NFL: your guide to the new season

Who will lift Super Bowl LII?

All the NFL teams you should be watching this season in one place

The 2017 American football season has turned out to be one of the most open, unpredictable campaigns in years – which is great news for all you armchair followers. 

NFL: Super Bowl LII on Sky Sports

But what about those of you who want to get into all the razzmatazz of the NFL but aren’t sure who to support? After all, this is a sport that’s getting more popular by the minute here in the UK and you need a team to cheer on – and to build up those workplace rivalries with fellow fans. Defending champions and all-round winning machine the New England Patriots are tipped for big things once again, while the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and last season’s unfortunate Super Bowl losers, the Atlanta Falcons, are also hungry for success.

If it all just sounds like a bunch of teams with mildly amusing names, don’t worry – we’ve picked out a dozen sides that you should take a look at before choosing who to get behind. From the cream of the crop to the plucky underdogs, it’s time to don your giant foam hand, find the biggest bucket of fried chicken imaginable and cast your eyes over this lot…

 

1. The natural born winners…
New England Patriots

If you just want glory, glory and more glory, follow the Patriots. Since quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick teamed up in 2000, the Patriots have won five Super Bowls, including last season’s memorable comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
 

2. The underdogs…
Philadelphia Eagles

One of the oldest teams in the NFL, founded in 1933, the Eagles are one of only 13 current sides never to have won the Super Bowl. They’ve come close twice, losing to – yep, you guessed it – the New England Patriots in 2005, plus the Oakland Raiders in 1981. If you’re more concerned with tradition than triumph, Philadelphia are your team.
 

3. The heartland favourites… Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are the most successful franchise in NFL history, with six Super Bowl championships. Coming from the Rust Belt heartland of Pennsylvania, they’re the choice of the blue-collar worker. Imagine Aaron Copland’s stirring “Fanfare For The Common Man” playing in your head when the Steelers step onto the pitch.

4. The big dogs…
Dallas Cowboys

In a land where bigger is better, the Dallas Cowboys are the biggest of the lot. Forbes recently valued them at $4.2billlion, making them the most valuable sports team in the world. And in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, they have two of the brightest new stars in the NFL. Think of them – with their five Super Bowl championships – as the US equivalent of Manchester United… and make your choice accordingly.
 

5. The sleeping giants…
San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have won the Super Bowl five times, and their name evokes such football icons as Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Last season, however, they were the second-worst team in the league, posting a pitiful record of two wins and 14 defeats. That said, with exciting young coach Kyle Shanahan now in the hot seat, the only way is up.
 

6. The nearly men…
Atlanta Falcons

Midway through the third quarter of last season’s Super Bowl the Falcons were crushing the Patriots 28-3. Just like in 1999 – the Falcons’ only other Super Bowl appearance – they somehow ended up losing. Quarterback Matt Ryan was named the league’s Most Valuable Player last year. Can he inspire the men from Georgia to go one better this time around?
 

7. The leftfield choice…
Cleveland Browns

If the Patriots have become a byword for success, the Cleveland Browns are the polar opposite. They’ve never appeared in a Super Bowl and last year they were the worst team in the NFL, winning only one of their 16 games. Cool fact: the Browns are the only team not to have a logo on their helmets.

8. The cool crew…
Miami Dolphins

Blame it on Miami Vice, or possibly Scarface, but Miami just looks so good. All that sunshine and golden sand and… anyway, the Dolphins might not be the wisest team to follow (their two Super Bowl wins came way back in the early 70s) but their logo is just so cooooool.
 

9. The angry brigade…
Oakland Raiders

The self-styled bad boys of the NFL. Heck, their logo features an eyepatch-wearing player with two cutlasses crossed menacingly behind him. If you’re feeling a bit naughty – and like their blingy silver-and-black colours – the Raiders are definitely the team for you.
 

10. The historical pick…
Chicago Bears

For American football fans of a certain vintage the Bears are the only team to follow. In playgrounds 30 years ago, players like Walter Payton and William “The Refrigerator” Perry (so named because of his sheer size) were as feted as Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley. Honestly. These days, though, the Bears have lost some of their lustre.
 

11. The trendy squad… 
New York Giants

There are two professional New York football teams, the Giants and the Jets. One team has a history of success, the other doesn’t. If you want to proclaim your love of all things Big Apple and cheer on a team that’s won the Super Bowl four times, it’s the Giants all the way.

12. The hipster’s pick…
New Orleans Saints

A Super Bowl win? Check. A hip location? Check. A team recently mired in mediocrity, but with a legend (Drew Brees) ready to breathe new life into the team? Check and check. Then New Orleans are the team for you, dear reader.