The NFL 2021 officially kicked off on Thursday night at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, thereby setting off a period of reading NFL predictions on sportsbooks across the US. And from what we know, things look pretty different than they did for the Super Bowl LV seven months ago.
The Important Changes to Keep an Eye On
The most significant change following the post-COVID affected 2020 season is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make a run for the championship with the title defense when they kick off against the Dallas Cowboys.
Nonetheless, the pandemic is still here. Meaning, even after the teams’ best efforts to get their staff fully vaccinated will be a factor in 2021. After almost a year of playing football in front of vast, empty stadiums, fans being back is a beautiful thing. Furthermore, the number has also changed this year. From receivers to running backs, linebackers, and defensive backs, now everyone is allowed to wear any number between 1 and 49.
You will also see DeSean Jackson wearing No.1, alongside fellow wideout Robert Woods rocking No. 2. Similarly, Jordan Fuller will wear No. 4, and Jalen Ramsey will sport No. 5. Now, this is just the case for the Rams. But, think about the rest 31 teams, and that adds to the confusion.
When it comes to the players who have changed teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick is working with a new team this year, upping sticks to Washington. Similarly, A.J. Green and J.J. Watt are now Cardinals, Julio Jones is a Titan, and Cam Newton doesn’t even belong to a team. He was axed by the Patriots.
Despite all these changes and more, there is one fact that hasn’t changed. Tom Brady is again the Super Bowl champion!
Make Some Noise for Tom Brady
On Thursday night, Tom Brady surprised the spectators with a throw for 379 yards with four touchdowns during the kick-off, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoy a mistake-filled 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Ever since the pandemic, the seats in the NFL stadium have been filled with fans to the total capacity. Ryan Succop ruled the field for a significant part of the game with a 36-yard field goal with two seconds remaining. But that wasn’t the end. Brady took to his team the victory with a last-minute drive carried out on the same field where the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in February.
For Tom Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl winner, the NFL 2021 will be the 300th regular-season he plays in his 22-year long career. He won his seventh ring back in 2020, the time when he played his very first season in Tampa Bay. Back then, the Bucs bullied the Kansas City Chiefs to a triumphant 31-9 in Super Bowl LV. Quite a record for a quarterback. With his ever-glittering performance, now he is back in 2021, at the prime age of 44, to join Drew Brees as the only player to throw nearly 300-plus yards in a game 100 times.
Though the Chief’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the title game the previous season did herald the dawn of a new era, Brady once again proved that this is his league again.
In his first season in Florida, Tom Brady led the Bucs to an 11-5 record, thanks to his throw for 4,633 yards. This was even marked as the fifth-highest mark of his remarkable NFL career apart from the 40 touchdowns he tosses, second only to the 50 thrown in his league-MVP-winning 2007 season.
Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski bagged the first-half touchdown passes for the Bucs. The trio then leads the team on a winning streak of nine games till December 2020. During the match, it was Brady’s second TD pass to Gronkowski that led the champs up 28-19. Furthermore, Succop’s field followed Greg Zuerlein, putting the Cowboys ahead with a 48-yarder with 1:24 to go.
Brady currently only requires another 1,155 pass yards to overthrow Drew Brees (80,358), who holds the title for the most in NFL history. By sticking with the Buccaneers, Tom Brady will probably be able to achieve this feat by Week Four. Unfortunately, this also means that Brady will have to average nearly 290 yards per game. In 2020, his average was 289.5 per game.
Brady would definitely love to celebrate such an achievement, especially in a stadium he called home for the last 20 years. With his enthusiastic fans and his former stone-faced coach on the sidelines, everything is about a single thing-winning.
If the whole world wished for something this NFL season, it is for Brady to be at the end with the confetti falling around him in early February.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.