Football is Back

No we haven’t got to the Uni season already, first we have the NFL!

The 2017 season kicks off Thursday (well Friday early hours for us) with the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.

“Being selected to play in the season-opening game and having a league-high six prime-time contests is a  tremendous honor and a tribute to our team and organization,” says Chiefs head coach Andy Reid

It may only be week 1, however, there’s pressure to win right from the start.

Teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game.

What’s more, nine of the 12 playoff teams in 2006 were victorious on Kickoff Weekend!

New England’s Bill Belichick is 15-7 (.682) on Kickoff Weekend and his 15 wins are the most among active head coaches. Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid (10-8; .556) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .500.

The defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons will open their new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Week 2 on Sunday Night Football against the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers. The Falcons have won 10 of their past 12 home openers.

Unpredictable

The 2016 season was full of excitement, but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL. Close games and great comeback victories, new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and so much more.

The NFL never fails to surprise and 2016 was no different, it featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by just one score, the most of any season since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

Games continued to have a flair for the dramatic, as tight contests frequently came down to the wire. In 2016, there were 72 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season in NFL history. What’s more 72% of games were within eight points during the fourth quarter the highest percentage since the institution of the two-point conversion in 1994.

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The Detroit Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in the NFL.

Worst-To-First

For the 13th time in the past 14 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing last or tied for last. In fact, of the 44 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 21 of them have done so in the past 14 years.

On A High

A total of 11,661 points were scored during the 2016 season, the third-highest total all-time Games averaged 45.55 points per game, the third-highest average since the 1970 merger.

London Games

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For the first time, the NFL will have four regular season games to be held in London. Two at Wembley and two at the “home of rugby” Twickenham Stadium.

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On Sunday 24 September, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley (2:30PM) in a contest that will be streamed globally by Verizon. The next weekend, on Sunday 1 October, the Dolphins will host the Saints at Wembley (2:30PM). In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham on 22 Sunday October (6:00PM). The following week, the Cleveland Browns will host the Vikings at Twickenham on Sunday, 29 October (1:30PM).

Eyes On The Prize

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U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, will host Super Bowl LII on 4 February 2018. It’s only the second time the city has hosted the Super Bowl. Normally the NFL favours cities in the South due to their warmer climate. New Orleans and South Florida lead the most favoured cities with 10 a piece, however, if you factor in Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida pushes well ahead with a total of 15.

Ways To Watch

The primary ways to catch the NFL season in the UK are either on the BBC coverage brought to you by Mark Chapman, with NFL stars Jason Bell and two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora.

Next up in Sky’s regular coverage of full games on their Sky Sports channels. These are brought to you presenter Kevin Cadle and amongst others the “love him, hate him” UK analyst Neil Reynolds.

The premium way to catch games is with the NFL’s Game Pass service. You can watch every play, of every game this way with either full game streams or condensed ‘Game-in-40’ broadcasts. This OTT service has had its share of recent problems, however, it still represents the service dedicated fans turn to to get their fix of NFL programming.

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