Kickoff Weekend began on Thursday, September 4 in primetime on NBC when the defending-champion Seattle Seahawks beat Green Bay at CenturyLink Field in a matchup of two 2013 NFC playoff participants. It’s when things start to count.

Some clubs have excelled in openers. Here is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff streaks:

· Super Bowl XLVIII-champion Seattle, who beat Green Bay 36-16 in the spotlight Kickoff 2014 game on Thursday night, have a 15-1 record at CenturyLink Field the past two seasons. The Seahawks, who are also tied for the third-longest active winning streak in home openers (five), can improve those numbers when they host the Packers in Week 1.

· NFC North champion Green Bay, who lost to Seattle on Thursday night of Kickoff Weekend, holds the record for the most wins in road openers (53) in the NFL and the fourth-best winning percentage in openers on the road (.582, 53-38-2).

· AFC champion Denver, who starts the season on Sunday Night Football at home against Indianapolis, have posted a 40-13-1 (.755) record in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has also won 17 of their past 20 home openers.

· AFC East champion New England begins the year at Miami having won 10 consecutive openers. With a win on Kickoff Weekend, the Patriots can become just the third franchise to win 11 or more consecutive season-opening games in NFL history.
 
· Miami, who hosts New England on Kickoff Weekend, have the fourth-best winning percentage in openers at home (.702, 33-14-1). The Dolphins have won their past two home openers.

· NFC East champion Philadelphia, who hosts Jacksonville to open the 2014 campaign, have won three consecutive Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak among NFC East teams.

· Jacksonville begins the year at Philadelphia with an 11-7 (.611) record on Kickoff Weekend, the third-best mark in the AFC.

· Washington opens the season on the road against Houston with 36 wins in road openers, the fifth-most in the NFL. With a win against the Texans on Kickoff Weekend, the Redskins can tie the Eagles (37) for the fourth-most wins in road openers in the NFL. 

· The New York Giants and San Diego Chargers start the season on the road at Detroit and Arizona, respectively, during a Monday Night Football doubleheader. New York has the second-most (49) wins in road openers in the NFL while San Diego has won its past two road openers, the fourth-longest active streak in the league. 

· HOME SWEET HOME: Baltimore (13-5-0) and Chicago (65-25-4), who host Cincinnati and Buffalo, respectively, on Kickoff Weekend, have a .722 winning percentage in home openers, the second-best mark in the NFL. Detroit, who hosts the Giants on Monday Night Football to begin the year, have won 51 openers at home, the second-most wins in home openers in the NFL…the ATLANTA FALCONS, who host New Orleans on Kickoff Weekend, have won nine of their past 10 home openers and San Francisco,  who hosts Chicago in Week 2, have won 15 of their past 20 home openers.

· HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 13-6 (.684) on Kickoff Weekend and his 13 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher (11-7, .611) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .600…the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin (10-8, .556) joins Belichick and Fisher as the only active head coaches with 10 or more Kickoff Weekend victories. Jim Harbaugh (3-0) of the 49ers, Chip Kelly (1-0) of the Eagles and Marc Trestman (1-0) of the Bears are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend…and four head coaches – Washington’s Jay Gruden, Houston’s Bill O’Brien, Cleveland’s Mike Pettine and Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer – make their Kickoff Weekend debuts in 2014.

The 2013 season was full of excitement but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL.                              
Scoring at an all-time high…new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions…consistent teams excelling once again…records falling…young players making their mark…and so much more!                              

“It happens every week in the NFL,” New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told the Boston Globe and the Christian Scientist Monitor. “You look up at the scoreboard during the game and say ‘Wow, they beat them?’”                              
The NFL is never short on surprises and the 2013 season was no different:                              

Offense was the order of the day in 2013, as a record 11,985 points were scored, with games averaging 46.8 points, the highest average in NFL history (46.5 in 1948).

In all, 1,338 total touchdowns were scored, surpassing the league-wide record of 1,297, which occurred in 2012.

Eleven teams scored at least 400 points last season – Denver (606), Chicago (445), New England (444), Philadelphia (442), Dallas (439), Cincinnati (430), Kansas City (430), Green Bay (417), Seattle (417), New Orleans (414) and San Francisco (406) – topping the previous record of nine in 2008 and 2012. Those 11 teams combined for a .668 winning percentage and nine qualified for the playoffs.                              

There were five new playoff teams in 2013: Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Diego. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.                               

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:                      

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)        
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)

Unpredictable NFL? It sure seems that way!

