Archives for category: Odds

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at San Francisco (0-2), 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network. A pair of struggling NFC West teams meet in Wine Country to open play in week three as the 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara at Levis’ Stadium. It’s also the first meeting between two rookie head coaches as Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) square off in northern California.

Both clubs lost last week and hope to make ground in the NFC West. The Rams trailed Washington 20-10 at the half at the Coliseum last Sunday and fell to the Redskins 27-20. Los Angeles’ Greg Zuerlein managed to pull his club even at 20-20 with 7:16 left in regulation before the Redskins took the lead back for keeps when Kirk Cousins (179 yards, TD, 18 of 27) and WR Ryan Grant connected on an 11 yard TD pass with 1:49 left in the contest. Washington outrushed the Rams 229-92, while Jarred Goff threw for 224 yards and a TD for Los Angeles. The Rams on third down tries were 5 of 12 (they did have success in their only fourth down conversion) and held the ball for 23:41, while Washington was 5 of 13 and held the ball for 36:19.

San Francisco fell to Seattle again, this time losing to the defending NFC West champs 12-9 at CenturyLink Field. The 49ers led 9-6 with 7:06 left to play before Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and WR Paul Richardson connected on the game’s only TD to take the win. San Francisco did outrush Seattle 159-131, with the 49ers Carlos Hyde led all rushers with 124. Although San Francisco sacked Wilson three times, he did manage to throw for 198 yards and the game-winning TD. San Francisco went 2 of 12 on third down conversions in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and kept the ball for 23:02, while Seattle ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 36:58, while going 8 of 19 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Including games played in St. Louis, the 49ers lead the series with the Rams 67-64-3, they’ve outscored Los Angeles 2,973-2,837 and San Francisco has won the last three meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Los Angeles’ last win over their instate rivals came in 2015, when they took a 27-6 win when they were in St. Louis).

First meeting? Week one in Santa Clara at Levis’ Stadium. The 49ers used a pair of Carlos Hyde TDs to shutout the Rams 28-0. San Francisco managed to score at least one TD per quarter, leading 14-0 at the half. San Francisco easily outrushed Los Angeles 150-65, Blaine Gabbert threw for 170 yards and a TD and the 49er defense sacked Case Keenum (130 yards) twice and picked him off twice. The 49ers were 8 of 17 on third down and held on to the ball for 32:10, while the Rams were 3 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the pigskin for 27:50 (both teams were 1 of 2 on fourth down).

Meeting number two took place in Los Angeles in week 16 on Christmas Eve afternoon. The second meeting was closer than the first but the result was the same, as the 49ers escaped with a 22-21 win in the Coliseum. Los Angeles led 14-7 through the first 45 minutes of play in a game that meant nothing, since both teams were out of the playoff race, before Colin Kaepernick ran in a score from 13 yards out and then threw a 10-yard TD pass to Ross Streater with 31 seconds to take the lead for keeps. San Francisco then held off a late Los Angeles drive that would have given the home team the win. Neither team breached the 100-yard barrier but the Rams came the closest, tallying 99 yards to San Francisco’s 70 and although he was sacked four times, Kaepernick threw for 266 yards and the two TDs. Third down tries in the second meeting were nothing to make the fan base of either team jolly and bright. San Francisco? 6 of 16. The Rams? 4 of 13. Both teams did have one fourth down try and found success and the 49ers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:03 to Los Angeles’ 28:57.

San Francisco in the first meeting on a Monday night to open the 2016 campaign easily covered the 2 1/2-point spread with the 28-point win but both teams failed to cover the 43 over/under. In the second meeting on Christmas Eve in Tinseltown, the Rams were favored by 4 and San Francisco won by 1 but both teams covered the 40 over/under with 43 points in the contest.

The odds makers like Los Angeles as a 2 1/2 favorite on the road and the over/under’s 40. Both numbers make sense. These two teams aren’t bad teams, they’re not quite playoff contenders right now. San Francisco covers the 2 1/2 and pulls the upset at home.

Broadcast Information: 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Mike Holmgren; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Los Angeles Rams), 83 (San Francisco); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Los Angeles Rams), 83 (San Francisco)

Referee: Jeff Triplette

Injury Report

Los Angeles Rams
QUESTIONABLE: RB Malcom Brown (Hamstring), TE Gerald Everett (Thigh), CB Kayvon Webster (Shoulder)

San Francisco
OUT: LB Reuben Foster (Ankle), S Eric Reid (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: TE George Kittle (Hip), LB Eli Harold (Foot), S Jaquiski Tarrt (Neck), DB Jimmie Ward (Hamstring)

Weather: Sunny and 66 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

 

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Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

Sunday, September 17
Green Bay at ATLANTA, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Green Bay), 83 (Atlanta) | XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Green Bay), 83 (Atlanta)

Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon; SIRIUS: 125 (Buffalo), 138 (Carolina); XM: 387 (Buffalo), 227 (Carolina)

New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (New England), 82 (New Orleans); XM: 380 (New England), 82 (New Orleans)

Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 78 (Cleveland), 807 (Baltimore); XM: 383 (Cleveland), 225 (Baltimore)

Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta; SIRIUS: 84 (Tennessee), 137 (Jacksonville); XM: 385 (Tennessee), 228 (Jacksonville)

Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 135 (Chicago), 132 (Tampa Bay); XM: 381 (Chicago), 229 (Tampa Bay)

Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 98 (Minnesota), 83 (Pittsburgh); XM: 382 (Minnesota), 83 (Pittsburgh)

Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); Westwood One: John Sadak, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 127 (Arizona), 145 (Indianapolis) | XM: 386 (Arizona), 230 (Indianapolis)

Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 126 (Philadelphia) 93 (Kansas City); XM: 384 (Philadelphia) 226 (Kansas City)

New York Jets at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 133 (New York Jets), 138 (Oakland); XM: 232 (New York Jets), 227 (Oakland)

Miami at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 137 (Miami), 136 (Los Angeles Chargers); XM: 228 (Miami), 231 (Los Angeles Chargers)

Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 82 (Dallas), 83 (Denver); XM: 82 (Dallas), 83 (Denver)

Washington at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 132 (Washington) 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 229 (Washington) 226 (Los Angeles Rams)

San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717: Sam Rosen, David Diehl, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 81 (San Francisco) 145 (Seattle); XM: 225 (San Francisco) 230 (Seattle)

Detroit at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Detroit), 83 (New York Giants);| XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (Detroit), 83 (New York Giant)

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home Team in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games

Favorite                   Spread       Underdog                     O/U
ATLANTA                    –  2 1/2     Green Bay                    54
Tennessee                  –  1 1/2     JACKSONVILLE                 43 1/2
BALTIMORE                  –  7 1/2     Cleveland                    40 1/2
CAROLINA                   –  7 1/2     Buffalo                      42 1/2
New England                –  6 1/2     NEW ORLEANS                  45 1/2
KANSAS CITY                –  4 1/2     Philadelphia                 48
PITTSBURGH                 –  6 1/2     Minnesota                    45
TAMPA BAY                  –  7         Chicago                      43
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS       –  4 1/2     Miami                        45
OAKLAND                    –  4         New York Jets                43 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS           –  2 1/2     Washington                   46
Dallas                     –  2 1/2     DENVER                       43
SEATTLE                    – 14 1/2     San Francisco                43 1/2

Monday’s Game

Favorite                   Spread       Underdog                     O/U
NEW YORK GIANTs            –  4         Detroit                      48 1/2

Sunday and Monday Referees
Green Bay at ATLANTA, 8:25 p.m. – Walt Anderson
Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m. – Walt Coleman
New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m. – Craig Wrolstad
Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m. – Gene Steratore
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. – Ed Hochuli
Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. – Ron Torbert
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. – Pete Morelli
Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. – Carl Cheffers
Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m. – Terry McAulay
New York Jets at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. – Jeff Triplette
Miami at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. – Tony Corrente
Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m. – Brad Allen
Washington at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. – Jerome Boger
San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. – Bill Vinovich
Detroit at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. Monday – John Parry

Sunday and Monday Injury Report

Green Bay at ATLANTA, 8:30 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: T Jason Spriggs (Hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: LB Ahmad Brooks (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: T David Bakhtiari (Hamstring), S. Kentrell Brice (Quadricep), T Bryan Bulaga (Ankle), DT Michael Daniels (Hip)

Atlanta – Atlanta reports no injuries.

Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Cleveland
OUT: DT Torrone McGill (Back)

Baltimore
OUT: CB Sheldon Price (Concussion), LB Za’Darius Smith (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Michael Campanaro (Ankle)

Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m.

Buffalo
OUT: DT Jerel Worthy (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Leonad Johnson (Quadricep)

Carolina – Carolina reports no injuries
Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Arizona
DOUBTFUL: LB Deone Bucannon (Ankle)
OUT: WR John Brown (Quadricep), T DeMarcus Humphries (Knee), G Mike Iupati (Tricep)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Jermaine Gresham (Ribs), TE Troy Niklas (Hip), DT Robert Nkemdiche (Calf)

Indianapolis
OUT: S Darius Butler (Hamstring), CB Vontae Davis (Groin), C Ryan Kelly (Foot), QB Andrew Luck (Right Shoulder), LB  Antonio Morrison (Elbow)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Chester Rogers (Hamstring)

Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Tennessee
OUT: S Johnathan Cyprien (Hamstring), CB Tye Smith (Hand)

Jacksonville

Calvin Pryor S Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Jalen Ramsey CB Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable

Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia
OUT: CB Ronald Darby (Ankle), DT Destiny Vaeao (Wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: S Corey Graham (Hamstring)

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: G Parker Ehinger (Knee), LB Reginald Ragland (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: S Romald Parker (Ankle), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (Illness)

New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

New England
OUT: WR Danny Amendola (Concussion), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), WR Matthew Slater (Hamstring), DT Vincent Valentine (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: T Marcus Cannon (Ankle), S Nate Ebner (Shoulder), S Devin McCourty (Groin)

New Orleans
OUT: T Terron Armstead (Shoulder), T Zachary Strief (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Stephone Anthony (Ankle), LB Stephen Stupar (Hamstring)

Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Minnesota
QUESTIONABLE: LB Anthony Barr (Hamstring), QB Sam Bradford (Knee), CB Xavier Rhodes (Hip)

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: TE Vance McDonald (Back), DE Stephon Tuitt (Biceps), S James Wilcox (Concussion)

Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: RB Benny Cunningham (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S Deon Bush (Hamstring), CB Prince Amukamara (Ankle), WR Josh Bellamy (Ankle), LB Leonard Floyd (Back), RB
Jordan Howard (Shoulder), LB Christian Jones (Back), G Kyle Long (Ankle), WR Markus Wheaton (Finger)

Tampa Bay
OUT: LB Devante (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Shanderious Alexander (Illness), C Evan Smith (Illness)

Miami at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

Miami
OUT: LB Rey Maualuga (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Jarvis Landry (Knee)

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: CB Jason Verrett (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Jeremiah Attaochu (Hamstring), WR Dontrelle Inman (Groin), TE Sean McGrath (Knee)

New York Jets at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.

New York Jets
OUT: LB Bruce Carter (Ankle), C Jonotthan Harrison (Concussion), S Rontez Miles (Eye), LB Edmond Robinson (Groin), TE
Eric Tomlinson (Elbow)

Oakland
QUESTIONABLE: S Keith McGill (Foot), RB Jamize Olawale (Quadricep), CB Sean Smith (Neck)

Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m.

Dallas
OUT: LB Anthony Hitchens (Knee), CB Orlando Scandrick (Hand)
QUESTIONABLE: S Byron Jones (Groin), WR Terrance Williams (Ankle)

Denver
OUT: DE Jared Crick (Back), QB Paxton Lynch (Right Shoulder), RB Devontae Booker (Wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Zachariah Kerr (Knee), G Ronald Leary (Concussion), S Darian Stewart (Groin)

Washington at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.

Washington
QUESTIONABLE: WR Joshua Doctson (Hamstring)

Los Angeles Rams
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kayvon Webster (Shoulder)

San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

San Francisco
QUESTIONABLE: S Jimmie Ward (Hamstring)

Seattle
DOUBTFUL: LB Terence Garvin (Shoulder)
QUESTIOABLE: CB Richard Sherman (Hamstring)

Detroit at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. on Monday

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (Knee)

New York Giants
OUT: LB Keenan Robinson (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Ankle), G D.J. Fluker (Shin)

Sunday and Monday Weather

Green Bay at ATLANTA, 8:25 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, clear and 79 degrees
Buffalo at Carolina, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 81 degrees
New England at New Orleans, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Cleveland at Baltimore, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 79 degrees
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 85 degrees
Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 85 degrees
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 80 degrees
Arizona at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 82 degrees
Philadelphia at Kansas City, 1 p.m.: Cloudy and 71 degrees
New York Jets at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.: Sunny and 68 degrees
Miami at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 75 degrees
Dallas at Denver, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 73 degrees
Washington at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 75 degrees
San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Overcast with a 60 percent chance of showers and 63 degrees
Detroit at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. Monday: Partly cloudy and 65 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League; odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

The NFL got back to football last weekend and the season now heads into Week 2.

Everybody wants to get off to a good start as history has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs. So if you lose in week one, it’s not the end of the world… per se.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982):

Of the 570 teams which won openers… 297 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles)

Of the 571 teams which lost openers… 137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles)

(Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact that the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.)

Week 2 kicked off with Thursday Night Football as Houston defeated Cincinnati. The two teams have combined for nine playoff berths since 2011 (Cincinnati, five and Houston, four).

On Sunday afternoon, the Chargers make their return to Los Angeles for the franchise’s first home game in LA since 1960 as the team hosts the Miami Dolphins in their regular-season home opener at StubHub Center at 4:05 p.m. on CBS And that night in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, the Atlanta Falcons will open their new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium – when they host the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game on Sunday Night Football.

SEVEN THINGS FROM LAST SUNDAY: Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper had two catches for 128 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown reception in the Falcons’ 23-17 win at Chicago. Hooper’s 88-yard touchdown is the longest TD catch by a tight end in a season opener in NFL history.

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson and safety LaMarcus Joyner each had an interception-return touchdown and defensive end Morgan Fox recorded a safety in the team’s 46-9 win over Indianapolis.

The Rams are the first team in NFL history to record two interception-return touchdowns and a safety in a season opener.

The Rams’ two interception-return touchdowns are tied for the most ever in a season opener and Los Angeles is the first team to accomplish the feat on Kickoff Weekend since the 2007 Minnesota Vikings (September 9, 2007 vs. Atlanta).

Jacksonville, led by defensive ends Calais Campbell (four sacks) and Dante Fowler Jr. (one sack, 53-yard fumble-return touchdown), defeated Houston 29-7 at NRG Stadium.

The Jaguars had 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown in the contest, becoming the second team in NFL history with at least 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown in a season-opening game. The Los Angeles Raiders recorded 10 sacks and had a 76-yard interception-return touchdown in the team’s 31-0 victory against the New York Jets on September 8, 1985.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 292 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 113.1 passer rating in the Lions’ 35-23 win over Arizona. Stafford, who led the Lions back from a 17-15 fourth-quarter deficit, has 27 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011, the most such drives by a quarterback in the NFL over the span.

Last year, the Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter, the most by a team in a single season in NFL history.

Cleveland rookie quarterback De Shone Kizer passed for 222 yards with a touchdown and rushed for a TD against Pittsburgh in his first career start. Kizer’s start marks the 10th consecutive season a rookie quarterback has started on Kickoff Weekend, the longest streak since at least 1950.

Pittsburgh rookie linebacker T.J. Watt had two sacks and an interception in the Steelers’ 21-18 win at Cleveland. Watt is the first player to record at least two sacks and an interception in an NFL debut on Kickoff Weekend since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Oakland kicker Giorgio Tavecchio converted all four of his field-goal attempts in the Raiders’ 26-16 victory at Tennessee. Tavecchio, who connected on two 52-yard field goals in the contest, is the first player in league history to make two field goals of at least 50 yards in his NFL debut. He also joins Sebastian Janikowski as the only players in team history to convert multiple 50-yard field goals in a single game.

NO NEED TO PANIC: Since realignment in 2002, 108 of the 180 playoff teams (60 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight teams last season and five division champions – Atlanta (NFC South), Dallas (NFC East), Green Bay (NFC North), Kansas City (AFC West) and Seattle (NFC West).

A look at how playoff clubs in 2015 and 2016 began their seasons:

2015
Team: After 2 games (Playoff Result)
Arizona: 2-0 (Advanced to NFC Championship)
Carolina: 2-0 (Advanced to Super Bowl 50)
Cincinnati: 2-0 (Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Denver: 2-0 (Won Super Bowl 50)
Green Bay: 2-0 (Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Houston: 0-2 (Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Kansas City: 1-1 (Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Houston: 0-2 (Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Kansas City: 1-1 (Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Minnesota: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Wild Card
New England: 2-0 (Advanced to AFC Championship)
Pittsburgh: 1-1 (Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Seattle: 0-2 (Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Washington: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Wild Card)

2016
Team – After 2 games (Playoff Result)
Atlanta: 1-1 (Advanced to Super Bowl LI)
Dallas: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Detroit: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Green Bay: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Championship)
Houston: 2-0 (Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Kansas City: 1-1 (Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Miami: 0-2 (Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
New England: 2-0 (Won Super Bowl LI)
New York Giants: 2-0 (Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Pittsburgh: 2-0 (Advanced to AFC Championship)
Oakland: 1-1 (Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Seattle: 1-1 (Advanced to NFC Divisional)

SACK MASTERS: Jacksonville, led by defensive end Calais Campbell’s four sacks, recorded a league-high 10 sacks in their Week 1 victory at Houston.

With seven sacks on Sunday against Tennessee, the Jaguars will surpass the 1998 Seattle Seahawks (16) for the most team sacks through the first two weeks of a season since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

The teams with the most sacks through the first two weeks of a season since 1982:

TEAM – SEASON (MOST TEAM SACKS THROUGH WEEK 2)
Seattle – 1998 (16)
Dallas – 1994 (14)
Houston Oilers – 1982 (14)
Many tied with 13
Jacksonville – 2017 (10)*
*Entering Week 2

BURSTING ONTO THE SCENE: Three rookies – Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (148), Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook (127) and Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (100) – rushed for at least 100 yards in their NFL debuts last week.

With another 100-yard performance in Week 2, Cook, Fournette and Hunt can each become the first rookie since 2005 (Cadillac Williams) with at least 100 rushing yards in each of his team’s first two games of the season.

The last time multiple rookies rushed for 100 yards in each of their team’s first two games of the season was 1979 when Ottis Anderson of the St. Louis Cardinals and William Andrews of the Atlanta Falcons both accomplished the feat.

The rookies with at least 100 rushing yards in each of his team’s first two games of the season since 1970:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay (2005)
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1999)
Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis (1994)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980)
Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals (1979)
William Andrews, Atlanta (1979)
Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers (1978)

KC COOKING: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt amassed 246 scrimmage yards (148 rushing, 98 receiving) and three total touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 42-27 Week 1 win at New England.

With 200 scrimmage yards in Week 2 against Philadelphia, Hunt would surpass Billy Sims (445 yards in 1980) for the most scrimmage yards by a rookie in his team’s first two games of the season.

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in his team’s first two games of the season:

PLAYER, TEAM; SEASON-SCRIMMAGE YARDS IN 1ST 2 GAMES OF SEASON
Billy Sims, Detroit; 1980-445
Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis; 1994-360
Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals; 1979-359
Alan Ameche, Baltimore Colts; 1955-347
Sid Blanks, Houston Oilers; 1964-320
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs; 2017-246*
*Entering Week 2

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had a 75-yard touchdown catch in Kansas City’s Kickoff Weekend victory, can extend his NFL-record streak of five consecutive regular-season games with a touchdown of at least 65 yards.

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has 3,935 passing yards, 24 touchdown passes and four interceptions through 17 career games. If Prescott throws a touchdown pass before an interception on Sunday at Denver, he would reach 25 career touchdown passes with the fewest career interceptions in NFL history.

The players with the fewest career interceptions at the time of their 25th touchdown pass:

PLAYER, TEAM (INTs AT TIME OF 25TH TD PASS)
Nick Foles, Philadelphia (5)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (5)^
Dan Marino, Miami (6)^
Chad Pennington, New York Jets (7)
Robert Griffin III, Washington (8)
Dak Prescott, Dallas (4)*
*24 career touchdown passes
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has 298 career touchdown passes and can become the 11th player in NFL history with 300 touchdown passes. In 12 NFL seasons, Rodgers, who plays Atlanta on Sunday Night Football in Week 2, has 4,699 pass attempts and can surpass Peyton Manning (5,306) for the fewest pass attempts at the time of their 300th career touchdown pass.

