The NFL season gets underway this week and the road to Super Bowl LVI starts now.
32 teams will be aiming to reach American football’s showpiece event, held in California next February, but there is a long way to go until then and the hopefuls will need to get into form pretty quickly to lay the groundwork for a successful quest to Super Bowl glory. Here’s everything you need to know.
Who are the reigning champions?
The current champions are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who claimed their second Super Bowl title earlier this year as they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida – a fitting home victory. They were inspired by legendary quarterback Tom Brady who took the prestigious MVP award for a record fifth time, while also becoming the first player to win the award with multiple franchises. Brady, then 43, became the oldest player to receive the honour and win a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback. The game itself was witnessed by a crowd of just 25,000 due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Kansas City came into the game as favourites but they were made to rue the many penalties they conceded and could not get into any rhythm offensively. For the first time under quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs did not score a touchdown, just the third team in Super Bowl history to do so, and lost by double-digits.
When does the 2021/22 season start?
The season starts on Friday 10 September, here is the full list for the opening weekend fixtures (UK times):
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys (Friday 10 September, 12.30am)
Indianapolis Colts v Seattle Seahawks (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Washington v Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Cincinnati Bengals v Minnesota Vikings (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Carolina Panthers v New York Jets (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Tennessee Titans v Arizona Cardinals (Sunday 12 September, 6pm)
Kansas City Chiefs v Cleveland Browns (Sunday 12 September, 9.25pm)
New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins (Sunday 12 September, 9.25pm)
New York Giants v Denver Broncos (Sunday 12 September, 9.25pm)
New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers (Sunday 12 September, 9.25pm)
Los Angeles Rams v Chicago Bears (Monday 13 September, 1:20am)
Las Vegas Raiders v Baltimore Ravens (Tuesday 14 September, 1:15am)
Who reaches the play-offs?
The AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference) are each broken into four regional divisions. The champions of each division qualify for the play-offs. The team with the best record in each conference qualifies automatically for the Divisional Round, with the other three winners playing off against the three non-division winning teams with the best records, giving second and third-placed teams the opportunity to have a crack at reaching the Super Bowl.
The three Wild Card winners progress to the Divisional Round alongside the team with the best record. From the Divisional Round onwards it is a straight knockout.
When are the play-offs?
The play-offs take place after the regular season. Here are the key dates for your diary.
Wild Card Round – January 15-16, 2022
Divisional Round – January 22-23, 2022
Conference Championships – January 30, 2022
When and where is the Super Bowl?
Super Bowl LVI is scheduled to take place on Sunday 13 February 2022. The blockbuster game is set for California this year and it will be hosted at the recently constructed SoFi Stadium.
Who are the favourites?
The current bookies' favourite to claim the Super Bowl title this year are the Kansas City Chiefs. They, and star quarterback Mahomes, are expected to bounce back and make amends for their disappointing performance against the Buccaneers last season.
Courtesy of Betfred, here are the top six favourites to win the Super Bowl LVI.
Kansas City Chiefs (9/2)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6/1)
Buffalo Bills (10/1)
Los Angeles Rams (10/1)
San Francisco 49ers (12/1)
Baltimore Ravens (12/1)