The big game is tonight. The conclusion of the NFL season. The Super Bowl. If you’re not up to speed, you’re not alone. The league’s typically astronomical ratings were down all season. Why? Perhaps the low ratings were due to Americans’ growing anxieties about the morality of a sport that leaves its players with long-term brain injuries. Or perhaps fans were distracted by politics — also a source of headbanging. Whatever the reason, not watching shouldn’t stop you from enjoying tonight’s grand finale. Here’s all you need to know.
Who is playing?
The Atlanta Falcons will face off against the New England Patriots. This is familiar territory for the latter team but not the former. This Super Bowl marks the Patriots’ seventh in the last 16 years; if they win it will be their fifth Super Bowl ring. The Atlanta Falcons, meanwhile, have only appeared in one Super Bowl, which they lost. Sportsbooks’ opening lines set the Patriots as 3-point favorites.
What time is the game?
Where will the game take place?
NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Who is the halftime performer?
Lady Gaga. The big intrigue surrounding Gaga’s performance is not over what songs she will perform (although there are prop bets for that), but over whether she will go off script and make a political statement.
Will the game get political in other ways?
Probably not in the broadcast. Announcer Joe Buck has said that he will not talk about America’s polarizing new president during the game.
But, one narrative heading into the game has surrounded the Patriots’ ties to President Trump. The team’s quarterback Tom Brady, owner Robert Kraft, and coach Bill Belichick are all friends with the president. Like Buck, they’ve also tried to avoid the subject heading into the Super Bowl.
Protests, though, have made their way to the game. And the Patriots’ tight end, Martellus Bennett, has said he will not go to the White House, as is custom for players on the winning team, if the Patriots win.
And because the game is being broadcast on FOX, Bill O’Reilly will interview President Trump. Will he go as tough on the new president as he did when he interviewed President Obama in 2014?