BBC NFL analysts Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora have picked British defensive star Efe Obada and his new team, the Buffalo Bills, to contend for the Super Bowl this season
Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora are backing British star Efe Obada to leave his mark on the NFL as the Buffalo Bills target the Super Bowl crown ahead of the 2021 season.
There are plenty of international players beginning to establish themselves on different rosters around the league, and NFL Africa was launched recently as gridiron football seeks a foothold in new markets.
NFL Africa is the new African home of content for the chief American football league akin to NFL UK – where Bell and Umenyiora are established voices.
Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, was born in London and singled out another British defensive star to excel in 2021.
“I think you have to look at the guys who are going to make an impact this year,” Umenyiora answered when considering which international players to watch.
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“Look at Efe Obada, even though he is on a stacked Buffalo Bills football team, he is a fantastic player and the fact that he made that team is a testament to what we’ve done internationally.
“Look at [Australian former rugby player] Jordan Mailata. This is the starting tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles – think about how crazy it is to see where this man came from to now be a starter in the NFL in just a few short years!
“These guys are going to have a direct impact on whether their teams win or lose.”
Umenyiora admitted he is excited about the launch of NFL Africa and insisted it will allow more people the opportunity to be exposed to the sport and enter the league via the International Player Pathway Program that brought Obada and Mailata into the NFL.
“There are 113 first-generation or African-born players right now so it is a huge contingent of players,” he said. “A lot of people who now have an opportunity to play the game are going to be coming in from Africa which will expand the game even further.
“We’re really excited about what the NFL is doing on the international level, even here in the United Kingdom. It’s a global sport.”
Bell and Umenyiora expect Obada – who, like Osi, is of Nigerian descent – and the Bills to contend in the AFC along with the Kansas City Chiefs, citing Buffalo’s remarkable offensive power as the key reason while they expect quarterback Josh Allen to step up and be in the MVP race.
In terms of defensive firepower, Bell was quick to point to the Los Angeles Rams – the NFL’s best defensive team in 2020 – as the standard to aim for.
“When you have a number one corner like Jalen Ramsey, no matter what happens at the other secondary positions, the guy is flexible,” Bell declared.
“He can move inside and outside, and it allows you to do a lot and be flexible with play calling. Their depth isn’t great, but their stars are amazing.”
Umenyiora, who registered 85 sacks across his 12-year career, highlighted the Denver Broncos as a defensive team to watch in the AFC.
“I like [Denver head coach] Vic Fangio, and I like the things he has done with that defence,” the 39-year-old admitted. “You got Von Miller coming back paired with Bradley Chubb and that secondary – this is a fantastic defensive football team.”
Bell agreed, simply adding: “They could be the best defence in the NFL by far.”
The 2021 NFL season gets underway on Thursday night as the Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the Dallas Cowboys to the Raymond James Stadium.
The NFL season is here. Watch Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell alongside Dan Walker on The NFL Show every Saturday evening on BBC One. Also find Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell on NFL This Week every Tuesday on BBC Two.