In the 12 seasons since realignment in 2002, 28 different teams have won division titles.

“There’s so much competitive balance in the NFL,” says Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, who led the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and the playoffs last season after the team finished 2-14 in 2012. “The crazy thing with the NFL is that last year’s over with and this is an entirely new team and new year.”

Last season, first-year head coach Chip Kelly guided the Philadelphia Eagles to their first division title since 2010, rebounding from a last place finish in 2012.

“The first time I met the players, I thought it was a special group,” Kelly told USA Today. “It’s an awesome feeling when you can work as hard as they worked and see it pay off. To be 10-6 and the division champs, it’s a real credit to those guys.”

The teams that have won their divisions in the 12 seasons since realignment in 2002:

TEAM, DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS
New England, 10/10
Indianapolis, 8/11
Green Bay, 7/9
Philadelphia, 6/8
Seattle, 6/8
Pittsburgh, 5/7
San Diego, 5/6
Baltimore, 4/7
Denver, 4/6
Atlanta, 3/6
New York Giants, 3/6
Cincinnati, 3/3
New Orleans, 3/5
Carolina, 3/4
San Francisco, 3/4
Chicago, 3/3
Tampa Bay, 3/3
Dallas, 2/4
Kansas City, 2/4
Minnesota, 2/4
Tennessee, 2/4
Arizona, 2/2
Houston, 2/2
New York Jets, 1/5
Washington, 1/3
St. Louis, 1/2
Miami, 1/1
Oakland, 1/1

Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season. Four 2013 playoff teams – the Carolina Panthers (12-4 in 2013, 7-9 in 2012), Kansas City Chiefs (11-5 in 2013, 2-14 in 2012), New Orleans Saints (11-5 in 2013, 7-9 in 2012) and Philadelphia Eagles (10-6 in 2013, 4-12 in 2012) – finished in last place or tied for last place in 2012 and combined for a 24-win improvement last year. Two of those clubs – Carolina (NFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East) – won their division.

For an NFL-record 11th consecutive season, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 42 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 19 of them have done so in the past 11 years (2003-13), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.
 

After finishing tied for last in the division the prior year, the Panthers won 11 of their last 12 games to close the 2013 campaign and claim the NFC South crown. After starting the season 1-3, the Panthers and Eagles both qualified for postseason play, becoming only the sixth and seventh teams since 2004 to make the playoffs after opening the season 1-3 or worse.

“There is something about big games that brings out the best in our team,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “Our team is just that in big games – a team. Even after starting 1-3, we didn’t panic.”

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division since 2003:

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)(Difference)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)(+4) 
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8*)(+5)
2004 – Atlanta (11-5, 5-11)(+6)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12*)(+8)
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)(+6)
2005 – New York Giants* (11-5, 6-10)(+5)
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5,5-11)(+6)
2006 – Baltimore* (13-3, 6-10)(+7)
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)(+7)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)(+4) 
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)(+5)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 1-15)(+10)
2009 – New Orleans** (13-3, 8-8)(+5)
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)(+6)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)(+4)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)(+4)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)(+5)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)(+5)
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)(+6)
* Tied for last place 
** Won Super Bowl

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES
COACH, TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco (3-0, 1.000)
John Fox, Denver (6-6, .500)
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia (1-0, 1.000)
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis (1-1, .500)
Marc Trestman, Chicago (1-0, 1.000)
Joe Philbin, Miami (1-1, .500)
John Harbaugh, Baltimore (5-1, .833)
Mike Smith, Atlanta (3-3, .500)
Rex Ryan, New York Jets (4-1, .800)
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati (4-7, .364)
Sean Payton, New Orleans (5-2, .714)
Jim Caldwell, Detroit (1-2, .333)
Bill Belichick, New England (13-6, .684)
Bruce Arians, Arizona (0-1, .000)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (2-1, .667)
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville (0-1, .000)
Ken Whisenhunt, Tennessee (4-2, .667)
Doug Marrone, Buffalo (0-1, .000)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (5-3, .625)
Mike McCoy, San Diego (0-1, .000) 
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay (5-3, .625) 
Dennis Allen, Oakland (0-2, .000)
Jeff Fisher, St. Louis (11-7, .611)
Ron Rivera, Carolina (0-3, .000)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (4-3, .571)
Jay Gruden, Washington (0-0, .000) 
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (10-8, .556)
Bill O’Brien, Houston (0-0, .000)
Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay (5-4, .556) 
Mike Pettine, Cleveland, 0-0, .000) 
Andy Reid, Kansas City, 8-7, .533)
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota, 0-0, .000)
                              
THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT IN 2013…

Nothing exhibits the unpredictability of the NFL more than the tightness of NFL games: 

· Games continued to be this close, as 68 percent were within one score in the fourth quarter.

