Bears

Super Bowl LI: An online guide to the game, ads and taunts

Super Bowl LI: An online guide to the game, ads and taunts

NEW YORK (AP) -- You can watch the Super Bowl online for free, but there are a few catches. For starters, you're out of luck on phones unless you're a Verizon customer. And if you're interested in the ads, you may have a surprise in store.

Here's your online guide to the matchup in Houston between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.

WATCHING THE GAME

It's true: Some people will be watching the Super Bowl for the actual game on an actual TV.

You can join them even if you don't have a cable subscription or a good signal with an antenna. Just fire up the Fox Sports Go app on many streaming TV devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox. Fox is suspending its usual requirement that you log on with a cable or satellite account, meaning it's free.

If you can't get to a TV, try the Fox Sports Go app on a tablet or FoxSportsGo.com on a laptop or desktop. Verizon has exclusive rights on phones. If you're a Verizon customer, you can watch through the NFL Mobile app. Otherwise, find another device.

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WATCHING THE ADS

The Super Bowl is the rare event where viewers do pay attention to ads . A 30-second spot goes for about $5 million.

Fox's online stream will get you most of the same ads shown on television. This includes local ads, thanks to a technology Fox is employing to customize the stream to your local station.

The catch is that a handful of stations aren't participating, so you may see a static screen denoting a commercial break. There may also be a few cases in which a national or local advertiser has bought the spot for television only; a substitute ad may appear online in its place.

You can also watch many of the ads on the web. Fox is planning to showcase ads at FoxSports.com. You can also check iSpot.tv and YouTube's AdBlitz . Hulu has shown Super Bowl ads in the past, but it isn't planning to this year. You don't have to wait until Sunday, as many of the ads are already available online.

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GIZMOS GALORE

Fox is partnering with Intel to offer replays from the perspective of players on the field. Fox isn't mounting cameras on individual players. Rather, it's using 38 cameras surrounding the field. Powerful computers then create videos to depict how a play would have looked to the player. Although these are 360-degree videos, don't expect a lot of viewer control. They will be more like replays shown as part of the regular broadcast, available a few minutes after the play.

If you have a virtual-reality headset such as Google Cardboard or Samsung's Gear VR, you can get highlights and top plays through the Fox Sports VR app. Without a headset, you can also view 360-degree video with a phone, but it won't be as immersive. You'll need to sign in with a cable or satellite account to watch in VR.

VIDEO EXTRAS

Fox has video specials throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Fox websites and apps. On Sunday, Fox is offering a backstage look before the game; the online-only NFL Field Pass stream is expected to include player arrivals, on-field warmups and various stadium activities.

It's not clear whether Fox's pre-game and postgame television coverage will be available through Fox apps and websites. Even if it is available, it's possible a cable or satellite account will be needed. Fox didn't respond to inquiries for clarification.

If that's something you need to have online, you may want to invest in an online television package such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue or DirecTV Now. A subscription will cost at least $25 a month (though weeklong free trials are available). But check to make sure those services offer Fox stations in your city; that's only true in a handful of locations across the country. A subscription to PlayStation Vue or DirecTV Now will also get you Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl, an homage to the big game played with puppies.

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DIGITAL SMARTS

Virtual assistants such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have been tweaked to understand Super Bowl questions. Ask either for player and team stats, or the latest Super Bowl odds (you're on your own for actual bets).

And if someone at your party is cheering for, um, the wrong team, Alexa can help with taunts. Just ask, "Alexa, give me a Patriots burn" or "Alexa, give me a Falcons burn."

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Bears could be in position to land top TE in 2020 NFL draft

Bears could be in position to land top TE in 2020 NFL draft

The Chicago Bears are going to take a long, hard look at the makeup of their tight end room this offseason. Trey Burton, who's teetering on joining a growing list of free-agent busts signed by GM Ryan Pace since 2015, will be back because of his cap hit, but the rest of the depth chart offers more questions than answers moving forward.

Adam Shaheen, 2017's second-round pick, has likely played his last down in Chicago. He's regressed in his third season with the team and after an injury-plagued start to his career, it appears time to move on. Special teams standout Ben Braunecker is likely to be back, but he offers little upside beyond the game's third phase. J.P. Holtz and undrafted rookie Jesper Horsted have been pleasant surprises and may develop into the team's future at the position, but it's a risky proposition to rely on two players who were fringe-NFL guys at the start of the season.

It's highly unlikely Pace will invest more free-agent dollars into tight end because of the hefty paycheck being cut to Burton. He'll have an $8.55 million cap hit in 2020, which ranks among the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. As a result, Pace will be forced to dip into the 2020 NFL draft class to upgrade the talent level.

Fortunately for the Bears, the second round is where this year's top tight ends are expected to come off the board. In fact, Pace may end up having his pick of the litter if ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's prospect rankings bear out.

McShay, who teamed with Mel Kiper, Jr. to answer the 30 biggest questions at the start of the NFL draft season, doesn't have a tight end with a first-round grade. His highest-rated player at the position just happens to be in the range where the Bears' first selection currently sits.

"Over the past three years, there has been an average of two first-round tight ends, and Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant were both top-20 picks last April," McShay wrote. "But don't expect a repeat. No one has really emerged this season like Hockenson, Fant and even Irv Smith Jr. did in 2018. The highest-ranked tight end in my rankings is Vanderbilt's Jared Pinkney at No. 49. Unless we see an underclassman rise through the process, I don't see a first-rounder in this group."

The Bears currently own the 45th pick (from Raiders) and 50th pick in the second round.

The bad news is Pinkney isn't the kind of pass-catcher the Bears are searching for Matt Nagy's offense. But the good news is there are a few players in this year's class who offer some upside as a receiver. And if Pinkney is considered the best of the bunch, the Bears should have little trouble adding a player who fits their needs at a good value later in the draft.

Maybe Horsted will do enough over the final three games to convince Pace that Chicago already has its young ascending tight end on the roster. But if he doesn't, the Bears will have plenty of options to choose from in April.

LOOK: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trolls Aaron Rodgers' AMA

LOOK: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trolls Aaron Rodgers' AMA

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spent part of his Monday night answering questions about ice cream and scotch on Reddit. His AMA (ask me anything) was a hit among Packers fans and even drew the attention of Bears safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.

Rodgers, who promoted his AMA on Instagram Monday afternoon, elicited replies from fans and even former teammates like quarterback Brett Favre. But it was Clinton-Dix who won the day.

"What are the first 15 plays for Sunday's game?" Clinton-Dix asked.

Shooter's shoot. And Clinton-Dix took his shot.

The Bears will need all the help they can get to slow down Rodgers and Green Bay's offense, which has been supercharged by running back Aaron Jones in recent weeks. In the Packers' Week 14 win over the Redskins, Jones ran for 134 yards, added 58 more as a receiver and scored two touchdowns. He'll be a big challenge for a Bears defense that'll be without its two starting inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan.

But Sunday's game, as always, will come down to stopping (or at least containing) Rodgers. He owns a 17-5 regular-season record against Chicago and has thrown for 5,359 yards, 46 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in those contests.

So, yeah, it'd be great if Rodgers could send Clinton-Dix the early game script. 

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