NFL Guide to the season
The gladiators of the gridiron are gearing up once more, as the NFL season gets underway this week. There’s nothing to match American football when it comes to pomp and pageantry – and there’s little that matches the action either!
With a mountain of games live on Sky Sports, beginning with mid-west match-up of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears live from 12.30am on Sky Sports Main Event (Virgin TV 401), it’s time to get in the (red) zone, so we’ve prepared a quick primer for anyone who might need catching up… SO, WHEN IS THE SUPER BOWL? Super Bowl LIV will take place on February 2nd 2020 – so hold your horses! There’s a lot to get to before that; while the playoffs will begin in January, it’s first time to sort the wheat from the chaff through the regular season games. 17 weeks of hard-hitting competition awaits for the 32 teams vying to be at the business end in the New Year.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
OK, here’s the basics; the teams are split into two conferences – the AFC and NFC – and each conference contains a North, South, East and West division. The teams to top each division at the end of the regular season will secure a place in the playoffs, along with the two best runners-up in each conference. From there, it’s a knockout contest to see who’ll raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy at season’s end. Simple!
WHY SHOULD WE START WATCHING NOW?
With a season that lasts just 16 games, every single game matters – so easing into it really isn’t much of an option! Every team will be looking to get off to a flying start, so anyone expecting a gentle beginning will be in for a real surprise. Add in the fact that teams change massively throughout the off-season – with loads of new players, new schemes, new coaches, and new everything else – and there’s a lot to prove once the first whistle goes.
WHAT ARE THE BIG STORIES FROM THE SUMMER, THEN?
Perhaps the biggest – and most recent – event of the entire off-season was the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, with the star hanging up his boots aged just 29. Much will be made of how the hottest picks from the college game get on in their first year, including Kyler Murray at Arizona and the New York Giants’ new playmaker, Daniel Jones. Elsewhere, the summer saw two of league’s biggest pass-catchers on the move; record-breaking receiver Antonio Brown has headed to the Raiders, while the scintillating Odell Beckham Jr. has joined the revolution taking place at the Cleveland Browns.
SO WHO ARE THE TEAMS TO WATCH?
Unsurprisingly, the favourites for this year are last year’s champion New England Patriots, but there’s a host of other heavily fancied teams. The Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints, and losing Super Bowl side the Los Angeles Rams are all hotly tipped – but the real story of the season might be the aforementioned Browns, whose recently assembled collection of young stars could propel them into the discussion in double-quick time.
ANYTHING ELSE TO KNOW?
Erm, can you tell the difference between a 4-3 and 3-4 defence? Do you understand the review system? Do you know why you never throw to the Venus in Spider 2 Y Banana?! Look, we’re not going to lie, there’s a fair bit more to swot up on – but your best bet is tuning in and getting up to speed that way!
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