The hunter becomes the hunted. When the 2019 National Football League season got underway, the Kansas City Chiefs were hurting from their loss to Tom Brady in the AFC championship game at Arrowhead. When the 2019 season ended in Miami at the Super Bowl, the Chiefs were holding their first Lombardi Trophy in almost five decades. Since that time, the NFL has had to deal with race and social issues and the Covid 19 virus, among other things.

The draft wasn’t normal as we know it. Instead of being on the Vegas strip as many hoped, it was held in the basement of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. There were very few if any OTAs and there were no pre-season games this year.

Still, there’s going to be football. Granted, there will be some stadiums that will not have fans at all this season or only taking 25 percent of their capacity. There won’t be any games in London or Mexico this year, which marks the first time in nearly two decades that the NFL has not crossed over the Big Pond (Atlantic Ocean) or headed south of the border. The season kicked off in the Show-Me State Thursday night as the Chiefs came away winners against Houston and was the first of 256 contests that will be played in the regular season.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and young players making their mark all combined to help shape the story of the 2019 season. Again, Week 17 came right down to the wire as two playoff spots and two division titles – the NFC East and NFC West – were decided on the last day of the season. The excitement of Week 17 was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

Every team enters the 2020 season with a trip to Tampa Bay and Super Bowl LV in mind and below are a few reasons why.
Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs
after failing to make the postseason the year before. Five teams that missed the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo (10-6),
Green Bay (13-3), Minnesota (10-6), San Francisco (13-3) and Tennessee (9-7) – accomplished the feat in 2019.

Speaking of the playoffs…. (playoffs? playoffs? are you kidding me?) NFL clubs voted to expand the postseason by two teams beginning with the 2020 season. Expanding the NFL postseason was addressed in the new NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players and clubs both recognized that nothing energizes fans like the chance to see their team qualify for
the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl.

The vote during a league meeting in March held remotely follows the recommendation of the Competition Committee, Management Council Executive Committee and Media Committee on increasing the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14.

Two additional Wild Card teams – one each in the American and National Football Conferences – will qualify for the playoffs. The No. 1 seed in each conference will receive a bye in the Wild Card round. The remaining division champions in each conference with the best records will be seeded 2, 3, and 4, followed by the next three teams per conference with the best records seeded 5, 6 and 7.

AFC and NFC Wild Card games will feature the 2 seed hosting the 7 seed, the 3 seed hosting the 6 seed and the 4 seed hosting the 5 seed.

Wild Card Weekend for the 2020 season will consist of three games on Saturday, January 9 and three games on Sunday, January 10, 2021.

CBS will broadcast one additional Wild Card game on January 10 with kickoff at approximately 4:40 p.m. Eastern. The game will also be available via a livestream on CBS All Access. Additionally, as part of CBS’ coverage, a separately produced telecast of the game will air on Nickelodeon, tailored for a younger audience.

NBC, its new streaming service Peacock, as well as Telemundo will all broadcast an additional Wild Card game on January 10 with kickoff at approximately 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

The NFL last expanded the playoffs for the 1990 season, increasing from 10 to 12 the number of teams to qualify for the postseason. Since 1990, at least four new teams have qualified for the playoffs that missed the postseason the year before – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons.

COME FLY WTIH ME: This is your captain speaking. We’re going to be flying around a lot this season, so you might want to buckle that seat belt, turn off the electronic devices and follow the instructions of the flight attendant.

  1. Seattle 28,878
  2. San Francisco 25,485
  3. Los Angeles Chargers 25,387
  4. New England 24,560
  5. Miami 24,528
  6. Las Vegas 24,100
  7. Arizona 22,598
  8. Los Angeles Rams 22,062
  9. New York Jets 21,122
  10. Buffalo 20,026
    11, Dallas 19,295
  11. Denver 18,525
  12. Tampa Bay 15,834
  13. Washington 15,778
  14. Kansas City 15,636
  15. Jacksonville 15,425
  16. Philadelphia 14,826
  17. Houston 14,597
  18. New Orleans 14,013
  19. Carolina 12,634
  20. Minnesota 12,618
  21. Green Bay 12,285
  22. Atlanta 12,143
  23. New York Giants 11,610
  24. Detroit 10,328
  25. Tennessee 9,096
  26. Indianapolis 8,811
  27. Chicago 8,693
  28. Cincinnati 7,496
  29. Cleveland 7,426
  30. Pittsburgh 6,639
  31. Baltimore 6,292

All together, teams will travel approximately 508,846 miles during the 2020 season. The teams of the NFC West (99,023) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions. For the first time in nearly two decades, all 256 games in the NFL will be on American soil, as the games in London and Mexico City were postponed because of the Covid 19 virus. Each team will travel an average of 15,901 miles this season (Seattle will fly the most, Baltimore will fly the fewest). Oh… and please return your tray to the upright position.

The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC East (90,236), AFC West (83,648), NFC East (61,509), NFC South (54,624), AFC South (47,929), NFC North (44,024) and AFC North (27,853).

Three teams – Seattle (28,878), San Francisco (25,485) and Los Angeles Chargers (25,387) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles. That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles.

SPECIAL PATCHES AND LOGOS: The National Football League will celebrate the start of a new century in 2020 with the kickoff of its 101st season. At least five NFL teams will be dawning special patches in 2020. Dallas and Minnesota will be celebrating their 60th seasons with jersey patches and/or helmet decals, while Baltimore will be celebrating their 25th anniversary with a jersey patch.

Miami will wear a jersey patch commemorating the life of Pro Football Hall of Famer and legendary Dolphins head coach Don Shula, with his name and the number “347”, to signify his all-time career wins, the most in NFL history and the New York Jets will also wear a patch in memory of Betty Wold Johnson, mother of Jets CEO Christopher Johnson.

WHAT HAPPENED IN KICKOFF WEEKEND 2019 (ICYMI): A look back at statistical highlights from games played on Sunday, September 8, the first week of the 2019 season.

There were a total of 13 offensive touchdowns of 40-or-more yards, the second-most on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history. Only Kickoff Weekend of the 1991 season (14) had more such offensive scores of at least 40 yards. 13 quarterbacks had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts) in Week 1, surpassing Week 3 of the 2017 season (12) for the most in any week since 1970.

Four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards), Baltimore wide receiver Marquise Brown (147), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson(131) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend. It marked the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history. With 131 receiving yards, Hockenson surpassed Monty Stickles (123 receiving yards on September 25, 1960) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his NFL debut in league history.

Baltimore defeated Miami 59-10 on Kickoff Weekend. The Ravens scored 42 points in the first half, the most by any team in the first half of a season-opening game in NFL history. The Ravens, who scored 47 points on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, are the fifth team in league annals and first since the 1967-68 Oakland Raiders to score at least 40 points in consecutive season-opening games.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 17 of 20 attempts for 324 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the victory. Jackson is the seventh quarterback in NFL history and first since Ben Roethlisberger (November 11, 2018) with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, in a single game in NFL history.

Baltimore rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown recorded touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards on his first two catches in his NFL debut. Brown became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut and his 83-yard touchdown reception is the second-longest by a player in his NFL debut in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Rick Upchurch (90-yard touchdown reception on September 21, 1975).

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns for a 143.2 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 40-26 win at Jacksonville. Mahomes, who has 5,759 passing yards in 18 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (5,613 passing yards) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 20 career games in NFL history. Mahomes’ 53 touchdown passes are also the most by any player in his first 20 career games.

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins had nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Watkins is the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 195 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a season-opening game, joining Frank Clarke (September 16, 1962), Irving Fryar (September 4, 1994) and Hugh Taylor (September 28, 1947).

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 88 percent of his pass attempts (22 of 25), the highest completion percentage (minimum 15 attempts) by a quarterback in his NFL debut in league annals. Minshew completed his first 13 pass attempts, the longest streak to start a career among players who made their NFL debut over the past 40 seasons.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 32 attempts for 405 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 rating in the Cowboys’ 35-17 victory against the New York Giants. Prescott is the fourth quarterback to register a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, on 30-or-more pass attempts in NFL history, joining Jared Goff (33 attempts on September 27, 2018), Ken O”Brien (32 attempts on November 2, 1986) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (30 attempts on October 1, 2000).

