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One week down, 16 to go.

If week one was good, week two hopes to be better.

SO CLOSE: If you like close contests, then week one was for you.

Kickoff Weekend featured exciting finishes and close games:

•Eleven of the 16 games in Week 1 were decided by seven points or fewer. Fourteen of the 16 games (87.5 percent) were within one score in the fourth quarter.

•Six games in Week 1 were decided by two points or fewer, the most of any week in NFL history.

•Four games were decided by one point – Denver 21, Carolina 20; Cincinnati 23, New York Jets 22; Oakland 35, New Orleans 34; New York Giants 20, Dallas 19 – marking the first time in NFL history that four games have been decided by exactly one point on Kickoff Weekend.

•Nine teams – Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, New England, New York Giants, Oakland and Seattle –  won when trailing in the fourth quarter this week, the most in a single week since Week 3, 2011 (10 wins).

Kickoff Weekend continued the 2015 trend of close games, as 75 percent were within one score in the fourth quarter of Kickoff Weekend last season. In 2015, 140 of 256 games (54.7 percent) were decided by eight points or fewer, the most of any season in NFL history.

NO NEED TO PANIC: At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2.

Since realignment in 2002, 100 of the 168 playoff teams (59.5 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including six teams last season and three division champions – Houston (AFC South), Minnesota (NFC North) and Washington (NFC East).

DOMINANT DREW: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has 61,326 career passing yards, the fourth-most in NFL history. With 36 passing yards on Sunday at the New York Giants, Brees will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most passing yards all-time.

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

PLAYER, YEARS (CAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning, 1998-2015 (71,940)
Brett Favre, 1991-2010 (71,838)
Dan Marino, 1983-1999 (61,361)
Drew Brees, 2001-present (61,326)
Tom Brady, 2000-present (58,028)

Brees, who passed for 423 yards on Kickoff Weekend, has 14 career games with at least 400 passing yards, tied with PEYTON MANNING for the most 400-yard passing performances in NFL history.

The players with the most 400-yard passing games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (14)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (14)
Dan Marino – Miami (13)
Carson Palmer – Cincinnati, Oakland and Arizona (8)
Philip Rivers – San Diego (8)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (8)

ELITE ELI: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has 297 touchdown passes in his 13-year career. With three touchdown passes on Sunday against New Orleans, Manning would become the eighth quarterback in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes.

The quarterbacks with at least 300 career touchdown passes:

PLAYER (YEARS, TEAM(S); CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Peyton Manning (1998-2015, Indianapolis and Denver; 539)
Brett Favre (1991-2010, Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota; 508)
Drew Brees (2001-present, San Diego and New Orleans; 432)
Tom Brady (2000-present (New England; 428)
Dan Marino (1983-1999, Miami; 420)
Fran Tarkenton (1961-1978, Minnesota and New York Giants; 342)
John Elway (1983-1998, Denver; 300)
Eli Manning (2004-present, New York Giants 297)

WENTZ’S WONDERFUL START: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 29-10 victory against Cleveland on Kickoff Weekend.

Only four rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have won their first two starts to begin a season. Three of those four players helped their teams qualify for the playoffs, including Joe Flacco of Baltimore (2008) and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (2009), who led their respective clubs to the AFC Championship Game as rookies.

The rookie quarterbacks to start and win their team’s first two games in a season since 1970:

YEAR – PLAYER, TEAM (OVERALL RECORD AS ROOKIE STARTER, PLAYOFF RESULT
1983 – John Elway, Denver (4-6, Advanced to Wild Card)
1998 – Ryan Leaf, San Diego (3-6, Missed playoffs)
2008 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore (11-5, Advanced to AFC Championship)
2009 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (8-7, Advanced to AFC Championship)
2016 – Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (1-0, ???)*

* 1-0 as starter

BOOMING BECKHAM: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has 191 receptions in 28 career games.

With nine receptions on Sunday against New Orleans, Beckham would surpass Miami wide receiver Jarvis LandryY (33 games) as the fastest player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions.