In 2013, 123 of 256 games (48.0 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the fourth-most of any season in NFL history.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE
POINTS – GAMES (PCT.)
8 or Fewer – 131 of 256 (51.2%)                                
7 or Fewer – 123 of 256 (48%)
3 or Fewer – 65 of 256 (25.4%)                               

GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE AT ANY POINT IN 4TH QUARTER
POINTS – GAMES (PCT.)
8 or Fewer – 174 of 256 (68%)
7 or Fewer – 168 of 256 (65.6%)
3 or Fewer – 127 of 256 (49.6%)

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL TEAMS
(Note: Ties prior to 1972 do not count in winning percentage)

Longest Streaks
Denver 34-19-1 (.642) (4-4) (W2)
Dallas 36-17-1 (.679) (17-5) (W2)
Houston 7-5-0 (.583)(4-3) (W4)
Chicago 54-35-5 (.607) (9-6) (W4)
Jacksonville  11-8-0 (.579)(6-3) (L2)
New York Giants 49-35-5 (.583) (4-3) (L3)
San Diego 31-23-0 (.574) (6-6) (L1)
Green Bay 52-38-3 (.578) (5-6) (L2)
New England 30-24-0 (.556) (10-3) (W10) 
Minnesota 29-23-1 (.558) (5-3) (L1)
Miami 25-22-1 (.532) (11-5) (W1)
Detroit 45-37-2 (.549) (10-4) (W3)
Pittsburgh 40-35-4 (.532) 8-3 (L3)
San Francisco 34-29-1 (.540) (5-3) (W3)
Kansas City 28-26-0 (.519) (7-4) (W1)
Atlanta 25-23-0 (.521) (5-3) (L1)
Tennessee 28-26-0 (.519) (4-3) (W1)
St. Louis 39-37-0 (.513) (5-6) (W1)
Indianapolis 35-34-1 (.507) (8-8) (W1)
Washington 40-38-4 (.513) (6-5) (L1)
Baltimore 9-9-0 (.500) (5-4) (L1)
Philadelphia 34-45-1 (.430) (5-9) (W3)
New York Jets 25-29-0 (.463) (3-5) (W3)
Arizona 38-53-2 (.418) (6-7) (L1) (L1)
Oakland 25-29-0 (.463) (5-8) (L2)
Tampa Bay 15-23-0 (.395) (3-5) (L1)
Cleveland 27-34-0 (.443) (5-9) (L9)
Seattle 14-24-0 (.368) (3-8) (W1)
Cincinnati 20-26-0 (.435) (4-4) (L2)
New Orleans 17-30-0 (.362) (3-6) (W1)
Buffalo 21-33-0 (.389) (6-5) (L2)
Carolina 6-13-0 (.316)(3-5) (L5)

The 2014 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new year with hope.

Carolina (NFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East) rebounded to win their respective divisions after finishing in last place or tied for last in 2012, marking the NFL-record 11th consecutive season that at least one team went from “worst-to-first” in its division.

Running backs get the press and the fame. Here are the best kickoff weekend perfomances in the last decade.

BEST KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCES, PAST 10 YEARS
MOST YARDS RUSHING (YARDS/ATT; LG/TD)
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Indianapolis, 9/12/10 (231/38; 42/3)
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Detroit, 9/7/08 (220/22; 66t/2)
Curtis Martin, New York Jets vs. Cincinnati, 9/12/04 (196/29; 24t/1)
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Washington, 9/9/13 (184/31; 34t/1)
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Cleveland, 9/13/09 (180/25; 64t/3)
Chris Brown, Tennessee vs. Jacksonville, 9/9/07 (175/19; 42/0)
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo vs. New York Jets, 9/9/12 (169/14; 56t/1)
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh  vs. Tennessee, 9/11/05 (161/22; 45/1)
Quentin Griffin, Denver vs. Kansas City, 9/12/04 (156/23; 47t/2)
Priest Holmes, Kansas City vs. Denver, 9/12/04 (151/26; 33t/3)                                                                                                                                                                          
Please move your trays to their upright positions… NFL teams in 2014 will do a lot of travel this year and with three games across the Big Pond (Atlantic) in London, there’s going to be a lot of frequent flyer miles used in 2014. Pack your bags, use the overhead compartment, listen to the flight attendants and make sure you don’t overdo on those airline peanuts. 

