NFL Week 1 Preview

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Tom Brady
Derick E. Hingle/New Orleans Saints Pool Photo

ALL 32 TEAMS SHARE SINGULAR GOAL AS NFL KICKS OFF ENHANCED SEASON

“Life starts all over again,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “when it gets crisp in the fall.”

And this fall in the National Football League, that initial autumn breeze means an enhanced 18-week, 272-game regular-season schedule. Each team is playing 17 regular-season games for the first time, providing fans an extra week of action. It marks the first change to the season structure since the 1978 campaign ushered in an era of 16 regular-season and four preseason games.

Life starting all over again also means 32 clubs are tied for first place, and that means every NFL coach, player and fan has insatiable hope. Why so much hopeful optimism entering 2021?

  • Currently, the average team has waited just 1.8 years since its last playoff berth. Three quarters of the league’s teams, 24 of 32, have been to the playoffs at least once in the past four seasons.
  • Over the past 18 seasons (2003-20), the average number of division winners that missed the postseason the year prior is 3.3 – including 26 division champions that finished last the year before. Both the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (AFC North) and WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (NFC East) won their divisions in 2020 after missing the postseason in 2019, and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 17 of the past 18 years.
  • Since 1990, 5.8 teams per year have qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason the previous year. Over that stretch – a streak of 31 consecutive seasons – at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2019 – CHICAGO, CLEVELAND, INDIANAPOLIS, LOS ANGELES RAMS, PITTSBURGH, TAMPA BAY and WASHINGTON – accomplished the feat in 2020.
  • And no team has won consecutive Super Bowls since the 2003-04 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, the longest stretch in NFL history without a repeat Super Bowl champion.

The team currently challenged with breaking that streak, the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, will kick off the NFL’s 102nd season on Thursday when the defending champions host the DALLAS COWBOYS (8:20 PM ET, NBC). In that game, quarterback TOM BRADY needs 300 passing yards to join DREW BREES (123 games) as the only players with at least 100 career games of 300-or-more passing yards in NFL history. Brady enters Thursday with 99 such games.

The Buccaneers, Cowboys and 30 other teams enter 2021 with one goal in mind: A trip to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13.

ROOKIE RESPECT: In 13 consecutive seasons, at least one rookie quarterback has started a Week 1 game, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

  • The top two overall selections in the 2021 draft – Clemson’s TREVOR LAWRENCE (No. 1, Jacksonville) and BYU’s ZACH WILSON (No. 2, New York Jets) – are expected to extend the streak early in the afternoon on Sunday. Both signal-callers will be on the road; the Jaguars meet the Texans (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and the Jets travel to Carolina (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to play their former quarterback SAM DARNOLD, acquired by the Panthers in an offseason trade. Darnold’s new teammates include rookie cornerback JAYCEE HORN (selected No. 8 overall), expected to make his NFL debut for Carolina.
  • The last two starting quarterbacks at the University of Alabama will square off in New England Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS) when Patriots rookie MAC JONES (No. 15 overall) opens his NFL career against the Dolphins and TUA TAGOVAILOA, the fifth overall selection in the 2020 draft. Both players joined the Alabama program in 2017 and combined to lead the Crimson Tide to a berth in three of the past four national championship games. The AFC East showdown is also expected to feature the debut of former Alabama wide receiver JAYLEN WADDLE, the sixth-overall selection in the 2021 draft.