Landry accomplished the feat last week against Seattle.

The players to reach 200 career receptions in the fewest games:

PLAYER – GAMES TO REACH 200 CAREER RECEPTIONS
Tom Fears – 36
Lionel Taylor – 36
Keenan Allen – 35
Jarvis Landry – 33
Anquan Boldin – 34
Reggie Bush – 34
Odell Beckham, Jr. – 28*
*191 career receptions

KICKOFF NOTES: A look at some team notes from across the league on Kickoff Weekend 2016:

•Denver defeated the Carolina Panthers 21-20 on Thursday night. The defending Super Bowl champs improved their record to 43-13-1 (.768) in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has won 23 of its past 26 home openers.

The teams with the best winning percentage in home openers:

TEAM (RECORD IN HOME OPENERS, WIN PCT.)
Denver (43-13-1, .768)
Chicago (65-27-4, .707)
Miami (34-15-1, .694)
Dallas (38-18-1, .679)
Oakland (37-18-1, .670)
Note: Ties prior to 1972 did not count in winning percentage.

•Green Bay defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23 on Kickoff Weekend at EverBank Field. The Packers have 55 wins in road openers, the most in NFL history. The Packers’ .585 winning percentage in openers on the road is the second-best mark in NFL history.

•New England, who defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday Night Football, now has 32 wins on Kickoff Weekend, tied with San Diego for the fourth-most among AFC teams.

•Denver’s Gary Kubiak (7-3) has a six-game winning streak on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches.

•Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter (31-24 vs. Atlanta), the New York Giants’ Ben McAdoo (20-19 vs. Dallas) and Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson (29-10 vs. Cleveland) all won in their Kickoff Weekend debuts.

START ‘EM EARLY: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, led the Eagles to a 29-10 victory over Cleveland on Kickoff Weekend. Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who was chosen in the fourth round (No. 135 overall), also started in Week 1.

The NFL has now had at least one rookie quarterback start in Week 1 in nine consecutive seasons, the longest streak since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

SEASON – QUARTERBACK, TEAM (STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE)

2008 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore (11-5)
2008 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta (11-5)
2009 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (8-7)
2009 – Matthew Stafford, Detroit (2-8)*
2010 – Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (7-9)*
2011 – Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (9-7)
2011 – Cam Newton, Carolina (6-10)*
2012 – Robert Griffin III, Washington (9-6)
2012 – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (11-5)*
2012 – Ryan Tannehill, Miami (7-9)
2012 – Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (5-10)
2012 – Russell Wilson, Seattle (11-5)
2013 – EJ Manuel, Buffalo (4-6)
2013 – Geno Smith, New York Jets (8-8)
2014 – Derek Carr, Oakland (3-13)
2015 – Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (3-13)
2015 – Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (6-10)*
2016 – Dak Prescott, Dallas (0-1)
2016 – Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (1-0)

*No. 1 Overall Pick

COOL BREES: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 423 yards and four touchdowns against Oakland on Kickoff Weekend. The performance marked Brees’ 14th career 400-yard passing game, tying Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.

Brees also increased his Week 1 career passing yards total to 4,306, becoming the second QB with at least 4,000 passing yards in Week 1 games (Manning, 4,736).

Brees threw a 98-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks, the fifth touchdown pass of at least 98 yards on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history. The other four quarterbacks to throw a 98+ yard touchdown pass on Kickoff Weekend? You might know some of these names. They’re either in the Hall of Fame or will be. They are: George Izo (99 yards, September 15, 1963), Sonny Jurgensen (99 yards, September 15, 1968), Tom Brady (99 yards, September 12, 2011) and Earl Morrall (98 yards, September 11, 1966).

FAST LUCK: Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 385 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.5 passer rating in the Colts’ Kickoff Weekend game against Detroit.

Luck has 15,223 career passing yards and reached 15,000 passing yards in his 56th career game, tied for the second-fastest in NFL history. Matthew Stafford accomplished the feat in his 53rd game while Marc Bulger, Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Kurt Warner reached 15,000 passing yards in their 56th game.

FANTASTIC FITZ: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals’ Kickoff Weekend matchup against New England.

Fitzgerald, who now has 100 career touchdown receptions, became the 10th player in NFL history to reach the milestone.

AMAZING ANDRE: Tennessee wide receiver Andre Johnson had three receptions in the Titans’ opener against Minnesota. Johnson now has 83 catches in 14 career Week 1 games, surpassing Marvin Harrison (81), Reggie Wayne (81) and Andre Reed (82) to move into second place all-time.

Jerry Rice has the most career Week 1 catches with 92. Rice, Reed and Harrison are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

FIRST-ROUND FULLER: Houston wide receiver Will Fuller had five catches for 107 yards in the Texans’ 23-14 victory against Chicago. Fuller, who was selected 21st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, became the first rookie first-round draft pick to gain 100 yards receiving in his team’s first game since Pittsburgh’s Louis Lipp in 1984.

The NFL got “Back to Football” with a thrilling Kickoff Weekend, highlighted by close games and comeback victories.

In Week 1, six games were decided by two points or fewer, the most such games in any week in NFL history. There were four games decided by exactly one point, the most ever on Kickoff Weekend.

Oakland notched a one-point victory (35-34) at New Orleans when the Raiders converted a go-ahead two-point conversion with 47 seconds remaining. They became the fourth team to score the game-winning points on a two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter and the first to do so in a season opener.

“I was thinking that we’re here to win, so let’s win it right now,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio explained to KNBR after the game.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE POINT (Home teams in CAPS)
DENVER 21, Carolina 20
Cincinnati 23, NEW YORK JETS 22
Oakland 35, NEW ORLEANS 34
New York Giants 20, DALLAS 10

GAMES DECIDED BY TWO POINTS (Home teams in CAPS)
SEATTLE 12, Miami 10
New England 23, ARIZONA 21

There were nine fourth-quarter comeback wins in the opening week, the most Week 1 fourth-quarter comeback victories in NFL history. And, for the first time ever on Kickoff Weekend, eight teams trailed at the end of the first quarter and went on to win the game.

The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat San Diego 33-27 in overtime, the largest comeback victory in franchise history. The Chiefs have won 11 consecutive regular-season games and are the first team in NFL history to extend a winning streak of at least 10 games with a comeback victory of 21 or more points.

“It’s pretty sweet,” says Kansas City head coach Andy Reid about the comeback victory. “When you come back in the National Football League from three scores down and win, that’s pretty nice.”

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.

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

Of the 554 teams which won openers… 288 went to the playoffs (173 won division titles)

Of the 555 teams which lost openers… 134 went to the playoffs (77 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 presented by Bud Light as the New York Jets visited and beat the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East showdown. The game marked the debut of the “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast, cable (NFL Network) and digital (Twitter) which will be used for 10 Thursday Night Football games this season. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to a global audience across devices for free on Twitter.

On Sunday afternoon, NFL football returns to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 as the Rams host the Seattle Seahawks in their regular-season home opener at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 4:05 p.m. on FOX. And that night in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, the Minnesota Vikings will open their new home – U.S. Bank Stadium – when they host the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.

In case you’re wondering, we went 11-5 on picks in week one. Not a bad start but it could have been better.

Here’s a look at Sunday and Monday’s games in week 2…

ATLANTA (0-1) at Oakland (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Atlanta makes their way to the West Coast for a late afternoon (Eastern) meeting with the Raiders.

The Falcons limp into Oakland on the short end of a 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday in the Big Peach. Atlanta trailed 17-13 at the half and rallied to make the contest closer but could come no further. Matt Ryan did throw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to WR Julio Jones (WR Mohamed Sanu had the other one). Ryan recorded franchise-leading 36th 300+ yard game in Week 1 and is aiming for his third win in a row against the Raiders with 200+ pass yards and a TD. Tampa Bay did manage to outrush the Falcons 90-52 and sacked Ryan three times, holding the Falcons off in a final drive that could have either tied the contest or given Atlanta the win. The Falcons were 3 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 32:23, while the Bucs, led by Jameis Winston’s 281 passing yards (4 TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:37.

