Across the Atlantic, America’s famed, ‘Road to the Super Bowl’ has now begun, as the 32 teams from the AFC & NFC, combined, known as the NFL, battle it out for a place in next February’s, global, showpiece, at the SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California.
Last time out, at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led emphatically by Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski et al, ravaged the defending champions, Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9.
Could the Bucs repeat this season, or is there a new name set to be on the famous, Vince Lombardi Trophy?
We, at the Nottingham Sport, caught up with some of those in the know, and got their thoughts about America’s Game….
Vanden Warner (Head Coach, Nottingham Caesars American Football)
I’m a Chicago Bears fan, but let’s be real, I’d be over the money if we managed to claim the divisional title (it would the Bears’ first since 2018, and would be their sixth since the turn of the millennium), but we also have to get past the old enemy in Green Bay Packers.
I feel that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may trouble to repeat, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills will be in the Super Bowl for me, although the Cleveland Browns could do well and will have a great tussle with the Pittsburgh Steelers; I’m not sure with the Baltimore Ravens though, so the Browns/Steelers battle could be decisive in the AFC.
In the NFC, you can’t really count out the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, the Buccaneers may not get back though as there’s others that are probably stronger, but there’s also the Brady-factor there – it’ll be great for the NFC if they do, but I don’t see it; it is between the Buccaneers, the Packers, and the San Francisco 49ers who can be there or thereabouts though, but it’s going to be a really good season.
I’ll be rooting for the NFC though, even though it pains me to root for Green Bay Packers.
Liam MacGovern (Quarterback, Nottingham Caesars American Football)
There’s some people that say I’m a glory hunter with my being a New England Patriots fan, but I recall them from before those Super Bowl years.
I’m currently studying at Nottingham Trent University, so I play for them (Renegades) in the BUCS, and for the Nottingham Caesars (as quarterback), and my first game, live, was seeing the Tennessee Titans against the Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley a few years ago (Titans won 20-19, in 2018).
That was my first time at Wembley, for a sporting event, and we had some really great seats, got to see so much of the game where we were and a great memory was, after the game, and the players were going down the tunnel, we were acknowledged by Malcolm Butler (former Patriot and Tennessee Titans, current Arizona Cardinals cornerback), who I recall from Super Bowl XLIX (Patriots defeated Seattle Seahawks, 28-24).
I’d like to see the Patriots get back, but my money is probably on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Buffalo Bills, with the Bills to win it; Josh Allen can carry them (Bills) over the line and he’s on my fantasy team; other teams worth a look at though, Kansas City Chiefs, obviously, the Miami Dolphins with Tua Tagovailoa, and the Tennessee Titans with Derrick Henry, as well as the Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson, and the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers.
Peter Allen (Captain, Nottingham Vikings Ball Hockey)
As a Miami Dolphins fan, I expect it to be tricky for them, we’ve gone so long without even making the playoffs (due to the Patriots/Brady era, only won two divisional title since the turn of the millennium).
There is progress with the Dolphins though, even if the record isn’t cutting it; we need to post at least a 12-4 season as I feel, like most others, that the Buffalo Bills are the team to beat now, and the test for the Dolphins that starts straight away, in the opening game, but I could go as far as us getting a wildcard spot, at least.
Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got it right, at the right time, playing the right games, and that’s the result you get with a Brady in your team and they did a job on the Kansas City Chiefs; the Chiefs though, they’ll look to put that right this time around and will be there or thereabouts, barring a catastrophe.
Come the end of this season though, I’m expecting the AFC divisional game to be between the Chiefs and the Bills, whilst the NFC will be the Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers; from that, I can see the Super Bowl being between the Chiefs and the Packers, with the Chiefs winning.
The Bills will have a good season, and can better last time out, whereas I can also see maybe the Chicago Bears pushing the Packers, and improving themselves, the same as the San Francisco 49ers, but they’re in a tough division.
Jacob Baines (Media, Retford United FC)
My cousin is an NFL fan, and follows the New England Patriots, so I’ve taken an interest because of that; then in 2015, I went to the New York Jets against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley (Jets won 27-14) and I fell in love with the Jets from that day.
This season, I think they’ll post a winning record, but unsure if they’ll make the play-offs, but you love to hope. You have to be realistic, even though I feel we can win what, 5-7 games.
We’ve a new coach in Robert Saleh who’s not a proven one (as Head Coach), and that in itself is a difficult prospect, I just hope that he’s not a stop-gap as I’d like to see it as a long-term project.
Last season, I did think that Kansas City Chiefs would go all the way, what with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce etc, but Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski rolled back the years; this time around, I think the Buffalo Bills, and Josh Allen, will do the business, although I can see the Los Angeles Chargers with Justin Herbert doing something as well.
Danny Peacock (Editor, the Nottingham Sport)
Ever since those late Sunday nights in the 1980’s watching Channel 4 with my Dad trying desperately to stay awake, I’ve been a huge fan of NFL. The names of Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Joe Montana, William ‘the Fridge’ Perry still as iconic today as they were back then, these days there’s so much love for the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffery, Derrick Henry, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, the sport is really star studded and has some incredible world-class athletes.
As a Green Bay Packers fan, I still wake up with sweats in the night ‘why’ Aaron Rodgers didn’t run for the line on 3rd down, why they chose to kick on fourth, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game last season, but the master, the GOAT, proved his worth, Tom Brady shown to us all at 43 years young he could still mix it better than the best, outshining Rogers in that match before outdoing Mahomes, he (helped a little by the return to partnership with the Gronk) were the reason(s) why the Bucs won their first superbowl since 2003, and it will be hard to look further than them this time around too, despite the salt n pepper, mork & mindy, red n brown sauce of NFL being both another year older?
Other than the Bucs and their ageing offensive duo, I’m excited to see how Washington & Miami Dolphins do this season, I believe Kansas City will undoubtedly be strong in offense and could go one better than last February, whilst my ‘outside’ tip for Superbowl LVI will be Buffalo Bills lead by their superb Quarterback Josh Allen and their wide receiving armour of talent.
Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent; Freelance Journalist)
I’ve been a Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders fan, for my sins, for as long as I can remember really.
My grandfather, also Peter, introduced me to the NFL in the early eighties, and I vaguely recall the first game I watched being that of Super Bowl XX, which the Chicago Bears won (46-10 against New England) and whom I could have then followed, and I was hooked; I’ve even (still) got one of those part-work collections which my parents got for a Christmas present all those years ago (1986).
Since then, I tune in as much as I can, matches, highlights programmes and documentaries, whilst watching the Super Bowl, every year, for many a year. Granted I’d like to see the Raiders get back to the ‘Greatest Show on Earth,’ but I don’t think it’s happening any time soon I’m afraid, although a playoff berth may well be possible, if things go to plan, Jon Gruden plays the right calls, and Derek Carr stays the course.
Away from the Raiders, I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady last season was a one-off, because of the Brady-effect; I can see the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa getting to the playoffs or even going all the way, they should have last season really, the same can be said of the San Francisco 49ers and George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo et al, but, overall, I’m seeing the Raiders’ divisional rivals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Patrick Mahomes, adding another ring to the collection.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFL the SoFi Stadium in California will host this seasons superbowl.