Elsewhere this weekend:

  • Steelers rookie running back NAJEE HARRIS (24th overall) is expected to make his NFL debut when Pittsburgh makes the short trip to open the season Sunday at reigning AFC East champion Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
  • Two potential offensive stars – Atlanta tight end KYLE PITTS (No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft – the highest selected tight end in the common-draft era) and Philadelphia wide receiver DEVONTA SMITH (No. 10, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner) – will be on opposite sidelines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when Pitts’ Falcons host the Eagles on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
  • In Cincinnati on Sunday, Bengals rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE (No. 5 overall) will line up for the first time with his college quarterback, JOE BURROW (No. 1 overall in 2020), when the Bengals host former LSU teammate JUSTIN JEFFERSON and the Vikings (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The last time the trio was on the same field, the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship, Burrow threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns while Chase had nine catches for 221 yards with two touchdowns, and Jefferson nine receptions for 106 yards.
  • Several rookie offensive linemen, including Lions tackle PENEI SEWELL (No. 7 overall), Chargers tackle RASHAWN SLATER (No. 13), Jets guard ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER (No. 14) and Las Vegas tackle ALEX LEATHERWOOD (No. 17), are expected to make their NFL debuts on Sunday.
  • On the defensive side, rookie linebackers MICAH PARSONS (No. 12, Dallas), ZAVEN COLLINS (No. 16, Arizona) and JAMIN DAVIS (No. 19, Washington) are expected to anchor the middle of their respective defenses this weekend, while cornerback PAT SURTAIN (No. 9, Denver) and defensive end KWITY PAYE (No. 21, Indianapolis) will also make their first NFL appearances.

YOUTH MOVEMENT IN AFC EAST: All four quarterbacks expected to start for their AFC East teams this weekend, including TUA TAGOVAILOA (23 years old) and MAC JONES (23) in New England on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS), are under the age of 26 to open the season. If JOSH ALLEN (25) starts for Buffalo and ZACH WILSON (22) opens for the Jets, it will mark the first time in 36 years that four starting quarterbacks in the same NFL division were under the age of 26 at the start of a season. In 1985, TONY EASON (25) of New England, Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (23) of Miami, KEN O’BRIEN (24) of the Jets and ART SCHLICHTER (25) of Indianapolis began the year under center in the AFC East. The Dolphins, Jets and Patriots reached the playoffs that season, and New England earned a berth in Super Bowl XX.

CONSISTENTLY PRODUCTIVE: When Green Bay meets New Orleans for a Sunday showdown between 2020 NFC division winners (4:25 PM ET, FOX, in Jacksonville), two of the NFL’s most consistently productive players will be in action. Only six individuals have rushed for at least 700 yards in each of the past three seasons (2018-20), including the Packers’ AARON JONES and the Saints’ ALVIN KAMARA.

The players with at least 700 rushing yards in each of the past three seasons:

PLAYER

TEAM

RUSHING YARDS (2018-20)

SCRIMMAGE YARDS (2018-20)

Nick Chubb

Cleveland

3,557

4,134

Gus Edwards

Baltimore

2,152

2,346

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

3,770

5,095

Derrick Henry

Tennessee

4,626

5,045

Aaron Jones

Green Bay

2,916

3,951

Alvin Kamara

New Orleans

2,612

4,610

PLAYOFF TEAMS FACE OFF: That Packers-Saints contest is one of five games on the Week 1 docket featuring two teams that qualified for the 2020 playoffs.

  • Included in that group is a rematch of an AFC Divisional game between the CLEVELAND BROWNS and KANSAS CITY CHIEFS on Sunday (4:25 PM, CBS). Including the postseason, Chiefs head coach ANDY REID is 8-0 against the Browns, 4-0 with Philadelphia and 4-0 with Kansas City. Kansas City defeated Cleveland, 22-17, last postseason and became the first team since Reid’s 2002-04 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES to host three consecutive championship games.
  • Both the Packers and Chiefs will be looking to extend the league’s longest active winning streak on Kickoff Weekend. Each club has won its first game in six consecutive seasons.
  • Another tilt on the Kickoff Weekend card features the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Including the playoffs, Seattle in the Eastern Time Zone has won 12 of its past 13 games. Quarterback RUSSELL WILSON in those 13 games is 12-1 with a 117.9 passer rating, 3,598 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
  • In a marquee early game Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), the PITTSBURGH STEELERS – who ranked third in the NFL last year in total defense (305.8 yards per game) and finished second in scoring defense (19.5 points per game) – face the BUFFALO BILLS, whose offense was second in the league in both yards per game (396.4) and points per game (31.3).
  • The LOS ANGELES RAMS will welcome fans to SoFi Stadium for the first time when the CHICAGO BEARS pay a visit on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Chicago has 55 wins on Kickoff Weekend, the second-most in NFL history, while the Rams have won four consecutive Week 1 games.