The quarterbacks with the fewest career pass attempts at the time of their 300th touchdown pass:

PLAYER, TEAM (PASS ATTEMPTS AT TIME OF 300TH TD PASS)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (5,306)
Tom Brady, New England (5,321)
Dan Marino, Miami (5,460)^
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (4,699)*
*298 career touchdown passes
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS: Dallas tight end Jason Witten had seven receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown in the Cowboys’ 19-3 victory against the New York Giants in Week 1. Witten, who has spent his entire 15-year career with the Cowboys and has 11,947 career receiving yards, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most receiving yards in franchise history.

With 53 receiving yards on Sunday at Denver, Witten will join Tony Gonzalez (15,127) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 12,000 career receiving yards.

The tight ends with the most receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS; CAREER RECEIVING YARDS)
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (1997-2013; 15,127)
Jason Witten – Dallas (2003-present; 11,947)*
Antonio Gates – Los Angeles Chargers (2003-presentp 11,209)*
Shannon Sharpe – Denver and Baltimore (1990-2003; 10,060)^
Ozzie Newsome – Cleveland (1978-90; 7,980)^

*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has 111 career touchdown receptions, tied with Gonzalez for the most all-time by a tight end. With one touchdown catch on Sunday against Miami, Gates will become the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions among tight ends.

The tight ends with the most touchdown receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS; CAREER TOUCHDOWNS)
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (1997-2013; 111)
Antonio Gates – Los Angeles Chargers (2003-present; 111)*
Rob Gronkowski – New England (2010-present; 68)*
Jason Witten – Dallas (2003-present; 64)*
Shannon Sharpe – Denver and Baltimore (1990-2003; 62)^

*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: New England quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees will meet for the third time in their careers when the Saints host the Patriots on Sunday. The game marks the first time in NFL history in which two quarterbacks with at least 10 Pro Bowl selections (Brady, 12; Brees, 10) will face off against each other in the regular season.

KICKING THINGS OFF: A look at some notes from across the league on Kickoff Weekend 2017:

Dallas defeated the New York Giants 19-3 on Sunday Night Football and the Denver held off the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-21 on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys and Broncos both improved to 38-19-1 (.667*) on Kickoff Weekend, tied for the top mark in the NFL. *Note: Ties for both teams occurred prior to 1972 and do not count in winning percentage.

The Broncos have won six consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Green Bay defeated Seattle 17-9 on Kickoff Weekend at Lambeau Field. The Packers have won their past five home openers and have an NFL-best 55 wins on Kickoff Weekend.

Denver’s Vance Joseph (24-21 vs. Los Angeles Chargers), Buffalo’s Sean Mc Dermott (21-12 vs. New York Jets), and the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay (46-9 vs. Indianapolis) all won in their Kickoff Weekend debuts.

The Rams’ 46 points under McVay marked the third-highest total in a head coach’s debut since 1933, trailing only the debuts of Bob Snyder with the 1947 Los Angeles Rams (48-7 win at Pittsburgh) and Bud Carson with the 1989 Cleveland Browns (51-0 win at Pittsburgh).

New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 267 yards in the Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Chiefs. Brady (4,075) joined PEYTON MANNING (4,736) and Drew Brees (4,597) as the third quarterback with at least 4,000 career passing yards in season-opening games.

Brees passed for 291 yards with one touchdown for a 104.7 rating in the Saints’ 29-19 loss at Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Brees, who has 34 career touchdown passes on Kickoff Weekend, tied Peyton Manning (34) for the most career touchdown passes in season-opening games.

Cleveland rookie quarterback De Shone Kizer made his first-career start against Pittsburgh last Sunday on Kickoff Weekend. At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes (84.4 percent) for 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 143.0 passer rating in the Vikings’ 29-19 victory over New Orleans on Monday Night Football. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith passed for 368 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions on 28 of 35 passing (80.0 percent) in the Chiefs’ 42-27 win against New England in Foxboro on Thursday night.

Bradford and Smith are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to complete 80 percent of their passes with at least 325 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a season-opening game. Bradford wound up with a passer rating of 143, while Smith on Thursday night had a passer rating of 148.6.

Smith, who led the Chiefs to a victory over the Super Bowl LI Champion Patriots, is the first quarterback in league history with at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns, a completion percentage of 80 or higher and no interceptions against the defending Super Bowl champion.

ROOKIES ROCKET OUT OF GATES: Three rookie running backs – Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (148 rushing yards), Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook (127) and Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (100) – each rushed for at least 100 yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend.

Hunt, Cook and Fournette are the first trio of rookie running backs with at least 100 rushing yards in Week 1 since Ottis Anderson (193 rushing yards), William Andrews (167) and Jerry Eckwood (121) in 1979.

FAST-RISING FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had four catches for 66 yards in the Falcons’ 23-17 win at Chicago on Kickoff Weekend.

Jones, who has 501 career receptions, reached 500 catches in his 80th career game, tying Anquan Boldin for the fewest games to reach the milestone in NFL history.

The players to reach 500 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (GAMES)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (80)
Anquan Boldin – Arizona (80)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (84)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (87)
Andre Johnson – Houston (88)

COWBOY CORNERSTONE: Dallas tight end Jason Witten had seven catches for 59 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 19-3 win against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Witten, who has 11,947 career receiving yards in 15 seasons with the Cowboys, passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most career receiving yards in franchise history.

The players with the most receiving yards in Dallas Cowboys history:

PLAYER, SEASONS (RECEIVING YARDS)
Jason Witten, 2003-2017 (11,947)*
Michael Irvin, 1988-1999 (11,904)^
Tony Hill, 1977-1986 (7,988)
Drew Pearson, 1973-1983 (7,822)
Bob Hayes, 1965-1974 (7,295)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG-PLAY BROWN: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had 11 catches for 182 receiving yards in the Steelers’ 21-18 victory at Cleveland on Kickoff Weekend. His 182 receiving yards are the third-most on Kickoff Weekend in the past 10 seasons.

Brown has six career games with at least eight catches and 180 receiving yards, tied for the third-most in NFL history.

The players with the most career games with at least eight receptions and 180 receiving yards:

PLAYER, TEAM(S) (GAMES)
Isaac Bruce, St. Louis Rams (7)
Charley Hennigan, Houston Oilers (7)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (6)*
Lance Alworth, San Diego (6)^
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (6)
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

IRON-MANNING: New York Giants quarterback ELI Manning passed for 220 yards in their Week 1 loss at Dallas.

Manning, who made his first career start for the Giants on November 21, 2004 against Atlanta, is the third quarterback in NFL history to start at least 200 consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (297) and Peyton Manning (208).

The most consecutive games started by a quarterback in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM(S); SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE GAMES STARTED)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota; 1992-2010 (297)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis; 1998-2010 (208)
Eli Manning – New York Giants; 2004-present (200)*
Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers[ 2006-present (177)*
Joe Flacco – Baltimore; 2008-2015 (122)
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Last week, we went 9-6, which wasn’t bad, considering that Tampa Bay and Miami didn’t play last week because of Irma. They’ll get to join the other 30 teams in action this week. Week two got underway in Cincinnati last Thursday night and concludes in the Meadowlands as Eli and the Giants host the Detroit Lions in primetime on ESPN on Monday night. With that, here are week 2’s Sunday and Monday picks.

Green Bay (1-0) at ATLANTA (1-0), 8:25 p.m. on NBC. A rematch of last season’s NFC championship closes out play Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers in their new nest, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The stadium, which will host Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019, is expected to have its unique retractable roof open for this game (weather conditions permitting) for the first time.

Green Bay took care of Seattle last Sunday 17-9 at Lambeau. The Packers erased a 3-0 deficit at the half and took the lead for keeps when RB Ty Montgomery scored from six yards out to open the scoring in the second half. Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson then connected on a 32-yard TD pass in the final seconds of the third quarter for their second TD of the day. Rodgers threw for 311 yards and a TD but was sacked four times and picked off once, while the Packers sacked Seahawks signal caller Russell Wilson (158 yards) three times. It was not much of a rushing game in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as neither team breached the 100-yard barrier but Seattle outrushed Green Bay 90-84 in the loss. Green Bay was 9 of 16 on third down tries at Lambeau and kept the ball for 39:13, while Seattle kept the pigskin for 20:47, while going 3 of 12 on third down.

The defending NFC champs broke a 10-10 tie at the half against Da Bears in the Windy City, then survived a last-ditch rally by Mike Glennon and came away 23-17 winners at Soldier Field. Falcons K Matt Bryant would give Atlanta the lead for keeps with 2:10 left in the third quarter and Ryan and TE Austin Hooper connected on a 88-yard TD pass for Atlanta’s second TD of the day (RB DeVonta Freeman picked up the first one with 4:29 left before halftime). Hooper had two catches for 128 yards, including the 88-yard touchdown, the longest TD reception by a tight end in a season opener in NFL history. Chicago did outrush Atlanta 125-64 and Ryan threw for 321 yards and was sacked twice, while Glennon threw for 213 with four sacks, the fourth sack coming as Chicago was about to take the lead. Atlanta was 5 of 11 on third down in the Windy City and kept the ball for 30:34, while Chicago held on to the pigskin for 29:26, going 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The Packers leads the series 15-13 and have outscored Atlanta 692-586. The Falcons won the last two meetings with Green Bay, taking a 33-32 win in week eight and a 44-21 win in the NFC Championship game in the Georgia Dome (Green Bay’s last win over Atlanta came in 2014 at Lambeau by a final of 43-37).

Meeting number one… week eight in the Big Peach. Atlanta trailed 24-17 at the intermission at the Georgia Dome, then rallied to take a late 33-32 win. Green Bay led 32-26 with 31 seconds left in the contest before Ryan and WR Mohamed Sanu connected on an 11-yard TD strike to give the home team the lead. Green Bay outrushed Atlanta 108-90 in the late-afternoon contest, while Ryan threw for 288 yards (28 of 35) with three TDs, including the game winner. For Green Bay, Rodgers threw for 246 yards (28 of 38) and four TDs (Rodgers was sacked three times, Ryan sacked twice and neither threw an interception). Green Bay on third down tries in the Georgia Dome was 6 of 10 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:17, while the Falcons were 4 of 9 on third down but hit pay-dirt in their only fourth down attempt and kept the ball for 28:43.

That was meeting number one…

Meeting number two… the NFC Championship Game, the final game in the Georgia Dome. The week before, Atlanta knocked out Seattle in the second round of the playoffs the Saturday before, while Green Bay held off Dallas in Arlington the next day. This was for all the marbles and in the end, Atlanta prevailed against Rodgers and the Packers 44-21. Atlanta led from start to finish in the NFC Championship Game, 24-0 at the half and 37-15 after three quarters. Ryan (27 of 38, 392 yards) connected with Sanu on a 2-yard TD pass to open the scoring in the game, then added a 14-yard romp of his own before connecting with All-Pro WR Julio Jones on two more TD passes, the longest coming at 73 yards. DeVonta Freeman (4-yard TD pass) and Tevin Coleman (3-yard TD run) rounded out the Atlanta scoring. Green Bay would eventually end Atlanta’s hopes of a shutout when Rodgers and WR Davante Adams connected on a 2 yard TD strike with 9:19 left in the third quarter. Rodgers (27 of 45, 287 yards, two sacks, interception) would throw two more passes, one to Nelson late in the third quarter and one to Josh Cook late in the fourth. Atlanta outrushed Green Bay 101-99 in the contest and the Falcons were 10 of 13 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 33:39, while the Packers kept the ball for 26:21. going 4 of 10 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

In the week eight contest, the Falcons were favored by 3 and won by one. That was the bad news. The good news? Both teams covered the 52 1/2 over/under by combining for 65 points. In the championship game, Atlanta easily covered the 4-point spread with their 23-point win and as was the case in the first meeting, both teams covered the over/under of 61 with 65 points. Atlanta’s favored by 2 this time and the over/under’s 54. To say that this one is not “DRILL WORTHY” is like saying Bugs Bunny doesn’t like carrots. Having said that… (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 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach 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?”

History does have a way of repeating itself. For the Falcons, lighting normally strikes twice but in their case, they’re worthy of it striking again. The defending NFC champs cover the 2 and take the win in their new nest.

Buffalo (1-0) at Carolina (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of unbeatens meet in the Tar Heel State as Carolina and Cam Newton host the Buffalo Bills in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium.

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott notched his first career victory as a head coach last week in the Bills’ 21-12 win over the New York Jets. It will be a homecoming of sorts for McDermott. He spent the previous six seasons as Carolina’s defensive coordinator, helping the Panthers win three division titles and advance to Super Bowl 50.

In last week’s victory over the Jets, running back Le Sean McCoy rushed for 110 yards and quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdown passes. Taylor and Newton are the only players with at least 5,000 passing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2015 season. Buffalo’s defense held the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to 38 yards rushing and picked off Josh McCown twice. Buffalo went 8 of 17 on third down conversions in Orchard Park and kept the ball for 33:04, while the Jets were 4 of 14 on third down but did strike pay-dirt in their only fourth down attempt and kept the ball for 26:56.

The Panthers limited San Francisco to three points and 217 total yards (51 rushing, 166 passing) in Carolina’s 23-3 Week 1 victory at Levi’s Stadium. Newton threw touchdown passes to wide receiver Russell Shepard (40 yards) and running back Jonathan Stewart (nine) in the win. In his NFL debut, rookie running back Christian McCaffery led the team with five receptions and 85 scrimmage yards (47 rushing, 38 receiving). Carolina led the 49ers 13-0 at the break and held them to a Robbie Gould field goal from 44 yards out with eight seconds left in the third. Carolina outrushed San Francisco 116-51 and the Panther defense sacked Blaine Hoyer (24 of 35, 193 yards, interception) four times on the West Coast last Sunday. Carolina was 7 of 13 on third down tries in Santa Clara and kept the ball for 34:21. San Francisco in the loss was 2 of 11 and 1 of 4 on third and fourth down and were able to keep the ball for 25:39.

Buffalo leads the series 5-1 and have outscored Carolina 139-92. The Bills won the last meeting between the clubs, coming out on top 24-23 in 2013 at Orchard Park, while Carolina’s only win came in 2005 (also in Orchard Park) by a final of 13-9. Carolina’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. Buffalo makes this one worth watching in the first early afternoon contest but Carolina’s finer in Charlotte and while the Panthers may not cover the 7 1/2, they do take the win.

New England (0-1) at New Orleans (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Clam chowder meets gumbo as the defending Super Bowl champions travel to the Big Easy to square off against the New Orleans Saints. Both teams enter week two with losses under their belts.

For the Pats, they got taken to task in the season opener in Foxboro, falling to Kansas City 42-27. New England led 17-14 at the intermission before the Chiefs roared back in the second half. New England was outrushed by the Chiefs 185-124 and Pats QB Tom Brady threw for 267 yards but was sacked three times. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt amassed 246 scrimmage yards (148 rushing, 98 receiving) – the most ever by a player in his NFL debut – and scored three touchdowns, while quarterback Alex Smith posted a 148.6 passer rating against the Patriots and became the first quarterback to complete at least 80 percent of his passes (80.0) for 350 yards (368) with four touchdowns (four) and no interceptions against the defending Super Bowl champion.

The Saints also lost in their season opener last week, falling to Minnesota 29-19 last Monday night in the Twin Cities. Trailing 16-6 at the half, the Drew Brees-led Saints managed to keep the contest close as both teams scored 13 points in the final 30 minutes of action. It was also the return for RB Adrian Peterson, who played for the Vikings for 10 seasons before heading to New Orleans. Peterson was ineffective, rushing for only 18 yards on 6 carries in the game, while Brees threw for 291 yards and a TD. The Saints were outrushed 129-60, with Vikings RB Dalvin Cook accounting for 127 of those ground yards. Minnesota, led by Sam Bradford’s 346 yards (three TDs), went 9 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 31:16, while the Saints kept the pigskin for 28:44, going 4 of 11 on third downs.

Including games that took place at old Tulane Stadium, the Metrodome, Metropolitan Stadium and the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the Vikings hold a 18-10 lead in the series and have outscored New Orleans 703-512. The Saints have won the last three meetings, including taking a 20-9 win in 2014 in the Big Easy (Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Big Easy by a final of 30-27.

New England’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. The loser may not be in a state of panic yet but it’ll be somewhat hard to bounce back. Pats bounce back from their loss at home last Thursday but expect the Saints to make it closer than 6 1/2.

Cleveland (0-1) at Baltimore (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of AFC North rivals meet in Charm City as the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns.

Although they rallied, Cleveland fell to Pittsburgh 21-18 last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie. The Steelers led 14-7 at the half before the Browns rallied in the second half to make the contest closer than Pittsburgh fans wanted. Cleveland did outrush Pittsburgh 57-35, while Roethlisberger (24 of 36) threw for 263 yards and a pair of TDs, while rookie QB DeShone Kizer threw for 222 yards and was sacked seven times.

The Ravens’ 20 points in the first three quarters of play at Paul Brown Stadium to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday were more than enough for Baltimore as they shutout Cincinnati 20-0. The Bengals were outrushed by Baltimore 157-77 and Andy Dalton was sacked five times and picked off four times, throwing for 170 yards. Cincy did themselves in with five turnovers in the contest and went 4 of 13, 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for a mere 26 minutes, while the Ravens, led by Joe Flacco’s 121 passing yards, went 6 of 14 on third down, holding the ball for 34 minutes.

The Ravens lead the series 27-9, have outscored the Browns 841-542 and have won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Cleveland’s last win over the Ravens came in 2015 in Baltimore, when they needed overtime to come away 33-30 winners).

Round 1… week two in Cleveland. The Ravens held on to win 25-20 along the shores of Lake Erie. Trailing 20-12 at the half, Baltimore went on to shutout the Browns in the second half for the win, scoring their final 13 points of the game unchallenged. Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell ran for 133 yards and a TD in the contest, as the Browns outrushed Joe Flacco (25 of 45, 302 yards with two TDs, two interceptions) and the Ravens 145-80. Josh McCown of the Browns threw for 260 yards (20 of 33) with a pair of TD but was sacked three times and picked off twice. Both clubs did quite well on third down tries in the first meeting as the Ravens were 10 of 16, while the Browns were 8 of 15 (the Ravens were 0 of 1 on fourth down, while the Browns were successful in their only fourth down conversion) in the contest. Baltimore also ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:59, while the Browns kept it for 29:01.

Round 2… week 10 in Charm City. Second verse, same as the first… another Ravens win, this time by a 28-7 final at M & T Bank Stadium. After a scoreless first quarter, the Ravens trailed 7-6 at the intermission before they roared back and scored 22 second half points unchallenged. This time around, it was Baltimore that won the rushing battle, tallying 119 to Cleveland’s 33, while Flacco threw for 296 yards and three TDs. Third down tries in the second meeting? Baltimore was 7 of 12, while the Browns were a somewhat dismal 2 of 10 and as was the case in the first meeting, the Ravens ruled the clock, holding the ball for 38:36, while the Browns held on to the pigskin for 21:24.

The Ravens were 6 1/2 favorite in the first meeting but only won by 5. However, both teams covered the 42 1/2 over/under, tallying 45 points. In the week 10 contest on the East Coast, Baltimore easily covered the 10-point spread, winning by 21 but both clubs missed the over/under of 45 1/2 by scoring a mere 35 points. This time, the Ravens are favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. Browns fans can at least have the Indians to look forward to this year. Cleveland makes this one close but Baltimore wins at home nevermore and covers the 7 1/2.

Tennessee (0-1) at Jacksonville (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC South rivals meet in north Florida as Jacksonville hosts Tennessee at EverBank Field.

Tennessee opened the 2017 campaign with a 26-16 loss against Oakland in Music City last Sunday. Tennessee trailed 13-10 at the half before the Raiders pulled away from the Titans in the second half. Oakland outrushed Tennessee 109-95, with Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch accounting for 76 of those yards. Raiders QB Derek Carr threw for 262 yards (22 of 32) in the win, while Tennessee’s Marcus Mariotta threw for 256 yards (25 of 41). Oakland was 5 for 12 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:39, while Tennessee kept the pigskin for 28:21, going 7 of 14 on third down.

