Expertly put by one of my rugby friends, how can you watch a sport where a fat man expends 5 seconds of energy then walks off to take oxygen on the side-lines? To an extent this assertion is true, though it somewhat misses the point of American football.
Without delving too far into the intricacies of the NFL format, there are 2 conferences: the NFC and the AFC consisting of a total of 32 teams. The winners of the two meet in the Superbowl every year.
The start of the NFL season has been fascinating to date, largely due to the influx of new head coaches, eight in total. Aside from the average start to the season by my beloved Green Bay Packers, teams who won only 2 games last season are unbeaten thus far whereas Superbowl challengers a season ago are struggling to put wins on the board. It should be noted I bear no affiliation to Green Bay other than the idea they beat teams into submission due to the -20 home weather conditions. Remind you of anywhere?
In the AFC despite being only 5 games into the season, there is one clear frontrunner, the Denver Broncos. Under the guidance of quarterback Peyton Manning they are setting records left right and centre (points scored, touchdown passes etc). For the less experienced football fan out there he is the the Pirlo to Italian football or the Dan Carter to the All Blacks. The surprise package has been the Kansas City Chiefs. They too remain unbeaten, not bad for a team who finished with an embarrassing two wins from sixteen games last year. For those still looking to pick a team to support consider the Chiefs. From their no nonsense smash you in the mouth defence to their unbelievably designed ‘Arrowhead Stadium’ this is a franchise to root for. One of the surprises in the AFC has been the woeful start made by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The most successful team in NFL history are yet to win a game.
In the NFC, the big shock is the drop in form of the Atlanta Falcons. 3 yards away from making the Superbowl last year, a team many picked to go one step further and compete in New York for the ‘big show’ have won only once. A season long injury to one of their star players Julio Jones has done little to alleviate fears of missing out on the post season let alone the title. The other intriguing story concerns the Philadelphia Eagles. Those who have seen Silverlinings Playbook will know all about the Eagles and Robert DeNiro’s violent hatred towards those who don’t appreciate their style. Under their new head coach Chip Kelly, they are looking to revolutionise the sport. Their ‘no huddle’ offence does not allow the so called fat men to take oxygen on the side-lines after every play leaving opposing defences continually knackered. He first became famous for this at his previous job for the college team Oregon. Despite this it still appears a work in progress as they sit in virtual mid-table.
There are still two-thirds or so of the season to go and it wouldn’t be unusual to see early front runners drop off whilst early sleepers come into life when it really matters. The last few years have seen teams who barely scraped into the playoffs win it all (Baltimore, the New York Giants and the mighty Green Bay Packers). To those who’ve missed the start of the season tune in every Sunday to see the ridiculous helmet to helmet hits, bizarre celebrations and Miami Dolphins cheerleaders whilst also getting a general feel for the sport affectionately labelled America’s game.