REIGNING ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: For the second straight season and fourth time in NFL history, the defending Associated Press rookies of the year will clash on Kickoff Weekend. At FedExField on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year JUSTIN HERBERT will lead the Chargers against 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year CHASE YOUNG and Washington. Last season, Herbert recorded the most touchdown passes (31) and most completions (396), and second-most passing yards (4,336) by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. Young, meanwhile, led all rookies with 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, and tied for the lead among rookies with four forced fumbles.

  • Last season, 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year KYLER MURRAY guided the Cardinals to a season-opening win at San Francisco against defending Defensive Rookie of the Year NICK BOSA.
  • Prior to 2020, the last time defending rookies of the year met in Week 1 was Sept. 10, 1989, when the Patriots and running back JOHN STEPHENS defeated the Jets and defensive back ERIK MCMILLAN, 27-24, at Giants Stadium. The first time it happened was Sept. 21, 1975, when San Diego Chargers running back DON WOODS and Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker JACK LAMBERT met at Jack Murphy Stadium, where the Steelers won, 37-0, en route to a Super Bowl X championship.

THE FOUNTAIN OF BRADY: Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY, who will be 44 years and 37 days old on Thursday when the Buccaneers host Dallas in the league’s annual kickoff contest (8:20 PM ET, NBC), is expected to become the fourth-oldest individual on record (since 1932) to play in a season-opening game.

  • Brady also enters 2021 more than four years older than the next-oldest player on an active NFL roster, Rams tackle ANDREW WHITWORTH, who will be 39 years and 274 days old when his club hosts Chicago on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC).

The five oldest individuals to play in a season-opening game, since 1932:

PLAYER

AGE

DATE

TEAM

George BlandaHOF

48 years, 5 days

Sept. 22, 1975

Oakland Raiders

Adam Vinatieri

46 years, 254 days

Sept. 8, 2019

Indianapolis

John Carney

45 years, 146 days

Sept. 13, 2009

New Orleans

Tom Brady

44 years, 37 days*

Sept. 9, 2021

Tampa Bay

Morten AndersenHOF

44 years, 24 days

Sept. 12, 2004

Minnesota

Lou GrozaHOF

43 years, 235 days

Sept. 17, 1967

Cleveland Browns

*On Thursday

RAVING ABOUT THE RAVENS: The LAS VEGAS RAIDERS also welcome fans to their home, Allegiant Stadium, for the first time, hosting the BALTIMORE RAVENS on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC). Since 2016 in Week 1 games, Baltimore is 5-0 and has outscored its opponents 177-26. The Ravens haven’t allowed more than 10 points in any of those five Kickoff Weekend games.

OPTIMISTIC STATE OF MIND: New leaders and new outlooks will dot the NFL’s landscape this weekend.

  • Seven new head coaches enter the 2021 season – DAN CAMPBELL in Detroit, DAVID CULLEY in Houston, URBAN MEYER in Jacksonville, ROBERT SALEH with the New York Jets, NICK SIRIANNI with Philadelphia, ARTHUR SMITH with Atlanta and BRANDON STALEY with the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • Over the last four seasons, seven head coaches in their first year with a new club have led their teams to the playoffs: RON RIVERA (Washington) and KEVIN STEFANSKI (Cleveland) in 2020, MATT LAFLEUR (Green Bay) in 2019, MATT NAGY (Chicago) and FRANK REICH (Indianapolis) in 2018, and SEAN MCVAY (Los Angeles Rams) and SEAN MCDERMOTT (Buffalo) in 2017.
  • Two games this weekend will feature first-year head coaches on opposite sidelines: Meyer and Culley (1:00 PM ET, CBS) will meet in Houston on Sunday while Sirianni and Smith will battle in Atlanta (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Coaches in their first year at the reins of an NFL team have played a Week 1 game only five times over the past 38 seasons, and never twice in the same opening weekend.

