SEPTEMBER 7, 2017
In case you missed the news last month, DAZN is now very much alive and kicking in Canada and will be the only place Canadians can access every live NFL game of the 2017 season – pre-season, regular season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. As the new home of NFL Game Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone, DAZN will have both live and on-demand coverage with no blackouts meaning fans will never have to miss another epic touchdown, field goal or interception again.
With pre-season finally over, teams are focusing on the big season opener on Thursday, September 7th as the reigning champion New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs at the Gillette Stadium. We’re super excited that the start of the season is here again, and we spoke to our resident expert Phil Spooner, DAZN’s NFL Producer, who gave us some of his predictions for the upcoming season. For those who may not be as clued up as Phil, this should give you an idea of the players to look out for and the teams that he is expecting to be challenging for Super Bowl LII. These tips could also significantly help you decide on your fantasy teams for the upcoming season!
New England Patriots – AFC East
The reigning champions are likely to be in the mix for the title, as usual. Legendary quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick have won an unprecedented five Super Bowls together. Brady is now 40 years old, but he cemented his status as the greatest of all time with his stunning performance in the 2nd half of Super Bowl LI, and is showing no signs of decline. It’s not just Brady to look out for though, as the Patriots also have Rob Gronkowski – one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. He’s back from injury and is arguably the biggest personality in the entire league, always offering good value on and off the field. A season-ending injury to Julian Edelman – Brady’s favourite receiver – is a blow, but the Patriots have enough talent and experience to endure that loss. Expect to see New England in Super Bowl LII representing the AFC.
Pittsburgh Steelers – AFC North
The Steelers have won six Super Bowls, more than any other team. In the last 13 years, they’ve managed two championship victories under the leadership of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He remains paramount to their success this season, and if he performs, they will be challengers. The ‘Killer Bs,’ – Big Ben, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant – are the league’s most explosive offensive unit. When they click, the Steelers can look unstoppable. Keeping the Killer Bs healthy and on the field together is the crucial challenge for Head Coach Mike Tomlin. They made it to the AFC Championship game last season before being stopped by the Patriots juggernaut. They have the talent to make the next step.
Oakland Raiders – AFC West
The Raiders fan base has suffered more than almost any team in the last decade. After years of being a laughing stock, they finally got their act together in 2016, and briefly appeared to be the likeliest contender to stop the Patriots in the AFC. An injury to quarterback Derek Carr derailed the season, but he’s back in 2017 with an outstanding supporting cast, including legendary running back Marshawn Lynch, who has come out of retirement to play for his hometown team. Despite all the positives, it’s a bittersweet era for Raiders fans. The franchise will move to Las Vegas in 2020, so the die-hard Oakland fans know that the clock is ticking. Derek Carr signed a record-breaking new contract in the offseason, so the pressure to deliver a farewell gift to Oakland is on his shoulders.
Seattle Seahawks – NFC West
The Seahawks aren’t a traditional NFL powerhouse, but they are in something of a mini-dynasty right now, having made it to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons. They’re also one of the most popular teams in Canada, particularly in Vancouver. Their only Super Bowl win was in the 2013 season against the Denver Broncos, but they were defeated the following year to Brady’s Patriots in a modern classic. They have done well to maintain the core of the squad from those successful seasons, as well as adding fresh blood, and will be contenders in 2017. Quarterback Russell Wilson is a genuine star, and the Legion of Boom – the nickname given to Seattle’s ferocious defensive backs – is still going strong. Expect to see them in the NFC Championship game.
Dallas Cowboys – NFC East
Known as ‘America’s Team,’ the Cowboys were one of the dominant forces of the 90s. Since then it’s been tough for Cowboys fans, but in 2016 they made their way back to the big time with a young, exciting team built around the league’s dominant offensive line. Owner Jerry Jones has been a key figure in the history of the league and would love to add another Super Bowl ring to his collection. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw 23 passing touchdowns last season, and wide receiver Dez Bryant racked up nearly 800 running yards in the 2016 campaign. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is also one to watch. At just 22 he rushed 1,631 yards in his debut NFL season last year, but he’s set to miss six games this season due to suspension. That could be a key loss for the Cowboys.
Green Bay Packers – NFC North
Winners of the first two Super Bowls, the Packers have managed to put together a consistently strong roster over the years despite being the smallest town to have a major sports team in the USA. The Super Bowl trophy is named after their coach from the 1960s, Vince Lombardi. The Packers are the only publicly owned US sporting franchise, and the waiting list for tickets is almost 1000 years. Their star man is Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably the most talented player in the entire league. They are perennial contenders in the NFC, and 2017 should be no different.
As well as the teams and players mentioned above, it’s worth keeping an eye on these players too.
Odell Beckham Jr – New York Giants
Von Miller – Denver Broncos
Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
JJ Watt – Houston Texans
Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Khalil Mack – Oakland Raiders
Joey Bosa – Los Angeles Chargers
Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams