It's good to be the NFL—in the most important Super Bowl to date, one of the game's most historic players, Peyton Manning, will encounter the game's future, Cam Newton, when the Denver Broncos dance with the Carolina Panthers.
Did anyone mention it's good to be the NFL? The league has recruited the historic band Coldplay and once-in-a-generation talents Beyonce and Bruno Mars to perform the halftime show.
What the globe knows about the halftime performances and the game itself is certainly worth a deeper dive. Let's do so below.
When: Sunday, February 7, 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Levi's Stadium; Santa Clara, California
Spread: Carolina (-5.5)
The NFL announced Coldplay as the headline act back in December, but the league hinted at other big names possibly joining the band at Levi's Stadium.
Sophie Schillaci of Entertainment Tonight later reported Beyonce would join the band as well after headlining the show at Super Bowl 47 to rave reviews. Bruno Mars joined the act after following Beyonce's footsteps with a stellar showing at Super Bowl 48.
It's not hard to see the emphasis here. The NFL is bringing back some of the most notable performers from the game's recent history to celebrate the 50th anniversary. The idea seems to be the brainchild of Coldplay, as director Hamish Hamilton told Jessica Goodman of Entertainment Weekly that the legacy of the game stands as the focal point.
“The legacy of 50 Super Bowl halftimes will certainly be featured,” Hamilton said. “It may not be a literal thing, but you’re definitely going to get the sense of 50. [And] there are always guests. I don’t see why this show would be different.”
Given the locale, the crew and performers won't have the cover of night to pull off wild special effects and light shows, meaning Coldplay and others will have to come up with something truly memorable with the sun still casting a glow on the stadium.
One thing seems certain: The current trio marked down as taking the stage at halftime won't be the only high-profile performers to do so. With an emphasis on the past, other halftime veterans will surely join at one point or another in an effort to not only celebrate the show's history, but etch out the best one yet.
Preview and Prediction
Like the halftime show, the game has themes and storylines worthy of the 50th Super Bowl.
Here's Manning, who got benched while injured in the regular season, likely causing some to claim he should have hung up the cleats a year ago. But there he was in Week 17 coming on the field to a standing ovation, getting a win and then a pair of postseason wins to put himself and the Broncos into storybook-ending territory.
And here's Newton, the latest dramatic evolution of the quarterback position, playing without No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin all year. No problem: He threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns with another 636 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground before breezing through the postseason.
Behind them are two of the league's best defenses. During the regular season, both surrendered less than 20 points per game on average—furthering the notion that defense wins championships.
Denver makes its money through linebacker Von Miller and an elite pass rush that amassed 52 sacks. Carolina gets opportunistic play from corner Josh Norman and a unit that picked off a league-best 24 passes.
Expect the game itself to follow the trend of the halftime show—younger stars stepping into the limelight, and while honoring the past, putting on quite the show themselves.
Newton won't have a problem besting Manning here. He's too elusive and able to make big plays down the field in various ways to succumb to the pressure applied by the Denver defense. Manning, while on an impressive return, has struggled to hit throws consistently since coming back and won't have long to do so against this Carolina defense, which can take advantage.
As the game wears on, Newton will run away from Manning while his defense makes a few key plays to officially secure a fitting passing-of-the-torch moment.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Broncos 20