lost something like three in a row and were on pace to miss the playoffs altogether. Now, with Manning back and the Patriots spiraling out of control... I'm not happy.
That said, there are a few things to look forward to this NFL postseason. We get to see a Pittsburgh Steelers team that just squeaked into the playoffs (thank you Rex Ryan- even when he's not coaching them, he's helping the Jets miss the playoffs), but I believe will be very dangerous down the stretch. We'll get to see a Kansas City Chiefs team play, a team that many think could be very dangerous. Also on the AFC side are the Cincinnati Bengals, who may be getting their star QB back. On the NFC side, we've got teams like Seattle. Seattle is dangerous, maybe not in the same way they were last season, but still a very real threat. We've got teams like Minnesota and Green Bay, who are coming off an epic NFC North division showdown, eager to prove their worth against Seattle and an upstart Washington team, respectively, who is somewhat of a dark horse heading into these playoffs. Finally, there's Arizona and Carolina- two very, very good football teams.
So what of the Patriots and Broncos, anyway? I've been trying to rationalize the results of Sunday and the playoff implications surrounding them. So the Patriots need to win to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC, thus sealing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If New England loses, all Denver needs to do is beat San Diego at home to clinch the #1 seed and home field, bumping New England to #2.
New England goes with a more conservative approach, with the typically passing-potent Tom Brady only throwing the ball five times in the first half. I'm under the impression that in order to win this game, New England was trying to establish the run (which they failed miserably at), and beat the Dolphins in one half (which they also failed miserably at).With no Julian Edelman and a limited Danny Amendola, Brady had no quickness in his wide receiver corps, and with a struggling offensive line, had to use tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler to pass block whenever he took shots down the field to Brandon LaFell and Keyshawn Martin- which were far and few in between. It also doesn't help the fact that Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal that would have made it 6-3 New England, and may have also made it 20-13 Miami with 2 minutes to go (giving Brady a chance to tie the game) instead of 20-10 and the game being all but over. The Patriots keep blaming these losses on injuries. That might work, if it didn't look so obvious that they wanted to lose this game.
So New England loses. All Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos need to do is win at home against San Diego. And for the first 10 minutes, it looked like it was going to be all Denver, with Osweiler hitting Demariyus Thomas for a 72-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage. However, San Deigo held fast, holding Denver only to a touchdown and putting up 6 points of their own, while forcing six Denver turnovers. San Diego took a 13-7 lead in the third quarter- until Gary Kubiak took Osweiler out, replacing him with some unknown backup, a five-time NFL MVP named Peyton Manning. From there it was all but over. San Diego made it interesting, but Denver's run game, with the addition of Manning being able to read defenses and change plays the line sunk the Chargers. This all comes with the simple fact that the Chargers had a total of 7 points off turnovers. SEVEN. They had almost as many turnovers as points converted off of those turnovers. The league's #1 defense sure didn't look like the league's #1 defense (given, San Diego's offensive line is shot) giving up 20 points to the Chargers, but COME ON. Seven points is inexcusable, especially when you have SIX forced turnovers, five in the first half.
So Denver wins, they clinch the #1 seed, New England gets bumped to #2. I reiterate- I'm upset.
So, I guess we should get to the main point of the article- the playoffs. Some interesting matchups on Wild Card weekend.
Wild Card Weekend (Saturday, 1/9 & Sunday, 1/10):
#5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #4 Houston Texans (9-7)- 4:35 p.m. (ESPN/ABC)
Houston plays in a terrible division, the AFC South. Sure, they had a hot streak about two thirds of the way through the season, but they were playing teams like the Jets, Titans, Colts, Jaguars, and Saints, and their quarterback is also Brian Hoyer. Kansas City's offensive line is too good for Houston's defensive line (J.J. Watt can't do everything), and they'll not only clear the way for the running game, but be able to block for Alex Smith (who can also scramble out of the pocket if need be). Houston will make it interesting (at least on the scoreboard), but this one will be all Kansas City, who will win their first playoff game since 1993.
Prediction: Kansas City 27, Houston 17.
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)- 8:15 p.m. (CBS)
Pittsburgh is a dangerous team. Cincinnati, at this point, doesn't have a quarterback. Cincy also hasn't won a playoff game since 1990, and has lost in the Wild Card round of each of the last four seasons. Even without RB DeAngelo Williams, Ben Roethlisberger looks like the best QB in the AFC, and he and Antonio Brown will destroy you. Andy Dalton plays, but is pushed to return too early and is very close to ineffective. Pittsburgh goes on the road, looking for vengeance against their AFC North opponents and takes care of business.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 23.
#6 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at #3 Minnesota Vikings (10-6)- 1:05 p.m. (NBC)
When I first saw that the Packers could have this spot as the #3 seed, I thought about what a great matchup that would be: Russell Wilson returns to Lambeau Field and seeks vengeance against an ailing Packers team that beat him in week two. However, Seattle instead gets to deal with the frigid cold of TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota. While no one is exactly afraid of Seattle's defense anymore, all they really need to do is stop Adrian Peterson, as Teddy Bridgewater isn't capable enough to pick apart the remains of the Legion of Boom. Russell Wilson is going to throw bombs to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. All day, baby, all day. Seattle rolls and moves on to Carolina.