The Los Angeles Chargers defeated Indianapolis 30-24 in overtime while Arizona and Detroit played to a 27-27 tie at State Farm Stadium on Kickoff Weekend. At least one game on Kickoff Weekend has gone to overtime in five of the past six seasons.

The contest between the Cardinals and Lions marked the second consecutive season in which a game ended in a tie in Week 1 and the third tie overall on Kickoff Weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns tied on September 9, 2018, while the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos played to a 10-10 tie on September 19, 1971.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler totaled 154 scrimmage yards (96 receiving, 58 rushing) and three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in the victory. Ekeler is the first undrafted player to record at least 150 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game since Dan Reeves (156 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns) on November 5, 1967.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recorded eight catches for 113 yards and one touchdown, the 117th touchdown catch of his NFL career. He surpassed Antonio Gates (116 touchdown receptions) for the sixth-most in NFL history.

Other notable performances from Kickoff Weekend 2019 include:

Carolina running back Christian McCaffery had 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 10 receptions for 81 yards, in the Panthers’ Week 1 loss. McCaffrey, who also had 125 rushing yards and 11 receptions in Week 12 of the 2018 season, is the first player in the Super Bowl era to record at least 120 rushing yards and 10 receptions in multiple games.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell totaled 92 scrimmage yards (60 rushing, 32 receiving) and a touchdown reception in the Jets’ Week 1 loss. Bell, who has 8,088 scrimmage yards in 63 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (64 games) to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: Three key players have changed uniforms and teams. Tom Brady, who for years called Foxboro and the New England Patriots home, headed to the Gulf Coast of Florida where he will be wearing the colors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South, Philips Rivers traded in his powder blue and lighting bolt of the Los Angeles Chargers for the Hoosier State and the Indianapolis Colts, Cam Newton heads to Foxboro after years with the Carolina Panthers and Jameis Winston stays in the NFC South but heads to New Orleans after a stint with the Bucs. Also moving… Andy Dalton, who returns to the Lone Star State as a back up to Dak Prescott as he suits up for the Dallas Cowboys after a long stint with Cincinnati.

There are five new coaches that will be roaming the sidelines when things get underway. Joe Judge (New York Giants), Mike McCarthy (Dallas), Matt Ruhle (Carolina), Ron Rivera (Washington) and Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland) will be on the sidelines this season. There will also be new places as well. The Chargers and Rams will call SoFi Stadium in downtown Los Angeles home after the Rams spent time in the Coliseum and the Chargers were residents at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson and the Raiders leave the Black Hole of the Oakland Coliseum for the desert for the great indoors of Allegiant Stadium. Not to be left out of the change party, the Washington team will no longer be called the Redskins and for the season, they’ll be refered to as the Washington football team. They’ll keep the colors they’ve had since they moved to our nation’s capital from Boston in the 1920s.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR (PLAYERS)

Josh Allen, Buffalo: needs three rushing touchdowns to become the second quarterback with at least 20 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons in NFL history joining Cam Newton (28). Allen also needs eight rushing touchdowns to become the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for at least eight touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants: needs 57 receptions to become the seventh running back in NFL history with at least 200 receptions through his first three seasons. Barkley also needs 10 games with at least 100 scrimmage yards to become the third player in NFL history with 30 such games through their first three seasons, joining Eric Dickerson (34) and Edgerrin James (32).

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland: needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the 10th player with at least 1,000 receiving yards in six of his first seven seasons in NFL history.

Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets: needs 60 receptions to become the sixth running back in NFL history with five seasons of at least 60 receptions. Bell also needs 72 receptions to become the fourth running back with at least 450 receptions in his first seven seasons in NFL history. Bell enters 2020 with 378 career receptions in 77 career games.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay: needs 16 starts to surpass Brett Favre (298 games) for the most games started by a quarterback in NFL history. Brady also needs two games with at least 300 passing yards to surpass Peyton Manning (93 games) for the second-most such games in NFL history, trailing only Drew Brees (120). With eight games with at least three touchdown passes, Brady would surpass Drew Brees and Peyton Manning (93 games) for the most such games in NFL history. Brady needs one more Pro Bowl berth to surpass Tony Gonzalez (14), Peyton Manning (14), Bruce Matthews (14) and Merlin Olsen (14) for the most Pro Bowl berths in NFL history.

Drew Brees, New Orleans: needs 10 starts to become the third quarterback in NFL history to start 300 games, including the postseason, joining Tom Brady (324) and Brett Favre (322). Brees also needs 25 touchdown passes to join Peyton Manning (16 seasons) as the only players in NFL history to have at least 15 seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes. Brees needs one game with at least two touchdown passes to surpass Peyton Manning (165 games) for the second-most such games in NFL history, trailing only Tom Brady (173). With one game with at least three touchdown passes, Brees would surpass Peyton Manning (93 games) for the most such games in NFL history. Brees needs one game with a passer rating of 125 or higher to surpass Peyton Manning (50 games) for the most such games in NFL history.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee: needs at least 1,000 receiving yards, 50 receptions and five receiving touchdowns to become the ninth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in each of his first two seasons. Brown also needs five games with at least 100 receiving yards to become the ninth player in NFL history with 10 such games through his first two seasons.

Kevin Byard, Tennessee: needs three interceptions and two sacks to become the sixth player in NFL history with at least 20 interceptions and five sacks through his first five seasons in NFL history.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota: needs 893 passing yards in his first three games of the 2020 season to become the third-fastest player (96 career games) to reach 25,000 career passing yards in NFL history, behind Matthew Stafford (90 games) and Dan Marino (92 games).

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams: needs eight sacks to become the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record at least eight sacks in each of his first seven seasons. Donald also needs 13 sacks to become the fourth player since 1982 to record at least 85 sacks in his first seven seasons, joining Reggie White (110), DeMarcus Ware (99.5) and Derrick Thomas (85). Donald has 72 sacks in 94 career games.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers: needs 953 scrimmage yards to become the third undrafted player in the common draft era (since 1967) with at least 4,000 scrimmage yards in his first four seasons, joining Arian Foster (6,052) and Willie Parker (4,818). Ekeler has 3,047 scrimmage yards in his first three seasons.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas: needs at least 1,300 rushing yards to the eighth player with at least 1,300 rushing yards in four of their first five seasons in NFL history. Elliott also needs 1,523 yards from scrimmage to surpass Chris Johnson (8,546) for the fifth-most yards from scrimmage through a player’s first five seasons in league history.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia: needs 93 receptions to surpass Jason Witten (617) for the most receptions by a tight end in his first eight seasons in NFL history.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay: needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the first player in NFL history to begin his career with seven consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona: needs 22 receptions for 1,400 career receptions, trailing only Jerry Rice (1,549) for most in NFL history. Fitzgerald has 1,378 receptions in 250 career games. Fitzgerald also needs nine touchdown receptions to surpass Marvin Harrison (128) for the fifth-most touchdown receptions in NFL history. Fitzgerald has 120 receiving touchdowns in 16 career seasons. Fitzgerald needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the third player in NFL history with 10 career 1,000-yard seasons, joining Jerry Rice (14) and Randy Moss (10).

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay: needs 139 receiving yards to reach 8,000 career receiving yards, joining Jason Witten (8,948 receiving yards), Tony Gonzalez (8,710) and Antonio Gates (8,321) as the only tight ends with at least 8,000 receiving yards in their first 10 seasons. Gronkowski also needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the first tight end in NFL history with five career 1,000-yard seasons. Gronkowski needs 976 receiving yards to become the fifth tight end in NFL history with 10,000 career receiving yards, including postseason. With nine receiving touchdowns, he would become the third tight end in NFL history with 100 career receiving touchdowns, including the postseason. Gronkowski needs four games with at least 100 receiving yards to surpass Tony Gonzalez (31 games) for the most such games by a tight end in NFL history.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta: needs 12 total touchdowns to surpass Jim Brown (81) for the fifth-most total touchdowns through a player’s first six seasons in NFL history. Gurley also needs 10 rushing touchdowns to become the seventh player with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in five of their first six seasons in NFL history.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee: needs 1,500 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns to become the fourth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons. Henry also needs two games with at least 200 rushing yards to become the third player in NFL history with four such games in his first five seasons.

