NFL season preview: The make or break season for players in search of their first championship


Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Donald enter the 2021-22 season leading their teams to the top of Super Bowl betting odds. (Photo courtesy of PFF (Pro Football Focus))

Arjun Aujla

The 2021-22 National Football League (NFL) season is slated to be an extremely competitive and exciting year. The NFL has added another game to the regular-season schedule, making it an 18 week and 17 game season. After last year’s plethora of rescheduled games, limited fan attendance, and a record amount of injuries, teams are looking forward to having a normal season. An eventful offseason featured big names like Julio Jones and Matthew Stafford getting traded to Super Bowl contenders, leading to many teams in both conferences seeming to have a legitimate shot at winning the championship.

The offseason started with the NFL draft, which is now the third most-watched draft on any account with an average audience of 6.1 million viewers. It included a once-in-a-generation quarterback draft class, with five quarterbacks drafted in the top 15, and featured many talented receivers. 

Many aging stars, wanting to add a Super Bowl to their resume, went to contending teams. A key trade occurred when Quarterback Mathew Stafford was sent to the already high-powered Los Angeles Rams team led by head coach Sean McVay and supported by an iron defense that includes three-time defensive player of the year, Aaron Donald. Additionally, receiver Julio Jones was traded to the Tennessee Titans to be paired with the back-to-back league rushing leader Derek Henry and explosive pass-catcher A.J. Brown, assembling a dynamic offense. Superstar defensive end J.J. Watt joined his old teammate Deandre Hopkins and young Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray on the Arizona Cardinals, creating a lethal roster in one of the most competitive divisions in football. The West National Football Conference (NFC West) is made up of the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. All these teams have high hopes of making a deep playoff run. 

Celebrating his touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers flexes at Lambeau Field. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Another major headline of the offseason was the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers dispute. Rodgers had seemingly been fed up with upper-level management after they had failed to assemble a strong team around Rodgers for the past 10 seasons. For most of the offseason, it looked like Rodgers was not going to suit up in a Packers uniform again. Rodgers attended training camp in late July but said that this will be his last season with the Green Bay Packers. 

The team that sent the Packers home in the playoffs last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also made major headlines this offseason. They were able to retain every starting member of their Super Bowl-winning roster. With their top-tier defense and an explosive offense led by Tom Brady, the Buccaneers have put themselves in a position to reclaim the championship. On the other hand, the Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs have revamped their offensive line and kept their key players. As long as Patrick Mahomes remains starting quarterback, it is evident that the Chiefs are due for another strong season. 

Viewership ratings declined for the first time in three years due to the NFL having to reschedule many games for COVID-19 precautions. Major networks will be anxiously waiting to see if their 105 billion dollar deal with the NFL is worth it. NFL owners are hopeful that their stadiums will be filled with fans, and their players will stay healthy. Teams are hoping that with an increased rate of vaccinations, there will be fewer positive tests and their players will stay healthy. While many players have spoken out against the vaccine, the NFL has released a new policy saying that teams will be forced to forfeit games that are missed by outbreaks from unvaccinated players. 

The NFL kickoff is approaching quickly with the first game on Thursday, Sept. 9. This NFL season will draw many viewers anxiously awaiting to see which story will complete itself. Will Rodgers complete his saga in Green Bay with a Superbowl win? Will Mathew Stafford finally get to show the league what he can do with the right pieces around him? Will Mahomes get post-season payback and win his second Super Bowl? Or will Tom Brady defeat father time once again and lead the Buccaneers to back-to-back Super Bowl wins? Tune in on Sundays to see who will be crowned the Super Bowl champion.