Oakland, on the other hand, is coming off a hard-earned 35-34 win over New Orleans in the Big Easy. QB Derek Carr passed for 319 yards and TD last week, while throwing the game-winning 2-point conversion to WR Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left in regulation. The Raiders are 4th team to score GW points on 2-point conversion in the final minute. Oakland trailed 17-10 at the half before they rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Saints 25-17 in the second half. Although Drew Brees threw for four TDs in the contest, Oakland did manage to outrush the Saints 167-88. Both teams were 4 of 11 on third down conversions (New Orleans was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and Oakland ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:25 to New Orleans’ 29:35.

The Silver and Black may lead the series 7-6, they may have outscored Atlanta 332-292 (which includes games that took place in Los Angeles and at old Fulton County Stadium) but the Falcons have won the last three contests, including a 23-20 win in the Big Peach in 2012. Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2000 on the Left Coast by a 41-14 final.

Oakland’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. Oakland’s looking to go 2-0, while the Falcons want to keep as close to Tampa Bay in the NFC South. Something’s got to give here. Falcons rise up and take this one on the road and could cover the 4 1/2.

Baltimore (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens travel to upstate Ohio for a AFC North contest in Cleveland.

Baltimore held Buffalo to a 1 yard TD run from McCoy as they defeated the Bills. 13-7 in Charm City last Sunday. Mike Wallace and Joe Flacco connected for the Ravens’ lone TD in the contest that made it 10-0 early in the first half. Neither club breached the 100-yard plateau and that was the bad news. The good news? Baltimore did outrush Buffalo 83-65 and Flacco did outpace Tyrod Taylor 258-11, although the Bills did manage to sack him four times at M&T Bank Stadium.l Buffalo was 3 of 13 on third down tries in Charm City (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 27:07, while the Ravens went 6 of 15 on third down and kept the pigskin for 32:53, going 0 for 1 on their only fourth down attempt.

For the Browns, QB Josh McCown takes over for Robert Griffin III (shoulder). McCown has won 2 of 3 career starts vs. Baltimore and has 4 pass TDs vs. 0 interceptions. Cleveland comes back home after they were taken to the woodshed by the Eagles 29-10 in Philly. Philadelphia outrushed the Browns in the season opener 133-120 and Griffin threw for 190 yards before his injury (he was sacked three times in the contest). Philadelphia held on to the ball for 39:20, while the Browns kept it for 20:40.

The Ravens lead the series 25-9 and have outscored the Browns 788-515 in the 34 meetings. The two teams met twice, split the series, with each winning in the other team’s stadium.

M&T Bank Stadium, week five… Baltimore. The Ravens led 21-16 after 45 minutes of play before the Browns rallied in the final period, scoring their final ten points of the contest when McCown and WR Isaiah Crowell connected on a 22-yard TD pass with 3:03 left in regulation and winning in overtime when Travis Coons connected on a 32-yard field goal to take the road win. Baltimore’s Josh Forsett ran for 121 of his team’s 181 yards, holding Cleveland to 83 and the Ravens defense sacked McCown four times in Charm City. Cleveland went 12 of 19 on third down conversions in the first meeting, holding the ball for 39:16, while the Ravens were 5 of 14 and kept the ball for 29:01.

Round 2… week 12 in Cleveland on a Monday night and it was another close contest. This time, the Ravens prevailed 33-27. Baltimore led 17-13 at the half and outscored the Browns 16-14 in the final 30 minutes of play. The end of the contest was one of the strangest endings in the history of Monday Night Football as Cleveland’s Jeff Tucker tried a 51-yard field goal that would have given them the win. The kick was blocked and Ravens S Will Hill III picked up the ball and ran it back 64 yards for the winning score as time expired. Baltimore outrushed Cleveland again in the second meeting, tallying 104 yards on the ground to the Browns’ 63, although Cleveland did manage to pick off Matt Schaub (who was in for Flacco) twice. Both teams did well on fourth down tries, going 2 of 2. It was third down tries that both clubs struggled with, as the Ravens were 2 of 11 and the Browns were 4 of 15. In a twist of irony, the Browns ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:30, while Baltimore kept it for 29:30.

