Former NFL star Jason Bell provides his thoughts on the latest events in the National Football League as we enter the playoffs...

I’m really excited to have signed with 888sport for the remainder of the NFL season.

It’s obviously a very important time in the calendar with the playoffs kicking off this weekend and I’m looking forward to giving my thoughts and fancies to 888’s readers as we build-up to the Super Bowl in February.

Lions would have been a great addition to the play-offs/Defense will play a big part in Super Bowl winner

The teams that make the playoffs are the ones that should be there, but I must admit I would have loved to have seen the Detroit Lions.

I think we’re all going to miss them as they were playing tough and hard, gave themselves every opportunity to make it having beaten Green Bay on Sunday Night Football, and Dan Campbell is a very unique coach.

He’s led the team brilliantly and the Lions are a really interesting team to watch.

As to how far they’d have got we’ll never know, but I do think they would have had a chance of going well in the NFC because it looks a weaker division on paper.

I do think the Chiefs are the most likely winners with Patrick Mahomes, but if anyone is going to beat the likes of them or the Bills, then it’s going to be one with a dominant defense.

The 49ers are the side that standout in the NFC, but I wouldn’t rule out the Eagles either.

I think that’s what makes this year’s Super Bowl such a good match-up. It won’t just be an arms race to see who can score the most points, defense will have a big part to play.

It’s one of the most open years I can remember, and I think the reason for that is that the AFC is so strong this year. Any of Buffalo, Cincinnati and Kansas City can beat you solely because of how good their quarterbacks are.

They are all so dynamic and can make plays out of nothing, so it might just come down to who is hot on that given day, as to who reaches the Super Bowl.

I wouldn’t count out the Chargers with Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence has been really good for the Jaguars recently too. It’s so competitive this year which is great for all of us fans because there really isn’t a standout team.

Hard not to be impressed by Brock Purdy

I think Brock Purdy has been amazing since he’s come in for San Francisco. I think it all makes sense because when you sign a back-up quarterback you look for whether he has the tangible assets that are required for that team, and he clearly does.

Kyle Shanahan knew he didn’t need a lot of reps given he’d played so much college football and because he’s got such a complete roster to work with, you just need a guy who is going to make the plays Shanahan asks.

So far he’s done it really well and while he’s lacking in experience being a rookie, I don’t see him buckling under the pressure. 

Tom Brady didn’t have much experience in his first Super Bowl and we all know how that went, so while experience always helps, Purdy has such a good team and coach around him that they can almost carry him.

You can win Super Bowls like that and the 49ers are definitely one of the leading contenders.

The 49ers were a good team anyway, but the in-season trade with the Panthers for Christian McCaffrey has completely revolutionised what they are trying to do on offense because of his skillset. This is a team that have interchangeable players and with McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, it’s so hard for opposition defenses to stop.

Brady could end up at the Raiders

There’s been a lot of speculation around Tom Brady’s future after this season. He’s obviously got a playoff campaign with Tampa Bay first, but I think he might end up at the Raiders.

He’s been so successful with Josh McDaniels already and that just might be where he wants to go for one final swansong. 

I don’t think he’ll retire and I can’t see him going back to the Patriots. I know there’s been some speculation about it, but I’m not sure why they would let that happen.

You’ve got Mac Jones whose life you’ve made super hard by changing the structure of the offense, as well as its coordinator.

He has struggled, but it looks like they are getting Bill O’Brien in as the new coordinator, and I think Bill Belichick and the Patriots have got to invest their future in Jones and not go back to Brady.

Signing Brady might help the team in the short-term, but he isn’t going to be around for much longer and the team will be right back where it started once he retires. 

Damar Hamlin episode only added motivation for the Bills

American football is an emotional game and a big part of it is finding emotional triggers. With everything that happened to Damar Hamlin, the Bills don’t have to try as it’s there.

They are playing for something which is bigger than themselves and the reaction to this situation will only help them in a positive way on the pitch.

Former NFL star Jason Bell has a wealth of American football experience, playing in 82 regular season games during his time in the league.

Now making regular television appearances at NFL events in the UK, Bell is one of the best pundits on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The former Houston Texans cornerback will provide his expert insight into the latest news and upcoming games throughout the 2023 NFL season.