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona: needs 68 receptions to become the fifth player in NFL history with 700 receptions in his first eight seasons. Hopkins has 632 receptions in 110 career games. Hopkins also needs at least 1,300 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions to become the fifth player in NFL history with four such seasons. Hopkins reached those marks during the 2015, 2017 and 2018 seasons. Hopkins needs 800 receiving yards to become the third player in NFL history with at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first eight seasons, joining Gary Clark and Jerry Rice.

Danielle Hunter, Minnesota: could join Reggie White (1986-88, 1990-92) and Jared Allen (2007-09) as the only players with at least 14 sacks in three consecutive seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official NFL statistic. Hunter recorded 14.5 sacks in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore: needs 132 rushing yards to surpass Cam Newton (2,032 yards) for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a player’s first three seasons in NFL history. Jackson also needs four games with at least 100 rushing yards to tie Michael Vick (10 games) for the most such games by a quarterback in NFL history. With 672 passing yards and 599 rushing yards, Jackson would become the first player with at least 5,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards through his first three seasons in NFL history.

Chandler Jones, Arizona: needs 21.5 sacks to surpass Jared Allen (117) and DeMarcus Ware (117) for the second-most sacks by a player in his first nine seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Reggie White had 137 sacks in his first nine NFL seasons. Jones also needs 17 sacks to become the third player since 1982 with three career seasons of at least 17 sacks. Jones had 17 sacks in 2017 and 19 sacks in 2019.

JULIO JONES, Atlanta: needs 1,151 receiving yards to surpass Jerry Rice (13,275 yards) for the most receiving yards through a player’s first 10 seasons in NFL history. Jones also could become the first player with at least 1,250 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons in NFL history. Jones needs at least 100 receptions and 1,500 receiving yards to become the first player to reach those marks in four different seasons in NFL history.

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans: needs at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards to become the first player in NFL history to have at least 500 rushing and receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. Kamara also needs 92 rushing yards and 432 receiving yards to join Roger Craig and Christian McCaffrey as the only players with at least 2,500 rushing and 2,500 receiving yards in their first four seasons in NFL history. If Kamara reaches 3,000 rushing yards, he would join Craig as the only players with at least 3,000 rushing yards and 2,500 receiving yards in their first four seasons. Kamara enters 2020 with 2,408 rushing yards and 2,068 receiving yards.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City: needs 93 receptions to become the second tight end with at least 600 receptions in his first eight seasons, joining Jason Witten (617). Kelce also needs 535 receiving yards to become the third tight end in NFL history with at least 7,000 receiving yards in his first eight seasons, joining Rob Gronkowski (7,179) and Antonio Gates (7,005). Kelce has 6,465 receiving yards in 96 career games. Kelce needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the first tight end in NFL history with five career seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards. Kelce had at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past four seasons. Kelce needs 90 receptions to become the first tight end in NFL history to record at least 90 receptions in three consecutive seasons. Kelce had 103 receptions in 2018 and 97 receptions in 2019.

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington: needs five sacks to become the ninth player to record at least five sacks in each of his first 10 seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Kerrigan also needs at least five sacks and one forced fumble to join Derrick Thomas as the only players since 1982 to do so in each of their first 10 seasons.

George Kittle, San Francisco: needs 919 receiving yards to surpass Jimmy Graham (3,863) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his first four seasons in NFL history. Kittle has 2,945 receiving yards in 45 career games. Kittle also needs 84 receptions to join Jimmy Graham (301) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 300 receptions in their first four seasons. Kittle has 216 receptions in his first three seasons.

Jarvis Landry, Cleveland: needs at least 80 receptions to become the first player in NFL history to record at least 80 receptions in each of his first seven seasons. Landry also needs 102 receptions to surpass Marvin Harrison (665) for the most receptions through a player’s first seven seasons in NFL history.

Darius Leonard, Indianapolis: needs three interceptions to become the third linebacker in NFL history with at least 10 interceptions through his first three seasons.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver: needs 1,000 rushing yards to become the first undrafted player since 1967 to record at least 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first three seasons. Lindsay had 1,037 rushing yards in 2018 and 1,011 rushing yards in 2019. Lindsay also needs 1,200 scrimmage yards to become the fifth undrafted running back since 1967 to record at least three career seasons of 1,200 scrimmage yards. Lindsay had 1,278 scrimmage yards in 2018 and 1,207 scrimmage yards in 2019.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland: needs at least 3,500 passing yards to join Andrew Luck (2012-14), Peyton Manning (1998-2000) and Jameis Winston (2015-17) as the only players with at least 3,500 passing yards in each of their first three seasons in NFL history. With at least 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes, Mayfield would join Luck and Manning as the only players to do so in each of their first three seasons in league history.

Christian McCaffery, Carolina: needs at least 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards to become the first player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in multiple seasons. McCaffrey also needs 97 receptions to become the third player in NFL history with 400 receptions through his first four seasons, joining Michael Thomas (470) and Jarvis Landry (400). McCaffrey needs at least 2,000 scrimmage yards to become the 11th player in NFL history to record 2,000 scrimmage yards in consecutive seasons. With 1,557 scrimmage yards, he would become the seventh player in NFL history with at least 7,000 scrimmage yards through his first four seasons. McCaffrey need 80 rushing yards and 477 receiving yards to become the first player in NFL history with 3,000 rushing and 3,000 receiving yards in his first four seasons. With six rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns, he would become the first player in NFL history with 30 rushing touchdowns and 20 receiving touchdowns in his first four seasons.

Kyler Murray, Arizona: can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons. Murray also needs 500 rushing yards to become the fourth quarterback since 1970 to rush for at least 500 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit: needs 1,054 rushing yards to surpass Barry Sanders (15,269) for fourth place on the all-time rushing list. Peterson also needs 13 rushing touchdowns to surpass Marcus Allen (123) for third place on the all-time rushing touchdown list. Peterson needs 750 rushing yards to become the third player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in at least 11 different seasons, joining Emmitt Smith (14 seasons) and Frank Gore (12). With five rushing touchdowns, he would become the fourth player in NFL history to do so in at least 11 different seasons, joining Marcus Allen (13), Emmitt Smith (12) and Walter Payton (11).

Dak Prescott, Dallas: could join Peyton Manning (1998-2002) and Russell Wilson (2012-16) as the only players with at least 3,000 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes in each of their first five seasons in NFL history. Prescott also needs four rushing touchdowns and three touchdown passes to join Cam Newton (2011-15) as the only players with at least 100 touchdown passes and 25 rushing touchdowns through their first five seasons in NFL history.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis: needs 2,091 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (61,361) for fifth place on the all-time passing yards list. Rivers also needs 24 touchdown passes to surpass Dan Marino (420) for fifth place on the all-time passing touchdowns list. With 60 completed passes, Rivers would surpass Dan Marino (4,967) for fifth place on the all-time completions list. Rivers needs 4,000 passing yards for his eighth consecutive season with at least 4,000 passing yards, tied with Peyton Manning for the third-longest such streak in NFL history.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: needs 3,054 passing yards to become the 11th quarterback to reach 50,000 career passing yards in NFL history. Rodgers also needs three touchdown passes to surpass Eli Manning (366) for the seventh-most career touchdown passes in NFL history.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: needs one game with at least 300 passing yards to tie Brett Favre (62 games) for the seventh-most such career games in NFL history. Roethlisberger also needs two games with at least 300 passing yards to tie Dan Marino (63 games) for the sixth-most such games in league history. Roethlisberger needs one game with at least three touchdown passes to become the eighth quarterback to have at least 50 games with at least three touchdown passes in NFL history.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta: needs at least 4,000 passing yards to join Drew Brees (12 seasons from 2006-17) as the only players with at least 4,000 passing yards in 10 consecutive seasons in NFL history. Ryan also needs 3,643 passing yards to surpass Peyton Manning (54,828 yards) for the most passing yards through a player’s first 13 seasons in NFL history.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit: needs 4,149 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (45,173) for the fourth-most passing yards through a player’s first 12 seasons in NFL history.