The last five meetings of rookie NFL head coaches on Kickoff Weekend:

DATE

WINNING COACH

TEAM

LOSING COACH

TEAM

FINAL

Sept. 7, 2014

Bill O’Brien

Houston Texans

Jay Gruden

Washington

17-6

Sept. 3, 2000

Al Groh

New York Jets

Mike Sherman

Green Bay

20-16

Sept. 12, 1999

Dick Jauron

Chicago

Gunther Cunningham

Kansas City

20-17

Sept. 6, 1992

Dennis Green

Minnesota

Mike Holmgren

Green Bay

23-20 (OT)

Sept. 4, 1983

John Robinson

L.A. Rams

Bill ParcellsHOF

N.Y. Giants

16-6

SAME FACES, NEW PLACES: Several notable players were on the move since the end of the 2020 season, including quarterbacks TEDDY BRIDGEWATER (Denver), ANDY DALTON (Chicago), RYAN FITZPATRICK (Washington), JARED GOFF (Detroit), MATTHEW STAFFORD (Los Angeles Rams), TYROD TAYLOR (Houston) and CARSON WENTZ (Indianapolis); running backs JAMES CONNER (Arizona), MIKE DAVIS (Atlanta), KENYAN DRAKE (Las Vegas), PHILLIP LINDSAY (Houston) and SONY MICHEL (Los Angeles Rams); wide receivers COREY DAVIS (New York Jets), A.J. GREEN (Arizona), JULIO JONES (Tennessee) and KENNY GOLLADAY (New York Giants); tight ends HUNTER HENRY (New England) and JONNU SMITH (New England); offensive linemen ORLANDO BROWN (Kansas City), TRENT BROWN (New England), COREY LINSLEY (L.A. Chargers), ALEX MACK (San Francisco) and JOE THUNEY (Kansas City); defensive linemen TREY HENDRICKSON (Cincinnati), YANNICK NGAKOUE (Las Vegas) and J.J. WATT (Arizona); linebackers BUD DUPREE (Tennessee), JUSTIN HOUSTON (Baltimore) and HAASON REDDICK (Carolina); and defensive backs KYLE FULLER (Denver), MIKE HILTON (Cincinnati), JOHN JOHNSON (Cleveland) and PATRICK PETERSON (Minnesota).

KICKOFF WEEKEND NFL SCHEDULE

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, September 9

Dallas at Tampa Bay

NBC

8:20

Sunday, September 12

Philadelphia at Atlanta

FOX

1:00

Pittsburgh at Buffalo

CBS

1:00

New York Jets at Carolina

CBS

1:00

Minnesota at Cincinnati

FOX

1:00

San Francisco at Detroit

FOX

1:00

Jacksonville at Houston

CBS

1:00

Seattle at Indianapolis

FOX

1:00

Arizona at Tennessee

CBS

1:00

Los Angeles Chargers at Washington

CBS

1:00

Cleveland at Kansas City

CBS

4:25

Miami at New England

CBS

4:25

Green Bay at New Orleans (in Jacksonville)

FOX

4:25

Denver at New York Giants

FOX

4:25

Chicago at Los Angeles Rams

NBC

8:20

Monday, September 13

Baltimore at Las Vegas

ESPN/ABC

8:15

What To Look For – Kickoff Weekend

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 55 Super Bowl winners have a 44-10-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LV champion TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, who host the DALLAS COWBOYS in the league’s annual primetime Kickoff Game on Thursday (8:20 PM ET, NBC), became the first eventual Super Bowl winners to lose the opening game of their championship season since New England in 2014.