The Jaguars return home to north Florida after they took Houston to the woodshed last Sunday at NRG Stadium, coming away 29-7 winners. Jaguar rookie RB Leonard Fournette made his Jacksonville debut a good one, rushing for 100 yards in the contest and the Jaguar defense allowed only a third-quarter TD pass from rookie QB Deshaun Watson to WR DeAndre Hopkins. Jacksonville led 19-0 at the intermission at NRG Stadium before the Texans would get on the board for their only tally of the contest, sacking Watson (12 of 23, 102 yards, TD, interception) four times. Blake Bortles threw for 125 yards in the win and did not have an interception in the win. The Jags also took advantage of four Houston turnovers in the win (3 fumbles, interception), going 3 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth tries and held on to the football for 30:05, while the Texans on third and fourth down were 5 of 12 and 0 of 1, keeping the pigskin for 29:55.

Including contests when they were known as the Houston Oilers, the Titans lead the series 24-20 and have outscored Jacksonville 904-862. In their last 16 meetings, they have spilt the two contests, including splitting last year’s games, each taking wins at home.

Meeting number one… Tennessee. Week eight. The Titans led Jacksonville 27-0 at the half, then held off the Jaguars 36-22 at Nissan Stadium. The Titans outrushed Jacksonville 214-48, with RB DeMarco Murray tallying 123 of those yards. Mariotta went 18 of 22 for 270 yards and a pair of TDs, while Blake Bortles threw for 337 yards (33 of 54) with three TDs and a pair of sacks. Both teams did okay on third down tries (Jacksonville was 6 of 13, Tennessee was 9 of 15) and the Jaguars went 0 of 1 on fourth down. The Jaguars held the ball for 25:35 in the first meeting, while Tennessee kept it for 34:25.

Meeting number two… Jacksonville. Week 16. This time, Jacksonville got revenge on their AFC South foes in the Sunshine State, coming away 38-17 winners at EverBank Field. The Jaguars led 19-7 at the half and never looked back. The second meeting was not much a contest as far as the rushing game went, as both teams failed to reach the 100-yard barrier. Jacksonville did win that battle, outrushing Tennessee 84-58 and Bortles (26 of 38) burned the Titans for 325 yards. Third down conversions in the second meeting was nothing to write home about, as Tennessee was 4 of 12, while Jacksonville was 5 of 14 (the Jaguars were 0 of 1 on fourth down). Jacksonville ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 32:31, while Tennessee kept it for 27:29.

In the week eight affair in the Music City, winning by 14 allowed the Titans to cover the 3 1/2 point spread and the 58 points scored by both teams covered the 44 1/2 over/under. In the week 16 rematch, Jacksonville’s 21-point win in the Sunshine State allowed them to cover the 5-point spread and the 55 combined points took care of the 44 over/under. Tennessee’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. These two teams are trying to unseat Houston as king of the AFC South mountain. Jacksonville stays unbeaten and wins at home, covering the 1 1/2.

Chicago (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Chicago travels to the Sunshine State to try and pick up their first win of the 2017 campaign, as they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

Da Bears let a 10-10 halftime tie against Atlanta get away from them in the Windy City, then saw their hopes for a victory against the defending NFC champions die in Atlanta territory when QB Mike Glennon was sacked and came away on the short end of a 23-17 loss at Soldier Field. Chicago did outrush Atlanta 125-64 and Ryan threw for 321 yards and was sacked twice, while Glennon threw for 213 with four sacks, the fourth sack coming as Chicago was about to take the lead. Atlanta was 5 of 11 on third down in the Windy City and kept the ball for 30:34, while Chicago held on to the pigskin for 29:26, going 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Tampa Bay was preparing for a Sunday opener matchup with Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. Those plans came to a somewhat crashing halt, thanks to Hurricane Irma. The league, not wanting to take any chances, erred on the side of caution and safety and decided to move the contest to week 11, where both teams would have had a bye week. They will make that contest up in Miami.

Da Bears lead da series 38-19 and have outscored Tampa Bay 1,224-923. They met last year in Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston and the Bucs were 36-10 winners (Chicago’s last win in the series came the year before, also in Tampa Bay by a final of 26-21). In the week 10 contest in the new Sombrero (as ESPN’s Chris Berman calls it), the Bucs led 17-10 at the half and then proceeded to pull away, shutting out Chicago 19-0 in the game’s last 30 minutes of action. Despite being sacked four times, Winston did manage to throw for 312 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jay Cutler (now with Miami) threw for 182 yards and a TD with a pair of interceptions and four sacks (Winston had one pick in the win at home). The lone bright spot for Da Bears was that they did manage to outrush Tampa Bay 122-80, with Bears’ RB Jordan Howard leading all rushers with 100.

Chicago was favored by 1 1/2 and Tampa Bay won by 26, easily covering the spread. The 45 over/under? That was taken care of as well, with both teams scoring 46 points. Tampa Bay’s favored by 7 and the over/under’s 43. Could Chicago be 0-2 when the day ends? We think so. Chicago will make it interesting but Tampa Bay comes away with the win, even though they won’t cover the 7.

Minnesota (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of unbeatens meet in the Steel City as the Vikings travel to Pittsburgh for a meeting with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Minnesota led New Orleans 16-6 at the break at US Bank Stadium and came away 29-19 winners last Monday night in the Twin Cities. The Vikings made former RB Adrian Peterson feel unwelcome, as they held him to 18 yards on six carries and held his new team to 60 yards rushing. Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three tds, two of them to WR Stefon Diggs and RB Dalvin Cook accounting for 127 of those ground yards. Minnesota went 9 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 31:16, while the Saints kept the pigskin for 28:44, going 4 of 11 on third downs.

Pittsburgh held off Cleveland 21-18 last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie. The Steelers led 14-7 at the half before the Browns rallied in the second half to make the contest closer than Pittsburgh fans wanted. Cleveland did outrush Pittsburgh 57-35, while Roethlisberger (24 of 36) threw for 263 yards and a pair of TDs, while rookie QB DeShone Kizer threw for 222 yards and was sacked seven times.

The Purple Gang leads the series 9-7 and have outscored the Steelers 380-310. Their last meeting took place on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in London in 2013 and Minnesota won that contest 34-27 (Pittsburgh’s last win in the series came in the Steel City in 2009 by a final of 27-17). Pittsburgh’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 45. Steelers knock Minnesota out of the ranks of the unbeatens and win at home, covering the 6 1/2.

Arizona (0-1) at Indianapolis (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Arizona and the Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts meet in the Hoosier State.

Arizona dropped a 35-23 decision at Detroit last Sunday. The Desert Angry Birds led 17-15 in the fourth quarter before Matthew Stafford and the Lions stormed back to take the win. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 292 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals and has 27 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011, the most by a QB in the NFL over that span. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay had two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter, including a 45-yarder, in his NFL debut. Detroit outrushed Arizona 82-45 in the Motor City and Carson Palmer threw for 269 yards with a TD and three interceptions. Arizona was 6 of 15 on third down conversions at Ford Field, keeping the ball for 26:40, while the Lions, who held on to the pigskin for 33:20, were 50 percent on third down at 8 of 16 (the Lions were 0 of 1 on fourth down, while the Cardinals were 1 of 1).

The Colts felt like they were Christians being tossed to the lions as they were thumped by the Los Angeles Rams 46-9 on the West Coast. Indy got their only points in the contest thanks to a 20-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri in the first quarter. The Rams went on to coast the rest of the contest and were never threatened. The Colts did manage to outrush Los Angeles 75-63, while Scott Tolzien threw for 128 yards with four sacks before being replaced by QB Jacoby Brissett, who will be under center Sunday afternoon. Indy was shut out on third down tries, going 0 for 10 and on fourth down tries at 0 of 1, holding the ball for 25:35, while the Rams were 5 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 34:25.

They’ll meet for the 16th time and the Colts lead the series 8-7, outscoring the Desert Angry Birds 319-273, which includes contests that took place when the teams were in St. Louis and Baltimore, respectively. Arizona won the last meeting between the two teams in 2013, when the Cardinals were 40-11 winners in the desert. As for the Colts? Their last win in the series came in 2008 in the desert by a final of 31-10.

Arizona’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Both numbers make sense. If you’re a fan of either team, by all means watch this one. Otherwise, watch the “Bar Rescue” marathon on Spike (there’s nothing better than seeing Jon Tapper blow a gasket!). Arizona may not cover the 7 1/2 but they take the win on the road.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of teams that took wins on the road last week meet in the Midwest as Andy Reid welcomes his old club, the Philadelphia Eagles, to Kansas City for a intra-conference meeting at Arrowhead. Reid spent 14 seasons (1999-2012) with the Eagles, compiling a team-record 130 regular-season wins and 10 postseason victories while capturing six division titles and making five NFC Championship appearances.

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns – including a 58-yard TD to wide receiver Nelson Agholor – in the Eagles’ 30-17 win at Washington. Wentz improved to 4-0 in his career as a starter in the month of September with seven touchdown passes, one interception and a 101.8 passer rating. Philadelphia led the ‘Skins 16-14 at the half and then held off Washington the rest of the contest to take the win.

The Eagles sealed the victory over the Redskins when defensive end Brandon Graham forced a fumble on a sack which defensive tackle Fletcher Cox lived a lineman’s dream and returned the ball 20 yards for a TD with 1:29 remaining in the game. Washington did manage to outrush Philly 64-58 but the Eagles’ defense sacked Washington QB Kirk Cousins (23 of 40, 240 yards, TD, interception) four times, forcing four turnovers in the game. Philadelphia on third down tries went 8 of 14 and kept the ball for 34:16, while Washington was 3 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 25:44.

In the Kickoff Weekend opener on Thursday night, the Chiefs defeated New England 42-27 in Foxboro. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt amassed 246 scrimmage yards (148 rushing, 98 receiving) – the most ever by a player in his NFL debut – and scored three touchdowns. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith posted a 148.6 passer rating against the Patriots and became the first quarterback to complete at least 80 percent of his passes (80.0) for 350 yards (368) with four touchdowns (four) and no interceptions against the defending Super Bowl champion.

Philly leads the series 4-3 and have outscored the Chiefs 169-149, who won the last meeting in the series in 2013, coming away 26-16 winners in the city of Brotherly Love, while the Eagles took a 34-14 win in 2009, also in Philly. Kansas City’s favored by 4 1/2 at Arrowhead and the over/under’s 48. Both numbers make sense. Cheesesteak meets bbq and bbq wins this time. Chiefs win but expect the Eagles to make things closer than the 4 1/2.

New York Jets (0-1) at Oakland (1-0), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. A pair of old AFC/AFL rivals meet in northern California as the Raiders host the New York Jets.

For GangGreen, it was too much running back Le Sean McCoy, who burned their AFC East rival for 110 yards and quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdown passes in their 21-12 loss in upstate New York. Buffalo’s defense held the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to 38 yards rushing and picked off Josh McCown twice. The Bills went 8 of 17 on third down conversions in Orchard Park and kept the ball for 33:04, while the Jets were 4 of 14 on third down but did strike pay-dirt in their only fourth down attempt and kept the ball for 26:56.

Oakland opened the 2017 season with a 26-16 win over Tennessee in Music City last Sunday. The Silver and Black led 13-10 at the half before pulling away from the Titans in the second half. Oakland outrushed Tennessee 109-95, with Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch accounting for 76 of those yards. Raiders QB Derek Carr threw for 262 yards (22 of 32) in the win, while Tennessee’s Marcus Mariotta threw for 256 yards (25 of 41). Oakland was 5 for 12 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:39, while Tennessee kept the pigskin for 28:21, going 7 of 14 on third down.

Including contests played at Shea Stadium and Los Angeles, the Raiders lead the series 22-17-2 and have outscored the Jets 960-898. They last met in 2015 in Oakland and the Raiders prevailed 34-20 on the West Coast (New York’s last win over Oakland came in 2014 in the Meadowlands by a final of 19-14).

Oakland’s a 14-point favorite on the West Coast, the largest spread of the season so far and the contest has a 43 1/2 over/under. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were a bad team last year, while the Raiders were in the playoffs. New York’s not 14 points bad. They’re somewhat bad and they’ll give Oakland problems but the Silver and Black prevails at home, taking the win.

Miami (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-1), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. It’s East meeting West as Miami travels westward to face off against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Dolphins were hoping to play their instate rival Tampa Bay last Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium to open the 2017 campaign but Mother Nature stepped in in the form of Hurricane Irma, which hit the southern part of the state. The league, not wanting to take any chances, decided to move the contest to week 11, where both teams would have had a bye week.

The Chargers took AFC West rival Denver to the final seconds and could have sent their Monday night contest at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, falling 24-21 in the Mile High City in the season opener. Los Angeles’ Philip Rivers threw for 192 yards and three TDs in the contest, while Denver’s Trevor Siemian threw two touchdown passes – both to wide receiver Bennie Fowler III – and rushed for a score in the Broncos’ 3=point win. Siemian joined Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway and Brian Griese as the only Broncos quarterbacks to record multiple touchdown passes and a TD run in a Week 1 opener. Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris sealed the Chargers’ fate by blocking the Chargers’ potential game-tying 44-yard field goal by rookie K Younghoe Koo with one second remaining in the game. Denver outrushed San Diego 140-64 but allowed Chargers QB Philip Rivers to throw for 192 yards and three TDs in the contest. Denver was 8 of 15 on third down tries and held the ball for 34:13, while the Chargers, who kept the pigskin for 25:47, went 3 of 12 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Including contests that took place in San Diego and the old Orange Bowl, where Marlins Field now sits, the Dolphins lead the series 15-13 but the Chargers have outscored the ‘Fins by a slim 628-627. They met last year in San Diego and Miami came away 31-24 winners (San Diego’s last win in the series came in 2015, when they won 30-14 at Qualcomm Stadium). In the week 10 contest, San Diego led 10-7 at the half before Miami stormed back in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Chargers 24-14. Rivers threw for 326 yards and three TDs but was sacked three times and picked off four times, while Ryan Tannehill threw for 240 yards with a pair of TDs. Miami outrushed San Diego 106-70 and was 4 of 10 on third down, while the Chargers were 6 of 11. The Chargers did manage to win the time of possession in the loss, holding the ball for 32:59 to Miami’s 27:01.

In the week 10 contest on the West Coast, San Diego was favored by 4 and the over/under was 49. Miami covered the spread, winning by 7 and both teams took care of the over/under, tallying 65 points. As was the case last year, the Chargers are the favorite, with the odd-makers liking them as a 4 1/2 point favorite. As for the over/under? 45. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Chargers may have gotten a head start with a game under their belts but the Dolphins will be playing not only for themselves, they’ll be playing for the people of the Miami area. Dolphins cover the 2 1/2 and win in Tinsletown.

Dallas (1-0) at Denver (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Dallas travels to the Rocky Mountains for a Sunday meeting with Denver at Mile High Stadium. Both teams enter play in week two with home wins under their belts.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 268 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 19-3 win over the New York Giants. Tight end Jason Witten, who had 59 yards and a touchdown, has 11,947 career receiving yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most in franchise history. Dallas led 16-0 at the break and used four Dan Bailey field goals to take the win.

In the team’s Week 1 victory, the Dallas defense limited the Giants to three points and 233 total yards while recording three sacks – including two by defensive end Demarcus Lawrence – and an interception (cornerback Anthony Brown). Dallas held New York to 35 rushing, while Ezikel Elliott ran for 104 yards on the night. Dallas was 8 of 15 on third downs and kept the ball for 34:14, while the Giants were 4 of 12 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the pigskin for 25:46.

Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian threw two touchdown passes – both to wide receiver Bennie Fowler III – and rushed for a score in the Broncos’ 24-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Kickoff Weekend. Siemian joined Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway and Brian Griese as the only Broncos quarterbacks to record multiple touchdown passes and a TD run in a Week 1 opener. Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris sealed the victory for Denver by blocking the Chargers’ potential game-tying 44-yard field goal by rookie K Younghoe Koo with one second remaining in the game. Denver outrushed San Diego 140-64 but allowed Chargers QB Philip Rivers to throw for 192 yards and three TDs in the contest. Denver was 8 of 15 on third down tries and held the ball for 34:13, while the Chargers, who kept the pigskin for 25:47, went 3 of 12 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Denver leads the series 7-4, have outscored Dallas 294-258 and have won the last five contests, including coming away 51-48 winners in the Lone Star State in 2013, while Dallas’ last win over Denver came in 1995, when they were 31-21 winners in Irving. Dallas may be the road team but the odds-makers like them as 2 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 43. This one could be worth your time if you’re a fan of either team. Dallas makes it interesting but Denver pulls the upset at home and covers the 2 1/2.

Washington (0-1) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. The Washington Redskins head west to face off against the Los Angeles Rams in Tinseltown.

Washington trailed Philadelphia 16-14 at the half at Fed Ex Field last Sunday, then saw the Eagles pull away in the second half to fall 30-17 in Landover. Philadelphia sealed Washington’s fate last week in the opener when defensive end Brandon Graham forced a fumble on a sack which defensive tackle Fletcher Cox made a lineman’s dream a reality and returned the ball 20 yards for a TD with 1:29 remaining in the game. Washington did manage to outrush Philly 64-58 but the Eagles’ defense sacked Washington QB Kirk Cousins (23 of 40, 240 yards, TD, interception) four times, forcing four turnovers in the game. Philadelphia on third down tries went 8 of 14 and kept the ball for 34:16, while Washington was 3 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 25:44.

The Rams on the other hand, took Indianapolis to task on the West Coast last Sunday, coming away 46-9 winners. Indy got their only points in the contest thanks to a 20-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri in the first quarter. The Rams went on to coast the rest of the contest and were never threatened. The Colts did manage to outrush Los Angeles 75-63, while Scott Tolzien threw for 128 yards with four sacks before being replaced by Jacoby Brissett. Indy was shut out on third down tries, going 0 for 10 and on fourth down tries at 0 of 1, holding the ball for 25:35, while the Rams were 5 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 34:25.

Washington leads the series 23-11-1, which includes games that took place in Cleveland and St. Louis when the Rams called those cities home and the Redskins have outscored Los Angeles 810-671. Washington won the last meeting between the clubs, coming away 24-10 winners in Landover, while the Rams’ last win in the series came in 2014 (also in Landover), when they shut out the “Skins 24-0. The Rams are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 46. While this one’s not the greatest game on the planet to watch, it’s worth your time. Redskins fans didn’t have a chance to sing “Hail to the Redskins” a lot last week at home. They’ll get that chance this time. Washington covers the 2 1/2 and wins on the West Coast.

San Francisco (0-1) at Seattle (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717. It’s a pair of winless NFC West rivals meeting in the Pacific Northwest as the 49ers make the trip up I-5 for a late afternoon (Eastern time) contest with Seattle at Century Link Field.

San Francisco was held to three points and 217 total yards (51 rushing, 166 passing) in their 23-3 Week 1 loss to Carolina at Levi’s Stadium. Panthers QB Cam Newton threw touchdown passes to wide receiver Russell Shepard (40 yards) and running back Jonathan Stewart (nine) in the win. In his NFL debut, rookie running back Christian McCaffery led the team with five receptions and 85 scrimmage yards (47 rushing, 38 receiving). Carolina led the 49ers 13-0 at the break and held them to a Robbie Gould field goal from 44 yards out with eight seconds left in the third. Carolina outrushed San Francisco 116-51 and the Panther defense sacked Blaine Hoyer (24 of 35, 193 yards, interception) four times on the West Coast last Sunday. Carolina was 7 of 13 on third down tries in Santa Clara and kept the ball for 34:21. San Francisco in the loss was 2 of 11 and 1 of 4 on third and fourth down and were able to keep the ball for 25:39.

Seattle let a 3-0 halftime lead get away from them at Lambeau and lost to the Packers 17-9 last Sunday. The Packers erased that deficit at the half and took the lead for keeps when RB Ty Montgomery scored from six yards out to open the scoring in the second half. Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson then connected on a 32-yard TD pass in the final seconds of the third quarter for their second TD of the day. Rodgers threw for 311 yards and a TD but was sacked four times and picked off once, while the Packers sacked Seahawks signal caller Russell Wilson (158 yards) three times. It was not much of a rushing game in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as neither team breached the 100-yard barrier but Seattle outrushed Green Bay 90-84 in the loss. Green Bay was 9 of 16 on third down tries at Lambeau and kept the ball for 39:13, while Seattle kept the pigskin for 20:47, while going 3 of 12 on third down.