Michael Thomas, New Orleans: needs 1,000 receiving yards to become the fourth player in NFL history to have at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first five seasons, joining Mike Evans, A.J. Green and Randy Moss. Thomas also needs 100 receptions to become the third player in NFL history to have at least 100 receptions in four consecutive seasons, joining Antonio Brown (six seasons) and Marvin Harrison (four). Thomas needs 90 receptions to become the first player in NFL history with at least 90 receptions in each of his first five seasons. With 1,273 receiving yards he would surpass Torry Holt (6,784 receiving yards) for the most receiving yards in a player’s first five seasons in NFL history. Thomas needs 12 receptions to surpass Jarvis Landry (481 receptions) for the most receptions in a player’s first five seasons in NFL history.

T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh: needs at least 13 sacks to join Reggie White (four seasons) and Derrick Thomas (three) as the only players to record at least 13 sacks in three of their first four seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official NFL statistic. Watt recorded 13 sacks in 2018 and 14.5 sacks in 2019.

Russell Wilson, Seattle: needs seven wins to surpass Peyton Manning (92) for the most wins by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history. Wilson has won 86 games in his first eight seasons. Wilson also needs seven wins to surpass Tom Brady (101) for the most wins, including the postseason, by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history.

Jason Witten, Las Vegas: needs 60 receptions for his 16th career season with at least 60 receptions, the second-most in NFL history, trailing only Jerry Rice (17). Witten needs 85 receptions to become the second tight end and fourth player in NFL history with at least 1,300 career receptions. With 23 receiving yards, he would become the second tight end in NFL history with 13,000 receiving yards, joining Tony Gonzalez (15,127).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 1

SUPER STARTERS: History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive toward a Super Bowl cham​pionship is to win in Week 1.

The 54 Super Bowl winners have a 44-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City Chiefs, who hosted Houston in the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game on Thursday, have won their past five 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 losers of an opening game:

Of the 617 teams that won openers…322 went to the playoffs (196 won division titles).
Of the 616 teams that lost openers…148 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 2019, the 12 playoff teams compiled an 11-1 record on Kickoff Weekend and all four participants in the conference championships – Green Bay, Kansas City, San Francisco and Tennessee – were victorious in Week 1.

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

The defending AFC North champion Baltimore Ravers, who hosts Cleveland on Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, have won their last four Kickoff Weekend games, the AFC’s second-longest active streak.

Green Bay opens their season on the road against Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOx. The Packers have won 57 games on Kickoff Weekend, the most in the NFL. Green Bay has won its past five Kickoff Weekend games while the Vikings enter the 2020 season having won their past four openers.

Dallas and Dak Prescott visit the Los Angeles Rams in prime time on Sunday Night Football in Week 1 at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. With a winning percentage of .661 (39-20-1), the Cowboys own the best Kickoff Weekend winning percentage in the NFC.

In the first of two Monday Night Football games on Kickoff Weekend, the New York Giants host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:10 p.m. on ESPN. The Giants have 50 wins on Kickoff Weekend, third-most among all teams, while Pittsburgh’s 43 wins are the most among AFC teams.

Denver begins the season by hosting Tennessee in the second Monday Night Football contest at 10:20 p.m. on ESPN. The Broncos have also posted a .661 winning percentage (39-20-1) on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the AFC. Denver has won seven of its past eight Kickoff Weekend games.

*From 1920-71, tie games were not included in winning percentage

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

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has 39 touchdown passes in 18 career Week 1 games, while Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady has 37 touchdown passes in 17 career Kickoff Weekend games. The two rank first and second in NFL history, respectively, in career touchdown passes on Kickoff Weekend and face off this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on FOX.

Brees also leads all players with 5,406 career passing yards on Kickoff Weekend, while Brady ranks third with 4,693. With at least 44 passing yards on Sunday, Brady will surpass Peyton Manning (4,736) for second place on the all-time list.

Detroit running back Adrian Peterson has 999 rushing yards in 12 career season-opening games and needs one rushing yard on Sunday against Chicago at Ford Field at 1 p.m. on FOX to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (1,247), Walter Payton (1,067), Edgerrin James (1,062) and Jim Brown (1,043).

Peterson also enters the season with nine career rushing touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend and needs one more to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (12), Chuck Muncie (11) and Priest Holmes (10) as the only players in NFL history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in season-opening games.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who recorded eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown on Kickoff Weekend in 2019, has 92 receptions in 16 career Kickoff Weekend games, tied for the most all-time. With at least one reception on Sunday at San Francisco at 4:25 p.m. on FOX, Fitzgerald will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (92 receptions) for the most career receptions in season-opening games in NFL history.

Fitzgerald has 1,181 receiving yards in Week 1 games and with at least 45 receiving yards on Sunday can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers Randy Moss (1,194) and Andre Reed (1,225) for the second-most in NFL history. Rice has the most receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend with 1,385.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had 154 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend in 2019, 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 Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX, Jackson would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

START ’EM EARLY: Cincinnati rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the number 1 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start on the West Coast against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. With a start by Burrow, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 13 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, 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, 3-13)
2015 – Marcus Mariota (Tennessee, 3-13)
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) *^
*No. 1 overall pick
^Expected to start Week 1

BRADY & BREES: Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees will face off as division rivals for the first time, as Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on FOX. Brady (age 43) and Brees (41) are the two oldest active players in the NFL, and Sunday’s meeting will be the first in league history between two starting quarterbacks both age 40 or older.

The pair enter the 2020 season as the league’s top-two all-time leaders in passing yards and touchdown passes. Their Week 1 meeting marks the first game since at least 1950 between the league’s top-two all-time leaders in touchdown passes.

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

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (PASSING YARDS)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (77,416)
Tom Brady – New England (74,517)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
The players with the most career touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (547)
Tom Brady – New England (541)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (539)

With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday, Brees (165 games) will surpass Peyton Manning for the second-most such games in NFL history, trailing only Brady (173). With at least three touchdown passes, Brees (93 games) will surpass Manning for the most such games in league annals. Brady enters the season third on the all-time list with 86 games with at least three touchdown passes.

The players with the most career games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES)
Tom Brady – New England (173)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (165)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (165)

The players with the most career games with at least three touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (93)
Peyton Manning – Denver and Indianapolis (93)
Tom Brady – New England (86)

If Brees records a passer rating of 125 or higher, he would also surpass Manning (50 games) for the most such games in NFL history.

Other career passing milestones that can be reached in Week 1:

With at least three touchdown passes on Sunday at Jacksonville at 1 p.m. on CBS, Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers (397 career touchdown passes) can become the sixth player with 400 career touchdown passes in NFL history.

With at least 290 passing yards on Sunday against Seattle at 1 p.m. on FOX, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan (51,186 career passing yards) can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (51,475) for ninth place on the league’s all-time list.

With at least 58 passing yards on Sunday at Minnesota at 1 p.m. on FOX, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (46,946 career passing yards) can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (47,003) for 12th place on the all-time list.

With at least 266 passing yards on Sunday at Atlanta, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson can reach 30,000 career passing yards, becoming the 11th player to do so in his first nine seasons in league history.

RUSHING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson became the youngest quarterback to win league MVP in NFL history last season after leading the league with 36 touchdown passes and rushing for 1,206 yards, the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.

Jackson had five games with at least 100 rushing yards last season, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history, and enters 2020 with 1,901 career rushing yards through his first two seasons.

With at least 132 rushing yards on Sunday against Cleveland, Jackson can surpass Cam Newton (2,032 rushing yards) for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in his first three seasons in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most rushing yards in their first three seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (RUSHING YARDS)
Cam Newton, Carolina (2,032)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (1,901)*
Russell Wilson, Seattle (1,877)
*Entering third season

RECEPTIONS LEADER: New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas led the NFL with 149 receptions for 1,725 receiving yards last season, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (143 receptions in 2002) for the most receptions in a single season in NFL history. He also registered nine games with at least 10 receptions, the most in a single season in league annals.

Thomas enters his fifth NFL season with 470 career receptions and needs at least 12 receptions on Sunday against Tampa Bay to surpass Jarvis Landry (481 receptions) for the most receptions by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in their first five seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (RECEPTIONS)
Jarvis Landry – Miami and Cleveland (481)
Michael Thomas – New Orleans (470)*
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (426)
*Entering fifth season

CLOSING IN ON 800: Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES has 797 receptions for 12,125 yards and 57 touchdowns in 126 career games. Jones needs three receptions on Sunday against Seattle to become the second-fastest player to reach 800 receptions in NFL history.

