The two final teams in the NFL playoffs are set to take the field for Super Bowl LII. The National Football Conference will be represented by the Philadelphia Eagles, while the American Football Conference is once again being represented by the New England Patriots. Both teams bring 15-3 records into the contest after winning their respective conference championships at home on Sunday, January 21. The Patriots won 24-20 against the Jacksonville Jaguars after trailing 20-10, while the Eagles reeled off 38 unanswered points after spotting the Minnesota Vikings a first quarter touchdown to win 38-7. The big game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday, February 4, 2018. You can watch this year on the NBC Network, with pre-game coverage all afternoon; the kickoff will take place shortly after 5:30 pm Central time.
The two teams got to their perches with two wins each in divisional and championship playoff rounds, after a bye in the Wild Card round. In the AFC, the Patriots overwhelmed the Titans last week at home in the divisional round, as reported here in the PRIDE, while in the NFC the Eagles dispatched the Falcons in their divisional round contest. Ironically the Eagles were actually three point underdogs at home against the Vikings, each team being led by a backup quarterback due to injury to their starters. This game will be a rematch of the 2005 Super Bowl, played in Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium, where the Patriots won 24-20. This is the Eagles third trip to the Super Bowl, having also lost in 1981 to the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in the Louisiana Superdome. It is the Patriot’s ninth Super Bowl, with five previous victories, over the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in 2002, over the Carolina Panthers 32-29, that Eagles game in 2005, over the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in 2015, and over the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in 2017; and four losses, to the Bears 46-10 in 1986, Packers 35-21 in 1997, and twice to the NY Giants, 17-14 in 2008 and 21-17 in 2012.
If you hate the Patriots like I do, and maybe are rather ‘meh’ about this year’s Eagles squad, watch for the spectacle, the commercials, and especially the music before the game and at half-time. The Super Bowl halftime show is the most-watched musical event of the year. Last year’s show, headlined by Lady Gaga, was the most-watched musical event of all time across all platforms and the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance in history through broadcast and digital channels.
Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer Leslie Odom, Jr. will sing America The Beautiful as part of the Super Bowl LII pregame festivities. Odom is an original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical. Odum joins a list of famous names who have performed America The Beautiful at the Super Bowl. Vicki Carr, Ray Charles, Mary J. Blige, Marc Anthony, Alicia Keys, Faith Hill, Queen Latifah, Lea Michele and Jennifer Hudson have performed the song in the past.
P!nk joins the ranks of the many performers who have sang the Super Bowl national anthem. They include Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé Knowles, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, Natalie Cole, Vanessa Williams, Luther Vandross, Idina Menzel, Renée Fleming, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Harry Connick, Jr., Garth Brooks, Cher, Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks, Christina Aguilera, and many more. In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), actor and director Alexandria Wailes will perform in American sign language both the national anthem and America The Beautiful.
Justin Timberlake will take to the Super Bowl Halftime Show’s stage in Minneapolis this year, marking his third time singing at the annual NFL playoff event. Timberlake first sang at Super Bowl XXXV back in 2001 during the heyday of beloved boyband *NSYNC. Soon after launching his solo career, he graced the stage as one of the lineup of stars MTV recruited for 2004’s Super Bowl XXXVIII show — which also famously featured Janet Jackson. Now, Timberlake is back for round three, with new music to promote: his latest single, “Filthy,” and his third solo album, Man of the Woods, due out Feb. 2.
TITANS PRO BOWL UPDATE
Titans safety Kevin Byard and special teams ace Brynden Trawick are headed to the Pro Bowl. They’ll join teammates Jurrell Casey, Taylor Lewan, Brett Kern and Delanie Walker in the all-star game on January 28 in Orlando, Florida.Byard and Trawick were initially named Pro Bowl alternates. Byard replaces Bills safety Micah Hyde on the roster, while Trawick replaces Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater.
Byard led all free safeties in Pro Bowl voting by fans, but wasn’t initially on the team after the final voting, which included players and coaches.
TITANS COACHING UPDATE
The Titans and Mike Vrabel have agreed to terms on a contract to make him the team’s new head coach. Vrabel served as defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans last season after serving as linebackers coach from 2014-16 with the team. Prior to that he coached at Ohio State, where he served as defensive line coach (2012-13) and linebackers coach. Vrabel played 14 NFL seasons, with the Steelers (1997-2000), Patriots (2001-2008) and Chiefs (2009-2010).