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED & NOTES ON 2014 TRAVEL (2014 regular season)
 1. Oakland – 36,078
 2. Miami –  24,740
 3. Dallas – 24,530
 4. Seattle – 23,916 
 5. Jacksonville – 21,964
 6. San Diego – 20,274
 7. Kansas City – 17,572 
 8. Denver – 17,138
 9. San Francisco – 17,054
10. New England – 16,992
11. Atlanta – 16,574
12. Philadelphia – 16,328
13. St. Louis – 16,046
14. Houston – 15,592
15. New York Jets – 15,344
16. Detroit – 15,212
17. Buffalo – 15,038
18. Washington – 14,738
19. Arizona – 13,442
20. New York Giants – 13,186
21. Minnesota – 11,434
22. Tampa Bay – 11,206
23. Baltimore – 10,990
24. New Orleans – 10,356
25. Green Bay – 9,530
26. Indianapolis – 9,530
27. Cincinnati – 8,212
28. Tennessee – 7,870
29. Carolina – 7,398
30. Chicago – 7,052
31. Cleveland – 6,050
32. Pittsburgh – 5,918
 
The total distance traveled by all teams during the regular season will be 477,304 miles.
The teams of the AFC West (91,062) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions.
The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC East (72,114), NFC West (70,458), NFC East (68,782), AFC South (54,956), NFC South (45,534), NFC North (43,228) and AFC North (31,170).
•One team – Oakland (36,078) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

If you win in double digits, there’s a good chance you’re going to the playoffs (PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) Nine teams won 11 or more games last year, tied for the second-most in a season in NFL history – Denver (13), Seattle (13), Carolina (12), New England (12), San Francisco (12), Cincinnati (11), Indianapolis (11), Kansas City (11) and New Orleans (11). A record 10 teams won 11 or more games in 2005. 

TEAM (REG. SEASON RECORD), ADVANCED TO
Denver (13-3), Super Bowl XLVIII
Seattle (13-3), Won Super Bowl XLVIII
Carolina (12-4), NFC Divisional Playoffs
New England (12-4), AFC Championship
San Francisco (12-4), NFC Championship
Cincinnati (11-5), AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Indianapolis (11-5), AFC Divisional Playoffs
Kansas City (11-5), AFC Wild Card Playoffs
New Orleans (11-5), NFC Divisional Playoffs
 
Getting off to a strong start is important. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and over the past 10 years, six teams have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those six clubs have combined for 39 playoff berths and nine Super Bowl appearances, including four Super Bowl championships during that span.  

The six teams with a .600+ winning percentage in the opening month over the past 10 seasons (2004-13):
TEAM (RECORD, PCT.)
New England (23-8-0, .742)
Indianapolis (22-10-0, .688)
Seattle (22-11-0, .667)
Baltimore (21-11-0, .656)
Dallas (21-11-0, .656)
Denver (22-12-0, .647)

Scoring was the order of the day in 2013 and scoreboard operators were working overtime last year. A record 11,985 points were scored in 2013, with games averaging 46.81 points, the highest average in NFL history (46.48 in 1948).

The seasons with the most points scored and highest per-game scoring average in NFL history:
YEAR – TOTAL POINTS
2013 – 11,985
2012 – 11,651
2011 – 11,356
2010 – 11,283
2008 – 11,279

“This is an offensive league,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told the Tampa Tribune. “People like to see points scored, although defensive coaches don’t. You have to try to find a way to slow those offenses down. You have a mindset that you’ve got to score ‘X’ number of points, and then on defense you’ve got to hold a team to ‘X’ number of points to have a chance. But that number, it is rising.”

Defensive coaches aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure. Regardless of the score, offenses know they have to aggressively aim for the end zone on each possession.

“It’s starting to feel like if you don’t score a touchdown every time you get the ball, you’re losing serve,” says Minnesota Vikings guard Charlie Johnson.

In all, 1,338 total touchdowns were scored, surpassing the league-wide record of 1,297, which occurred in 2012.

YEAR – TOUCHDOWNS
2013 – 1,338
2012 – 1,297
2002 – 1,270
2010 – 1,270
2004 – 1,268

Led by the AFC champion Denver Broncos, who finished 13-3 and scored an NFL-record 606 points in 2013, many of the NFL’s top-scoring offenses translated those points into wins.