The players to reach 800 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES TO REACH 800 RECEPTIONS)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (126)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (131) HOF
Andre Johnson, Houston (137)
Julio Jones, ATLANTA (126)*
*Has 797 receptions entering Sunday

ROOKIES NO MORE: The 2019 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray and the 2019 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year, San Francisco defensive lineman Nick Bosa, will meet each other in Week 1, when the 49ers host the Cardinals on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on FOX.

It will mark the third time in NFL history that the two reigning Rookies of the Year will meet on Kickoff Weekend. New England running back John Stephens and New York Jets defensive back Erik McMillan met in Week 1 of the 1989 season, while San Diego Chargers running back Don Woods and Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert met in the season opening game in 1975.

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
2020: QB Kyler Murray (Arizona); DL Nick Bosa (San Francisco) – ???
1989: RB John Stephens (New England); DB Erik McMillan (New York Jets) – New England 27, New York Jets 24
1975: RB Don Woods (San Diego); LB Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh)(HOF) – Pittsburgh 37, San Diego 0

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 26. The first game will send the Texans to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS. The late afternoon game will feature Washington visiting Dallas at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX. The Thanksgiving Day festivities conclude with an AFC North showdown as the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh and Heinz Field to face the Steelers on NBC at 8:20 p.m. Eastern

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, January 3. For the 11th consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications. The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 5 and end in Week 13. “Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to January 3. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.

Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights. In each of Weeks 15 and 16, up to three of five designated matchups will be played on Saturday with the remainder to be played on Sunday. Specific dates and start times for such designated Week 15 and Week 16 matchups will be determined and announced no later than four weeks prior to game day.

Week one got underway at Arrowhead as the Chiefs raised their championship bannder and got their rings as World Champions Thursday night and concludes in the Mile High City as Denver hosts Tennessee. As our tradition, we’re going to make all the games for week 1 and 17 “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 61 last June and dates a 45-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”), Last year was a pretty good year pick-wise, as we went 149-119 for the season. Having said all of that, it’s time for the picks for Sunday and Monday in week 1.

Seattle (11-5) at ATLANTA (7-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Salmon meets chicken and waffles as Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks travel to the Big Peach for a showdown with Matt Ryan, newly accquired RB Todd Gurley and the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Seattle leads the series 11-8 and the Seahawks have outscored Atlanta 465-411. Seattle has also won three of the last four regular season meetings, including a 27-20 win in the Big Peach last year (Atlanta’s last win in the series came in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, as the Falcons held off Seattle 34-31 in 2017).

They met in week eight at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Seahawks scored 24 first-half points unchecked at the intermission. Atlanta, with Matt Schaub under center (Ryan was injured the week before), proceeded to outscore Seattle 20-3 in the final 30 minutes of action. Seattle outrushed Atlanta 151-69 and Seahawks RB Chris Carson led all rushers with 90 yards and a TD, while DeVonta Freeman led Atlant with 39. Wilson threw for 182 yards and a pair of TDs (both to WR D.K. Metcalf), while Schaub threw for 460 yards and a TD to TE Austin Hooper (Schaub was picked off once, Wilson did not throw an interception; both men were sacked twice). Atlanta, who turned the ball over three times (two fumbles, Schaub interception), went 1 of 1 on fourth down (both teams were 3 for 9 on third down) and actually ruled the clock, holding on to the pigskin for 30:47, while Seattle kept the ball for 29:13.

Seattle was favored by 3 1/2 in the week eight contest in the Big Peach and their 7-point road win but both clubs missed the 53 1/2 over/under, as they tallied 47 points. In the first Sunday meeting of the 2020 campaign, Seattle’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 49. Seattle would like to prove that last year’s win was not a fluke. Atlanta would love nothing more than revenge. Revenge wins out here. Atlanta covers the 1 1/2 in the Big Peach and takes the win in the Deep South.

Cleveland (6-10) at Baltimore (14-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of former top draft QBs meet along Baltimore Harbor in Charm City as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens take on Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns square off in the first of two AFC North meetings.

The Ravens lead the series 31-11 and have outscore the Browns 983-653. The two clubs split their two meetings in the 2019 campaign, each taking wins in their home facilty. Their first meeting was in week four in Charm City and the Browns would prevail 40-25 at M&T Bank Stadium. Cleveland led 10-7 at the intermission, then proceeded to hit the gas in the second half, outscoring the Ravens 30-18 in the final 30 minutes of play. Cleveland outrushed Baltimore 193-173 with Browns RB Nick Chubb leading the way with 165 yards and three TDs, while Mark Ingram led Baltimore with 71 yards. Mayfield threw for 342 yards in the contest with a TD and an interception, while Jackson threw for 247 yards and three TDs (Mayfield was sacked once; Jackson was sacked four times and threw a pair of interceptions.). The Ravens (who turned the ball over three times) went 4 of 10 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:43, while the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:17, going 6 for 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Ravens got revenge in week 16 along the shores of Lake Erie as Baltimore 31-15 at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. After a scoreless first quarter in the chill of northern Ohio, Baltimore took a 14-6 lead with them to the break and never looked back, outpacing Cleveland 17-9 in the final 30 minutes of play. This time, Jackson would not only lead with his arm, he led with his feet, leading all rushers with 103 yards, as Baltimore outrushed Cleveland 243-49 (the Ravens held Chubb to 45 yards rushing). Jackson threw for 238 yards and three TDs without a sack or interception, while Mayfield threw for 192 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Beckham) with an interception. Baltimore went 7 of 11 on third down tries (the Ravens were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:19, while the Browns, keeping the pigskin for 25:41, went 3 of 12 on third down tries.

In the week four contest in Charm City, the Ravens were favored by 6 1/2 and the Browns covered, winning by 15. Both teams covered the 45 over/under with 65 points. The Ravens were favored again in their week 16 showdown along the shores of Lake Erie, by 9 1/2 and the Ravens covered, winning by 16 but both clubs missed the 49 1/2 over/under, tallying 46 points. Baltimore’s favored by 8 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. The 48 1/2 makes sense, it’s the 8 that has us scratching our heads. Cleveland’s better than their 6-10 record and while they could make things closer than 8, the Ravens prevail in Charm City and takes the win.

New York Jets (7-9) at Buffalo (10-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of Empire State teams meet in upstate New York as the Buffalo Bills welcome their AFC East rivals from the Jersey Shore to Orchard Park.

The Bills lead the series 62-56 (which includes contests played at Shea Stadium, War Memorial Stadium and when the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were known as the Titans) and have outscored GangGreen 2,459-2,408. They met twice in the 2019 campaign, splitting the two contests to start and end the season and taking wins in the other team’s facility.

Meeting number one… week one in the Meadowlands and the Bills erased a 16-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 17-16 win at Met Life Stadium. GangGreen led 6-0 at the break and took a 16-3 lead with them to the fourth quarter before Buffalo circled their wagons and scored 14 fourth quarter points unchallenged, including the game winner when Josh Brown and Josh Allen connected on a 38-yard TD toss with three mintues left in regulation. The Bills then held off a late J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! rally to take the win in upstate New Jersey.

Buffalo outrushed GangGreen 128-68 and Allen threw for 254 yards and the TD to Brown (he also had a rushing TD in the fourth quarter), while Sam Darnold threw for 175 yards and a TD to LeVeon Bell (Allan was sacked once and threw a pair of interceptions, while Darnold was sacked four times). Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while GangGreen actually ruled the clcok, keeping the pigskin hostage for 32:01, while going 7 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The two teams closed out the season in upstate New York and this time, GangGreen prevails 13-6 at New Era Stadium. Darnold and WR Jamison Crowder connected for the contest’s only TD early in the final quarter of play (GangGreen led 3-0 at the half) to take the win, holding off a late Bills’ rally as K Stephen Hauschka connected on a 49-yard field goal with 47 seconds left, then recovering the onside kick to seal the win. Neither club breached the 100-yard mark in the rematch and it would be GangGreen outrushing Buffalo 86-73. Arnold threw for 199 yards and the fourth quarter TD, while backup QB Matt Barkley threw for 199 yards (Barkley was sacked once and threw a pair of interceptions, while Darnonld threw a pick and was sacked twice). The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 5 of 14 on third down and held on to the ball for 31:21, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 28:39, going 4 of 14 on third down conversions.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were favored by 2 1/2 in the week one contest in the Meadowlands and while the Bills came away victors, they did not cover, winning by 1 point and both missed the 40 1/2 over/under, tallying only 33 points. Buffalo in the week 16 rematch found themselves favored by 1 1/2 and GangGreen did cover, winning by 7 in upstate New York. As for the 36 over/under? It was as safe as can be, as they merged for only 19 ponits. The Bills are favored by 6 1/2 in upstate New York and the over/under’s 39. These two teams are trying to knock New England off the AFC East mountain and the winner has the edge to completing that task. Bills circle the wagons in Orchard Park and takes the win in upstate New York, covering the 6 1/2.