The Ravens may be the road team but the boys and girls in Vegas like them as 6 1/2 point favorites with a 42 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make sense. Cleveland makes this one interesting but Baltimore comes away with the win, even though they may not cover the 6 1/2.

Tennessee (0-1) at Detroit (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. The Detroit Lions return to the Motor City to face a Tennessee Titans team that looks to even their record at Ford Field.

Tennessee let a 10-0 lead against Minnesota get away from them as the Vikings, without Teddy Bridgewater, outscored the Titans 25-6 in the last 30 minutes of action to fall 25-16 in Nashville. The contest was not exactly a ground game battle as neither club came close to the 100-yard barrier (Minnesota could only tally 65 yards on the ground, while Tennessee could muster only 64). Marcus Mariota did manage to outpass Bridgewater’s replacement, Sean Hill, with 271 yards and a pair of TDs (Hill had 236 in the air for the Vikings) in the season opener for both clubs.

Detroit trailed Indy 35-34 with 37 seconds left in regulation when Colt QB Andrew Luck and TE Jack Doyle had connected on a 6 yard TD pass that gave them the lead briefly as Detroit got the ball back and Matt Prater connected on a 43 yard field goal with four seconds left. Indy would later see insult added to injury on the kickoff when they got the ball back and tried several lateral passes to move the ball and keep the contest going. T.Y. Hilton threw what he thought was a forward pass from the end zone but the officials saw it differntly, calling it an illegal pass, which meant a safety for the Lions, who took the 39-35 win in the Hoosier State. Detroit outrushed Indy 116-82 but Luck (4 TDs) did manage to outpass Matthew Stafford (3 TDs) 385 to 340.  Both teams did well on third down tries (Indianapolis was 9 of 16, Detroit was 5 of 9) and the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:36 to Indy’s 29:24.

Including contests that were played in Houston when the team was known as the Oilers, Tenneseee leads the series 8-3, have outscored Detroit 289-250 and have taken wins in the last four contests, including a 44-41 overtime win in the Music City. Detroit’s last win over Tennessee? 1995, when they won in Houston by a final of 24-17.

Detroit’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. If you’re a fan of either team, by all means watch. Otherwise, you might want to watch that “NCIS: LA” marathon on USA. Detroit does their best Katy Perry impression and “ROARS” their way to the win at home, covering the 6.

Kansas City (1-0) at Houston (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. It’s an AFC Wild Card rematch in the Lone Star State as Kansas City takes on the Houston Texans.

The Chiefs are on an 11-game regular season win streak and they are the 1st team to extend 10+ game win streak w/ 21+ point comeback victory. Kansas City trailed 21-3 at the half at home against San Diego and rallied to take a 33-27 overtime win over the Chargers. The Chiefs took care of business in the second half and overtime, outscoring the Philip Rivers-led Chargers 30-6 in the last three periods for the win over their AFC West rivals. Although they were outrushed by San Diego 155-83, Alex Smith did manage to outpass Rivers 363-243, while throwing a pair of TD passes and scoring the game-winner in overtime from two yards out. Kansas City was 5 of 14 on third down tries at Arrowhead (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:06 (including the overtime), while the Bolts went 7 of 15, keeping the ball for 34:01.

Houston had a little problem with Chicago last Sunday but managed to come away 23-14 winners last Sunday in the Lone Star State. Houston trailed 14-10 at the half before the Texans went on to shut Chicago, who was held to 73 yards rushing, out in the second half. J.J. Watt and the Texans’ defense made life for Jay Cutler miserable, sacking him five times in the 9-point win and Houston’s Lamar Miller led all rushers with 106 of the Texans’ 129 yards, while Brock Osweiler (231 yards) threw a pair of TDs, although he was sacked twice. Chicago was 4 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and kept the ball for 23:41, while the Texans kept the pigskin for 36:19, going 12 of 20 on third downs.

