Football is finally back! As we quench our thirst for football action with the NFL Preseason, we’re just a few weeks away from the 2021 NFL Season kick-off on September 9. This will be the 102nd season of the National Football League, and the first with the expanded regular season schedule of 17 games in 18 weeks. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LVI, on February 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
The 2021 NFL Kickoff Game will feature the defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys, a team looking for redemption after missing the playoffs last season. Most teams will play their Week 1 games on Sunday, September 12, and the regular season will conclude on January 9, 2022, with all games during the final weekend being intra-division matchups, as it has been since 2010.
Two regular season games are scheduled to be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, as part of the NFL London Games: New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons on October 10, and Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars on October 17. Both games are contingent upon travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season’s international games were canceled due to the resulting overseas travel restrictions.
As it usually is, this year’s MVP race is headlined by quarterbacks, with Patrick Mahomes leading the way at +500 odds. Aaron Rodgers is next with +1000 odds, followed by Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence enters the season as the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award at +300 odds, with Kyle Pitts, Najee Harris, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields following behind him. Unless he picks another injury, Dak Prescott should win the Comeback Player of the Year award, as he is the overwhelming favorite with +210 odds.
According to sportsbooks listed on this site, the Kansas City Chiefs are the odds-on favorites to win Super Bowl LVI with +500 odds. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers begin the season as the NFC favorites, but second to the Chiefs to win the title. With a significant drop off in odds after these top two teams, the Bills, Packers, Ravens, 49ers, Rams, and Browns comprise the second tier of Super Bowl contenders.
Kansas City Chiefs
Despite being defeated by the Buccaneers on Super Bowl LV, in a terrible performance by the entire team – but especially the offensive line – the Kansas City Chiefs are still the favorites to take it all in the 2021 NFL season. Led by the best and most versatile quarterback in the league, Kansas City can punish opponents in a myriad of ways.
However, it’s safe to say the Chiefs will probably struggle a bit through the season, as they’ll face a much tougher division this year, with the Broncos’ most talented defense to date, and the Chargers with new head coach Brandon Staley, who, as defensive coordinator for the Rams, nearly broke a record for fewest second-half points allowed in NFL history.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Is there still someone who doubts Tom Brady? I don’t think so. Brady has proved time and time again that he reigns supreme in the league. That being said, it’s nearly impossible to win back-to-back titles in today’s NFL, but guess who was the last quarterback to do so… yes, it was Brady. And that’s why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the second favorites to win Super Bowl LVI.
As they were able to retain the entire roster that beat the Chiefs last year, the Bucs can build on some of their major strengths – they were one of the best play-action teams in the league last year – and attack the field in a more diverse manner, mixing Brady’s accuracy with a strong ground offense. An undefeated regular season is not off the table for the Bucs.
The Bills had a tremendous season last year, only to lose to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. But they are still a well-coached team with a great defense and one of the best matchup-based offenses in the league. Josh Allen’s ability as both a deep passer and power runner makes Buffalo a continuous offensive threat in the NFL.
Buffalo can pick apart defenses, and Allen’s versatility allows them to play a tough football style. The addition of Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. to the team’s defense indicates their intention of creating an overload of skilled pass-rushers to maximize a talented secondary.
Green Bay Packers
About two months ago, the Green Bay Packers’ odds of winning Super Bowl LVI weren’t that good, as there was still a lot of mystery surrounding the return of Aaron Rodgers to Lambeau Field. Once Rodgers decided to play at least one more season for the Packers – on a restructured contract that could allow him to leave next season, by the way – the Packers’ chances of winning a title are looking pretty good again.
While much was said about the lack of support to Rodgers, he still has Davante Adams, and a good team surrounding him. The Packers can run the ball, they have a strong offensive line, and the defense is good at all three levels. To top that, apart from the Bucs, Green Bay doesn’t have much competition in the NFC, so a Super Bowl run isn’t that far-fetched.
San Francisco 49ers
Last year, the San Francisco 49ers were decimated by injuries throughout the season, at almost every position. Three different quarterbacks started six games, and the 49ers were completely unrecognizable. However, this is still the team that made the Super Bowl and was 10 minutes away from winning it, two years ago.
Despite the departures of Robert Saleh, John Benton, and Mike LaFleur, head coach Kyle Shanahan still has a talented staff around him, and Jimmy Garoppolo is certainly motivated to prove that he can be a franchise quarterback. Besides, San Francisco can even start Trey Lance to spark the offense, and introduce some mischief against defensive systems in the league.