Seattle leads the series 21-15, the Seahawks have outscored the 49ers 858-647 and they have won the last six meetings, sweeping the last three series in the process, including taking last year’s contests.

First meeting… week three in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks and the Seahawks led 24-3 at the break at CenturyLink Field, coming away 37-18 winners. Chris Michael rushed for 106 of Seattle’s 127 yards in the first meeting, while San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde ran for 103 of their 135 yards in the contest (both men had a pair of rushing TDs). Seattle was 9 of 14 on third down tries in the Pacific Northwest and kept the ball for 35:57, while the 49ers were 4 of 15 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 24:03.

Second meeting… week 17 in wine country. Seattle completed the sweep, winning the NFC West and taking a 25-23 win at Levis’ Stadium in Santa Clara. The Seahawks led 19-14 at the half in the season finale, holding off the 49ers in the final 30 minutes of play. This time, it was the Stephen Hauschka show, as the Seattle kicker connected on four field goals in the contest, which would be the last time 49er fans saw Colin Kaepernick (who threw a fourth-quarter TD pass to Garrett Celek) under center for their club. Seattle outrushed the 49ers 87-62 and Wilson threw for 258 yards and a TD, while Kaepernick threw for 215 but was sacked five times. Unlike the first meeting, neither club did anything to talk about third-down wise, as Seattle was 3 of 12, while San Francisco went 2 of 11 (the 49ers were 2 of 3 on fourth down, while the Seahawks were 0 of 1). Time was on the side of the 49ers, as San Francisco kept the ball for 30:26, while the Seahawks held it for 29:34.

In the week three contest in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, the Seahawks won by 19, allowing them to cover the 9 1/2-point spread. Both teams combined for 55 points, which allowed them to cover the 40 1/2 over/under. Seattle was favored again in the season finale as a 9 1/2 point favorite but won by only 2. Seattle and San Francisco did manage to cover the 43 over/under by combining for 48 points. Seattle’s favored by 13 1/2 (the largest spread of the season so far) and the over/under’s 43 1/2. The 43 1/2? Makes sense. 13 1/2? Not so much. San Francisco’s been known to struggle but they’re not 13 1/2 bad. Still, Seattle’s had their number the last few years and that’s not going to change. Seahawks win this one in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks but expect San Francisco to give them a lot of problems in the contest.

Detroit (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two concludes in the Meadowlands as the New York Giants host Detroit Monday night in prime time.

The Lions opened the season with a 35-23 win over Arizona as the team rallied from a 17-15 fourth-quarter deficit. Last season, Detroit won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter, the most by a team in a single season in NFL history.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 292 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals and has 27 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011, the most by a QB in the NFL over that span. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay had two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter, including a 45-yarder, in his NFL debut. Detroit outrushed Arizona 82-45 in the Motor City and Carson Palmer threw for 269 yards with a TD and three interceptions. Arizona was 6 of 15 on third down conversions at Ford Field, keeping the ball for 26:40, while the Lions, who held on to the pigskin for 33:20, were 50 percent on third down at 8 of 16 (the Lions were 0 of 1 on fourth down, while the Cardinals were 1 of 1).

The Giants have won 50 home openers in franchise history and are one of only four teams all-time with at least 50 victories in home openers. Last week at Dallas, Giants quarterback Eli Manning (220 yards, three sacks, interception) started his 200th consecutive game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (297) and Peyton Manning (208) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to start at least 200 consecutive games. Held to a third-quarter field goal by Aldrick Rosas, the Giants trailed 16-0 at the break and could never get on track in their Sunday night season opener in Arlington. New York was held to 35 rushing, while Dallas’ Ezikel Elliott ran for 104 yards on the night. Dallas was 8 of 15 on third downs and kept the ball for 34:14, while the Giants were 4 of 12 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the pigskin for 25:46.

The Giants are favored by 4 in the Meadowlands and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Both clubs are below the .500 mark on Monday nights (the Lions are 14-17-1 and lost their only contest last year, while the Giants are 24-37-1 and went 1-1 in their two contests in 2016). while it’s not one of the best Monday night contests ever, it’s worth your time, so go ahead and tape “Scorpion” this week. Eli’s coming, kids. Both teams will be 1-1 at the end of the night. Giants cover the 4 and win in the Meadowlands.

NFL Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (all times Eastern)

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter): SIRIUS: 118 (Atlanta), 135 (Chicago); XM: 386 (Atlanta), 228 (Chicago)

New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon; SIRIUS: 113 (New York Jets), 93 (Buffalo); XM: 385 (New York Jets), 226 (Buffalo)

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, Melanie Collins (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 157 (Baltimore), 125 (Cincinnati); XM: 387(Baltimore), 230 (Cincinnati)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter); Westwood One: John Sadak, Ben Leber; SIRIUS: 84 (Pittsburgh), 146 (Cleveland); XM: 388 (Pittsburgh), 231 (Cleveland)

Jackonsville at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 112 (Jacksonville), 121 (Houston); XM: 384 (Jacksonville), 227 (Houston)

Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 98 (Oakland), 82 (Tennessee); XM: 382 (Oakland), 82 (Tennessee)

Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710:  Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Philadelphia), 83 (Washington); XM: 381 (Philadelphia), 83 (Washington)

Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Arizona), 113 (Detroit); XM: 380 (Arizona), 29 (Detroit)

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Indianapolis), 136 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 380 (Indianapolis), 232 (Los Angeles Rams)

Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter): Westwood One: Brandon Gaudin, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 82 (Seattle), 83 (Green Bay); XM: 82 (Seattle), 83 (Green Bay)

Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 93 (Carolina), 81 (San Francisco); XM: 226 (Carolina), 225 (San Francisco)

New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Mike Mayock; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood 1), 81 (New York Giants), 83 (Dallas); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New York Giants), 83 (Dallas)

Monday’s Games
Minnesota at New Orleans, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter): Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Ross Tucker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New Orleans), 83 (Minnesota); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New Orleans), 83 (Minnesota)

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. on ESPN: Beth Mowins, Rex Ryan; Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Ed Werder (Field reporter) | SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 145 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (Denver); XM: 88 (Westwood1), 227 (Los Angeles Chargers), 226 (Denver)

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Sunday, September 10

Favorite             Spread   Underdog               O/U

Atlanta               – 6 1/2 CHICAGO                48 1/2
BUFFALO               – 8 1/2 New York Jets          40
HOUSTON               – 5     Jacksonville           39 1/2
WASHINGTON            – 1 1/2 Philadelphia           48
DETROIT               – 2     Arizona                48
TENNESSEE             – 2 1/2 Oakland                50
CINCINNATI            – 3     Baltimore              42
Pittsburgh            – 9 1/2 CLEVELAND              46 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS      – 4 1/2 Indianapolis           41 1/2
GREEN BAY             – 3     Seattle                51
Carolina              – 5     SAN FRANCISCO          47 1/2
DALLAS                – 4 1/2 New York Giants        48

Monday, September 11

Favorite             Spread   Underdog               O/U
MINNESOTA             – 3     New Orleans            48
DENVER                – 3     Los Angeles Chargers   43

Sunday and Monday Referees

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Jeff Triplette
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: John Hussey
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Walt Coleman
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Tony Corrente
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Walt Anderson
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.: Ron Torbert
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: John Parry
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.: Carl Cheffers
New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday: Gene Steratore
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday: Terry McAulay

Sunday and Monday Injury Report
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Atlanta
QUESTIONABLE: T Austin Pasztor (Chest)

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: CB Prince Amukamara (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Kyle Long (Ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (Knee), WR Markus Wheaton (Finger)

New York Jets at Buffalo

New York Jets
OUT: S Rontez Miles (Eye)

Buffalo
OUT: DT Jerel Worthy (Concussion)

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Baltimore
DOUBTFUL: CB Sheldon Price (Concussion)

Cincinnati
OUT: TE Christopher Uzomah (Ankle)
S Shawn Williams (Elbow)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh
OUT: T Jerald Hawkins (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Alvin Dupree (Shoulder)

Cleveland
QUESTIONABLE: DT Danny Shelton (Knee)

Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Arizona
OUT: LB Deone Bucannon (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Mike Iupati (Tricep), DT Robert Nkemdiche (Calf)

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (Knee), T Corey Robinson (Foot)

Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville
QUESTIONABLE: S Tashaun Gipson (Ankle), RB Timothy Yeldon (Hamstring)

Houston
OUT: RB Alfred Blue (Ankle), WR William Fuller (Shoulder)

Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Oakland
OUT: S Keith McGill (Foot), RB Jamize Olawale (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Cory James (Knee), K Sebastian Janikowski (Back)

Tennessee
OUT: CB LeShaun Sims (Groin)

Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia: Philadelphia reported no injuries

Washington
QUESTIONABLE: WR Jamison Crowder (Hip), C Spencer Long (Knee)

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

Indianapolis
OUT: CB Vontae Davis (Groin), C Ryan Kelly (Foot), QB Andrew Luck (Right Shoulder), WR Chester Rogers (Hamstring), G
Ian Silberman (Lumbar)

Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles Rams reported no injuries

Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Seattle
DOUBTFUL: LB Michael Wilhoite (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Jarran Reed (Shoulder), CB Richard Sherman (Thigh), DE Frank Clark (Wrist), WR Tyler Lockett (Knee), RB
Thomas Rawls (Ankle)

Green Bay
QUESTIONABLE: T Bryan Bulaga (Ankle)

Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.

Carolina
OUT: LB Jared Norris (Groin)
DOUBTFUL: DT Vernon Butler (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Alexander Love (Ankle), QB Cam Newton (Right Shoulder)

San Francisco
DOUBTFUL: S Jimmie Ward (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Aaron Lynch (Back)

New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

New York Giants
OUT: LB Keenan Robinson (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Odell Beckham (Ankle)

Dallas
OUT: LB Anthony Hitchens (Ankle)

New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday

New Orleans

OUT: DE Trey Hendrickson (Illness), TT Terron Armstead (Shoulder), LB Nate Stupar (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Stephone Anthony (Ankle)

Minnesota

OUT: G Danny Isadora (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Tramiane Brock (Groin)

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: WR Mike Williams (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Jeremiah Attaochu (Hamstring), WR Dontrelle Inman (Groin), TE Sean McGrath (Knee), S Tre Boston (Calf)

Denver
OUT: RB Devontae Booker (Wrist), DE Jared Crick (Back), DT Zachariah Kerr (Knee), QB Paxton Lynch (Right Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Kyle Peko (Foot)

Sunday and Monday Weather

Sunday’s Games
ATLANTA at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 66 degrees
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 63 degrees
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 69 degrees
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 67 degrees
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 80 degrees
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 75 degrees
Philadelphia at Washington, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 68 degrees
Arizona at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 88 degrees
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 69 degrees
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 86 degrees
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 82 degrees
New Orleans at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. Monday: Game Indoors
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. Monday: Mostly cloudy and 74 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League; odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

After a Super Bowl for the ages, the draft, mini-camps and training camps, football season is finally here and kicked off last Thursday night in Foxboro as the New England Patriots got their accolades, Super Bowl rings and the Lombardi Trophy. The hunter is NOW the hunted as the other 30 teams start their trek to perhaps getting their own Lombardi. For teams that were in the post-season last year, it’s a chance to get back to the post-season party. As for those teams that struggled last year, it’s a chance to get some revenge. The beauty of the regular season is that if you lose this week, you have a whole week to think about what went wrong. It’s not the end of the world. Two teams have already started the journey Thursday night in western Massachusetts, while the other 30 teams will get their shot this weekend. Miami and Tampa Bay will have to sit out a week because of Hurricane Irma.

After all those days of OTA’s, preseason games, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, the 2017 National Football League season got underway last Thursday night in Foxboro as the New England Patriots got their rings and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxboro. That was the first of a 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule that comes to an end on Sunday, December 31 with 16 division games that will take place in week 17.

Like we said… The hunter is now the hunted.

New England has the Lombardi Trophy for now. There are 31 other teams that would like nothing more than to knock the Pats off the mountain.

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

The 51 Super Bowl winners have a 41-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots, who hosted Kansas City in the season opener Thursday night, have won their past eight home openers played on Kickoff Weekend and 12 of their past 13 overall in Week 1.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:
•Of the 570 teams which won openers…297 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles).
•Of the 571 teams which lost openers…137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles).

Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2016, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

STRONG OUT OF THE GATE: Over the past 10 years, six teams – New England (.758), Denver (.706), Dallas (.676), Green Bay (.676), Baltimore (.647) and Arizona (.618) – have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those six clubs have combined for 37 playoff berths and nine Super Bowl appearances – including five Super Bowl championships – during the span.

On Thursday night, the Patriots, who have an NFL-best 25-8 record in the month of September since 2007, hosted Kansas City and Denver (24-10, .706), who own the second-highest opening-month winning percentage in the NFL over the past 10 seasons, host the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West showdown in the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader at 10:20 p.m. on ESPN.

Teams with the best opening month records over the past 10 seasons (2007-16): (Thursday’s game not included)

TEAM (W-L, PCT)(PLAYOFF BERTHS)(SUPER BOWL BERTHS)(SUPER BOWL WINS)
New England (25-8, .758)(9)(4)(2)
Denver (24-10, .706) (5)(2)(1)
Dallas (23-11, .673) (4)(0)(0)
Green Bay (23-11, .676) (9)(1)(1)
Baltimore (22-12, .647) (6)(1)(1)
Arizona (21-13, .618)(4)(1)(0)

OUT OF THE BLOCKS: Dallas hosts the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, as the two NFC East rivals meet on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The contest will feature two of the NFL’s most successful teams in season openers. The Cowboys’ .661 winning percentage (37-19-1) is tied with Denver for the highest of any team in NFL history, while the Giants have the third-most wins on Kickoff Weekend (50).

The teams with the best winning percentage on Kickoff Weekend:

TEAM (KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS, WIN PCT.)
Dallas (37-19-1, .661)
Denver (37-19-1, .661)
Houston Texans (9-6-0, .600)
Chicago (54-38-5, .587)
Green Bay (54-39-3, .581)
New York Giants (50-37-5, .575)
Note: Ties prior to 1972 did not count in winning percentage.

The teams with the most wins on Kickoff Weekend:

TEAM (KICKOFF WEEKEND WINS)
Chicago (54)
Green Bay (54)
New York Giants (50)
Detroit (47)
Pittsburgh (42)

STARTING STREAKS: Some clubs have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff milestones and streaks:

•Chicago, who hosts Atlanta to open their 2017 campaign, have the most wins (65) all-time in home openers.

•Dallas, who welcomes the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, have 32 wins in home openers since 1970, the most in the NFC.

•Denver, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football, have posted a 43-13-1 (.768) record in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has won 23 of its past 26 home openers.

•Green Bay, who welcomes Seattle on Kickoff Weekend into Lambeau, have won their past four home openers. The Packers are tied with the Bears for the most wins (54) on Kickoff Weekend.

•Houston, who hosts Jacksonville on Kickoff Weekend, have won six of their past seven home openers.

•San Francisco, who hosts Carolina on Kickoff Weekend, have the NFL’s longest active winning streak (six) on Kickoff Weekend.

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

•New Orleans running back Adrian Peterson has 885 rushing yards in 10 career season-opening games and needs 115 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games. The four players to accomplish the feat are Emmitt Smith (1,247), Walter Payton (1,067), Edgerrin James (1,062) and Jim Brown (1,043). Smith, Payton and Brown are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

•Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 918 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions in 13 career season-opening games and needs 82 yards to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 career receiving yards and eight touchdown catches in season-opening games, joining Jerry Rice (1,385 yards, nine TDs), Andre Reed (1,225, 10), Randy Moss (1,194, 10) and Don Maynard (1,025, nine). Rice, Reed and Maynard are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

MR. 300: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has 297 touchdown passes with 72 interceptions in 12 career seasons. With three touchdown passes against Seattle on Sunday, Rodgers would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history with 300 career touchdowns passes and the first quarterback in league history to reach 300 career passing touchdowns with fewer than 100 interceptions.

The quarterbacks who reached 300 career touchdown passes with the fewest interceptions:

QUARTERBACK – TEAM(S) (INTERCEPTIONS AT TIME OF 300TH TOUCHDOWN PASS)
Tom Brady – New England (115)
Philip Rivers – San Diego (142)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (152)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (153)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (160)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (72)*
*Has 297 career touchdowns passes entering Week 1

START ’EM EARLY: Cleveland rookie quarterback De Shone Kizer, a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. With a start by Kizer on Sunday, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

SEASON – QUARTERBACK (TEAM, STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE)
2008 – Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, 11-5)
2008 – Matt Ryan (Atlanta, 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 – E.J. 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, 0-0)^
^Expected to start in Week 1
*No. 1 Overall Pick

RUN FORREST RUN! A tough, reliable running game allows an offense to command a game’s pace and in the majority of contests, it can also control the game’s result.

In 2016, NFL teams with a 100-yard rusher posted a 68-27-1 record for a .714 winning percentage. That rated higher than clubs with a 100-yard receiver (94-73-2, .562) or a 300-yard passer (56-60-2, .483).

Pittsburgh running back LE’VEON BELL ranked fifth in the NFL with 1,268 rushing yards last season, despite playing only 12 games. The Steelers were 6-0 in games in which Bell rushed for at least 100 yards.

“Le’Veon’s one of the greatest players on our team,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethilsberger told KDKA-TV and the Pittsburgh Gazzette. “He’s one of the best running backs in the world. It’s an honor to play with him.”

Over the past five years, teams have compiled a 359-141-6 record (.715) a player has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark. By comparison, clubs with a 100-yard receiver have a .558 winning percentage (509-403-4), while offenses with a 300-yard passer have won 51.5 percent of their games (316-298-3).

Here are the winning percentage of teams with a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver or 300-yard passer over the past five seasons:

100-YARD RUSHERS
YEAR: W-L-T, WIN PCT.
2012: 83-35-1, .702
2013: 60-33-2 .642
2014: 75-23-2 .760
2015: 73-23 .760
2016: 68-27-1 .714
Total :359-141-6 .715

100-YARD RECEIVERS
YEAR: W-L-T WIN PCT.
2012: 92-78-1 .541                                      :
2013: 98-82 .544
2014: 105-74-1 .586
2015: 120-96 .556
2016: 94-73-2 .562
Total: 509-403-4 .558

300-YARD PASSERS
YEAR: W-L-T WIN PCT.
2012: 61-65 .484
2013: 60-58 .508
2014: 70-52-1 .573
2015: 69-63 .522
2016: 56-60-2 .483
Total: 316-298-3 .515

EVERY NFL SNAP STARTS UNDER CENTER: It all starts with the guy under center. Nothing begins on an NFL field without the quarterback. NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2016.

The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record set in 2015, while the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second behind only the 2015 season (90.2). There were touchdown passes thrown in 2016, the fourth-highest total in NFL history.

Games averaged 700.8 total net yards per game, the mark in NFL annals (705.3 in 2015). Explosive offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 483.0 yards per game, the second-highest total all-time in 2015).

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing previous mark of 2.4 in 2015. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, despite missing four games for his role in Deflategate, finished the 2016 season with interception percentage (two INTs in 432 passing attempts), the third-lowest interception percentage quarterback since 1960. Brady passed for 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions last season, recording the highest touchdown/interception ratio history.

There were 57 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2016, the highest of any season in NFL history (59 in 2015, 2014). Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the league with seven games of at least touchdown passes without an interception, tied third-most in a single season in NFL history.

“It’s a passing league,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Light told the Tampa Tribune. “It’s a quarterback-driven league, so you want a great quarterback. If you’ve got a great quarterback, you’ve got a chance.”

As professional football has evolved, the sophistication and importance of the passing game have grown consistently. Defenders have grown stronger and faster while defensive coordinators have become more creative. Moving the ball downfield three yards at a time via the run has grown increasingly difficult.

This trend has helped allow the growing number of star NFL quarterbacks – ranging from established veterans like Brady, Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethilsberger to talented youngsters like Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott – to fully showcase their passing talents.

An NFL-record 13 passers reached the 4,000-yard mark in 2016, eclipsing 2015 for the most of any season in NFL history (12). Brees led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards, the fourth-highest passing yardage total in league history. Brees is the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times, extending his NFL record.