The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who have appeared in each of the past two Super Bowls, host the CLEVELAND BROWNS in an AFC Divisional playoff rematch on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Kansas City has won its past six Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the AFC and tied for the longest active streak in the NFL (Green Bay).

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 those that lose an opening game. This season will feature a 17-game schedule for each team for the first time ever.

  • Of the 633 teams that won openers…333 went to the playoffs (204 won division titles).

  • Of the 632 teams that lost openers…151 went to the playoffs (86 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 1999-2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2020, the 14 playoff teams compiled an 11-3 record on Kickoff Weekend, with the eight division winners going a perfect 8-0.

NFL

STARTING STREAKS: The Chiefs aren’t the only team to have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of other notable active NFL Kickoff Weekend milestones and streaks:

  • The BALTIMORE RAVENS, who visit the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS on Monday Night Football in Week 1 (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC), have won their last five Kickoff Weekend games, the AFC’s second-longest active streak. Since 2016, Baltimore has outscored its opponents 177-26 on Kickoff Weekend and hasn’t allowed more than 10 points in any of its previous five Week 1 games.

  • The reigning NFC North division champion GREEN BAY PACKERS open their season on the road on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX) against the reigning NFC South division champion NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Packers have won 58 games on Kickoff Weekend, the most in the NFL. Green Bay has won its past six Kickoff Weekend games, tied with Kansas City for the longest active streak in the NFL.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS visit the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday Night Football in Week 1 (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Chicago has 55 wins on Kickoff Weekend, the second-most in the NFL, while the Rams have won four consecutive Week 1 games, the second-longest active streak in the NFC.

NFL

START ME UP: Some players have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable individual performances on NFL Kickoff Weekend:

  • Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY has 39 touchdown passes and 4,932 passing yards in 18 career Kickoff Weekend games, trailing only DREW BREES (41 touchdown passes and 5,566 passing yards) for the most in NFL history on Kickoff Weekend in both categories.

  • Tampa Bay tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI has eight touchdown receptions in eight career Kickoff Weekend games, the second-most all-time by a tight end, trailing only WILLIE FRAZIER (nine touchdown receptions).

  • Tennessee wide receiver JULIO JONES has 1,001 receiving yards in 10 career Kickoff Weekend games and is one of 11 players in league history with at least 1,000 career receiving yards in season openers. If Jones, who had nine receptions for 157 yards with Atlanta last year on Kickoff Weekend, records at least 99 receiving yards on Sunday against Arizona in his Titans debut (1:00 PM ET, CBS), he will become the sixth player to reach 1,100 career receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend.

    Jones also has 67 career receptions in Week 1 and can become the ninth player in league history to reach 75 career receptions on Kickoff Weekend.

  • Los Angeles Rams wide receiver DESEAN JACKSON has six career games with at least 100 yards receiving in Week 1, tied for the most all-time. With at least 100 receiving yards against Chicago on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Jackson would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL IRVIN (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

  • Including a sack last year in Week 1 with Indianapolis, Baltimore linebacker JUSTIN HOUSTON has 11 sacks in nine career season-opening games, tied for the sixth-most on Kickoff Weekend since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. With at least two sacks in his Ravens debut at Las Vegas on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), Houston would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (12.5 sacks in 12 games) for the fourth-most in Week 1 contests.

NFL

START ’EM EARLY: Jacksonville rookie quarterback TREVOR LAWRENCE, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, New York Jets rookie quarterback ZACH WILSON (No. 2), and New England rookie quarterback MAC JONES (No. 15), are each expected to make their first career starts on Sunday, when Jacksonville travels to Houston (1:00 PM ET, CBS), the Jets visit Carolina (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and New England hosts Miami (4:25 PM ET, CBS).