Prediction: Seattle 38, Minnesota 14.
#5 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #4 Washington Redskins (9-7)- 4:40 p.m. (FOX)
Green Bay is ailing. Washington also comes from a terrible division, the NFC North. They're basically here because every other team in that division wet the bed. This is the game I care least about, actually. Washington's been playing really good football lately, and the Packers have not, losing their last two. Green Bay just barely squeaks by in this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Washington 24 (OT).
Divisional Weekend (Saturday, 1/16 & Sunday 1/17):
#5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #2 New England Patriots (12-4)- 4:35 p.m. (CBS)
This game could go one of two ways here. Either the Patriots come back with all of their players healthy from injury and destroy the Chiefs, or the Chiefs will be ready for the Patriots, overpowering them and taking it to them at home. I want to be safe here and say that the Patriots were playing more for health's sake than for seeding on Sunday against Miami. But the supposed injury to Tom Brady is something to worry about. People say that the AFC is still New England's to lose; I think it was lost about two weeks ago against the Jets. New England loses their third game in a row for the first time since 2002.
Prediction: Kansas City 35, New England 33.
#5 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3)- 8:15 p.m. (NBC)
Arizona has had a chance to rest up, while Green Bay is still reeling from the overtime bout with Washington. Carson Palmer's got too many weapons for Green Bay to handle, and the Arizona defense is too good, even without Tyrann Mathieu. Honey badger don't care about Aaron Rodgers. Arizona goes to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2008.
Prediction: Arizona 41, Green Bay 27.
#6 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at #1 Carolina Panthers (15-1)- 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
By far, the most interesting matchup in the postseason thus far. Carolina won in Seattle in week six earlier this year. Seattle was a different team then than they are now, of course, but I don't think that should change. The presence of a cornerback who can actually cover receivers (I speak of course, of Carolina's Josh Norman) will benefit Carolina greatly, as the Panthers can use a variety of defensive packages to both cover the Seattle receivers, and contain Russell Wilson, who is the best QB in the NFC right now. Wilson will need to play a really good football game against a very tough, healthy Carolina defense. Panthers dab their way to the NFC title game.
Prediction: Carolina 31, Seattle 27.
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #1 Denver Broncos (12-4)- 4:40 p.m. (CBS)
I take it back- this is the most interesting matchup in the postseason. I think Kubiak goes with Peyton Manning to start this game, and Denver begins to chug along on all cyllinders- their offensive unit can be a juggernaut when it gets going, since Manning's got 15 million targets and two incredible running backs in Hillman and Anderson. However, if Pittsburgh can get to Manning and/or force a turnover or two, the game will swing the other way. I think the Broncos have backed themselves into a corner with this quarterback situation- one might be too old and volatile, the other is too young and inexperienced. I give the edge to Pittsburgh in this one.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Denver 20.
Championship Sunday (1/24)
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)- 3:35 p.m. (CBS)
Who knew. The two teams were fighting for a playoff spot at the end of the season will now be fighting it out for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I think crowd noise will be a factor here. Arrowheads Stadium is loud, and the Kansas City faithful want another championship run for their city (as they come across the parking lot from Kaufmann Stadium where the Royals just won the World Series). Kansas City started the season at 1-5, and has won its last 10 heading into the playoffs. This is not the team you want to mess with. If DeAngelo Williams is indeed out, that could spell trouble for the Pittsburgh run game, leaving Ben Roethlisberger to have to throw the ball a lot. The Chiefs defense can figure out how to stop Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton. Kansas City goes to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970.
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Pittsburgh 17.
#2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3) at #1 Carolina Panthers (15-1)- 6:40 p.m. (FOX)
It all comes down to this- the two best teams in the NFC, and possibly the NFL. Arizona and Carolina have not faced each other this regular season, so neither has had any experience other than game film. The two teams are just about even on both sides of the ball, with two MVP-candidate QBs in Carson Palmer and Cam Newton, as well as the defensive side of the ball. When you don't know any of the guys' names on defense, and they're 15-1 and 13-3, you have to assume they're pretty good. Very much like cornerbacks. I think Darrelle Revis is so good because you never hear about him during games- because the opposing QBs are always afraid to throw in his direction. However, I give the edge to Arizona in this game. They got decimated at home against Seattle, but then were playing merely for health instead of seeing. Carson Palmer likes to spread the field out and throw to his many, many wide out options. On top of that, Arizona's David Johnson has become a folk hero in his own right. It'll be either a shootout or a defensive struggle. I'm opting for the former.
Prediction: Arizona 45, Carolina 41.
Super Bowl 50: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA- Sunday, 2/7
#2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3) vs. #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)- 6:30 p.m. (CBS)
The biggest Super Bowl in history, represented by two franchises that, ten years ago, nobody thought would be here. In this matchup here, I have to go with Arizona. The Cards' defense is too good for any of the weapons that Alex Smith can throw to. Alex Smith, Charcandrick West, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce in the Super Bowl? Come on. The road warrior, the 36-year-old Carson Palmer, picks apart the Chiefs defense to win his first Super Bowl and MVP award.
Prediction: Arizona 38, Kansas City 17.
I enjoy making lists, countdowns, and making sense of the world that I see around me.