The NFL 2020 season has been one like no other. Due to global circumstances, a number of changes had to be implemented to ensure player, team, and fan safety. The pre-season was very different. The first change was to the Draft; ordinarily surrounded with much pre-draft publicity and held in a stadium surrounded by fans, this years was streamed online and via television, without any of the pomp and ceremony usually associated with it. Additionally, all pre-season games were cancelled.
The NFL introduced additional health and safety protocols, allowing for more rostered players to be available in the event of illness, limited contact between teams and the press, as well as limiting the number of players able to attend games in person: in fact, all but 6 of the stadia are completely closed to the public, and the remaining 6 are strictly limiting capacity.
The NFL has however, managed something other professional sports league have not, due in part to the timing of the season: they have managed to start the season on time, and plan to play all games, culminating in the Superbowl in February 2021. The beauty of the NFL also adds to its unpredictability, where no roster is the same year on year, and what was considered common knowledge changes in the blink of an eye.
The lack of pre-season games this season has meant that teams have not been able to practice their new formations and plays in a live setting, creating more of a level playing field, those betting through these legal NJ sportsbooks have really had their work cut out when it comes to picking winners. Some teams touted to excel have disappointed and others, considered mediocre in the pre-season, have had the opportunity to shine. One key thing to question is whether the overachievers can continue their initial success and really threaten come the end of the season.
Who is doing well?
The Buffalo Bills have started the season strongly. With one of the best rosters in football, the only doubt was around their quarterback play, as Allen had not performed well in previous games. However, the Bills are 4-0 and are certainly a contender for the playoffs. They have the best offence in the league, are ranked fourth in total yards, fifth in points, and Allen is now considered their driving force. The work that the Bills has done to support Allen over the last couple of years, has developed him significantly, making the Bills a force to be reckoned with in the NFL, with the potential to go all the way.
The Green Bay Packers have also won all their games of the season. This team has built the foundations of a strong team over the last decade, with an excellent manager, coaching staff, players and team chemistry. The Packers have never been afraid of making changes to staff as required, changing coaches and defensive coordinators as needed, and have always invested in creating players who are able to lead on the field and ensure the necessary chemistry is there to ensure success.
The Seattle Seahawks are also performing well. Having won all their games so far, the Seahawks are (finally) brilliantly showcasing Wilson’s talents; in the game against the Cowboys Wilson threw for 315 yards. Previous reliance on running backs in previous years, the Seahawks were slow to adapt their approach to suit Wilson’s playing style, but now that they have they are perhaps unstoppable.
Who is not doing well?
Expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the league this season, the Indianapolis Colts have yet to deliver, with an average of just 3.5 yards per carry, and have demonstrated poor run blocking in their first four games.
The Dallas Cowboys, with a wealth of talent on and off the field, have found themselves performing poorly. Before the start of the season, they were touted to make the play-offs, and had every chance of reaching the Superbowl. They have an explosive offensive lineup, but have not been able to manage their defensive line effectively, so whilst they have scored highly in their games, their opponents have scored more. Their lack of cohesion on the field is something strong leadership can resolve.
The Atlanta Falcons were also expected to start the season well, with many talented players, such as Saquon Barkley, Derwin James and Nick Bossa, and a star coach, but injuries have hampered their attempts at a win so far this season. However, it is expected that as those players return the Falcons will perform better later on in the season, though they will need better situational awareness and execution. Quinn has also recently been relieved of his duties as head coach, with an interim coach expected to be announced shortly.
It is clear that those performing well this season are doing so not simply because they drafted the best players, but because they have worked out how to play cohesively. Teams like the Bills, the Seahawks and the Packers are not simply relying on big names, but building a strong unified team that will certainly go from strength to strength. However, should the Cowboys manage to play together, or the Falcons injured players manage to return, they may be able to turn things around.