With a start by any of the three players, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 14 consecutive seasons, extending the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

This season is expected to join 2012 (five rookie quarterbacks) as the only seasons since 1970 in which at least three rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1. It can also become the first time that multiple rookie quarterbacks each start in Week 1 since 2016 (DAK PRESCOTT and CARSON WENTZ).

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

SEASON

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE

2008

Joe Flacco

Baltimore

11-5

2008

Matt Ryan

Atlanta

11-5

2009

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets

8-7

2009

Matthew Stafford*

Detroit

2-8

2010

Sam Bradford*

St. Louis Rams

7-9

2011

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati

9-7

2011

Cam Newton*

Carolina

6-10

2012

Robert Griffin III

Washington

9-6

2012

Andrew Luck*

Indianapolis

11-5

2012

Ryan Tannehill

Miami

7-9

2012

Brandon Weeden

Cleveland

5-10

2012

Russell Wilson

Seattle

11-5

2013

EJ Manuel

Buffalo

4-6

2013

Geno Smith

New York Jets

8-8

2014

Derek Carr

Oakland Raiders

3-13

2015

Marcus Mariota

Tennessee

3-9

2015

Jameis Winston*

Tampa Bay

6-10

2016

Dak Prescott

Dallas

13-3

2016

Carson Wentz

Philadelphia

7-9

2017

DeShone Kizer

Cleveland

0-15

2018

Sam Darnold

New York Jets

4-9

2019

Kyler Murray*

Arizona

5-10-1

2020

Joe Burrow*

Cincinnati

2-7-1

2021

Mac Jones^

New England

2021

Trevor Lawrence*^

Jacksonville

2021

Zach Wilson^

New York Jets

*No. 1 overall pick

^Expected to start Week 1

NFL

CHAMP CHASING HISTORY: Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters his 22nd NFL season as the league’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (581) and is in striking distance of the league’s all-time passing yards record. Brady has 79,204 career passing yards, trailing only DREW BREES (80,358).

The players with the most career passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

PASSING YARDS

Drew Brees

San Diego Chargers, New Orleans

80,358

Tom Brady

New England, Tampa Bay

79,204

Brady also enters the season with 99 career games with at least 300 passing yards. With at least 300 passing yards on Thursday against Dallas in the league’s annual primetime Kickoff Game (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Brady will join Brees (123 games) as the only players ever with at least 300 passing yards in 100 career games.

The players with the most career games with at least 300 passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

GAMES WITH 300+ PASSING YARDS

Drew Brees

San Diego Chargers, New Orleans

123

Tom Brady

New England, Tampa Bay

99

This Thursday will also mark the 300th regular-season career start of Brady’s career, making him the first quarterback in league history to reach the milestone.

Other quarterbacks that can reach career passing milestones in Week 1:

  • With at least 231 passing yards on Sunday against New Orleans (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Green Bay quarterback and reigning MVP AARON RODGERS (51,245 career passing yards) can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN ELWAY (51,475) for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history.
  • With at least four touchdown passes on Sunday at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Pittsburgh quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER (396 career touchdown passes) can become the eighth player ever with 400 career touchdown passes.

NFL

KICKOFF KELCE: Last season, Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE ranked second in the league with 1,416 receiving yards, the most ever by a tight end in a single season. He also became the first tight end in NFL history to record at least 1,200 receiving yards in three different seasons. In 111 career games, Kelce has 7,881 receiving yards, the 10th-most all-time among tight ends.

With at least 119 receiving yards against Cleveland on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Kelce will become the fastest tight end (112 games) to reach 8,000 career receiving yards in NFL history, surpassing ROB GRONKOWSKI (120 games).

The tight ends to reach 8,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

GAMES TO REACH 8,000 REC. YARDS

Rob Gronkowski

New England, Tampa Bay

120

Antonio Gates

San Diego Chargers

137

Jason Witten

Dallas

147

Travis Kelce

Kansas City

111*

*Has 7,881 receiving yards entering Sunday

   

Kelce also enters this season with 48 career receiving touchdowns. With at least two touchdown receptions on Sunday, he will become the fifth-fastest tight end to reach 50 career receiving touchdowns, surpassing VERNON DAVIS (115 games).