Las Vegas (7-9) at Carolina (5-11), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of teams that were struggling last year meet in the Tar Heel State as Carolina begins life without Cam Newton or Ron Rivera as they host Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders. You are reading that correctly. After years of playing in Oakland, the Silver and Black have moved to the desert.

The two teams find themselves tied 3-3 and the Silver and Black has outscored Carolina 140-137. The Raiders were 35-32 winners on the Eastern side of San Francisco Bay in Oakland in 2016, while Carolina’s last win in the series came in the Tar Heel State in 2012 by a final of 17-6. The Raiders are favored by 3 in the Tar Heel State and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Raiders ‘Just Win, Baby” in the Tar Heel State and covers the 3 in Charlotte.

Chicago (8-8) at Detroit (3-12-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Motor City as Chicago and Detroit, both looking to unseat Green Bay on the divisional throne, meet at Ford Field in the season opener for both.

Including games played in Portsmouth, when the Lions were known as the Spartans, games played at Tiger Stadium, Wrigley Field, the Pontiac Silverdome and Champaign-Urbana, Da Bears lead da series 101-74-5, have outscored Detroit 3,510-3,223 and have won the last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Detroit’s last win over Chicago came in 2017 in the Motor City by a final of 20-10).

Their first meeting took place in the Windy City in week 10 and Chicago held off a late Detroit rally at Solider Field to come away with the 20-13 win. Trubisky (173 yards) threw three TD passes in the contest as Chicago led 7-6 at the intermisson. The one bright spot for the Lions in the contest was that they did outrush Da Bears 98-83 and Jeff Driskell, taking over for the injured Matthew Stafford, threw for 269 yards and a TD to Kenny Golloday (Driskell was sacked twice and threw and interception, while Trubisky was sacked five times without a pick). Detroit went 7 of 18 on third down tries at Soldier Field (the Lions were 0-2 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 31:54, while Da Bears were 2 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the pigskin for 28:06.

Round two… the Motor City in week 13 on Thansgiving Day and the Lions let a 20-17 lead with 2:17 left in regulation get away from them as Da Bears’ David Montgomery caught a 3-yard TD toss from Trubisky to reclaim the lead, taking a 24-20 win at Ford Field. The Lions, leading 17-10 at the intermission, broke a 17-17 tie thanks to a 24-yard field goal by Matt Prather, before Chicago went on a 9-play, 90-yard drive that took 4:23 of clock to reclaim the lead. Chicago then went on to hold off a late Detroit rally to complete the sweep and take the win. Detroit once again outrushed Chicago, this time tallying 105 yards (Detroit’s Bo Scarbrough led all rushers with 83 yards, Montgomery led Chicago with 75 yards), while Chicago ran for 88 yards. Trubisky threw for 338 yards and three TDs (including the game winner), while David Blough, making his first start in the NFL as he took over for Stafford, threw for 280 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Golladay), while Trubisky threw for 338 yards and three TDs (including the game winner; Trubisky was sacked once, Blough was sacked twice and both threw an interception). Both teams were 50 percent on third down tries in the Thanksgiving Day affair in the Motor City (Chicago was 5 of 10, Detroit was 8-16) and both teams went 0 for 1 on fourth down tries. Chicago ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:50, while Detroit kept the pigskin for 29:10.

Chicago covered the 2 1/2-point spread in the week 10 contest, winning by 6 but the 41 1/2 over/under was safe, as the two teams merged for 33 points. Da Bears were favored in the Thanksgiving Day contest in the Motor City as 2 1/2-point favorites and they would cover, winning by four. This time, both teams covered the 39 over/under, tallying 44 points. Detroit’s favored by 3 in the Motor City and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Lion fans, get readsy to get your hearts broken… again. Da Bears win in the Motor City and covers the 3.

Indianapolis (7-9) at Jacksonville (6-10), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC South rivals open their 2020 seasons in north Florida as Jacksonville hosts the Indianapolis Colts in the Sunshine State.

The Colts lead the series 24-14 and have outrscored Jacksonville 889-779. The two AFC South foes split their meetings last year, each winning at home.

Indy took control of things in the first meeting, a week 11 contest at Lucas Oil Stadium, coming away 33-13 winners in the Hoosier State. The Colts led 10-3 at the intermission, then floored the gas in the third quarter, scoring a pair of TDs in the quarter unchallenged to all but seal the game away. Jacksonville was held to 29 yards of rushing as Colts RBs Jordan Williams (116 yards) and Marlon Mack (109 yards, TD) ran roughshod over the Jaguars. Jacoby Brissette threw for 148 yards with a TD pass to WR Marcus Johnson and had a rushing TD of his own, while Nick Foles threw for 296 yards and a pair of TDs to D.J. Chark for the Jaguars (both Brissett and Foles threw an interception; Brissett was sacked twice, Foles sacked once). The Colts were 4 0f 11 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 33:52, while Jacksonville, keeping the pigskin for 26:08, went 6 of 14 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down.

Jacksonville would get their revenge in week 17 in the Sunshine State, coming away 38-20 winnners at TIAA Bank Field to close the season. Jacksonville scored 22 second half points unchallenged, erasing a 20-16 deficit at the intermission. The Colts once again outrushed Jacksonville by a 132-67 margin but this time around, Gardner Minshew II, taking over for Foles, threw for 295 yards and three TDs, while Brissett threw for 162 yards (both men were sacked three times, with Minshew throwing the game’s only interception). The victorious Jaguars were 9 of 14 on third down tries in north Florida and kept the ball for 33:53, while the Colts, keeping the pigskin for 26:07, went 4 for 12 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The Colts covered the 3-point spread in the week 11 contest in the Hoosier State, winning by 20 and both clubs took care of the 43 1/2 over/under with 46 points. In the week 17 rematch in the Sunshine State, while the Colts were favored by 4, Jacksonville covered the spread as they would win by 13 and both clubs took care of the 43 over/under with 53 points. Indy’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 45. Both numbers make a ton of sense. Jacksonville will give the Colts a scare and make it closer than 8 1/2 but Indy prevails in the Sunshine State.

Green Bay (13-3) at Minnesota (10-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of old-fashined NFC North rivals meet in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers travel to the Twin Cities to meet up against Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings,

Including games played at County Stadium, Metropolitain Stadium and the Metrodome, the Packers lead the series 61-53-3 and have outscored the Purple Gang 2,549-2,268. Green Bay swept the series in 2019, taking wins at Lambeau and in the Twin Cities (Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2018, when the Vikings took a 24-17 win at US Bank Stadium.).

They met in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst in week two at Lambeau and the Packers held off Minnesota 21-16. Green Bay led 21-10 at the intermission before Minnesota would pull themselves to within five with 9:12 left in the third when WR Stefan Diggs connected with Cousins on a 45-yard TD toss. Minnesota out-rushed Green Bay 198-144 with Vikings RB Delvin Cook leading all rushers with 154 yards, while Aaron Jones led the Packers with 116 yards (both men had a rushing TD in the contest). Rodgers threw for 209 yards and a pair of TD (Rodgers did not have an interception), while Cousins threw for 230 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions (Rodgers was sacked twice, Cousins was sacked once). Green Bay was 5 of 15 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Packers would rule the clock and keep the ball for 34:06, while the Vikings, who kept the pigskin for 25:54, went 4 of 13 on third down at Lambeau.