Eleven teams (above) scored at least 400 points – topping the previous record of nine in 2008 and 2012. Those 11 teams combined for a .668 winning percentage and nine qualified for the playoffs.

TEAM, POINTS (W-L-T, WIN PCT.)
Denver, 606 (13-3-0, 813)*
Chicago, 445 (8-8-0, .500)
New England, 444 (12-4-0, .750)*
Philadelphia, 442 (10-6-0, .625)*
Dallas, 439 (8-8-0, 500)
Cincinnati, 430 (11-5-0, .688)*
Kansas City, 430 (11-5-0, .688)*
Green Bay, 417 (8-7-1, 531)*
Seattle, 417 (13-3-0, 813)*
New Orleans, 414 (11-5-0, 688)*
San Francisco, 406 (12-4-0, .750)*
                                                                                                                        *Playoff team

2014 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Team (Opponents’ 2013, Pct. & Record, Games vs. teams .500 or better, Games vs. 2013 playoff teams)
Oakland (.578, 148-108-0, 12, 9)
Denver (.570, 146-110-0, 12, 9)
St. Louis (.564, 144-111-1, 11, 8)
San Diego (.563, 144-112-0, 11, 7)
San Francisco (.563, 144-112-0, 11, 7)
Seattle (.561, 143-112-1, 11, 8)
Kansas City (.559, 143-113-0, 11, 7)
Arizona (.547, 140-116-0, 9, 8)
New York Jets (.520, 132-122-2, 10, 6)
New England (.516, 131-123-2, 11, 6)
Atlanta (.512, 130-124-2, 10, 6)
Miami (.508, 129-125-2, 10, 6)
Green Bay (.504, 128-126-2, 9, 5)
Buffalo (.500, 127-127-2, 11, 6)
Chicago (.496, 125-127-4, 9, 6)
Detroit (.492, 124-128-4, 10, 5)
Washington (.490, 125-130-1, 8, 5)
Dallas (.488, 125-131-0, 8, 6)
Tampa Bay (.484, 123-131-2, 9, 6)
Philadelphia (.479, 122-133-1, 8, 5)
Minnesota (.477, 121-133-2, 9, 5)
Carolina (.473, 120-134-2, 9, 6)
Cincinnati (.469, 120-136-0, 9, 5)
Pittsburgh (.469, 120-136-0, 9, 6)
New Orleans (.469, 119-135-2, 9, 5)
Cleveland (.465, 119-137-0, 9, 5)
New York Giants (.465, 119-137-0, 8, 5)
Baltimore (.461, 118-138-0, 9, 6)
Jacksonville (.453, 116-140-0, 9, 5)
Houston (.441, 113-143-0, 7, 4)
Tennessee (.438, 112-144-0, 9, 5)
Indianapolis (.430, 110-146-0, 7, 4)

Over the past 10 years, five NFL teams – New England (124-36, .775), Indianapolis (111-49, .694), Pittsburgh (105-55, .656), San Diego (100-60, .625) and Green Bay (96-63-1, .603) – have posted a winning percentage of .600 or better. Those five clubs have combined for 37 playoff berths, nine Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl championships during that span.

Since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2004, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have made three Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XL and XLIII. 

“I think it’s a fair assessment to call him a winner,” says Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin about Roethlisberger. “He’s been to the big dance and delivered. That’s what this profession is about.”

Under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots (124-36, .775) have the best regular-season record over the past 10 years, qualifying for the postseason nine times and winning Super Bowl XXXIX. 

“Coach Belichick is the best coach that I’ve ever competed against,” says Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. “I think it’s safe to say he’ll go down as the greatest NFL coach of all time.”

The teams with the best regular-season records over the past 10 seasons (2004-13):

TEAM (W-L-T, PCT.)(PLAYOFF BERTHS/SUPER BOWL BERTHS/SUPER BOWL WINS
New England (124-36-0, .775)(9/3/1)
Indianapolis (111-49-0, .694(9/2/1)
Pittsburgh (105-55-0, .656)(6/3/2)
San Diego (100-60-0, .625)(6/0/0)
Green Bay (96-63-1, .603)(7/1/1)

America’s favorite sport? Once again, professional football claims the top spot.

For nearly three decades, according to The Harris Poll, the NFL has been the most popular sport in America.  

In its most recent survey, Harris reveals that pro football is the favorite sport of more than one-third of people (35 percent). That is more than double the next favorite sport, with 14 percent of people claiming baseball as their favorite sport. 

In addition, professional football has gained in popularity more than any other sport since 1985 with an 11 percent increase (from 24 to 35 percent).