Five quarterbacks recorded a 100+ passer rating in 2016, led by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whose 117.1 rating was the fifth-highest in NFL history.

4,000+ PASS YARDS
PLAYER – YARDS
Drew Brees – 5,208
Matt Ryan – 4,944
Kirk Cousins – 4,917
Aaron Rodgers – 4,428
Philip Rivers – 4,386
Matthew Stafford – 4,327                –
Joe Flacco – 4,317
Andrew Luck – 4,240
Carson Palmer – 4,233
Russell Wilson – 4,219
Andy Dalton – 4,206
Jameis Winston – 4,090
Eli Manning – 4,027

30+ PASS TDs
PLAYER – TDs
Aaron Rodgers – 40
Matt Ryan – 38
Drew Brees – 37
Philip Rivers – 33
Andrew Luck – 31

100+ PASSER RATING
PLAYER – RATING
Matt Ryan – 117.1
Tom Brady – 112.2
Dak Prescott – 104.9
Aaron Rodgers – 104.2
Drew Brees – 101.7

TIGHT ENDS ON THE RISE: NFL tight ends have been performing at an historic level and the 2016 season was no different.
Last year, tight ends recorded the second-most catches (2,494) and receiving yards (27,340) in a single season for the position.

SINGLE-SEASON TIGHT END RECORDS: Last season, four tight ends – Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta (86), Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (85), Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph (83) and Carolina’s Greg Olsen (80) – reached the 80-reception mark, tied for the most tight ends with at least 80 receptions in a single season in NFL history.

In 2016, Olsen recorded 1,073 receiving yards and became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had seven receiving touchdowns in 2016 and has 111 career touchdown catches, tying Tony Gonzalez for the most by a tight end in history.

Gates brought his career receiving yardage total to 11,192, becoming the third tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, joining Gonzalez (15,127) and Dallas’ Jason Witten (11,888).

The importance of the tight end position was evident in this year’s NFL Draft as well. Three tight ends – O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay, No. 19), Evan Engram (New York Giants, No. 23) and David Njoku (Cleveland, No. 29) and) – were chosen in the first round, tied for the most first round tight ends (1970 and 2002) since the advent of the common draft in 1967.

YEAR – REC. YARDS
2015 – 27,553
2016 – 27,340
2013 – 27,284
2011 – 27,080
2012 – 26,197

YEAR CATCHES
2015 – 2,518
2016 – 2,494
2012 – 2,401
2013 – 2,384

SEASON MOST TEs W/ 80+ RECEPTIONS IN SINGLE SEASON
2016 – 4
2014 – 4
2011 – 4
2004 – 4
Many tied with 3

CONVERSION: Excelling on third down extends drives and keeps your opponent off the field, which can be an important factor in winning games.

Last season, six playoff teams converted at least 40 percent of their third-down attempts – Green Bay (46.7 percent), New England (45.8), Detroit (42.6), Dallas (42.3), Atlanta (42.1) and Pittsburgh (41.1).

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb understands the importance of converting. “We talk about it continuously,” Cobb told the Milwaukee Sentinel. “Being able to break a tackle and picking up a first down is important. We try and do that consistently throughout games.”

Converting on third down extends drives ultimately leading towards the end zone. Last season, nine of the top 10 offensive scoring teams converted at least 40 percent of third downs. Atlanta and New England, who met in Super Bowl LI, both converted at least 40 percent of third downs last season.

FOURTH-AND-ONE: In fourth-and-one situations, the offense or defense must not only overpower its opponent but also outsmart it in order to retain or gain possession. It is an art that must be studied for mastery.

Three teams were perfect on fourth-and-one conversions in 2016 (minimum five attempts) – Dallas, Cleveland and Carolina. Three teams with perfect fourth-and-one conversion rates (minimum five attempts) are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2005).

Just as converting on third and fourth downs are important for the offense, it’s equally important for the defense to stop scoring drives and save games.

A stop on fourth-and-one for a defense is as important as forcing a turnover. While the offense needs to convert to prolong its drive hoping to control the clock and find the end zone, the defense can hand the ball over to its offense with field position by stifling an offense.

Thirteen teams stopped at least half of their opponents’ fourth-and-one attempts, including seven playoff teams – Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Miami, New York Giants and Oakland.

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED AND NOTES ON 2017 TRAVEL (Mileage is based on the estimated round-trip distance for every regular-season road game)

Talk about frequent flyer miles! All 32 teams will board a plane or bus during the season to get from stadium to stadium during any given season.

• The total distance traveled by all teams during the regular season will be 564,820 miles.

• The teams of the NFC West (110,848) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions.

• The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC West (90,546), NFC East (80,956), AFC East (75,105), AFC South (67,352), NFC South (56,146), AFC North (48,797) and NFC North (35,070).

• Five teams – the Los Angeles Rams (32,600), Oakland (30,899), Arizona (30,035), Miami (27,520) and the Los Angeles Chargers (26,134) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

Below are the teams and the distance they will travel in 2017 (please return your trays to the upright position).

TEAM – MILES
1. Los Angeles Rams – 32,600
2. Oakland – 30,899
3. Arizona – 30,035
4. Miami – 27,520
5. Los Angeles Chargers – 26,134
6. Jacksonville – 24,522
7. Seattle – 24,121
8. San Francisco – 24,092
9. New York Giants – 21,883
10. New Orleans – 20,968
11. Washington – 20,762
12. Philadelphia – 20,227
13. Denver – 18,842
14. Houston – 18,546
15. Dallas – 18,084
16. Baltimore – 18,055
17. New England – 17,830
18. New York Jets – 16,483
19. Cleveland – 16,386
20. Kansas City – 14,671
21. Tampa Bay – 13,683
22. Buffalo – 13,272
23. Tennessee – 13,048
24. Atlanta – 11,687
25. Indianapolis – 11,236
26. Minnesota – 10,460
27. Carolina – 9,808
28. Chicago – 8,318
29. Detroit – 8,218
30. Green Bay – 8,074
31. Cincinnati – 7,662
32. Pittsburgh – 6,694

2017 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
TEAM (OPPONENTS’ 2016 PCT AND RECORD) (GAMES VS. TEAMS, .500 OR BETTER) (GAMES VS. 2016 PLAYOFF TEAMS)
Denver (.578; 147-107-2) (8) (10)
Kansas City (.576; 147-108-1) (8) (11)
Los Angeles Chargers (.568; 145-110-1) (8) (11)
Oakland (.564; 144-111-1) (6) (11)
Buffalo (.561; 143-112-1 (7) (10)
Miami (.547; (140-116-0) (5) (9)
Washington (.543; 138-116-2) (7) (9)
New York Jets (.535; 137-119-0) (7) (9)
New York Giants (.535; 135-117-4) (6) (10)
Dallas (.531; 134-118-4) (7) (10)
Philadelphia (.531; 134-118-4) (7) (10)
New England P(.527; (135-121-0) (7) (9)
Atlanta (.521; 133-122-1) (6) (9)
Tampa Bay (.518; 132-123-1) (7) (8)
New Orleans (.510; 130-125-1) (6) (10)
Carolina (.504; 129-127-0) (6) (9)
Los Angeles Rams (.482; 121-130-5) (5) (9)
Green Bay (.480; 122-132-2) (6) (10)
Chicago (.479; 122-133-1) (6) (10)
San Francisco (.475; 119-132-5) (5) (8)
Cleveland (.469; 119-135-2 (5) (10)
Detroit (.469; 119-135-2) (5) (9)
Arizona (.467; 118-135-3) (6) (10)
Baltimore (.461; 117-137-2) (7) (10)
Houston (.455; 115-138-3) (4) (9)
Seattle (.455; 115-138-3) (5) (8)
Pittsburgh (.453; 115-139-2) (5) (10)
Minnesota (.453; 115-139-2) (6) (9)
Cincinnati (.449; 115-141-0) (5) (11)
Tennessee (.439; 111-142-3) (6) (9)
Jacksonville (.439; 111-142-3) (4) (9)
Indianapolis (.424; 107-146-3) (4) (8)

NFL fans continue to tune in to the sport they love. Here’s a look at what’s in store on TV in 2017. The regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off on Thursday night in New England and concludes on Sunday, December 31 with 16 division games. The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game. The opener on September 7 on NBC at 8:30 p.m. will feature the defending champion New England Patriots hosting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. featuring Seattle traveling to Lambeau to take on Green Bay. week 3 is the first CBS national weekend with the key doubleheader game showcasing Cincinnati taking on Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 10 when Dallas hosts the New York Giants at 8:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 11 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. Minnesota hosts New Orleans at 7:10 p.m. in the first contest, while Denver hosts the Los Angeles Chargers at 10:20 p.m. in the nightcap.

ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. The 2018 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium and will be simulcast nationally on ABC and ESPN. It marks the first time the Pro Bowl will air on both broadcast and cable networks.

A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests have already been announced, including the Seahawks at the Giants (4:25 PM ET, CBS) in Week 7 and Minnesota at Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on CBS in Week 14. Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 31. For the eighth consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.

Other highlights of the schedule include:

In Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons will open their new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium – on Sunday, September 17 in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC when they take on Green Bay in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Earlier that day, the Chargers will make their return to Los Angeles as they host the Miami Dolphins at the StubHub Center at 4:05 p.m. on CBS.

The Patriots will host the Falcons in Week 7 on Sunday night, October 22 at 8:30 p.m. on NBC in a rematch of Super Bowl LI, the first Super Bowl in NFL history to go into overtime.

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 23. The first game will send the Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX for the second consecutive year. The late afternoon game will feature the Los Angeles Chargers visiting Dallas at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the holiday concludes with Washington Redskins hosting the NeW York Giants in Landover on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

In Week 16, NBC’s Sunday Night Football game (Minnesota at Green Bay) will move to Saturday night, December 23 at 8:30 p.m. on  NBC due to Christmas Eve and is not subject to flexible scheduling. Christmas Day will feature a doubleheader on Monday, December 25 with Houston hosting Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. on NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime) in the first game and Oakland visiting Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in primetime.

The NFL’s international slate includes four games in London – the fi rst time the league will play four games in the UK – and one in Mexico City. On Sunday, September 24, Jacksonville will host the Baltimore Ravens at London’s Wembley Stadium (9:30 AM ET) in a contest that will be streamed globally by Verizon. The next weekend, on Sunday, October 1, Miami will host New Orleans at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX. In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams will host Arizona at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, October 22 at p.m. on FOX. The following week, Cleveland will host Minnesota at Twickenham on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The NFL returns to Mexico City on Sunday, November 19 at 4:25 p.m. on CBS when Oakland hosts New England at Estadio Azteca.

The NFL has partnered with Amazon Prime this season and will once again use a “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital (Amazon Prime) for 10 Thursday Night Football games and a Christmas Day contest. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to Amazon Prime members worldwide. NBC will also broadcast the Christmas Day game. CBS will start in Week 4 (Thursday, September 28) when the Packers host Chicago. NBC’s Tri-Cast package begins in Week 10 (Thursday, November 9) when the Seahawks visit the Arizona Cardinals. Additionally, NFL Network will also exclusively televise a seven-game schedule comprised of three Thursday Night Football games, three late-season Saturday contests and a Sunday morning London matchup.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 5 and end in Week 11.

“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-15, 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. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 31. 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 prime time.

The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 6-7. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.

Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 13-14. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 21. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 4 in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium on NBC.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. on ABC/ESPN at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets. All postseason games are televised nationally.

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: Flexible scheduling will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks.

In Weeks 5-15, 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. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 31. 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 prime time.

Additionally, a select number of games are being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.

In the 2017 season, the City of Angels will have two teams for the first time since the 60s as the Chargers make their way up I-5 to relocate in Los Angeles, where they first started. The Atlanta Falcons will move into their new stadium, Mercedes Benz Stadium, located next to their old nest, the Georgia Dome. Speaking of new… this season, six NFL teams – the Buffalo Bills (Sean McDermott), Denver Broncos (Vance Joseph), Jacksonville Jaguars (Doug Marrone), Los Angeles Chargers (Anthony Lynn), Los Angeles Rams (Sean McVay) and San Francisco 49ers (Kyle Shannahan) – welcome new head coaches.

Once again, the NFL will have divisional games in the final week to close things out. Some games will have playoff implications, other games will be revenge matches.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. featuring the Seattle Seahawks at the Green Bay Packers. Week 3 is the first CBS national weekend with the key doubleheader game showcasing the Cincinnati Bengals facing the Packers at Lambeau Field.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 10 when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants at 8:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in a key NFC East matchup.

Will there be Monday Night Football? Of course! As an added bonus, Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 11 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints at 7:10 p.m. in the first game followed by the Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16 and there will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced  when the 2017 schedule was released, including the Seahawks traveling to upstate New Jersey to play at the New York Giants at 4:25 p.m. on CBS in Week 7 and the Vikings at the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on CBS in Week 14. Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The 2017 schedule will also have an international flavor, as the international slate includes four games in London – the first time the league will play four games in the UK – and one in Mexico City. On Sunday, September 24, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. with distribution to be announced at a later date). The next weekend, on Sunday, October 1, the Dolphins will host the Saints at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX. In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m. in an NFC West matchup on FOX on Sunday, October 29. The following week, the Cleveland Browns will host the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham on Sunday, October 29 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The NFL will return to Mexico City on Sunday, November 19 at 4:25 p.m. on CBS when the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr host the Patriots and Tom Brady at Estadio Azteca.

Other highlights of the schedule include:

In Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons will open their new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium – on Sunday, September 17 in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC when they host the Packers in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. Earlier that day, the Chargers will make their return to Los Angeles as they host the Miami Dolphins at the StubHub Center at 4:05 p.m. on CBS.

As was the case last year, the two teams that met in last year’s Super Bowl will meet this year. New England hosts Atlanta in week 7 on Sunday night, October 22nd at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s a rematch of Super Bowl LI in Houston, the first Super Bowl in NFL history to go into overtime.

Yes, there’s football on Turkey Day. Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 23. The first game will send the Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX for the second consecutive year as NFC North foes meet in the Motor City. The late afternoon game will feature the Chargers visiting the Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the holiday concludes with an NFC East matchup in Landover as the Washington Redskins host Eli Manning and the New York Giants on NBC at  8:30 p.m.

The playoffs (PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 6-7. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes. Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 13-14. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 21. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 4 in Super Bowl LII at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium on NBC.

It’s time to get “Back to Football!”

The preseason is over. Training camp? Done.

Time to get it on for real.

“Being selected to play in the season-opening game and having a league-high six prime-time contests is a tremendous honor and a tribute to our team and organization,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star. “We’ve already started preparation for these teams and we know we have a lot of great challenges ahead of us.”

Home teams have won 13 of the last 14 openers since 2002. That’s not bad at all and it keeps your fan base happy.

The NFL primetime kickoff games since 2002 (Home teams in CAPS):

September 5, 2002 at Giants Stadium – San Francisco 16, NEW YORK GIANTS 13 (San Francisco’s Jose Cortez kicks a 36-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the NFL’s first Thursday night opener since 1949.)

September 4, 2003 at FedExField – WASHINGTON 16, New York Jets 13 (Washington kicker John Hall converts a game-winning 50-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift the Redskins.)

September 9, 2004 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 27, Indianapolis 24 (New England quarterback Tom Brady passes for 335 yards and three TDs as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat the Colts.)

September 8, 2005 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 30, Oakland 20 (New England quarterback Tom Brady throws for 306 yards and two TDs while running back Corey Dillon adds two scores for the defending Super Bowl champions.

September 7, 2006 at Heinz Field – PITTSBURGH 28, Miami 17 (Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch, subbing for Ben Roethlisberger, passes for three TDs and running back Willie Parker adds 115 rushing yards as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat Miami.

September 6, 2007 at RCA Dome – INDIANAPOLIS 41, New Orleans 10 (The Super Bowl champion Colts rack up 452 yards of offense as quarterback Peyton Manning passes for 288 yards and three TDs.)

September 4, 2008 at Giants Stadium – NEW YORK GIANTS 16, Washington 7 (Quarterback Eli Manning scores a TD and the Giants’ defense allows just 209 total yards as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat division-rival Washington.

September 10, 2009 at Heinz Field – PITTSBURGH 13, Tennessee 10 (OT) (Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed kicks a 33-yard game-winning field goal in overtime as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat Tennessee.)

September 9, 2010 Louisiana Superdome – NEW ORLEANS 14, Minnesota 9 (New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees throws for 237 yards and a TD to lead the Saints past the Vikings in a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.)

September 8, 2011 at Lambeau Field – GREEN BAY 42, New Orleans 34 (Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes for 312 yards and three TDs and the Packers’ defense makes a goal-line stand on the game’s final play as the defending Super Bowl champions defeat the Saints.)

September 5, 2012 at MetLife Stadium Dallas 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 17 (Dallas quarterback Tony Romo throws for 307 yards and three TDs, including two to Kevin Ogletree, as the Cowboys defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Giants.)

September 5, 2013 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – DENVER 49, Baltimore 27 (Denver quarterback Peyton Manning ties an NFL single-game record with seven TD passes as the Broncos knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.)

September 4, 2014 CenturyLink Field – SEATTLE 36, Green Bay 16 (Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson throws two TDs while running back Marshawn Lynch rushes for 110 yards and two scores as the defending champion Seahawks win at home.)

September 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium – NEW ENGLAND 28, Pittsburgh 21 (New England quarterback Tom Brady throws four touchdown passes as the defending champion Patriots defeat the Steelers.)

September 8, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – DENVER 21, Carolina 20 (Denver running back C.J. Anderson scores two touchdowns as the Broncos defeat the Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50.)

ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW… Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:

Of the 570 teams which won openers…298 went to the playoffs (179 won division titles).

Of the 571 teams which lost openers…137 went to the playoffs (79 won division titles).

Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999 to 2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2016, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Seattle Seahawks, who host San Francisco in Week 2, have won eight consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league…the Baltimore Ravens (14-7), who host Cleveland in Week 2, have a .667 winning percentage in home openers, the third-best mark in the AFC…the Pittsburgh Steelers, who open at home in Week 2 against Minnesota, have the most wins (49) among AFC teams in home openers…and the Detroit Lions, who begin the year by hosting Arizona, have a 52-35 (.598) record in openers at home, the third-most wins in NFL history.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 15-7 (.682) on Kickoff Weekend and his 15 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid (10-8; .556) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .500…Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis has won three consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches… Dirk Koetter (1-0) of the Buccaneers, Ben McAdo (1-0) of the Giants and Doug Pederson (1-0) of the Eagles are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend.

YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! (Apologies to Herm Edwards!)… With only 16 games per team, every game is important. It’s just that, some weeks, some games seem to be even more important!

The following is a 2017 Weeks 1-17 list of “Headline Games” but far from the only ones:

Week  1: Kansas City at New England Thursday-night Kickoff Weekend opener features meeting of 2016 playoff clubs.
Week  2: Miami at Los Angeles Chargers/Green Bay at Atlanta – Chargers return to Los Angeles and Atlanta opens Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Week  3: Baltimore at Jacksonville (London) – 2017 international slate of games kicks off at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Week  4: Chicago at Green Bay – NFL’s oldest rivalry continues on Thursday Night Football in battle of NFC North foes.
Week  5: Kansas City at Houston – Texans host Chiefs in Sunday Night Football meeting of 2016 AFC division winners.
Week  6: Indianapolis at Tennessee – Battle between two contenders from AFC South on Monday Night Football.
Week  7: Atlanta at New England – Super Bowl LI rematch on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Week  8: Minnesota at Cleveland (London) – Showdown at Twickenham Stadium is last of four games played in UK in 2017.
Week  9: Atlanta at Carolina – Past two NFL MVPs – Matt Ryan and Cam Newton – face off in NFC South battle.
Week 10: Seattle at Arizona – NFC West rivalry will be tri-cast on NBC, NFLN and Amazon Prime.
Week 11: New England at Oakland (Mexico City) – Oakland hosts New England as NFL returns to Mexico for second consecutive year.
Week 12: Minnesota at Detroit/Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas/New York Giants at Washington – Thanksgiving triple-header featuring food, family and football!
Week 13: Denver at Miami – Broncos first-year head coach Vance Joseph squares off against his former team.
Week 14: Dallas at New York Giants – Giants host Cowboys as NFC East foes square off at MetLife Stadium.
Week 15: Chicago at Detroit/Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City – Saturday double-header features two divisional matchups.
Week 16: Pittsburgh at Houston/Oakland at Philadelphia – Christmas Day doubleheader showcases three teams from 2016 playoff field.
Week 17: 16 Division Matchups Final weekend features all division games with playoff berths on the line!