Green Bay completed the sweep in the series in 2019, meeting in week 16 on a Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium and for the Packers, it was a win they needed to clinch the NFC North title, taking a 23-10 win in the Twin Cities. Green Bay trailed 10-9 at the half, then proceeded to score 14 second-half points unchallenged to take the win on the road. This time around, it would be Green Bay that would outrush Minnesota, as the Packers tallied 184 yards to Minnesota’s 57. Once again, Jones accounted for all of Green Bay’s yardage, tallying a pair of TDs in the second half to go with his 154 yards on the ground. Rodgers, despite being sacked three times and throwing an interception, managed to account for 216 yards with a TD to Diggs (Cousins was sacked five times and threw an interception). In the second meeting, Green Bay was 5 of 15 on third down tries and once again, ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 37:32, while the Vikings, holding on to the ball for 22:28, went 4 for 15 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down.

Green Bay’s 5-point win in the week two contest at Lambeau allowed them to cover the 3-point spread but neither team touched the 43 1/2 over/under, as the two clubs tallied 37 points. In the primetime contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Vikings were favored by 4 1/2 and once again, the Packers covered, winning by 13. As was the case in the first meeting, the over/under was untouched (46) as both clubs merged to score 33 points. The Vikings are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 46. Green Bay wants to be king of the NFC North mountain for a while, while Minnesota would love nothing more than to dethrone the Packers. Long live the kings. Green Bay wins in the Twin Cities and covers the 3.

Miami (5-11) at New England (12-4), 1 p.n. on CBS and DirecTV 709. Cam Newton makes his Foxboro debut as Tom Brady’s replacement as the Patriots host AFC East rival Miami at Gillette Stadium.

While the Dolphins lead the series 55-51, the Patriots have outscored the ‘Fins 2,335-2,266. They split last year’s contests, each taking wins on the road in the series.

Their first meeting? week two in the Sunshine State and the Patriots and Brady scored 43 points unchallenged to take a 43-0 win over Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. Leading 13-0 at the intermission, the Patriots would go on to tally 30 more points in the second half to pitch the shutout. New England outrushed Miami 126-42 with Sony Michel leading the way with 85 yards and a TD. Brady threw for 264 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Antonio Brown, he also had a rushing TD in the contest), while the New England defense sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick four times (three interceptions) and Josh Rosen three times (Rosen threw an interception). New England was 6 for 11 on third down in the Sunshine State and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:30 to Miami’s 23:30 (the Dolphins were 2 of 15 on third down, 2 of 4 on fourth down).

Miami would get revenge and knock the Patriots out of the one seed in the AFC playoff race, coming away 27-24 winners in Foxboro to close out the 2019 campaign. Breaking a 10-10 tie at the intermission, the ‘Fins outscored Brady and the Pats 17-10 in the final 30 minutes of action and then held off a late New England rally that would have either evened things up and sent the contest into overtime or given the Pats the win. New England outrushed Miami again, this time by a 135-63 margin and once again, it was Michel that led all rushers with 74 yards and a TD. Brady threw for 221 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception, while Fitzpatrick (two sacks) threw for 320 yards and a TD without an interception. New England went 3 of 9 on third down tries and held the ball for 26:09, including the final 24 seconds of the game, while the ‘Fins were 5 of 12 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:51.

New England in the week two contest in the Sunshine State easily covered the 19-point spread with the 43-point win but barely missed the 47 1/2 over/under. In the rematch in Foxboro to close out the 2019 season, the Pats were favored by 15 but Miami prevailed by only 3. The two teams did manage to cover the 44 1/2 over/under with 51 points. New England’s favored by 6 in Foxboro and the over/under’s 43. Miami could make this one interesting but the Patriots take the win in Foxboro and could very well cover the 3.

Philadelphia (9-7) at Washington (3-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. One is the defending NFC East champ. The other changed their team name after nearly 80 years. Philadelphia and Washington meet in Landover to open action Sunday.

While Washington leads the series 85-79-5, which includes contests played in Boston, at RFK Stadium and JFK and Veterans’ Stadiums, the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,587-3,362 and have won the last six meetings, including a sweep of last year’s series (Washington’s last win over the Eagles came in 2016, when they left the City of Brotherly Love 27-22 winners).

They met right off the bat in the City of Brotherly Love in week one and the Eagles left Lincoln Financial Field 32-27 winners. Erasing a 20-7 deficit at the intermission, the Eagles would go on to outscore Washington 25-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, with Carson Wentz throwing a pair of TDs in the half to take the lead for keeps. The Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28 and Wentz threw for 313 yards, while Case Keenum threw for 380 yards (each man threw three TDs without an interception and was sacked once). Philadelphia was 11 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 34:27, while Washington, keeping the ball for 25:33, went 5 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Philadelphia completed the sweep in the series in Landover in week 15, taking a 37-27 win out of FedEx Field in Landover. Trailing 14-10 at the intermission, the Eagles went to work, outscoring Washington 27-13 in the final 30 minutes of action to seal the win. Philadelphia outrushed Washington 157-101 with Miles Sanders leading all rushers with 122 yards and a TD. Wentz threw for 266 yards and three TDs without an interception (despite being sacked twice), while Washington’s Dwayne Haskins threw for 261 yards and a pair of TDs. Philadelphia was 11 of 16 on third down and played keep away with the ball, holding the pigskin for 36:57 to Washington’s 23:03 (Washington was 4 for 10 on third down).

In the week one contest in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles won by five, which meant they didn’t cover the 10-point spread. The two teams did manage to take care of the 44 over/under, tallying 59 points. The Eagles not only took care of business in the week 15 contest in Landover, they cover the 6-point spread winning by 10 and both teams took care of the 40 1/2 over/under with 64 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Eagles as 6-point favorites in Landover with a 43 over/under. Fly, Eagles, Fly! Philly covers the 6 in Landover and takes the win on the road.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) at Cincinnati (2-14), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. They’re both looking to right their ships. Los Angeles and Cincinnati meet along the shores of the Ohio River in a late-afternoon contest at Paul Brown Stadium.

Including contests that were played at Qualcomm, Riverfront and Nippert Stadiums, the Chargers lead series 20-14 and have outscored the Bengals 814-743. Their last meeting was in 2018 on the West Coast and the Chargers would prevail 26-21 (Cincinnati’s last win in the series came in 2015 along the shores of the Ohio River by a final of 24-19). The Chargers are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Both clubs want nothing more than to be out of the cellars in their respective divisions. Chargers prevail in Cincy and covers the 3 1/2.

Tampa Bay (7-9) at New Orleans (13-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees. Seven Super Bowl rings between them and they meet in the Big Easy as two NFC South clubs square off in the Superdome. New Orleans leads the Saints lead series 35-21, the Saints have outscored Tampa Bay 1,281-1,068 and have won the last three meetings, including sweeping last year’s series (Tampa Bay’s last win came in 2018 when they left the Big Easy 48-40 winners).

First meeting? Week five in the Big Easy and the Saints held off a late Tampa Bay rally in the fourth quarter to come out on top 31-24. The Saints led 17-10 at the intermission and the two clubs played even football in the final 30 minutes of play, as Tampa Bay would pull themselves to within seven with 13 seconds left when Jameis Winston and WR Chris Godwin connected on a 26-yard TD toss. Tampa Bay would attempt an onside kick, which New Orleans recovered and the Saints would then run the clock out to take the win. Alvin Kamara led all rushers with 62 yards as the Saints out-rushed Tampa Bay 112-94. Winston threw for 204 yards and a pair of TDs (Winston was sacked 6 times), while Teddy Bridgewater, taking over for Brees, threw for 314 yards and four TDs with an interception. The Saints went 8 of 15 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:27, while Tampa Bay held the pigskin for 26:33 and went 3 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Brees would return from his thumb injury in week 11 as the Saints would complete the sweep in the Sunshine State at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans led from start to finish, as they left Tampa with the 34-17 win under their belts. New Orleans led 20-7 at the intermission and then floored the gas in the second half, outscoring Tampa Bay 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Brees threw for 228 yards and three TDs with no sacks or interceptions as the Saints outrushed Tampa Bay 109-36 (Kamara led all rushers with 75 yards) and picked Winston (313 yards, two TDs, two sacks) off four times. New Orleans went 7 of 13 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37 minutes, while Tampa Bay, keeping the pigskin for 23 minutes, was 5 of 13 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the week five contest, New Orleans covered the 3 1/2-point spread, winning by 5 and both teams took care of the 47 over/under, tallying 51 points. New Orleans covered the 5 1/2-point spread in the week 11 contest in the Sunshine State and both clubs took care of the 49 1/2 by combining for 51 points. The Saints are favored by 3 1/2 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 49 1/2. It’s the first of two meetings and the winner (for now) will have first place in the NFC South all to themselves. Tampa Bay pulls off the upset and leaves the Big Easy with the win but expect New Orleans to keep things closer than 3 1/2.

