SUPER STARTERS: History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive toward a Super Bowl championship is to win in Week 1.
The 51 Super Bowl winners have a 41-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LI champion NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who host Kansas City in the season opener on Thursday night (8:30 PM ET, NBC), have won their past eight home openers played on Kickoff Weekend and 12 of their past 13 overall in Week 1.
Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are
victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:
- Of the 570 teams which won openers…297 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles).
- Of the 571 teams which lost openers…137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles).
Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.
In 2016, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.
— NFL —
STRONG OUT OF THE GATE: Over the past 10 years, six teams – New England (.758), Denver (.706), Dallas (.676), Green Bay (.676), Baltimore (.647) and Arizona (.618) – have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those six clubs have combined for 37 playoff berths and nine Super Bowl appearances – including five Super Bowl championships – during the span.
On Thursday night, the Patriots, who have an NFL-best 25-8 record in the month of September since 2007, host the Kansas City Chiefs (8:30 PM ET, NBC). The Broncos (24-10, .706), who own the second-highest opening-month winning percentage in the NFL over the past 10 seasons, host the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West showdown in the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader (10:20 PM ET, ESPN).
The teams with the best opening month records over the past 10 seasons (2007-16):
|TEAM||W||L||PCT.||PLAYOFF BERTHS||SUPER BOWL BERTHS||SUPER BOWL WINS|
— NFL —
OUT OF THE BLOCKS: The DALLAS COWBOYS host the NEW YORK GIANTS on Sunday Night Football (8:30 PM ET, NBC), as the two NFC East rivals meet on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The contest will feature two of the NFL’s most successful teams in season openers. The Cowboys’ .661 winning percentage (37-19-1) is tied with Denver for the highest of any team in NFL history, while the Giants have the third-most wins on Kickoff Weekend (50).
The teams with the best winning percentage on Kickoff Weekend:
|TEAM||KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS||WIN PCT.|
|Green Bay Packers||54-39-3||.581|
|New York Giants||50-37-5||.575|
|Note: Ties prior to 1972 did not count in winning percentage.|
The teams with the most wins on Kickoff Weekend:
|TEAM||KICKOFF WEEKEND WINS|
|Green Bay Packers||54|
|New York Giants||50|
— NFL —
STARTING STREAKS: Some clubs have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff milestones and streaks:
- The CHICAGO BEARS, who host Atlanta to open their 2017 campaign, have the most wins (65) all-time in home openers.
- The DALLAS COWBOYS, who welcome the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, have 32 wins in home openers since 1970, the most in the NFC.
- The DENVER BRONCOS, who host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football, have posted a 43-13-1 (.768) record in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has won 23 of its past 26 home openers.
- The GREEN BAY PACKERS, who welcome Seattle on Kickoff Weekend, have won their past four home openers. The Packers are tied with the Bears for the most wins (54) on Kickoff Weekend.
- The HOUSTON TEXANS, who host Jacksonville on Kickoff Weekend, have won six of their past seven home openers.
- The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, who host Carolina on Kickoff Weekend, have the NFL’s longest active winning streak (six) on Kickoff Weekend.
— NFL —
START ME UP: Some players have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable individual performances on NFL Kickoff Weekend:
- New England quarterback TOM BRADY has 3,808 passing yards in 14 career Week 1 games and needs 192 yards to join PEYTON MANNING(4,736) and DREW BREES (4,306) as the third QB with at least 4,000 career passing yards in season-opening games. Brees (33 touchdown passes) and Brady (31) can surpass Manning (34) for the most career touchdown passes in season openers.
- New Orleans running back ADRIAN PETERSON has 885 rushing yards in 10 career season-opening games and needs 115 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games. The four players to accomplish the feat are EMMITT SMITH (1,247), WALTER PAYTON (1,067), EDGERRIN JAMES (1,062) and JIM BROWN (1,043). Smith, Payton and Brown are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 918 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions in 13 career season-opening games and needs 82 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 career receiving yards and eight touchdown catches in season-opening games, joining JERRY RICE (1,385 yards, nine TDs), ANDRE REED (1,225, 10), RANDY MOSS (1,194, 10) and DON MAYNARD (1,025, nine). Rice, Reed and Maynard are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
— NFL —
- 300:Green Bay quarterbackAARON RODGERS has 297 touchdown passes with 72 interceptions in 12 career seasons. With three touchdown passes against Seattle on Sunday, Rodgers would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history with 300 career touchdowns passes and the first quarterback in league history to reach 300 career passing touchdowns with fewer than 100 interceptions.
The quarterbacks who reached 300 career touchdown passes with the fewest interceptions:
|QUARTERBACK||TEAM(S)||INTERCEPTIONS AT TIME OF 300TH TOUCHDOWN PASS|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||115|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||142|
|Peyton Manning||Indianapolis Colts||152|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints||153|
|Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers||160|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||72*|
|*Has 297 career touchdowns passes entering Week 1|
|— NFL —|
START ’EM EARLY: Cleveland rookie quarterback DE SHONE KIZER, a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. With a start by Kizer on Sunday, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.
The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:
|SEASON||QUARTERBACK||TEAM||STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE|
|2008||Joe Flacco||Baltimore Ravens||11-5|
|2008||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||11-5|
|2009||Mark Sanchez||New York Jets||8-7|
|2009||Matthew Stafford*||Detroit Lions||2-8|
|2010||Sam Bradford*||St. Louis Rams||7-9|
|2011||Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||9-7|
|2011||Cam Newton*||Carolina Panthers||6-10|
|2012||Robert Griffin III||Washington Redskins||9-6|
|2012||Andrew Luck*||Indianapolis Colts||11-5|
|2012||Ryan Tannehill||Miami Dolphins||7-9|
|2012||Brandon Weeden||Cleveland Browns||5-10|
|2012||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||11-5|
|2013||EJ Manuel||Buffalo Bills||4-6|
|2013||Geno Smith||New York Jets||8-8|
|2014||Derek Carr||Oakland Raiders||3-13|
|2015||Marcus Mariota||Tennessee Titans||3-13|
|2015||Jameis Winston*||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6-10|
|2016||Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys||13-3|
|2016||Carson Wentz||Philadelphia Eagles||7-9|
|2017||DeShone Kizer^||Cleveland Browns||0-0|
|^Expected to start in Week 1|