Everything you need to know about the return of the NFL
Odds and preview ahead of the new NFL season
Just over seven months after Kansas City Chiefs beat San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl LIV in Miami, the National Football League returns to action on Friday morning.
In the league’s opener, Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs team line up to take on Houston Texans in a re-run of the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
Not much has changed in terms of how the league will be contested, but there are a few team changes and a playoff change to remember.
Plus, with a number of blockbuster moves to look at along with new additions from the NFL Draft, there have been plenty of roster changes to look at.
Ahead of Friday morning’s kick-off, we give you everything you need to know ahead of the 2020/21 NFL season.
In the NFL’s 101st season, there’s been a minor change to the playoff format. Last season, 12 teams were able to qualify for the playoffs, including two wildcard teams from each conference.
This year, the league has expanded the playoffs to 14 teams, adding an extra wildcard team from each side. To cater for this, only the top ranked side in each division will gain a first-round bye, rather than the top two from the AFC and NFC.
With no other rule or format changes, we’ve seen two changes to teams competing in the NFL.
Oakland Raiders have completed their franchise move back to Las Vegas. Along with that move comes a name change, and they’ll now compete as Las Vegas Raiders at the brand-new Allegiant Stadium.
The second change comes from the Washington franchise, as they’re dropping the ‘Redskins’ identity following decades of controversy over their name and logo. With a new permanent name not yet decided, they’ll be known as Washington Football Team for the time being.
Just over a month after the Chiefs Super Bowl win, Tom Brady shocked the NFL world with a move from New England Patriots to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ending his 20-year affiliation with the Foxborough based side.
Joining him in Florida is former teammate Rob Gronkowski, who retired from the Patriots at the end of the 2018 season. Patriots exchanged Gronk and a seventh-round 2020 NFL Draft pick for a fourth-round pick, which they traded to Las Vegas for a third and fifth round pick.
Elsewhere in the league, Arizona Cardinals have taken one of Houston’s weapons from their arsenal, as they traded for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins providing a new target for Kyler Murray in his second season.
New England Patriots have added 2015 MVP, quarterback Cam Newton to their roster to replace Tom Brady.
Seattle Seahawks have bolstered their squad too with the addition of safety Jamal Adams from New York Jets, while Buffalo Bills have acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs from Minnesota Vikings.
The NFL Draft has added some more incredible talent to the league too, with Joe Burrow, the 2019 Heisman Trophy recipient, the number one pick for Cincinnati Bengals.
Other notable picks saw Washington select the highly coveted defensive end Chase Young, Miami Dolphins make Tua Tagovailoa their franchise quarterback and Los Angeles Chargers chose Justin Herbert out of Oregon.
Who are the favourites?
With Super Bowl LV scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the Buccaneers, it’s defending champions Kansas City who are the 11/2 favourites for back to back titles.
If you think the addition of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski could seal the Buccaneers second Super Bowl win in their history, they’re 12/1 to win on home soil.
Opening weekend fixtures
There are no teams with a bye week on the opening run of fixtures, meaning 32 teams will compete in 16 fixtures across the weekend from Friday morning to Tuesday morning.
Chiefs host Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday morning to get the action underway.
There will be 12 fixtures on Sunday to follow the opener, including Joe Burrow’s first game as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback as the Bengals take on Los Angeles Chargers.
The pick of the weekend’s fixtures come from New England Patriots hosting Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers travelling to Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers taking on Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing New Orleans Saints.
Early on Monday morning, Los Angeles Rams host Dallas Cowboys before two more games on Tuesday morning including a restructured New York Giants against Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans taking on Denver Broncos.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.