NFL 2017 - season predictions & how to watch on the BBC

Tom Brady
Quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to their second Super Bowl title in three years in February

Seven months on from the most dramatic Super Bowl comeback in history, the NFL resumes this week.

Defending champions the New England Patriots get the season under way, hosting the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday (01:30 BST on Friday).

The Patriots, who came from 25 points down to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime to win Super Bowl LI in Houston in February, are again among the favourites.

They will be looking to retain their title at Super Bowl LII, which takes place on February 4 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Former New York Giants defensive back Jason Bell and two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora, along with presenter Mark Chapman, will bring you the best of the action when The NFL Show returns as part of the BBC's coverage.

Who are the team to beat?

New England Patriots
With five Super Bowl wins, the Patriots trail only the Pittsburgh Steelers (six) in the all-time list

Osi Umenyiora: "The Patriots. They've been a dynamic franchise for the past 15-20 years. They've got a great head coach and a great quarterback in Tom Brady.

"The last time a team retained their title it was the New England Patriots in 2002-2003. You can see the level of success and the longevity they've had.

"If it's not the Patriots, it will be the New York Giants."

Jason Bell: "The Patriots have got better and it's amazing that they've done that in the off-season. They've made great acquisitions and got better as a team.

"Tom Brady is 40 now but he has done a really good job taking care of himself and his body in the off-season."

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NFL players play 'proper football'

Who will struggle?

Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder of Premier League club Arsenal, owns NFL franchise the Los Angeles Rams. Arsenal have started the season poorly, but will the Rams do likewise?

Osi Umenyiora: "The Rams are struggling. Their quarterback Jared Goff was drafted really high last year but struggled a little bit last season.

"They've been struggling for the past couple of years. They fired head coach Jeff Fisher after five losing seasons and brought in Sean McVay, hoping to inject some new blood into the team, but so far it hasn't seemed like anything has worked.

"The rules are completely different in the NFL to the Premier League. Everyone has the same amount of money to spend in the NFL and there's so much parity in the league so when things don't work they blame the head coach and the players, not the owners."

Jason Bell: "The Rams fans are upset because their number one defensive player, Aaron Donald, is holding out for a contract extension and he's not making it happen.

"He wants more money, and the highest-paid defensive player of the year. But he deserves it, he's one of better defensive players in the league, probably the best."

Who will be the Most Valuable Player?

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan had a career-best season in 2016, completing 69.9% of his passes while leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won the award in 2016, despite being on the losing side in the Super Bowl.

The 32-year-old threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions as Atlanta averaged 33.75 points per game on their way to the NFC title.

But will he retain his crown in 2017?

Who will be the best rookie?

Myles Garrett
Since 2000, a quarterback has been taken with the first pick in the draft on all but five occasions. This year, Cleveland went for defensive end Myles Garrett

The Cleveland Browns took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the number one overall pick in this year's draft, but it is often an offensive rookie who takes the headlines.

Last season, running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott were among the rookie stars as they helped Dallas Cowboys to the divisional round of the NFC Conference play-offs.

Which team is most likely to go 0-16?

Cleveland Browns
The Browns beat the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in their 15th game of the 2016 season to avoid a winless year

The 2008 Detroit Lions are the only team to go an entire 16-game NFL season without a victory, but the Cleveland Browns came close last season, winning their penultimate game to end with a 1-15 record.

Having the worst record in the NFL does come with one perk - that team gets the first pick in the draft the following season.

Off the field

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick (centre) remains unsigned by an NFL team

Last season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked controversy when he refused to stand for the American national anthem in protest against the plight of black people in the US. Having opted out of his contract in the off-season, Kaepernick remains a free agent.

Osi Umenyiora: "I think he is 100% right. We all saw what he saw and he chose to speak out against it.

"Is he being blackballed? I don't think you can make an argument that he's not. He has talent and you see a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL who don't have quite as much talent as he does.

"His place slipped a little bit last year so the 49ers have a convenient excuse for not signing him."

Jason Bell: "A lot of fans didn't understand why he was doing it and what he was representing.

"He's good enough to be on any team right now as a back-up but it's the question of whether or not he disrupts the locker room. Do people start talking about him instead of talking about the game?"

How to watch the 2017 season on the BBC

The NFL Show will run throughout the season on BBC One, either on Friday or Saturday nights, with NFL This Week rounding up all the action on Tuesdays on BBC Two, beginning on 12 September at 23:45 BST.

The BBC will have live coverage of two games - the New Orleans Saints against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley (14:30 BST) on 1 October and the Minnesota Vikings against the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham on 29 October (13:30 GMT).

There is also live coverage of Super Bowl LII on 4 February 2018.

Full details can be found here.

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