The tight ends to reach 50 career receiving touchdowns in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

GAMES TO REACH 50 REC. TOUCHDOWNS

Rob Gronkowski

New England

59

Jimmy Graham

New Orleans

73

Antonio Gates

San Diego Chargers

92

Jerry Smith

Washington

100

Vernon Davis

San Francisco

115

Travis Kelce

Kansas City

111*

*Has 48 receiving touchdowns entering Sunday

     

— NFL —

TITANS DEBUT: Tennessee wide receiver JULIO JONES enters his first year as a Titan with 848 receptions for 12,896 receiving yards and 60 receiving touchdowns in 135 career games.

Jones needs two receptions on Sunday against Arizona (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to become the second-fastest player (136 games) to reach 850 receptions in NFL history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (140 games).

The players to reach 850 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

GAMES TO REACH 850 RECEPTIONS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh, New England, Tampa Bay

133

Marvin HarrisonHOF

Indianapolis

140

Andre Johnson

Houston Texans

142

 

 

 

Julio Jones

Atlanta

135*

*Has 848 receptions entering Sunday

With at least 104 receiving yards, Jones can also become the fastest player ever to reach 13,000 career receiving yards, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (154 games).

Additionally, Jones enters this season with at least 100 receiving yards in 58 career games. With at least 100 receiving yards on Sunday, he will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (59 games) for the third-most such games in NFL history.

The players with the most games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

GAMES WITH 100+ REC. YARDS

Jerry RiceHOF

San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle

76

Randy MossHOF

Minnesota, Oakland, New England

64

Marvin HarrisonHOF

Indianapolis

59

Julio Jones

Atlanta

58*

*Active

NFL

DUAL-THREAT BACKS: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY has totaled 5,817 scrimmage yards (3,145 rushing, 2,672 receiving) and 45 touchdowns (29 rushing, 16 receiving) in his first four seasons, while also recording nine games with both a rushing and receiving touchdown, the most ever by a player through his first four seasons.

With both a rushing and receiving touchdown against the Jets on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), McCaffrey will surpass CHUCK FOREMAN (nine games) for the most such games by a player through his first five seasons in NFL history. New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA, who is also entering his fifth season, has eight such career games and can tie Foreman when New Orleans takes on Green Bay Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX).

The players with the most games with both a rushing and receiving touchdown in their first five seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

GAMES

Chuck Foreman

Minnesota

9

Christian McCaffrey

Carolina

9*

Abner Haynes

Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs

8

Alvin Kamara

New Orleans

8*

*Entering fifth season

NFL

ROOKIES NO MORE: The 2020 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT, and the 2020 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year, Washington defensive end CHASE YOUNG, will meet in Week 1, when the Chargers visit the Washington Football Team on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).

It will mark the fourth time in NFL history, and second-consecutive season, that the two reigning Rookies of the Year will meet on Kickoff Weekend. In 2020, Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY and San Francisco defensive lineman NICK BOSA met in Week 1.

The Kickoff Weekend matchups featuring the reigning Associated Press Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in NFL history:

SEASON

REIGNING OROY (TEAM)

REIGNING DROY (TEAM)

WEEK 1 RESULT

2021

QB Justin Herbert (L.A. Chargers)

DE Chase Young (Washington)

???

2020

QB Kyler Murray (Arizona)

DL Nick Bosa (San Francisco)

AZ 24, SF 20

1989

RB John Stephens (New England)

DB Erik McMillan (N.Y. Jets)

NE 27, NYJ 24

1975

RB Don Woods (San Diego Chargers)

LB Jack LambertHOF (Pittsburgh)

PIT 37, SD 0

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