For some people, the Super Bowl halftime show is almost as important as the actual game (I try to steer clear of these people), however it is something that happens, so I decided to rank all of them and publish my Top 20 Super Bowl Halftime Shows EVER! If there's any you don't remember or like the look of, why not give them a watch?
20. Shania Twain, Sting & No Doubt (Super Bowl XXXVII)
19. Diana Ross (Super Bowl XXX)
18. Paul McCartney (Super Bowl XXXIX)
17. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly & N'Sync (Super Bowl XXXV)
16. The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Queen Latifah, Boyz II Men (Super Bowl XXXII)
15. The Blues Brothers, James Brown & ZZ Top (Super Bowl XXXI)
14. Stevie Wonder (Super Bowl XXXIII)
13. The Who (Super Bowl XLIV)
12. The Rolling Stones (Super Bowl XL)
11. Bruce Springsteen (Super Bowl XLIII)
10. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Nelly & Jessica Simpson (Super Bowl XXXVIII)
9. U2 (Super Bowl XXXVI)
8. Madonna (Super Bowl XLVI)
7. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Super Bowl XLII)
6. Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Super Bowl XLVIII)
5. Lady Gaga (Super Bowl LI)
4. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz & Missy Elliott (Super Bowl XLIX)
3. Beyoncé & Destiny's Child (Super Bowl XLVII)
2. Michael Jackson (Super Bowl XXVII)
1. Prince (Super Bowl XLI)
Many say that anything can happen in the Super Bowl, but what crazy things could we see this year? Well I've made some bold predictions for the big one in Minnesota. If any of these actually happen then I think I probably deserve God status, right?
1. Jay Ajayi rushes for 200 yards
2. Tom Brady is held under 150 passing yards
3. Chris Hogan scores 4 touchdowns
4. Dion Lewis scores 2 kick return touchdowns
5. Jake Elliott hits a 62+ yard field goal
6. The Patriots run two fake punts
7. Both teams score over 45 points
8. Chris Long gets 3.5 sacks and breaks the Super Bowl sack record
9. Malcolm Butler wins the game with a last second interception
10. The Patriots have no penalties called on them
On Sunday February 4th, the Philadelphia Eagles are taking on the New England Patriots for the chance to be named the Super Bowl champions in Minneapolis. These teams have been the best two outfits in the NFL this season, but what if you could combine their respective rosters to create an ultimate Super Bowl starting lineup? Well I have done just that, enjoy!
QB - Tom Brady (NE)
If Carson Wentz was healthy then this would have undoubtedly been a tougher decision, but Brady is the GOAT and Nick Foles most definitely isn't.
RB - Jay Ajayi (PHI)
Dion Lewis pushed Ajayi close for this spot but I felt the London born half-back's power gave him the edge, despite his fumble issues.
WR - Alshon Jeffery (PHI)
The former Bears wideout has come up big for the Eagles in the important moments this year and I feel he can continue his streak of clutch catches in the most important game of all.
WR - Brandin Cooks (NE)
I was tempted to put Danny "Playoff" Amendola in this slot but I felt Cooks' ability to go vertical and stretch the field was too much to ignore.
TE - Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Gronk might just be the greatest tight end of all time and, although Zach Ertz is an elite player, there was no way that this spot wasn't going to him.
Flex - Zach Ertz (PHI)
There were quite a few players I could have given the flex title to (Amendola, Lewis and Agholor to name a few) but Ertz was one of the most consistent tight ends in the NFL this season and deserves a starting role.
LT - Nate Solder (NE)
Vaitai has been solid for the Eagles since coming in to replace Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters but Solder edges this one, just.
LG - Joe Thuney (NE)
A tough decision again but I think Thuney's athleticism gives him the upper hand over Wisniewski.
C - Jason Kelce (PHI)
The older Kelce brother has been one of the best centre's in the league this year and was even given an award by Pro Football Focus for his performance in 2017, he was an obvious choice for this spot.
RG - Brandon Brooks (PHI)
The Pro Bowl guard had no competition here.
RT - Lane Johnson (PHI)
Probably the best right tackle in the NFL, simple as that.
DE - Brandon Graham (PHI)
Graham had a career high 9.5 sacks this year and is the best edge rusher on either team.
DE - Trey Flowers (NE)
Almost all of the Patriots pass rush comes from this man and he'll be hoping to make Foles uncomfortable in the Super Bowl.
DT - Fletcher Cox (PHI)
After Aaron Donald, I'd say Cox is the next best interior D-linemen in the league and will be key to bringing the inside pressure on Brady on Sunday night.
DT - Timmy Jernigan (PHI)
This was close for me as Malcolm Brown has also had a very good year for the Pats, but the former Ravens player is a great compliment to Fletcher Cox.
LB - Nigel Bradham (PHI)
A solid linebacker and a good leader, he gets a spot as much due to lack of competition as he does on performance.
LB - Kyle Van Noy (NE)
Van Noy has stepped up in Hightower's absence and had an reasonably impressive season for New England.
LB - Mychal Kendricks (PHI)
After beating his brother's Vikings team in the NFC Championship, this playmaker will look to cause even more havoc in the big game.
CB - Stephon Gilmore (NE)
Despite a slow start to his Patriots career, Gilmore proved he was worth the money over the second half of the year and has also been playing well in the playoffs so far.
CB - Jalen Mills (PHI)
Mills has taken a huge leap forward over the past 12 months and has had a few key interceptions this season, as well as a lot of important tackles.