Kansas City holds a 4-3 lead in the series and have outscored 186-146. They met twice in the 2015 campaign, once in the regular season and once in the postseason and both contests took place in Houston.

Week one… the Chiefs held off a late Houston rally in the season opener for both clubs, with Kansas City coming out on top 27-20. Although they led 27-9 at the half, the Texans would go on to shutout Kansas City 11-0 in the last 30 minutes of action to make things close. The first contest was not much of a rushing contest, with neither club breaking the 100-yard barrier (Houston did outrush Kansas City 98-97) and the Kansas City defense made things miserable for Houston QB Blaine Hoyer, who was sacked four times. Neither club did much on third down tries in that first meeting; Kansas City was 3 of 13, Houston was 3 of 14 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Chiefs owned the clock, keeping the ball for 35:19 to Houston’s 24:41.

The second meeting… in the Lone Star State. The AFC Wild Card game at NRG Stadium. Kansas City took a 13-0 halftime lead in the Lone Star State and came away 30-0 winners over the Texans. Although Smith and Blaine Hoyer (four interceptions) were each sacked three times, Kansas City did outrush the Texans 141-114 in the lopside win.

As was the case in the first meeting, neither club reached the 50 percent mark on third down tries but the Chiefs were a little better, going 4 of 11 and kept the ball for 34:25; the Texans on the short end of the shutout loss were 6 of 14 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the pigskin for 25:35.

The Texans are 2 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Someone’s going to be 2-0 at the end of the day. Chiefs pull off the upset in the Lone Star State and cover the 2 1/2.

Miami (0-1) at New England (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. It’s a weekend in New England as a pair of AFC East rivals meet in Foxboro. Miami travels north for a meeting with the Tom Brady-less Patriots.

The ‘Fins led briefly in Seattle 10-6 with 4:08 left to play when Ryan Tannehill scored on a 2-yard run before WR Doug Baldwin and QB Russell Wilson connected on a 2-yard TD pass with 31 seconds left to lose 12-10 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. Seattle outrushed Miami 112-64 and Wilson (258 yards) outpaced Tannehill (186 yards, five sacks) in the contest at CenturyLink Field. Seattle on third down tries? 5 of 16 (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:32, while the Dolphins were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, holding on to the ball for 25:28.

New England, without Brady or TE Ron Gronkowski, went to Arizona last Sunday night and survived in the desert, coming away 23-21 winners. With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, New England led 10-7 at the intermission and never looked back. The Pats outrushed Arizona 106-92 and sacked Carson Palmer (271 yards, 2 TDs – both to WR Larry Fitzgerald) three times, even though they turned the ball over twice. The Brady-less and Gronkowski-less Pats were 10 of 16 on third down conversions in Glendale and held the ball for 33:59, while Arizona was 6 of 12 and held on to the ball for 26:01.

The Dolphins lead the series 52-46 (which includes contests played at Fenway Park, the old Orange Bowl and Joe Robbie Stadium) and have outscored the Pats 2,116-2,076. The two clubs managed to split the regular season meetings, each taking win in their home parks.

First meeting… week eight on a Thursday night and it was all New England in that matchup, with the Pats coming away 36-7 winners. In that meeting, Brady threw for three TDs, including one to Gronkowski to seal Miami’s fate. New England easily outrushed Miami 95-15 and sacked Tannehill five times, picking him off twice in the blowout. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries in Foxboro (New England was 3 of 12, Miami was 2 of 11) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down conversions, with the Pats going 1 of 1 and Miami going 1 of 2. Time was on the side of the Pats, who held the ball for 32:37, while the Dolphins kept it for 27:23.

