You got to love the NFL. They know how to hold the attention of their fan base during the off-season. The virtual draft last month provided rare footage for the television viewer on the goings on at a franchise when selecting a prospect.
Once this was complete, the NFL have quickly focused minds on the upcoming schedule. They have been utterly decisive in releasing the schedule in the midst of the pandemic and is something for NFL fans to look forward to.
What to make of the opening fixture schedule? It is all about the boy Tom isn’t it. This is going to be so surreal to see Tom Brady in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey next season and not New England Patriots.
All good things must come to an end and the breakup of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady represented the end of an unparalleled era of success for the New England Patriots.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have a certain tight-end by the name of Ron Gronkowski. You remember him, that vital offensive outlet for Brady at New England Patriots at vital times in recent seasons. The lure of Brady and Gronk is obvious and the fact that Tampa Bay are slotted for five (yes) five primetime television coverage says it all.
Who to follow this season? New England Patriots are in for a fight in the AFC East. The franchise have been utterly dominant in the division for years but with no Brady at the helm, all attention and focus turns to Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) to deliver the goods. The kid has got an arm but his lack of inexperience may be seen at various points during the season.
No offensive weapon upgrades from the Patriots in an underwhelming draft means that the Buffalo Bills could reach the AFC East summit this season. A conference to watch to see how Bill can conjure his magic with a squad which looks to be gaps in both sides of the ball.
Patrick Mahomes is a player which excites no end. His sheer athleticism and ability to throw the ball are television providers sweet dreams. He has won the Superbowl and now he should kick on and cement his legacy. Kansas City Chiefs under Andy Reid start with a home game against the enigma that is the Houston Texans. An opening win here at Arrowhead and the season’s prospects are endless again.
Who is a sleeper team for me? Pittsburgh Steeler for me have underachieved massively in recent seasons. NFC North has seen Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns grabbing all the limelight but it is time for the Steelers to impose their will on this division. Why so bullish? Their defensive performance last season was excellent, fifth ranked. The return of a certain Big Ben at quarterback will provide the side with experience and a game caller who will get the most out of the wide receiving corp. NFC North looks setup nicely.
The division I enjoy the most is the NFC East. Tweak tough teams with NY Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and a Washington Redskins franchise looking to get into the mix after several abysmal seasons. The fixtures are always feisty and it will be interesting to see how Dallas Cowboys do. The Texas franchise according to the experts had a good draft this season. Lamb at wide receiver looks a sensational pick and when you consider the existing offensive weapons for Prescott at his disposal, this team are setup for a long run in the playoffs. NY Giants need to move upwards and their draft picks will supplement a roster who will be eager to get involved deep into the playoffs.
Just wondering how San Francisco 49ers bounce back from the disappointment of the Superbowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs? Can Jimmy Garoppolo evolve the offensive game plan further to supplement the dominant running game which rampaged the NFC competition last season. There could be a hangover from last season and is it an opportunity for the Seattle Seahawks to secure divisional glory?
Aaron Rodgers will also be a player who will look to prove a point given the Green Bay Packers draft decision to take QB prospect Jordan Love (Utah State) who looks too have a big future in the game. Rodgers may see the draft as a potential threat to his position so expect the future hall of fame player to deliver the goods for a Packers side who drifted badly down the stretch last season.
I am excited for this season to start. It is a shame that the London games are not going ahead but the hope is that the NFL season can start on schedule, a welcome distraction given the blank sporting cancellations across the globe. Several key story lines already. NFL. Let’s go!