It’s hard to believe that the new NFL season is already upon us. It seems like just yesterday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, inspired by quarter-back Tom Brady, were winning the Super Bowl and celebrating their unexpected triumph wildly.
Now, the USA’s biggest sport is back, and it’s set to be a thrilling season. With capacity crowds set to return to stadiums, and you’d expect there to be a feel-good atmosphere at every game as sport gradually emerges out of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first round of fixtures is just a few weeks away, so let’s take a look at some of the standout games.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tamba Bay Buccaneers
As is tradition, the Super Bowl winners from the previous season get the new campaign underway, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing host to the Dallas Cowboys. The Bucs are among the favourites for the title in NFL betting, as you would expect for a team that produced such stunning performances to go all the way last term.
The Cowboys will be hoping to make amends for their losing record last year in the NFC East. The division was of a poor standard last season, with eventual winners Washington Football Team also recording more defeats than victories. A win against the defending champs would get the Cowboys off to the perfect start.
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
There will still be plenty of bitterness amongst the Kansas City Chiefs’ ranks that they didn’t get their hands on a second successive Super Bowl victory back in February. But with a strong roster still at head coach Andy Reid’s disposal, most NFL betting tips are suggesting they’ll be there or thereabouts again come the postseason. With quarter-back Patrick Mahomes at the peak of his powers, it would be no surprise to see the Chiefs sweep aside the Cleveland Browns on the opening weekend.
The Browns have not always had the best time of things over the last few years, but they made the divisional round of the play-offs last season for the first time since 1995, and that provides a solid platform on which to build. They could well give Kansas City a run for their money at the Arrowhead Stadium.
Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams
Two teams who made it to the postseason in 2020-21, both the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams will be hoping to build on last year’s form and go on a deeper run this time around. The Bears’ campaign was ended by the New Orleans Saints in the wild card play-offs, but a second postseason appearance in three years represents good progress. The challenge now is to take the next step, and a difficult opening fixture at the LA Rams will be a stern test of their mettle.
The Rams have been a much more successful outfit since relocating from St. Louis back to Los Angeles, with three play-off appearances in the time since. The next logical step is to make it back to the Super Bowl, and if they manage to beat the Bears on home soil to kick things off, they can build some momentum towards achieving that goal.