The third favorite sport in the survey is college football at 11 percent, meaning that football is the favorite sport of nearly half of America’s sports fans (46 percent).

The five most popular sports according to The Harris Poll 2014 (released January 16, 2014):

RANK, SPORT – PERCENT
1. Pro Football – 35
2. Baseball – 14
3. College Football – 11
4. Auto Racing – 7
5. Men’s Pro Basketball – 6

Landmarks will be the day in 2014. 

The Chicago Bears need three victories to become the first team in NFL history with 750 total victories. Chicago’s all-time record is 747-552-42.

The Green Bay Packers need two regular-season victories to become the second team in NFL history with 700 regular-season victories. The Packers (698-537-37) would join Chicago (730-534-42) as the only teams to accomplish the feat.

The Washington Redskins need 12 victories to reach 600 total victories. Washington’s all-time record is 588-564-27. 

The Dallas Cowboys need three victories to reach 500 total victories. Dallas’ all-time record is 497-373-6.

The Indianapolis Colts need five victories to reach 500 total victories. Indianapolis’ all-time record is 495-442-7.

The Buffalo Bills need 10 victories to reach 400 total victories. Buffalo’s all-time record is 390-451-8.

The Tennessee Titans need one regular-season victory to reach 400 regular-season victories. Tennessee’s all-time regular-season record is 399-415-6.

The 2013 Opening Weekend had some pretty good performances to get things underway. Here are the best opening weekend performances from 1933 to last year.

MOST YARDS RUSHING
 
YARDS/ATT, LG/TD
O.J. Simpson, Buffalo vs. New England, 9/16/73, 250/29, 80t/2
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Indianapolis, 9/12/10, 231/33, 42/3
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Detroit, 9/7/08, 220/22, 66t/2
Eddie George, Tennessee vs. Oakland, 8/31/97, 216/35, 29t/1
George Rogers, New Orleans vs. St. Louis, 9/4/83, 206/24, 76t/2
Gerald Riggs, Atlanta vs. New Orleans, 9/2/84, 202/35, 57/2
Duce Staley, Philadelphia vs. Dallas, 9/3/00, 201/26, 60/1
Norm Bulaich, Baltimore vs. New York Jets, 9/19/71, 198/22, 67t/1
Curtis Martin, New York Jets vs. Cincinnati, 9/12/04, 196/29, 24t/1
Alan Ameche, Baltimore vs. Chicago, 9/25/55, 194/21, 79t/1

MOST YARDS PASSING
 
YARDS, ATT/COMP, TD/INT
Norm Van Brocklin, Los Angeles Rams vs. New York Yanks, 9/28/51, 554, 41/27, 5/2
Tom Brady, New England vs. Miami, 9/12/11, 517, 48/32, 4/1
Dan Marino, Miami vs. New England, 9/4/94, 473, 42/23, 5/1
Peyton Manning, Denver vs. Baltimore, 9/5/13, 462, 42/27, 7/0
Eli Manning, New York Giants vs. Dallas, 9/8/13, 450, 42/27, 4/3
Kurt Warner, St. Louis vs. Denver, 9/4/00, 441, 35/25, 3/3
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Houston, 9/12/10, 433, 57/40, 3/0
Cam Newton, Carolina vs. Arizona, 9/11/11, 422, 37/24, 2/1
Drew Bledsoe, New England vs. Miami, 9/4/94, 421, 51/32, 4/2
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Green Bay, 9/8/11, 419, 49/32, 3/0

MOST YARDS RECEIVING
 
YARDS/REC, LG/TD
Frank Clarke, Dallas vs. Washington, 9/16/62, 241/10, 58t/3
Anquan Boldin, Arizona vs. Detroit, 9/7/03, 217/10, 71t/2
Hugh Taylor, Washington vs. Philadelphia, 9/28/47, 212/8, 62t/3
Lance Alworth, San Diego vs. Denver, 9/11/65, 211/7, 48/1
Irving Fryar, Miami vs. New England, 9/4/94, 211/5, 54t/3
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 9/8/13, 208/13, 43/1
Wes Chandler, New Orleans vs. Atlanta, 9/2/79, 205/6, 42/1
Don Maynard, New York Jets vs. Kansas City, 9/15/68, 203/8, 57t/2
Marty Booker, Chicago vs. Minnesota, 9/8/02, 198/8, 54/1
Tim Smith, Houston vs. Green Bay, 9/4/83. 197/8, 47t/1