Arizona (5-10-1) at San Francisco (13-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. Jimmy Garoppolo and the defending NFC champions open their regular season against NFC West foe Arizona in wine country. For the 49ers, it’s a chance to go back to the Super Bowl, while for the Desert Angry Birds from Glendale, they look to get themselves out of the NFC West cellar.

Including games that were played in St. Louis at Busch Stadium and at Candlestick Park, the 49ers lead the series 31-26 and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,301-1,174. San Francisco swept the series last year, taking wins in Santa Clara and in Glendale (Arizona’s last win in the series came in 2018, when they 18-15 winners in the desert; the Desert Angry Birds would win the series that year).

Their first meeting was in the desert in week nine and San Francisco held off a late Cardinals’ rally to come away 28-25 winner at State Farm Stadium. Although San Francisco led 21-7 at the intermission, Arizona managed to outscore the 49ers 18-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming to within 3 with 4:53 left in regulation when Kyler Murray and WR Andy Isabella connected on an 88-yard TD pass.

It would be as close as Arizona would get as the 49ers and Garapollo would run out the clock to seal the win. Arizona out-rushed San Francisco 153-101 with Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake leading all rushers with 110 yards and a TD; Garoppolo threw for 317 yards and four TDs (connecting with Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle on two of the tosses; Sanders had 112 yards on nine catches), while Murray threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs (neither threw an interception; Garapollo was sacked once, Muaray was sacked three times). The 49ers were 11 of 17 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and San Francisco ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:31, while the Cardinals, who kept the pigskin for 25:29, went 2 of 8 on third down.

They didn’t have very long to wait and they met two weeks later in week 11 at Levis’ Stadium and San Francisco erased a 16-10 first half deficit to come away with the 36-26 win to sweep the series. The 49ers took the win by outscoring Arizona 26-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. As was the case in the week nine contest, Arizona out-rushed San Francisco, tallying 135 yards to San Francisco’s 34 (Drake would lead all rushers again, running for 67 yards; Murray also had 67 rushing yards in the contest). Garapollo tool Arizona’s secondary to task, throwing for 424 yards and four TDs, while Murray threw for 150 yards and a pair of TDs (Garapollo threw a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice, while Murray was sacked four times).

Neither team breached the 50 percent barrier on third down tries (Arizona was 3 of 10, San Francisco was 6 of 13; the Cardinals were 1 of 1 on fourth down, while the 49ers went 0 of 2) and this time, it was the Cardinals ruling the clock, keeping the ball for 31:23 to San Francisco’s 28:37.

In the week nine contest in the desert (a Thursday night affair), the 49ers were favored by 10 but only came away 3-point winners. As for the 43 over/under? The two clubs took care of it with 53 points in the contest. The odds makers liked the 49ers in the week 11 meeting in Santa Clara but San Francisco would win by only 10 but the two clubs did cover the 45 over/under, tallying 62 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like the 49ers as 7-point favorites and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Both numbers are somewhat reasonable. Arizona’s better than their record indicates but the 49ers are the defending NFC champs. 49ers prevail in Santa Clara and cover the 7.

Dallas (8-8) at Los Angeles Rams (9-7), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. A pair of .500 teams that missed the playoffs meet in an new facility as Mike McCarthy, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys travel to the West Coast for a Sunday night primetime contest with Sean McVay, Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams, as the Rams open the doors to SoFi Stadium.

Dallas holds a slim 14-12 lead in the series (which includes contests that were played in Los Angeles, St. Louis, the Cotton Bowl and Texas Stadium) and have outscored the Rams 622-585. They met last year at AT&T Stadium and the Cowboys prevailed in that contest by final of 44-21 (the Rams’ last win in the series came in 2017 by a final of 35-30 in Dallas).

Their 2019 meeting took place in Arlington in week 15 and the Cowboys erased a 7-7 tie by scoring 30 points unchallenged to seal the win, leading 28-7 at the break. The Rams found themselves held to a season-low 22 yards rushing, while Dallas ran for 263 yards (Tony Pollard – 131 yards, TD and Ezekiel Elliot – 117 yards and a pair of TDs led all rushers). Prescott threw for 212 yards and a pair of TDs (one to TE Jason Witten) without being sacked or picked off, while Goff threw for 284 yards with a pair of TDs (one to Cooper Kupp), while he was sacked twice and threw an interception. Dallas on third down went 7 of 13 but found success in their only try on fourth down and held on to the ball for 36:06, while the Rams kept the pigskin for 23:54, while going 4 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

In their week 15 contest in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys covered the 3-point spread, winning by 23 and both clubs covered the 47 over/under with 65 points. In the primetime game on the Peacock Network, the Cowboys are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 52. This one’s is well worth your time, even if there will not be any fans in the seats at SoFi Sunday night and it could be closer than the 3 but in the end, the Rams get their revenge at home and takes the win, even though Dallas could make it closer than 3.

Pittsburgh (8-8) at New York Giants (4-12), 7:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The first of 16 Monday night games in the 2020 season takes place in upstate New Jersey as the New York Giants host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Met Life Stadium. The Monday night contest is the debut of new Giants head coach Joe Judge, who looks to unseat the Eagles in the NFC East.

Including games played at Forbes Field, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Giants Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium, the Giants lead the series 44-30-3 and have outscored Pittsburgh 1,514-1,294. The Steelers, who were known as the Pirates until 1940, have won the last two meetings in the series, including a 24-14 win at Heinz Field in 2016, while New York’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Steel City by a final of 21-14.

The Steelers on Monday nigh have had some success, going 48-24 all time and winning both of their contests under the lights last year. As for the Giants? 25-41-1 and Big Blue is 0-2 in their two 2019 contests. Pittsburgh’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 48. This may not be one of the better ones to watch but it could be somewhat entertaining. Pittsburgh covers the 6 and wins along the Jersey shore.

Tennessee (9-7) at Denver (7-9), 10:10 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week one closes out in the Mile High City as Denver hosts Tennessee at Empower Field at Mile High. The Titans look to bounce back after being bounced out of the 2019 post-season party by Kansas City, while the Broncos are looking to make some noise and perhaps unseat the Chiefs in the AFC West. Including games that were played when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, the Titans lead the series 22-16-1 and have outscored Denver 993-866. They met last year in the Mile High City and the Broncos pitched a 16-0 shutout in that affair (Tennessee’s last win over Denver came in 2016 in the Music City by a final of 13-10).

They met in week six in the Mile High City and Denver used three Brad McManus field goals and a 2-yard TD run by Phillip Lindsay to take the win, scoring all the points without challenge and taking a 6-0 lead with them into the intermission. Lindsay led all rushers with 70 yards as Denver out-rushed Tennessee 103-39 and Joe Flacco threw for 177 yards with one interception and one sack, while Marcus Mariotta (63 yards) and Ryan Tannehill (144 yards) were sacked seven times (Mariotta threw a pair of interceptions, while Tannehill threw a pick). Both clubs went 2 of 14 on third down (the Titans were 0 of 2 on fourth down) and the Titans would actually rule the clock, keeping the pigskin for 30:14 to Denver’s 29:46.

Denver’s 16 points allowed the Broncos to easily cover the 2-point spread but the 39 over/under was untouched as the Broncos could muster only 16 points. Tennessee on Monday night? 23-18 but the Titans have not played under the lights since 2018, where they played two contests and split them. Denver? 32-41-1 on Monday night and lost their only meeting last year. The Broncos are favored by 1 1/2 in the Mile High City and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Denver covers the 1 1/2 and wins in the Mile High City.