KEEPING HOPE ALIVE… The 2016 season was full of excitement, but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL. Close games and great comeback victories, new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and so much more. The NFL never fails to surprise and 2016 was no different.

The 2016 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by one score – 146 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as tight contests frequently came down to the wire. In 2016, there were 72 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 70 in The Detroit Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.

The teams with the most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter in a single season in NFL history:
2016 – Detroit (8)
2009 – Indianapolis (7)
Many tied with 6

The 2017 season promises more of the same. Every enters the new year with hope.

Six teams that missed the postseason in 2015 – Atlanta (11-5) Dallas (13-3), Detroit (9-7), Miami (10-6), the New York Giants (11-5) and Oakland (12-4) – advanced to playoffs. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

MILESTONES: In the 2017 campaign, players and teams will have opportunities to set milestones on the gridiron.

PLAYER MILESTONES

Drew Brees (New Orleans) needs 290 completions to surpass Peyton Manning (6,125) for the second-most all-time. Brees needs 465 completions to surpass Brett Favre (6,300) for the all-time record. In 16 seasons, Brees has 5,836 completions. Brees has led the league in completions five times and can tie Dan Marino (six) for the all-time record.

Brees can extend his NFL record streak of consecutive seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes. Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in each of the past nine seasons and can surpass Favre (nine) and Peyton Manning (nine) to become the only quarterback to throw at least 30 touchdown passes in 10 different seasons.

Brees needs 35 touchdown passes to join Peyton Manning (539) and Favre (508) as the only players with 500 career touchdown passes. In seasons, Brees has touchdown passes.

Brees needs 3,889 passing yards to join P. Manning (71,940) and Favre (71,838) as the third quarterback with 70,000 career passing yards. In 16 seasons, Brees has 66,111 passing yards.

Brees needs f ve games with at least four touchdown passes to surpass P. Manning (35) and move into first place on the NFL’s all-time list for games with at least four touchdown passes.

Brees can become the first player to lead the league in passing yards eight times in his career. Sonny Jurgensen (five) and Dan Marino (five) are tied for the second-most such seasons in NFL history. Brees led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards in 2016.

Brees can extend his NFL-record streak of seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards. Brees has passed for at least 4,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons.

Brees has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdown passes in five seasons.

Brees can become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 40 touchdowns in three seasons. Brees has two seasons with at least 40 touchdown passes.

Tom Brady (New England) has six seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes and can join Favre (nine), Peyton Manning (nine) and Brees (nine) as the only players to pass for at least 30 touchdowns in seven seasons. Brady has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdowns in five seasons. He has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can tie Brees (five) as the only players to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

Brady has 183 regular-season wins and needs four wins to pass Peyton Manning (186) and Favre (186) for the most regular-season wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady has 51 career games with three touchdown passes and no interceptions and needs one to pass P. Manning (51) for the most such games in NFL history. Brady has passed for at least 4,000 yards eight times in his career and can join Peyton Manning (14) and Brees (11) as the only players to pass for 4,000 yards in nine seasons.

Eli Manning (New York Giants) needs 1,786 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, Manning has 48,214 passing yards, Manning needs 30 touchdown passes to become the sixth player NFL history with 350 career touchdown passes. In 13 seasons and has 320 touchdown passes.

Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 4,167 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, he has 45,833 passing yards. Rivers has 3,811 career completions and needs 189 to become the eighth player in history with at least 4,000 completions.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) needs 3,186 passing yards to become the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards. In 13 seasons, he has 46,814 passing yards. Roethlisberger can become the eighth player in NFL history with 4,000 career completions. In 13 seasons, Roethlisberger has 3,804 career completions.

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) needs three touchdown passes to become the 11th player in NFL history to reach the 300 mark. In 12 seasons, Rodgers has 297 touchdown passes. Rodgers can become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 40 touchdowns in three seasons.

Rodgers has passed for at least 40 touchdowns in two seasons. Rodgers has four seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes and can become the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 35 touchdown passes in five seasons.

Carson Palmer (Arizona) needs 15 touchdown passes to become the 11th player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes (see Rodgers note). In 13 seasons, Palmer has 285 touchdown passes.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta) has passed for at least 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons and can become the second player in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards in seven consecutive seasons, joining Brees (11)

Matthew Stafford (Detroit) has passed for at least 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons and can become the second player in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards in seven consecutive seasons, joining Brees (11).

Derek Carr (Oakland) needs 3,000 passing yards to become the sixth player in NFL history to start their career with four consecutive 3,000 yard seasons.

Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) needs 35 touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NFL history to pass for at least 85 touchdowns in his first three seasons. In two seasons, Winston has 50 touchdown passes.

Adrian Peterson (New Orleans) needs 10 rushing touchdowns to join LaDainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least nine different seasons. Peterson is currently tied with Emmitt Smith (eight).

Peterson has six 200-yard rushing games in his career. He needs one 200-yard game to surpass O.J. Simpson (six) for the most all-time.

Peterson needs three rushing touchdowns to become the ninth player in NFL history with 100 rushing touchdowns. In 10 seasons, Peterson has 97 rushing touchdowns.

Peterson needs 566 rushing yards to pass Thurman Thomas (12,074), Franco Harris (12,120), Marcus Allen (12,243), Edgerrin James (12,246), Marshall Faulk (12,279) and Jim Brown (12,312) to move into 10th all-time in rushing yards. In 10 seasons, Peterson has 11,747 rushing yards.

Frank Gore (Indianapolis) needs 1,000 rushing yards to join Curtis Martin (10), Barry Sanders (10), Walter Payton (10) and Emmitt Smith (11) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in at least 10 different seasons. In 12 seasons, Gore has rushed for 1,000 yards nine times.

Gore needs 935 rushing yards to become the fifth player in NFL history to reach 14,000 career rushing yards. In 12 seasons, Gore has 13,065 rushing yards.

Darren Sproles (Philadelphia) needs 672 all-purpose yards to move into fifth place in NFL history. In 12 seasons, Sproles has 19,011 all-purpose yards.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) needs 75 receptions to join Jerry Rice (1,549) and Tony Gonzalez (1,325) as the only players in NFL history to record 1,200 receptions. In 13 seasons, Fitzgerald has 1,125 catches.

Fitzgerald needs eight touchdown catches to pass Gonzalez (111) and Antonio Gates (111) and move into sixth place all-time. In 13 seasons, Fitzgerald has 104 touchdown receptions.

Brandon Marshall (New York Giants), needs 59 receptions to become the 15th player in NFL history with 1,000 career catches. In 11 seasons, Marshall has 941 receptions.

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) has at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons and can become the third player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons, joining A.J. Green and Randy Moss.

Jason Witten (Dallas) needs 112 receiving yards to join Gonzalez (15,127) as the only tight ends in NFL history to reach 12,000 career receiving yards. In 14 seasons, Witten has 11,888 receiving yards.

Witten needs 11 receptions to become the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 1,100 career receptions. In 14 seasons, Witten has 1,089 catches.

Antonio Gates (Los Angeles Chargers) needs one touchdown catch to pass Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most all-time by a tight end.

Rob Gronkowski (New England) has three seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and can join Gonzalez (four) and Witten four) as the only tight ends with at least four seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

Julius Peppers (Carolina) needs 6.5 sacks to become the fourth player with 150 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 15 seasons, Peppers has 143.5 sacks.

J.J. Watt (Houston) can increase his NFL record total of 20-sack seasons. In six seasons, Watt has two seasons with 20 sacks, the most since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Watt has three seasons with at least 15 sacks and can tie Reggie White (four) for the most seasons with at least 15 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Watt has led the league in sacks twice in his career and can become the first player to lead the league three times since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Elvis Dumervil (San Francisco) needs one sack to reach 100 career sacks. In 10 seasons, Dumervil has recorded 99 sacks.

Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) needs to convert 36 fi eld goals pass Morten Andersen (565) for the most made fi eld goals in NFL history. In 21 seasons, Vinatieri has converted 530 field goals. Vinatieri needs 22 points to become the third player in NFL history to record 2,400 career points. In 21 seasons, Vinatieri has 2,378 points.

Stephen Gostkowski (New England) has led the league in scoring fi ve times in his career and can surpass Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only player to lead the league in points scored six times.

Gostkowski has led the league in field goals three times in his career and can join Lou Groza (five), Ward Cuff (four) and Jack Manders (four) as the only player to lead the league in field goals at least four times.

With 30 field goals, Gostkowski will join David Akers (five) and John Carney (five) as the only players in NFL history with five seasons of 30 or more field goals.

Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland) needs 100 points to become the 12th NFL player with 11 career seasons scoring at least 100 points.

Janikowski needs 23 made field goals to move into eighth on the NFL’s all-time made field goals list.

Matt Prater (Detroit) needs four field goals of at least 50 yards to climb into the top five of converted 50-yard field goals in NFL history. In 10 seasons, Prater has 36 field goals of at least 50 yards.

TEAM MILESTONES

New England needs one Super Bowl victory to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers (six) for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history.

The Patriots have recorded a winning record in 16 consecutive seasons (2001-16) and can surpass San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) for the most consecutive seasons with a .500 or better record since the 1970 merger.

New England has qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons (2009-16), tied with Green Bay (2009-16), Pittsburgh (1972-79), the Los Angeles Rams (1973-80), Dallas (1966-73) and San Francisco (1983-90). With a playoff berth, New England would tie Dallas (1975-83) and Indianapolis (2002-10) for the most consecutive playoff appearances (nine) in NFL history.

Dallas needs seven wins to reach 500 regular-season victories. Dallas’ all-time regular-season record is 493-367-6.

Denver needs 12 victories to reach 500 total victories. Denver’s all-time record is 488-412-10.

Baltimore needs four victories to reach 200 total victories. Baltimore’s all-time record is 196-162-1.

Many NFL owners will be celebrating notable milestones in 2017, including Arizona’s William V. Bidwill, whose family has reached the 85th anniversary of when his father, Charles V. Bidwill, purchased the team when the franchise was located in Chicago.

Here are some of the notable owner milestones for 2017:

FRANCHISE – OWNER (RELATIONSHIP; YEAR ACQUIRED – MILESTONE)
Arizona Cardinals – William V. Bidwill (Son of Charles W. Bidwill; 1932 – 85th Anniversary)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Arthur J. Rooney II (Grandson of Art Rooney; 1933 – 85th Season)
Cincinnati Bengals – Mike Brown (Son of Paul Brown; 1967 – 50th Anniversary)
Indianapolis Colts – James Irsay (Son of Robert Irsay; 1972, 45th Anniversary)
San Francisco 49ers – Denise DeBartolo York (Daughter of Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr.; 1977 – 40th Anniversary)
Carolina Panthers – Jerry Richardson (1993 – 25th Season)
Seattle Seahawks – Paul Allen (1997 – 20th Anniversary)
Atlanta Falcons – Arthur M. Blank (2002 – 15th Anniversary)
Miami Dolphins – Stephen M. Ross (2008 – 10th Season)
Cleveland Browns – Jimmy Haslam (2012 – 5th Anniversary)

There are also going to be some celebrations of anniversaries of events that took place on the field over the last half century.

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
125th – William “Pudge” Heffelfinger becomes the first professional football player (1892).
120th – The Latrobe Athletic Association football team becomes the first team to play a full season with only professional players (1897).
115th – A precursor to what would eventually become the Super Bowl called the World Series of Pro Football is played for the first time (1902).
95th – The American Professional Football Association changes its name to the National Football League (1922).
85th – The Washington Redskins franchise plays its first season. The team is founded in Boston and is called the Braves (1932).
85th – Official statistics are kept for the first time (1932).
85th – On December 18, 1932, the NFL has its first playoff game and first indoor game. Chicago’s Wrigley Field is scheduled to host the game but a blizzard makes it impossible to play and the game is moved indoors to Chicago Stadium.
85th Season – The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise plays its first season. The team is called the Pirates (1933). The Philadelphia Eagles franchise plays its first season (1933).
65th – The Pittsburgh Steelers are the last pro team to abandon the single-wing in favor of the T-formation (1952).
55th – The NFL reaches a single-network agreement with CBS for telecasting all regular season games for $4.65 million annually (1962).
55th Season – The Pro Football Hall of Fame is established (1963).
55th Season – The Chiefs franchise moves to Kansas City (1963).
50th – The Green Bay Packers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the coldest NFL game on record: the 1967 NFL Championship dubbed forevermore as the “Ice Bowl.”
50th – On August 15, 1967, Denver defeats Detroit in a preseason game, 13-7, to notch the AFL’s fi rst win over an NFL team.
45th – The Miami Dolphins complete the NFL’s only perfect championship season (1972).
45th – The “Immaculate Reception” touchdown was scored in an AFC Divisional playoff game by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris on December 23, 1972.
45th – The inbounds lines are moved closer to the center of the field so that they are 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines (1972).
30th – The first two NFL games on ESPN produce the two highest-rated and most-watched sports programs in basic cable history (1987).
15th – The NFL kicks off the season on Thursday night for the first time in history (2002).
15th – The Houston Texans franchise is founded (2002).
10th – The first regular season game is played in London, as the New York Giants defeat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 at Wembley Stadium (2007).
10th – The New England Patriots become the first team to complete a perfect regular season since the league expanded to a 16-game season (2007).

Seven divisional rematches grace the Sunday and Monday part of week one’s schedule. Week one got underway in Foxboro and ends in Denver as the Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers in the second game of a Monday night twin-bill.

The NFL returns this week and it’s time to get back to football. That means the next five months will be packed with the sizzle and suspense that comes only with the National Football League and will culminate with Super Bowl LII, which will be played on Sunday, February 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota.

America’s favorite sport roared back into action Thursday night in the first game of NFL Kickoff 2017 Weekend. The opener featured Super Bowl champion New England hosting Kansas City.

Everybody is ready for the unique unpredictability of the NFL. And every team enters the new season with hope.

Last year, 146 games (57.0 percent) were decided by one score (eight points or fewer), the most of any season in NFL history. And there were six new playoff teams in 2016: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, the New York Giants and Oakland. 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 2017 season promises more of the same. As the season begins, it comes packed with changes, quests and questions:

•CAN THE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION PATRIOTS REPEAT?: It’s tough, having happened only eight times since the first Super Bowl in 1967. The last team to accomplish the feat was New England in 2004 (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX).

•MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: New Orleans QB Drew Brees (66,111) needs 3,889 passing yards to become the third QB in NFL history with 70,000. Brees (465) needs 35 touchdown passes to become the third player ever to reach 500…New England QB Tom Brady (183) needs four wins for the most victories by a starting QB…

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (48,214), Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (46,814) and Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers (45,833) can each reach 50,000 career passing yards… New Orleans RB Adrian Peterson can become the second player in NFL history to rush for 10+ TDs in nine seasons…

Indianapolis RB FRANK GORE can become the fifth player all-time to rush for 1,000+ yards in 10 seasons…Arizona WR LARRY FITZGERALD (1,125) can become the third player in NFL history to record 1,200 receptions…Carolina DE JULIUS PEPPERS (143.5) needs 6.5 sacks to become the fifth player with 150…and Indianapolis K ADAM VINATIERI (530) needs 36 field goals for the most in NFL history.

•NEW COACHES/PLAYERS IN NEW PLACES: There are six new head coaches hired to lead their teams in 2017 – Vance Joseph in Denver, ANTHONY LYNN with the Los Angeles Chargers, DOUG MARRONE in Jacksonville, Sean McDermott in Buffalo, Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

And there are a lot of well-known players with new teams, including RBs Le Garrette Blount (Philadelphia), Jamaal Charles (Denver), Eddie Lacy (Seattle), Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) and Adrian Peterson (New Orleans); WRs Brandin Cooks (New England), DE Sean Jackson (Tampa Bay), Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia), Brandon Marshall (New York Giants) and Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams); TE Martellus Bennett (Green Bay); and defenders CB A.J. Bouye (Jacksonville), DE Calais Campbell (Jacksonville), CB Stephon Gilmore (New England), CB Joe Haden (Pittsburgh), S Tony Jefferson (Baltimore), DE Julius Peppers (Carolina), DL Sheldon Richardson (Seattle) and S T.J. Ward (Tampa Bay).

•ON-THE-FIELD TRENDS IN 2016: Close games and comeback victories…new teams making the playoffs…consistent teams excelling again…records falling…young players making their mark…and QBs performing at record levels.

In 2016, 135 games (52.7 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the most in NFL history…There were 184 games (71.9 percent) within one score in the fourth quarter, the most ever… There were 72 comeback victories by a team trailing in the fourth quarter, the most in NFL history… The margin of victory was 10.23 points per game, the lowest figure since 1935 (10.08)…A total of 11,661 points and 1,306 touchdowns were scored, both the third-most ever in a season… Games averaged 700.8 total net yards, the second-best mark in NFL history… The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record (2015) and the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second in league annals (90.2 in 2015). The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent was the lowest in NFL history.

•NEW RULES: With player health and safety remaining a priority, here are some of the key rules changes for 2017:

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Makes permanent the rule that automatically disqualifies a player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. These types of fouls include:

Throwing a punch or kick without making contact

Use of abusive or threatening language

Any act that constitutes taunting

Also, it is now an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

Replay Reviews: All sideline replay monitors will be replaced with a hand-held device and designated members of the NFL Officiating department will be authorized to make the final decision on replay reviews from the NFL league office.

Leaping: Prohibits a player who is off the line of scrimmage from running and jumping over offensive lineman on the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a FG or PAT attempt.

Touchbacks: For the 2017 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line. The rule, which was also used in 2016, was approved on a one-year basis for 2017.

Crackback Blocks: Prohibits crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

Defenseless Receiver Protection: Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection when the defender approaches him from behind or the side.

Overtime: The length of preseason and regular season overtime periods is reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.

Clock Stoppages: All illegal acts to conserve time are not permitted after the two-minute warning of either half. The previous rule applied inside of one minute of either half.

Additionally, after conversations with more than 80 current and former players, Commissioner Goodell announced in May that the league will relax its rules on touchdown celebrations to allow players more room to express themselves.

The 2017 season will also start with a postponement in Miami as the Dolphins home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium, will not be played in Miami on Sunday, the NFL announced Tuesday. In a statement from the league office, in the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate. Both clubs have a BYE week on November 16th (week 11) and will meet in Miami for that contest.

Now normally, we’d select a game and call that contest “DRILL WORTHY.” Since you’ve been so patient with waiting for the draft and the release of the regular season and pre-season schedules, we figure that we would make every game on the Sunday and Monday docket “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 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach 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, we were 183-83 as far as picks go. That’s not bad. It would have been better if we had all of our picks right… but then again, that would be boring. Having said that, here are Sunday and Monday’s picks for week 1.

ATLANTA (11-5) at Chicago (3-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s chicken and waffles vs. deep dish pizza as the defending NFC champs travel to the Windy City for their season opener with Chicago at Soldier Field.

The Falcons made it all the way to Super Bowl LI before letting a 21-point lead against New England get away from them in Houston get away from them, allowing New England to tie things up in regulation, then falling to the Pats 34-28 in overtime. Atlanta ruled the roost in the NFC South, losing just one contest in that division and the Falcons easily outrushed their opponents 1,928-1,672, while MVP QB Matt Ryan threw for 4,944 yards and 38 TDs (6 of them to All Pro WR Julio Jones) with only seven interceptions. Chicago finished last in the NFC North and would like to change that and unseat Green Bay as king of the NFC North mountain. The Monsters of the Midway closed out the 2016 campaign losing their last four in a row.

Da Bears lead the series 14-12, have outscored Atlanta 498-447 and have won the last two meetings in the series, with Chicago coming away 27-13 winners in 2014 in the Big Peach. Atlanta’s last win over Chicago also came in the Peach State, as the Falcons would take Da Bears to task by a final of 21-14 in 2009. Atlanta’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. Chicago’s better than their 3-13 record but they’re playing the defending NFC champs. Atlanta wins in the Windy City and covers the 6 1/2.

New York Jets (5-11) at Buffalo (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New York as GangGreen travels to the shores of Lake Erie for a contest with the Bills. It’s also the debut of Sean McDermott as he roams the sidelines for the Bills. Both clubs are looking to forget their somewhat dismal seasons in the AFC East, as they look to unseat New England as leaders of that division.

