NFL 2021 season preview: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Mac Jones set to star

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Although it was a season unlike any other, the NFL's 2020 campaign saw a familiar end with Tom Brady winning the Lombardi Trophy.

The 44-year-old quarterback managed to win the seventh Super Bowl, beating the Kansas City Chiefs despite joining a new team during a pandemic.

After turning the Bucs into champions the NFL's GOAT is "really excited" to see the potential of his team in his 22nd season.

The Green Bay Packers will be their biggest challenge in NFC Conference. Aaron Rodgers was the Most Valuable Player last season and is determined to win another NFL title. He has already worked out differences with the team.

Josh Allen's Buffalo Bills are trying to stop Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs, from reaching a third consecutive Super Bowl. But could the new New England Patriots, who have had a disappointing first year without Brady, get back in contention?

After the pandemic, fans are back and there is an extra week of action. The regular season has been extended from 16 to 17. London will also see the NFL return, with two additional games. However, it all begins in Tampa Bay on Friday (01.20 BST), when Brady's Bucs play the Dallas Cowboys.

Jason Bell, a BBC pundit, says that every season has some sort of surprise. I think that the game is so appealing from a fan's perspective. It's exciting to see how it turns out.

What happened to Aaron Rodgers during the off-season

Green Bay drafted quarterback Jordan Love in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, shocking Rodgers. He responded with his third MVP season

The Rodgers saga, a 'will he or won't he?' story, was the biggest news of the off-season. Green Bay was only one win away from the Super Bowl in the previous two seasons. However, April brought news that their veteran quarterback wanted out. External-link

The 37-year old Rodgers was being talked about as a player who would not be available for the season and could even sacrifice more than $35 million. Rodgers, however, reported to duty in July training camp, expressing dissatisfaction with team management's treatment for players.

Three-time MVP Rodgers said that he was considering retiring but that "the fire still burns". The Packers agreed to allow Rodgers to participate more in team discussions, and have restructured Rodgers' contract to make it easier for him next year.

This creates a possibility for Last Dance this season. Rodgers and Davante Adams, a star receiver currently involved in a contract dispute between Green Bay and Rodgers, are not ignoring the fact. Both players posted the same picture of Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan on Instagram during the summer.

Osi Umenyiora, a BBC pundit, said that "if this is his last year then we wish him luck." He's shown every sign that he will continue to give his best and all the drama from off-season dissipates as soon as he steps on the field.

"Even though he won the MVP award last year, I believe we're going see him put together an amazing season. Aaron Rodgers is the most dangerous player in the league, and he wants to prove his point.

Can Tampa Bay win back-to-back titles?

Tampa Bay beat Green Bay last season in the NFC Championship game, to become the first Super Bowl host team at their home stadium.

The Bucs were the first champions to re-sign all 22 Super Bowl starters since 1977.

Veteran Brady, who had knee surgery in the offseason, says he's "able to do some other things this year". However no team has won back-2-to-back championships since 2003 and 2004, when Brady led the Patriots.

Bell says that Tampa Bay is the team to beat and everyone's following them. "But they've brought back their whole team and are healthy so they can do this.

"It's incredible that they made such sacrifices to bring everyone back. They should be starting the season quickly because of this. We'll see how they stay healthy, and if their defense can be as efficient as last year.

A 'retooled, revamped New England'

The Patriots finished last season without Brady with a loss record of 7-9, their first losing record since 2000.

Six-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick was frustrated with the quality of his talent and decided to bring in 12 players through free agency. Bell adds, "They've spend some money." Bell adds, "But they don't do this!"

Mac Jones was the Patriots' first quarterback to be drafted in the 1st round since Drew Bledsoe, the predecessor of Brady, in 1993. The rookie performed well enough in preseason to be named their starter for 2021, Cam Newton being released on cut-down day.

Umenyiora says, "This is the beginning of a new era in Pats football." "Last year was a bridge to Cam Newton. But now they are with a guy that they believe can eventually become as good as Brady. They have surrounded him with the weapons necessary to make that happen.

"This is a retooled and revamped New England led by the NFL’s greatest head coach ever. They will be back among the contenders.

NFL's London return will see rookie stars

Jones was one five quarterbacks who were selected in the 2021 draft. All five could be starting during their rookie season.

Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), and Zach Wilson (New York Jets), are the top picks. They will be playing at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next week with international games back following the pandemic.

The Jets will face the Atlanta Falcons in October, before the Jaguars host the Miami Dolphins in October.

Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers), and Justin Fields (Chicago Bears), are also pushing for selection. Drew Brees' retirement means that the New Orleans Saints now have a new quarterback in Jameis Winston, who is a fellow rookie.

Bell suggests that Matt Stafford is an MVP contender for the Los Angeles Rams. Stafford was traded to the Detroit Lions by Jared Goff, a fellow quarterback.

SoFi Stadium: Take a look at the Los Angeles Rams' and Chargers' new stadium

Two stadiums will be the first to host NFL games. On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Raiders will welcome the Baltimore Ravens at their Allegiant Stadium (65,000 capacity) (01:15 BST). The SoFi Stadium, which is home to the Los Angeles Chargers/Rams, is also open.

It is the world's most expensive arena, with a $5bn price tag. It holds 70,000 people and hosts the Rams game against the Bears on Monday at 01:20. This is where the 2021 season ends. Super Bowl 56 will be held there in February 2022.

Osi Umenyiora, Jason Bell and Dan Walker are on The NFL Show on BBC One and BBC iPlayer every Saturday. Osi and Jason also appear on NFL This Week on Tuesdays on BBC Two or BBC iPlayer.