With the world caught in a moment of hesitation fuelled by coronavirus there will at least be a level of normality resumed next month as the NFL gets up and running. Here we look at five things to keep an eye on when things get under way.

 

Number 5. A new look defense for the Vikings

 

Last season the Minnesota Vikings boasted a strong defensive line but it’s all change for 2020. Five players have moved on including Trae Waynes and Everson Griffen – that’s a loss of 99 tackles just between those two.

 

Of course, there are a few new faces too. Despite the team taking on a much more inexperienced look Mike Zimmer is confident his new boys won’t have any issues bedding in and expectations shouldn’t be dampened down because of the overhaul.

 

The opening game will put them to an early test as they come up against the NFC North favourites, the Green Bay Packers.

 

Number 4. Odell Beckham Jr 

 

There has been more than the fair share of players who have opted against making a return to the NFL because of Covid-19. The biggest name to have spoken out against the season restart is Odell Beckham Jr. He has, however, stopped short of pulling out of the campaign and has promised to bring his ‘worst behaviour’.

 

Browns’ fans will certainly hope that’s true after a mediocre first year in Cleveland. When he’s on his game, Beckham is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Let’s see if he hits the ground running as he faces the Baltimore Ravens.

 

Number 3. Who starts for the Patriots 

 

It’s near on impossible to believe but Tom Brady will not be the Patriots quarterback this season. Who replaces him though is still a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer. Dual-threat free agent Cam Newton arrived in late June. He offers the most experience but a one year deal off the back of a spell on the side lines doesn’t scream guaranteed starter.

 

That said, in his last full season – 2018 – he threw 3,395 yards with a further 488 rushed. That is a considerable tick against his name compared to the other main challenger, Jarrett Stidham. Stidham covered Brady last year but has only featured three times. He had a reasonable record for Auburn in the college system but he is an unproven man in the NFL. Whoever starts against the Dolphins should give a good indication of the plans for the year ahead.

 

Number 2. Joe Burrow’s debut

 

Burrow has stolen his fair share of headlines this off season as he became the number one pick in the draft. The Cincinnati Bengals face the LA Chargers in game one giving Burrows the platform to show the watching world what he’s all about. He was a level above in the NCAA sweeping award wins, leading the league and breaking records. He’ll almost definitely be starting when game day rolls around and I for one cannot wait to see whether he can cut the mustard in the NFL. The game also brings a side attraction of seeing Justin Herbert; like Burrow, he too was a round one pick.

 

Number 1. Drew Brees Vs Tom Brady

 

That’s right, number one on our list picks itself. The Buccaneers and Saints meet in game week one and, given the off season, it’s a match you simply cannot miss. Brees will be under the microscope after his comments on the black lives matter movement came under huge scrutiny.

 

There is no disputing his quality as a QB but when teammates call you out on such strong views the ramifications could run deep – regardless of apologies made. If things aren’t perfect in the Saints’ ranks, then they could be up against it.

 

There will be no easy start either as they face four-time MVP, Tom Brady. Brady caused a stir when he left New England, but their loss is Tampa’s gain. There have been a few suggestions flying around disputing just how good Brady is with some going as far as to say he won’t be missed by the Patriots.

 

We personally think he will be and a match against the Saints is the perfect opportunity for Brady to show he’s as good as ever. Who will come out on top?

 

There you have it, five things to watch as the NFL gets started in a month from now. Take a look at the current state of the odds for the upcoming competition and let’s get pumped for the games: https://extra.betamerica.com/nfl/odds/

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