Bill starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was not a lock to play in the team’s season opener Sunday against the New York Jets. According to head coach Sean McDermott, Taylor is still making his way through the concussion protocol.

“I think he’s getting better, but he’s still in the concussion protocol,” McDermott told USA Today. It should be noted that a player in the concussion protocol can still practice as part of the Return-to-Participation process.

League guidelines state that a player may be considered to return to practice only after the player has returned to baseline status with rest and exertion, has repeat neurophysiological testing, which is interpreted by the team neuropsychology consultant as back to baseline levels of functioning, and has completed the Return to Participation protocol. He also must be cleared by the Team Physician and the Independent Neurological Consultant. With it being so early in the week, McDermott has not set a drop dead date to turn to backup QB Nate Peterman as the starter for this week’s game.

“With any starter it gets to the point in the week where you have to say, ‘Hey we’re going to have to go one way or another,’” McDermott said. “We’ll cross that road when we come to it.” Third-string QB T.J. Yates is also still in the concussion protocol, which is what prompted the signing of QB Joe Webb.

The Bills lead the series 59-53 and have outscored GangGreen 2,330-2,296 (including contests that were played when the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were known as the Titans and played their home games at Shea Stadium) The two AFC East rivals met last year and it was GangGreen taking the series in contests in upstate New York and New Jersey.

Round 1 – Week two in upstate New York on a Thursday night. The Jets, then led by Rex Ryan, led Buffalo 20-10 at the half in Orchard Park and then held off the Bills 37-31. New York outrushed Buffalo 123-86, with Jets RB Matt Forte leading all rushers with 100 yards in the contest. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 374 yards passing (24 of 34) outpaced Tyrod Taylor, who threw for 297 yards and three TDs. The Jets on third down tries in the first meeting went 8 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 39:12, while the Bills, who were 3 of 10 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, kept the pigskin for 20:48.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! completed the sweep of the series in the Meadowlands in week 17, taking a 30-10 win in a game that meant nothing for either club, since both were long out of the playoff picture. GangGreen led 10-3 at the half after a scoreless first quarter and proceeded to pull away from the Bills. New York outrushed Buffalo 127-68 and Fitzpatrick threw for 210 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jets RB Bilal Powell ran for 122 yards. Neither club did anything to write home about on third or fourth downs in the season finale (Buffalo was 6 of 16 and 0 of 1, while the Jets were 4 of 13 and 0 of 2) but as was the case in the first meeting, the Jets ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:27, while Buffalo held it for 28:33.

In the week two contest in the Meadowlands, GangGreen was favored by 1 and the over/under was 40. New York won by 6, covering the spread and both clubs combined for 68 points, covering the over/under. Buffalo’s favored by 8 1/2 and the over/under’s 40. While these teams were somewhat bad last year, this one may be worth your time and energy. GangGreen makes this one interesting but the Bills prevail in upstate New York

Baltimore (8-8) at Cincinnati (6-9-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. It’s a pair of AFC North rivals meeting along the shores of the Ohio River as the Ravens travel to the Queen City. The Ravens took Pittsburgh to the edge in a Winner-take-all contest in the Steel City to determine the champion for that division before falling to the Steelers on Christmas night, while the Bengals, who will be without the services of LB Vontaze Burfict (suspension) are looking to get back to the playoffs.

There have been 42 games played between these two teams and the series is even 21-21 and Baltimore has outscored Cincy 895-  783. Both teams split last season’s contests, each taking wins at home.

The first meeting took place in Charm City in week 12 and the Ravens led 16-3 at the half, holding off the Bengals to come away 19-14 winners at M&T Bank Stadium. Neither club ran for 100 yards in that first meeting but the Ravens managed to outrush Cincy 92-64 in the win. Flacco threw for 234, while Dalton threw for 283 (each had a TD pass in the contest and both men combined to be sacked five times; Flacco was sacked twice, Dalton sacked three times). Both clubs were a dismal 5 of 16 on third down tries, while the Bengals, who turned the ball over twice, went 1 of 1 on fourth down tries (Baltimore was 1 of 2). Time was the ally of the victorious Ravens, who held the pigskin for 31:17, while the Bengals held the ball for 28:43.

The second meeting was along the shores of the Ohio River in week 17 to close out the season and with neither team going to the post-season dance, it was a win for the Bengals, who took care of the Ravens 27-10 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 20-3 at the half and never looked back, outrushing Baltimore 153-72 (Cincy’s Rex Burkhead led all rushers with 119 yards and a pair of TDs). In the season finale, Dalton threw for 226 yards for the home team, while Flacco threw for 267 yards and three sacks. The Ravens were much better on third down in the second meeting, going 8 of 16 (1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:18. The Bengals struggled on third down at 1 of 8 but managed to rule the clock and kept the ball for 30:42.

Baltimore covered the 4 1/2 spread in the week 12 contest but neither club covered the 40 1/2 over/under, scoring only 31 ponits. The Bengals covered the 2 1/2 spread in the finale but as was the case in the first meeting, the over/under of 41 1/2 was safe with both clubs combining for a whopping 37 points. Cincy’s a 3-point favoring in this one and the over/under’s 42. Both numbers make sense. Cincinnati may not cover the 3 but they take the win at home.

Pittsburgh (11-5) at Cleveland (1-15), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of teams that went in opposite directions meet along the shores of Lake Erie as Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh made it all the way to the AFC championship game before falling to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, seeing their Super Bowl hopes die at Gillette Stadium. For the Browns, it’s a chance to right their ship, as they struggled in the AFC North, taking their lone win at home on Christmas Eve.

Pittsburgh leads the series 70-58, have outscored Cleveland 2,617-2,459 and the Steelers have won the last four meetings, including taking wins last year, along the shores of Lake Erie in week 11 and in the Steel City in week 17. (Cleveland’s last win over Pittsburgh came in 2014, when they were 31-10 winners along the shores of Lake Erie.)

In the first meeting (week 11) in Cleveland, the Steelers led the Browns 14-0 at the half and never look back, coming away 24-9 winners in the Buckeye State. LeVeon Bell accounted for all 146 of Pittsburgh’s rushing yards, while the Browns were held to 33 in that first meeting. Neither club did much to talk about in the first meeting on third down (Pittsburgh was 5 of 12, Cleveland was 4 of 15) but both clubs did strike paydirt on fourth down (Pittsburgh 1 of 1, Cleveland 5 of 6) and the Steelers ruled the clock in the first contest, holding the ball for 33:58 to Cleveland’s 26:02.

The defending AFC North champs completed the series sweep in front of the home folks at Heinz Field in week 17, taking a 27-24 overtime win in the Keystone State. Pittsburgh led 21-14 with 3:28 left in regulation when the Browns’ Greg Atkinson scored on a 5 yard run. In the overtime, the Browns took the lead when K Chris Parkey connected on a 34-yard field goal with 7:17 left in the extra period. Pittsburgh, needing to either tie the contest or take the win, chose to take the win at home and they did. Landry Jones, taking over for Roethlisberger, engineered a 9-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:20 of clock and ended when Jones (277 yards, three TDs) and WR Chris Hamilton connected on a 26-yard TD strike with 2:57 left in overtime. The Steeler rushing game went missing as if they were on a milk carton, tallying only 69 yards, while the Browns’ Isiah Crowell ran amok, tallying 152 of his team’s 231 yards in the contest. Cleveland on third down? 8 of 15 and the Browns held the ball for 38:54, while Pittsburgh went 3 of 14 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and the Steelers held on to the pigskin for 33:09.

The Steelers covered the 9-point spread in the first meeting, winning by 15 but neither club covered the 49 over/under, tallying only 33 points. The second meeting, Pittsburgh failed to cover the 7-point spread with their 3-point win but Cleveland and Pittsburgh scored 51 points, allowing them to cover the 44 over/under. The Steelers are a 9 1/2-point favorite on the road and the over/under’s 46 1/2. If you’re a Steelers’ fan, watch this one. On the other hand, if you’re a Browns fan, you might want to consider watching that “Bar Rescue” marathon on “Spike” (there’s nothing better than seeing Jon Tapper blow a fuse!). Steelers cover the 9 1/2 and win in Cleveland.

Arizona (7-8-1) at Detroit (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Arizona leaves the desert and heads to Detroit for a meeting at Ford Field with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. For Arizona, they would love to take Seattle to task and win the NFC West, while the Lions look to go back to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since they did the feat in the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

The Lions lead the series 31-28-5, which includes contests that took place when the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans and the Cardinals called the Windy City home before moving to St. Louis and Arizona. Detroit has outscored Arizona in the series 1,147-1,062. However… the Desert Angry Birds have won the last seven meetings in the series, with Arizona coming away 42-17 winners in the Motor City in 2015, while Detroit’s last win came in 2005 (also in Detroit) by a final of 29-21.  Arizona’s favored by 2 in the Motor City and the over/under is 48. Lions roar over the Desert Angry Birds in the Motor City and covers the 2.

Jacksonville (3-13) at Houston (9-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. They’re separated by 871 miles and they’re both in the same division. The Jaguars, who lost 10 of their last 11 games in 2016, will have a familiar face at the helm as Doug Marrone takes the interim title off and takes over as the team’s fifth head coach in their history. As for the Texans, while they were the defending AFC South champs, they have bigger things to deal with, such as helping their community recover from Hurricane Harvey last August. Houston and J.J. Watt took Oakland to task in the first round of the AFC playoffs at home before traveling to Foxboro and losing to New England in the divisional round.

Houston holds a 19-11 lead in the series along I-10, they’ve outscored Jacksonville 693-594 and have won the last six contests, including sweeping last year’s games. Both contests were close, both were single-digit wins and the Texans were on the good end of those games, taking wins in the Sunshine State and Lone Star State. (Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in the 2013 campaign, when they swept the Texans, with their last win coming in the Sunshine State by a final of 27-20).

Contest number one… week 10 at EverBank Field. Houston led 14-10 at the half and then held off the Jaguars in the second half for a 24-21 win. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 181-80 in the three-point win in the Sunshine State and that was a good thing, because Bortles out-passed Osweiller 265-96 (each threw a pair of TDs).  Jacksonville was 10 of 17 on third down tries in the loss at home and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Texans, who held on to the ball for 27:50, went 7 of 15 on third down tries (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Contest number two… week 15 in Houston at NRG Stadium. Jacksonville actually led 20-11 after 45 minutes of play before the Texans rallied in the final 15 minutes of the contest, coming away 21-20 winners. Trailing 13-5 at the break, Houston outscored Jacksonville 16-7 in the second half to take the 1-point win. Neither club shattered the 100-yard barrier in the first meeting (Jacksonville tallied 67, while the Texans mustered 79) and Houston’s Tom Savage took over for Osweiller, throwing for 260 yards, while Bortles tallied 92. As far as third down tries in the first meeting? Jacksonville was 3 of 13, Houston was 4 of 14 (both were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Texans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:42, while Jacksonville kept it for 23:18.

In the week 10 contest in the Lone Star State, the Texans were favored by 1 1/2 and would come away with the 3-point win to cover the spread. Both clubs did well in covering the 42 1/2 over/under, scoring 45. In the week 15 meeting in north Florida, the Texans were favored by 6 but won by a single point. That was the bad news. The good news? Both Jacksonville and Houston covered the 39 over/under with their 41 combined points. Houston’s favored by 5 and the over/under is 39 1/2. Jacksonville gave the Texans a scare in both meetings last year and they could very well do the same. Houston will play inspired football after their city was hit by Harvey two weeks. Texans cover the 5 and win at home.

Oakland (12-4) at Tennessee (9-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of up and coming quarterbacks meet in the Music City as the Silver and Black come east to square off against the Tennessee Titans. For the Raiders and David Carr, who will call Oakland home for the last time before heading to Las Vegas, while they watched Kansas City win the AFC West, they did managed to get into post-season play as a Wild Card team, losing to J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans 27-14 in the Lone Star State. As for Tennessee and Marcus Marriota, although they failed to make the post-season and finish at the .500 mark after going 2-14 the season before, Tennessee was a much improved ball club, which made Titans fans happy.

Including games played in Houston, when the Titans were known as the Oilers and the Raiders called Los Angeles home, the Silver and Black lead the series 25-20 but the Titans have outscored Oakland 1,050-1,010.

The Silver and Black and the Titans met in week three in the Music City last year and the Raiders were 17-10 winners in that affair. Oakland took a 17-3 lead with them to the half and then held off the Titans in the second half for the 7-point win. Tennessee outrushed Oakland 181-123 with Titans RB DeMarco Murray (TD) accounting for 114 of those yards. Mariota threw for 214 yards and a pair of interceptions, while Carr threw for 249 with a TD and an interception (each man was sacked in the contest). The Titans were 2 of 12 on third down conversions and 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:57 at Nissan Stadium, while the Raider were 5 of 13 and held on to the pigskin for 29:03. Tennessee won by 7, covering the 1 1/2 spread and the 47 over/under was safe as the Silver and Black and the Titans could only muster 27 points. Tennessee’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. The 50 1/2 is a bit high. The 2 1/2 makes sense. Tennessee covers the 2 1/2 and wins in the Music City.

Philadelphia (7-9) at Washington (8-7-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. They meet again in the nation’s capital. A pair of NFC East rivals with a lot of history under their belts meet in Landover as the Redskins host Philadelphia at Fed Ex Field. Both clubs are looking to rule the NFC East and take out Dallas in the process. Philly lost five in a row in mid-season before beating the playoff-bound New York Giants and Dallas to close out the campaign. After winning the NFC East two seasons ago, Washington came back to Earth last year and missed the post-season party, falling to their 8-7-1 mark.

The Redskins lead the series with their NFC East rival 85-73-5… but the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,402-3,254.  Washington has won five of the last six meetings and swept the series with the Eagles in the 2016 campaign, taking wins at Landover and Philadelphia in weeks 6 and 14. (Philly’s last win in the series came in the City of Brotherly Love in 2014 by a final of 37-34.

Contest number one… Landover in week 6. Washington led 21-14 at the break at FedEx Field, then held off their NFC East rivals to come away 27-20 winners. While they sacked Wentz twice in the contest, the Redskins also outrushed Philly 230-94 and ‘Skins RB Matt Jones led the way with 135 yards and a TD (Cousins threw for 263 yards with a pair of TDs). Washington was 7 of 13 on third down conversions in northern Maryland and held the ball for 34:13, while Philly kept the ball for 25:47, going 4 of 12 on third down.

Game two… the City of Brotherly Love… week 14. The Redskins completed the series sweep, erasing a 13-7 deficit at the break to take a 27-22 win. Washington took the lead for keeps in the final two minutes of play when RB Chris Thompson scored on a 25-yard run with 1:56 left in regulation. As was the case in the first contest, Washington outrushed Philly 107-95 and Cousins threw for 234 yards and a pair of TDs, while Wentz threw for 314 yards and a TD (Wentz was sacked four times, Cousins was sacked twice). The Eagles were 9 of 18 on third down tries at Lincoln Financial Field (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:38, while the ‘Skins were 2 of 7 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding on to the ball for 23:22. Philly was favored by 2 in the first contest in Landover and the ‘Skins covered with their 7-point win at home and both teams covered the 45 over/under with 47 points. In the second meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were again the favorite and the spread that day was 1 point, the over/under was 46 1/2 and Washington covered the spread, winning by 5 and the over/under was covered that day with 49 points. Although they’re the road team, the Eagles are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. Philly’s trying to stop a team that’s given them fits. The Redskins? They want to stay the course. Washington fans will be singing “Hail to the Redskins” this week. Washington covers the 1 1/2 and wins in Landover.

Indianapolis (8-8) at Los Angeles Rams (4-12), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of teams looking for a chance to right their ships meet in Tinseltown as Chuck Pagano’s Colts travel to Los Angeles for a late afternoon (Eastern time) contest with the Rams. Indy finished 8-8 for the second straight season and still will not have the services of Andrew Luck (broken leg) and need to improve if Pagano wants to stay as head coach. As for the Rams, they have a new man on the sidelines as they hired Sean McVay to take over for a Los Angeles team that lost their last seven contests in 2016 and was outscored 221-75 in those games.

Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard announced Monday that the team’s starting quarterback will not suit up for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, adding that “no timetable” exists for Luck’s return.

The decision comes as no great surprise to Colts fans. Still on the mend from offseason shoulder surgery, Luck has been a ghost all summer, missing all of training camp and the entire preseason. Colts owner Jim Irsay prefaced the confirmation by saying that “the odds are most likely he (Luck) probably won’t open up against the Rams.”

In his place, backup Scott Tolzien will make the start against Los Angeles, an ominous scenario after the overwhelmed quarterback struggled mightily from wire-to-wire during the preseason. The team also acquired quarterback Jacoby Brissett from New England in exchange for wide-out Phillip Dorsett but Ballard weighed in Monday, saying: “It’s Tolzien’s job [for now], because Brissett has to get up to speed.”

Including contests that were played when the Rams were in Los Angeles and then St. Louis and the Colts were in Baltimore, the Colts lead the series 23-18-2 but the Rams have outscored the Colts 950-936. Their last meeting took place in the Hoosier State in 2013, when the Rams came away 38-8 winners. Indy’s last win over the Rams came in 2009 when they played in St. Louis and Peyton Manning was under center, with the Colts coming away 42-6 winners. The Rams are favored by 4 1/2 on the West Coast and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Even with no Andrew Luck under center, Indy takes this one on the road, although the Rams make this one closer than 4 1/2.

Seattle (10-5-1) at Green Bay (10-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Wilson. Rodgers. Two QBs with Super Bowl rings meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Seattle travels to Green Bay for a late afternoon meeting at Lambeau. Both teams won their respective divisions, allowing them to advance to the post-season, where they would eventually meet Atlanta and both lost in the Peach State (Seattle losing 36-20 in the NFC divisional playoffs, Green Bay losing in the NFC Championship game 44-21). Although they went 3-3 in their last six games, the Seahawks did manage to take the top spot in the NFC West over Arizona and took Detroit to task in the first round of the playoffs in the Pacific Northwest before losing at Atlanta in the Divisional Round. Green Bay won their last six regular season contests, taking Eli Manning and the New York Giants in the Wild Card round at Lambeau, then won in Dallas in the Divisional round in the final seconds before losing a chance to take on Brady and the Pats as they were manhandled by Atlanta in the Big Peach.

Green Bay leads the series 10-7, have outscored Seattle 445-351 and have won the last two meetings, including last year’s affair at Lambeau Field (Seattle’s last win in the series came in 2014 in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, coming away 36-16 winners).

The Seahawks and Packers met in week 14 in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and Green Bay were 38-10 victors at Lambeau. Rodgers and Jordy Nelson connected for a pair of TDs in the win on the Frozen Tundra and the Packers were never really threatened, leading 21-3 at the half. Seattle did outrush Green Bay 136-93 but Rodgers threw for 246 yards and three TDs, outpacing Russell Wilson, who tallied 240 yards, while being sacked three times and picked off five. Green Bay, who took advantage of six Seattle turnovers, was 4 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:10, while Seattle held on to the ball for 31:50 (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down). Green Bay took the 28-point win in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst (they were favored by 3) and the 46 over/under was taken care of, as both clubs scored 48 points. Green Bay’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 51. A pair of playoff teams last year meeting in upstate Wisconsin could very well be a preview for the post-season and this one could go into overtime. Seattle will make things tough for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers but Green Bay prevails at home in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst, although they won’t cover the 3.

Carolina (6-10) at San Francisco (2-14), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers travel to northern California for a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara. After making it to Super Bowl 50 on the same field and losing to Denver, the Panthers struggled in the 2016 campaign, finishing last in the NFC South behind Atlanta. Meanwhile, losing 13 in a row and finishing in last in the NFC West, the 49ers hired Kyle Shannahan away from Atlanta to right their ship on the West Coast.

Carolina leads the series 12-7, outscoring San Francisco 494-423 and won the last five regular season meetings, including last year’s contest in Charlotte (San Francisco’s last win in the series came in 2001, when they came away 25-22 overtime winners in Charlotte (they swept the series last year when both team were in the NFC West).