S - Malcolm Jenkins (PHI)
The veteran safety is top class both on and off the field.
S - Devin McCourty (NE)
Arguably the Patriots' best defensive player.
KR - Dion Lewis (NE)
This guy just makes plays whenever the ball is in his hand.
PR - Danny Amendola (NE)
Did you really think I was going to leave him out?
K - Jake Elliott (PHI)
As good as Gostkowski is, the Eagles rookie has made some huge kicks this season (remember that 61 yard winner against the Giants?).
P - Donnie Jones (PHI)
Jones gets the nod over Allen.
ST - Matthew Slater (NE)
The best special teamer in the NFL, nuff said.
By Fergus Head
It has become routine to read that what the Patriots are doing is routine. That’s the point we’re at. What must really hurt is that there really is very little an opposing team, head coach, or co-ordinator (specifically defensive) can do to kid themselves into thinking they’ve put together a sound plan. It’s simply not in human nature to conjure up such impossible imaginations as that this week, in spite of all the evidence thrust under our noses from this month, year or decade, that this obscure, arbitrary week will be the one where Brady, Belichick and the rest of the gang are outdone. It’s not feasible. Without even trying, the Patriots now win mind games simply by turning up and playing. The opposition has most likely spent the majority of the week exhausting all of their mental energy and fortitude on trying to convince themselves that the plan they’ve put in place is satisfactory. That’s just so painful. Years of training, graft and dedication have lead a man who is therefore someone at the peak of his craft, to stand on the other side of a 100-yard field, and watch a 60 minute dismantling of his life’s-work. Playing the Patriots instils an inferiority complex from the first minute of preparation, to the final whistle, and it’s the repetition that is why what they do seems so easy. It isn’t the only reason they’re great, but it’s such a huge part of why it seems so lackadaisical when they win, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When they win, things get easier for them to do so.
As with so many Patriot related comments, this seems so mundane, but it simply isn’t appreciated enough, it almost never can be. But to continually repeat what is supposed to be so impossible year after year is now an intrinsic part of the game plan. If they don’t carry the invincible mystique that has become so commonplace it’s hard to see as many of the things they do working so infallibly. This is therefore credit to the aura that Belichick and Brady have created over the last 17 years, of course, but with each week comes a new foundation to repeat from, a new time frame in which opposition MUST refer to in order to compete, but in doing so contribute to their own mental and final demise.
Take Saturday, 13th January 2018. AFC Divisional round matchup between New England and Tennessee. The Patriots are 7-0 down after a sublime one-handed touchdown catch from Corey Davis capped off a 95-yard drive that the Titans were clearly very proud of. And rightly so. Ask anyone (other than the Titans) who was going to win, however, and the assurance of the answer one would likely receive would make the uninformed inquirer assume that the Patriots were already 21-7 up, already switching on the auto-pilot. Against any other team, this would be a different story. That kind of drive is never, ever ignored if the Titans are playing the Jags. Or the Steelers. Or any other team in the playoffs, or the league for that matter. A 95-yard drive is synonymous with at least some form of a grip on the contest. But that just isn’t the case against the Patriots. And this is the art of repetition. This is the masterpiece that the Patriots have so successfully created. Yes there was explosiveness from Dion Lewis, who finished the game with his 3rd straight 130+ yard performance, the brutish brilliance of Gronkowski, who’s performance earned him PFF’s highest grade awarded to a Patriot in this game, and of course the collective genius of the minds of Brady, Belichick, Patricia, McDaniels and the rest. These things were all tangible, evident nuggets of this football team’s assets. But it is what can’t be measured that makes watching the Patriots seem so inevitable and predictable. The self-doubt of Dick LeBeau can’t be translated into yards. LeBeau internally changes his mind because of what he saw on tape from week 6 when the Patriots were 7-0 down against the Jets, 10-yard gain. That doesn’t show up in the box score. Dick LeBeau doesn’t shout into his mic. “I’ve changed my mind!!!” so there’s no way that NFL films can write a gaudy Facebook post about the ‘Top mic’d up plays of the week- LeBeau doubts himself in the face of a historically great opponent’.
The Patriots’ greatest weapon is that through amassing a database of continuous success and reliability, suddenly Brandon Bolden is a genuine threat because look, there goes James White scoring 3 touchdowns in a Super Bowl, or look, there goes Wes Welker, a 1.75m tall receiver with a 4.65 second 40-yard dash time leading the league in receptions, or look, there goes that 6th round pick out of Michigan marching his way down the field for his first of 5 Super Bowl's. The use of seemingly underwhelming players is one good example of how the Patriots mould the opposition’s mind to overplay and overthink things, but it’s certainly not the only one. Belichick is renowned for shutting down the opposition’s greatest asset. That’s just what he does. Yet the minute you do that to his team, it shape shifts into an entirely different machine, and suddenly the plan that has been so carefully deliberated over is decimated. In a way it’s hypnotic. The Patriots subconsciously dismantle future opponents in the most counter-intuitive way possible- by never admitting they’re even thinking about them. The impact that all of these seemingly meaningless details have on the teams they will face in the coming weeks, and then years, isn’t quantifiable, and for that reason it seems to be ignored, yet it is arguably the primary point to attack as a member of the opposition, not just for a week but for a whole year. We saw just that play out for the Steelers. So desperate at a chance to avenge the week 15 loss, they tripped before they got a chance, simply because the allure of the glory later on was too much to handle. It’s the ultimate snare, and it’s the Patriot way.
Mowlem is a sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).