Newton and the Panthers met San Francisco last year in the Tar Heel State and Carolina came away with the 46-27 win at Bank of America Stadium in week two. Leading 17-10 at the half, Carolina proceeded to floor the gas and outscore the 49ers 29-17 in the final =30 minutes of action. Carolina easily outrushed San Francisco 176-65, with Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker running for 100 yards and Newton throwing for 353 yards and four TDs (San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert threw for 243 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked twice and picked off twice). Carolina was 7 of 15 on third down tries in the lopsided win, while the 49ers were 4 of 12 and 0 for 1 on third and fourth down conversions. Carolina also ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 35:54, while the 49ers kept it for 24:06.

New York Giants (11-5) at Dallas (13-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of NFC East foes meet in the Lone Star State in the first Sunday night game of the 2017 season as Eli Manning and the New York Giants travel to Arlington to meet Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry World.

Both teams were found themselves in the post-season and both suffered opening losses to Green Bay. The Giants found themselves on the short end of a 38-13 loss to the Packers at Lambeau in the Wild Card round and then Dallas fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Pack at home in the Divisional Round, losing a heart-breaker in Arlington by a 34-31 final.

For the Cowboys, it is off-field distractions that have had the team in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Elliot, who rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 TDs last year, found himself in the ire of commissioner Roger Goodell, who wanted to suspend the star for 10 games for domestic violence. Elliot, along with the NFLPA, appealed the decision and the NFLPA also got the legal system involved as well, petitioning to a federal court to stop any suspension. Meanwhile, the arbitrator that was hearing the case ruled that the six-game suspension would stand. That was the bad news. The good news? Because the ruling came late, Elliot would be allowed to play on Sunday night and he is slated to do so.

Including contests that took place at Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, Dallas leads the series 62-45-2 and have outscored the Giants 2,449-2,119. Although the Cowboys won the NFC East, the Giants managed to sweep the series, taking wins along the Jersey shore and in the Lone Star State and have won three of the last four meetings in the series (Dallas’ last win in the series came in 2015, when they took a 27-26 win in the Lone Star State).

The first meeting took place in Arlington to open the 2016 campaign and a Dallas rally in the final minutes of action fell short as the Giants came away 20-19 winners. Dallas trailed 13-9 at the half and actually led 19-13 with 13:59 left in regulation before Manning and WR Victor Cruz took the lead back on a 3 yard TD pass with 6:13 left. Big Blue outrushed Dallas 113-101 in the season opener, while Prescott (227) outpaced Manning (207 yards, 3 TDs) as Dallas got as far as their 46-yard line when WR Terrance Williams caught a Prescott pass but failed to get out of bounds and the clock ran out. Both teams did well on third down tries (New York was 5 of 10, Dallas was 10 of 17) and the Cowboys ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 36:43 to New York’s 23:17.

That was game one.

Game two… the Meadowlands in week 14 and as was the case in the first meeting, the second meeting was close. For Cowboy fans, the result was the same as the Giants were 10-7 winners. Dallas led 7-0 at the half at Met Life Stadium before the Giants shut out Dallas in the second half, scoring all their points in the third quarter. This time, Manning and WR Odell Beckham Jr. connected on a 61 yard TD strike (New York’s first points came on a 39-yard field goal by Robbie Gould) to take the lead for keeps. This time, it was Dallas that would outrush New York 108-93 (Ezikel Elliot led all rushers with 107 yards) and Manning threw for 193 yards and the lone TD, while Prescott threw for 165 with a pair of interceptions (both were sacked three times). As well as they did on third down tries in the first meeting, such was not the case in the rematch, with neither team breaking the 50 percent mark (Dallas was 1 of 15, while the Giants were 2 of 14) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down (Dallas was 1 of 2, New York was 2 of 2). Time was the ally of New York, as the Giants kept the ball for 30:52 to Dallas’ 29:08.

New York covered the 1-point spread in the first meeting in Arlington and the two teams combined for 39 points, missing the 46 over/under. In the second contest, the Giants won by three in the Meadowlands, Dallas was favored by 3 and the Giants won by that margin, covering the spread. As for the over/under of 47 1/2? Neither club came close, scoring only a somewhat dismal 17 points.

Dallas is favored by 4 1/2 in the Sunday night matchup and the over/under’s 48. This could be one of the better Sunday night games. Dak gets revenge on Eli. Dallas covers the 4 1/2 and wins in the Lone Star State.

New Orleans (7-9) at Minnesota (8-8), 7:10 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The first of two Monday night games take place in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Vikings host the Saints at US Bank Stadium. The Vikings will see a familiar face in a different uniform, as Adrian Peterson returns as a Saint. Peterson, who played for Minnesota for 10 seasons, rushed for only 8 yards all last year before sitting out with an injury, moved on to the Big Easy when he was not resigned by his old club. New Orleans in their last seven games actually played decent but not great football, going 3-4 in those that contests and found themselves behind Atlanta in the NFC South. The Vikings managed to stay close to Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC Central as they won their first five contests before stumbling in divisional play the rest of the season.

Minnesota leads the series 18-10 and have outscored the Saints 703-512. New Orleans has won the last three regular season meetings in the series, with their last win coming in 2013 in the Big Easy by a final of 20-9. Minnesota’s last win over the Saints also came on the bayou, with the Purple Gang taking a 30-27 win in 2008. Both teams are below the .500 mark on Monday night (Minnesota is 27-31, while the Saints are 18-21; Minnesota was 1-1 last year, while the Saints lost their only meeting in the 2016 campaign).

Minnesota’s favored by 3 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under’s 48. It’s the first Monday night game of the 2017 season and it

Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) at Denver (9-7), 10:20 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of AFC West rivals that aren’t exactly crazy about each other meet in the Mile High City as Denver hosts the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes. You read that correctly. The Chargers have moved on to bigger and better pastures.

The Chargers missed the post-season party again, losing their last five contests and forcing Charger ownership to make two changes. One was on the sidelines. Mike McCoy? Out as head coach and they hire Anthony Lynn as the team’s 16th head coach in the club’s history. The second change? They waved farewell to San Diego after 56 years in southern California, loaded up their trucks and moved to Beverly (Hills, that is… swimming pools, movie stars) and Los Angeles. They’ll call Stub Hub Center home while a new stadium will be built for them and the Rams.

Denver fell from Super Bowl champs to bust last season, winning their first four contests before falling to eventual NFC champ Atlanta at home in week five. The Broncos managed to right their ship but failed to make the post season. Denver also got some much needed help under center when they signed QB Brock Osweiler away from the Cleveland Browns.

Including games that were played in Los Angeles when the Chargers were in Tinseltown and before they moved down the coast and the Broncos played at Mile High Stadium, Denver leads the series 63-50-1, while the Chargers lead in scoring 2,453-2,447. The then-San Diego Chargers and Denver split their two contests in the 2016 campaign, with each taking wins at home.

Week 6, Qualcomm Stadium on a Thursday night. The “Bolts led Denver 10-3 at the break in southern California before holding off a late Bronco rally to come away 21-13 winners. Neither team breached the 100-yard rushing barrier in the AFC West showdown but San Diego did manage to outrush Denver 99-84 in the game and Trevor Siemian did manage to outpace Rivers 230-178 (each had a TD pass and each was sacked twice). Each club turned the ball over twice in San Diego and each struggled on third down tries in the first meeting (Denver 6 of 15, San Diego 3 of 13) and both clubs had only one fourth try (the Broncos was 0-1, while San Diego was 1 of 1). San Diego ruled the clock in the first meeting, keeping the ball for 33:28, while Denver held the pigskin for 26:32.

Denver would get their revenge in the second meeting in the Mile High City two weeks later in week 8 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Taking a 10-3 lead at the half at home and came away 27-19 winners. San Diego did manage to outrush Denver again, this time tallying 123 yards on the ground to Denver’s 57 (the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 111 of those yards). That was the good news for Charger fans. The bad news? Rivers (267 yards) was sacked four times and picked off three, while Siemian threw for 276 yards with one pick. As was the case in the meeting in San Diego in week 6, both teams had their problems on third down (Denver was 5 of 15, San Diego was 7 of 17) and both clubs stumbled on fourth down (Denver was 0 of 1, San Diego 0 of 2). San Diego once again ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:08, while Denver kept the ball for 26:52.

On Monday night, the Bolts are break-even at 22-22, while the Broncos are 31-37-1 (Denver was 1-0 last year, while Los Angeles’ last appearance was in 2015, where they went 0-2). In the week six contest in San Diego, the Broncos, who were the defending Super Bowl champs at that time, were favored by 3 and the over/under was 44 1/2. San Diego covered the spread in that first contest, winning by 8 but both clubs missed the over/under of 44 1/2, tallying only 34 points. As for the week 8 contest in the Rockies? Denver won by 8, covering the 6-point spread and both the Broncos and Bolts covered the 44 1/2 over/under with 46 points. Denver’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 43. Week one closes out with an interesting matchup in which one team is in a new city and the other is trying to re-establish itself in the AFC West. Chargers make this one interesting but Denver comes away with the win and covers the 3.

ATLANTA (11-5, NFC South champion, 2nd seed) vs. New England (14-2, AFC East Champion, 1st seed). Ryan vs. Brady. Peach pie vs. Clam chowder. New England vs. Atlanta. The two best teams in the National Football League meet to determine who takes home the Lombardi Trophy. The home of the Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, is the site of the last game of the 2016 campaign. Super Bowl LI takes the stage as the Lone Star State hosts the big game for the third time.

Both teams took big wins in their respective championship games in front of their home crowds. Atlanta took Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers to task January 22nd in the final game at the Georgia Dome, coming away with an impressive 44-21 win over the Packers to take the Halas Trophy and the NFC Championship. Atlanta led from start to finish in the Big Peach, leading 24-0 at the half and increased that lead to 31-0 with 13:51 left in the third before the Packers ended Atlanta’s hopes of a shutout when WR Davante Adams caught a 2-yard TD pass from Rodgers (287 yards, three TDs, interception) with 9:19 left in the period. Green Bay, who had a chance to score in the first half, missed a 41-yard field goal try by Mason Crosby and was marching down the field before Aaron Ripkowski fumbled near the goal line and Atlanta recovered, was held to 99 yards rushing, while the Falcons tallied 101 yards and a pair of rushing TDs from Tevin Coleman and Ryan. Ryan, who threw for 392 yards and four TDs without an interception, connected with Julio Jones on a pair of TD passes, the longest going for 73 yards and WRs Mohamed Sanu and RB DeVanta Freeman. Atlanta ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:39, while going 10 of 13 on third down in the win. Green Bay, who turned the ball over twice, went 4 of 10 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 26:21.

New England took the AFC title and the Lamar Hunt Trophy in Foxboro after their 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger at Gillette Stadium. Pittsburgh made it a close contest in the first 30 minutes of action and trailed 17-9 at the half before New England and Brady pulled away to take control of things in the second half. As far as the rushing game went in the Sunday evening contest, neither club breached the 100-yard barrier and barely touched the 50 yard mark in the contest (New England outrushed Pittsburgh 57-54), while Brady threw for 384 yards and three TDs. Meanwhile, for his efforts, Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards and a TD but was picked off once. In forcing a pair of turnovers for their win, the Pats were 11 of 17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:26, while the Steelers kept the pigskin for 28:34, going 9 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

New England leads the series 7-6 in regular season play and has won the last four contests, including taking a 30-23 win in the Big Peach in 2013. However, the Falcons have outscored New England 300-249. Atlanta’s last win over New England came in 1998 in Foxboro, where they left Gillette Stadium with a 41-10 win in hand. Atlanta is 0-1 in their only Super Bowl, while the Pats are 4-4 in eight trips to the big game.

Fpr one team, they’ll have a parade and a Lombardi Trophy to keep as well as bragging rights for the season. For the other, they’ll be talked about and second-guessed for years and years. Super Bowl Sunday is finally here. The last football game of the 2016 campaign. After this one’s over, there’s no more football until the pre-season, which means that most of America will be forced to watch those Gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sundays until Baseball season. There have been 51 of these games and this contest is the star of the show in the sports world. The end of the 2016 NFL season will see a new champion.

It’s also the last chance for “THE DRILL.” It’s kinda sad but even Connie needs some time off (she can still fit into that prom dress she had in high school). (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 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach 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?”

It’s the FINAL game of the 2016 campaign. When this one’s over, the winners get the Lombardi Trophy and each player gets a $107,000 check (Which comes out to $26,750 a quarter or $1,733.33 a minute). The loser? They don’t come away completely empty handed. Granted, the check isn’t as big as the winner’s. Each player on the losing team gets a whopping $53,000 or $13,250 a quarter or $883.33 a minute.

The last game of the 2016 campaign gets underway in Houston at NRG Stadium, which will make it the third time that Texas’ largest city has hosted the big game.

Two teams. One game. It all comes down to this.

New England has 9 Super Bowl berths, most in NFL history. Have won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, have won 4 Super Bowl titles, most in NFL. Have 31-19 (.620) all-time postseason record, 2nd highest winning pct. in playoff history. Head coach Bill Belichick has 25 career postseason wins, most all-time and has won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history. As far as their resepctive divisons go, both clubs won their divisions with one loss under their belts (Atlanta lost to Tampa Bay at home in week one, while the Pats were shut out by Buffalo in Foxboro in week four).

Atlanta is making their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Atlanta won the NFC South title and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012. Ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) and 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Head coach Dan Quinn is making 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons and Was defensive coordinator for Seattle in Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX.

“It’s an honor to get to go and play in this game,” says Patriots wide receiver Julian Edleman, who is the franchise postseason leader in both catches (84) and receiving yards (937). “This is what you fight for. This is what you train for. It’s to get an opportunity to play in this game,” he told the Boston Globe and the Christian Scientist Monitor.

“This is a really special team,” says Falcons fullback Patrick Di Marco told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have so many playmakers on offense, defense and special teams. This is a special time for this organization. I am super proud and super excited we are going to be playing in Houston. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl – not just get there – and we still have a game ahead of us. We still have one more game to win.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be making their seventh Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won four Super Bowls together, tied with Pittsburgh head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

“I’m proud of this team,” says Belichick. “They all deserve this. It’s a good, hard-working group.”

Belichick is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Noll for the most Super Bowl victories by a head coach with four. Brady, who is making his NFL-record seventh career Super Bowl start, is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers Bradshaw and JOE MONTANA for the most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback with four.

“You never know if you’ll get these opportunities in life and fortunately this team has got the opportunity,” says Brady about advancing to the Super Bowl. “Now we’ve got to do something and go try and take advantage of it.”

Brady and Montana are the only players in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP three times. Brady, who was the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX, can become the first player ever to win Super Bowl MVP honors four times.

Brady enters Super Bowl LI already holding numerous Super Bowl passing records, including attempts (247), completions (164), yards (1,605) and touchdown passes (13).

“He’s the best quarterback to ever play the game,” says Patriots running back Le Garrette Blount about Brady. “He’s obviously, in my opinion, the best ever.”

The Patriots have won nine consecutive games and advanced to the Super Bowl with a 36-17 victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. In that contest, Brady passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to wide receiver Chris Hogan. Hogan finished the game with nine catches for a franchise postseason-record 180 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m just happy to take advantage of this opportunity and be a part of this team,” says Hogan. “This whole team has worked so hard starting in April in OTAs. We’ve grinded through this entire year. This is what we worked for and this is what we wanted to get to.”

Patriots running back Blount, who led the NFL with a club-record 18 rushing touchdowns, added a rushing TD against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Including the postseason, Blount’s 19 rushing touchdowns are tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin (1996) for the most by a Patriots player in a single season.

The Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history (Super Bowl XXXIII, 1998 season) with a 44-21 win over Green Bay in the final game at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta, which led the NFL with 540 points scored, has won six consecutive games and is averaging 39.0 points per game over that span. The Falcons are the first team ever to advance to the Super Bowl by scoring at least 30 points in each of the club’s previous six games.

“I’m happy for everybody in our organization,” says Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “We’ve worked hard to get to this point but the challenge is still in front of us. What we set out to accomplish is still in front of us. It’s really difficult to get to this point, and we will enjoy the process leading into it but our ultimate goal is still in front of us.”

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who is in his second year with the team, will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons. Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in Super Bowls XLVIII (2013 season) and XLIX (2014).

“I am excited for the opportunity. But more importantly, I’m excited for these players,” says Quinn. “It’ll be a great challenge.”

Atlanta quarterback Ryan, who led the league with a franchise-record 117.1 passer rating, has continued his stellar play in the postseason with a 132.6 passer rating. Over the team’s six-game winning streak, Ryan has thrown 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 133.3 passer rating.

“MVP,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones when asked how to describe Ryan. “He’s a great player. He’s a great leader on this team and he’s my brother.”

Ryan has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive postseason games, the first player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. In this year’s playoffs, Ryan has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.

The Falcons have spread the ball out as Ryan threw a touchdown pass to 13 different players in the regular season, the most ever in a season in league history. Among his favorite targets is Jones, who led the NFL averaging 100.6 receiving yards per game this season (1,409 yards in 14 games).

“He’s a beast,” says Ryan about Jones. “He’s an absolute stud. I’ve been so lucky to play with him as long as I have.”

Jones had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. It marked his second career postseason game with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns and he is the only player in league history to accomplish that feat in multiple playoff games. In five career postseason games, Jones has 552 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. His average of 110.4 receiving yards per game is the highest in NFL postseason history (minimum five games).

Defensively, the Falcons are powered by Vic Beasley, Jr., who led the NFL in sacks (15.5), and a quartet of rookies – safety Keanu Neal, cornerback Brian Poole and linebackers Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. All four rookies started in the NFC Championship Game and Atlanta can become the first team ever to start four rookies on defense in the Super Bowl. Jones (106) and Neal (105) led all NFL rookies in tackles this season.

“Every day, we are just trying to get one percent better for the guy next to us,” says Poole. “Every play, we are going to give it all we’ve got and not let our teammates down. We’re going out there trying to play ball and let people know that what we’ve got is serious.”

Beasley, who is in his second year, had a career-high 15.5 sacks and is the first Falcons player to lead the league in sacks. During the team’s current six-game winning streak, Atlanta has allowed just 19.3 points per game (27.6 points per game in the team’s first 12 games).

“We feel like we have the potential to be a great defense,” Beasley told WSB-TV. “Early in the season, we weren’t playing as well but we have come a long way and now we’re going to the Super Bowl.”

New England’s favored by 3 points in the last game of the 2016 National Football League season and the over/under is 59. Both numbers make a lot of sense. There’s a lot at stake and not just for those that have ads in this year’s contest. There’s a lot at stake for the teams that are involved. The winners will be looked at and heralded for eternity, while the losers will be second-guessed for the entire off season. The winner gets to pick last in the upcoming draft, the loser will pick 31st. Rise up, Atlanta! You’re picking last. Falcons cover the 3 and pull off the upset.

Records vs. Common Opponents

New England: 4-1 (Arizona. 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles Rams 1-0; Seattle. 0-1; San Francisco 1-0)

Atlanta: 5-1 (Arizona 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles 1-0; Seattle 1-1; San Francisco 1-0)(Atlanta’s win over Seattle came in the Divisional Round)

Playoff Records – New England: 31-19; Atlanta: 9-12

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Tony Boselli, James Lofton (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New England), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New England), 82 (Atlanta)

Referee: Carl Chefferss

Injury Report

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries.

New England – New England reported no injuries.

Weather Report: Game indoors

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

Championship Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

NFC Championship – Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Tony Boselli (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta).

AFC Championship – Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Ross Tucker (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England).

Sunday Officials
NFC Championship: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. – Bill Vinovich
AFC Championship: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. – Terry McAulay

Sunday Odds
Favorite                Spread    Underdog              O/U
ATLANTA                 –  4      Green Bay             61
NEW ENGLAND             –  6      Pittsburgh            51

Sunday Injury Report

Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: RB James Starks (Concussion), C Joseph Tretter (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Davante Adams (Ankle), WR Geronimo Allison (Hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (Ribs), S Morgan Burnett (Quad), CB Quinten Rollins (Neck)

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries

Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m.

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: LB James Harrison (Shoulder), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (Concussion), TE Ladarius Green (Concussion)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: WR Danny Amendola (Ankle), TE Martellus Bennett (Knee), RB Brandon Bolden (Knee), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), WR Chris Hogan (Thigh), WR Malcom Mitchell (Knee), DE Jabaal Sheard (Knee)

Sunday Weather
NFC: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX (Game indoors)
AFC: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS (Cloudy and 42 degrees)

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.