Meeting number two… week 17 in the Sunshine State and the Pats had already clinched the AFC East and this time, it was a much closer contest as the teams went into the final 15 minutes of play tied at 10-10 before Miami rallied in the fourth to come away 20-10 winners. This time, it was Miami that outrushed New England 96-70 and Tannehill threw for 350 yards and a pair of TDs to gain some measure of revenge. Again, both teams struggled on third down tries (New England was 4 of 14, Miami was 8 of 17) and both teams failed in their only fourth down try in the regular season finale and it was Miami ruling the clock, holding the ball for 31:05 to New England’s 28:55.

The Brady-less Pats are favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under? 41 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Dolphins gave Seattle a scare last week in the Pacific Northwest, while the Pats held off Arizona in their back yard. New England may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win in Foxboro.

Cincinnati (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. They don’t like each other. They’re both in the rust belt and they’re divisional rivals.

Did we mention they don’t like each other? You might want to send the kids out of the room for this one.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati meet in the Steel City in a key AFC North contest. Both teams took wins in their season openers and both did the deed on the road.

The Bengals won their season opener against New York last week, defeating the Jets 23-22. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton passed for 366 yards with a touchdown in Week 1 and wide receiver A.J. Green had 12 catches for 180 yards with a touchdown (54 yards).

Pittsburgh defeated Washington 38-16 on Monday Night Football to open the 2016 season. In Week 1, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards with three touchdowns, wide receiver Antonio Brown had eight catches for 126 yards with two touchdowns and running back De Angelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers trailed 6-0 after the first 15 minutes of play in Landover before outscoring Washington 38-10 in the final three quarters. Pittsburgh held Washington to 55 yards rushing (Pittsburgh had 147) and picked off Kirk Cousins twice in the Monday night affair. Pittsburgh was 9 of 14 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:18, while the Redskins were 3 of 10 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 26:42.

The Bengals rallied from a 16-13 deficit to come away with a slim 23-22 win in the Meadowlands over the New York Jets at Met Life against Cincinnati would hold them to a pair of Nick Folk field goals in the second half. HB Jeremy Hill would give the Bengals the lead in the second with a 12-yard TD run late in the third and took the lead for keeps when Mike Nugent connected on a 47 yard field goal with 54 seconds left in regulation. Although New York would outrush Cincy 152-57, Bengals QB Andy Dalton did manage to outpass Ryan Fitzpatrick in the air 366-189 in passing yardage. Third down tries? One word. DISMAL. Cincinanti was 3 of 11 and kept the ball for all of 25:07, while the Jets weren’t much better on third down, going 4 of 12, keeping the ball for 34:53.

Pittsburgh leads the series 56-35 and the Steelers have outscored Cincinnati 2,000-1,603. They met three times in the 2015 season, twice in the regular season and once in the post season.

Meeting one… Pittsburgh in week eight at Heinz Field. The Bengals rallied from a 7-6 deficit at the intermission to come away 16-10 winners in the Steel City. Cincy would outscore Pittsburgh 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play for the road win. Although they were outrushed by Pittsburgh 116-78, Cincinnati did manage to sack Roethlisberger three times, while picking him off three times. Both Dalton and Roethlisberger did manage to throw a TD pass, while Roethlisberger outpaced Dalton in passing yardage 262-231. Both clubs struggled on third down tries in the first meeting (Cincinnati 4 of 15, Pittsburgh 3 of 11) but Pittsburgh did rule the clock, holding the ball for 30:09 to the Bengals’ 29:51.

Round 2… Cincinnati… week 14, along the shores of the Ohio River. As was the case in the first meeting, the Steelers led at the break by a 16-7 score but this time, they held on for the 33-20 win at Paul Brown Stadium. The rushing game in the second meeting? It went Christmas shopping, as neither club breached the 100-yard barrier. That was the bad news. The good news? Pittsburgh did manage to outrush the Bengals 84-64, while forcing three turnovers in the second meeting. Pittsburgh did a lot better on third down conversions, going 8 of 14 and kept the ball for 35:47, while the Bengals were 3 of 8 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 24:13.

They spilt the two regular season contests. It was the post season that things got a bit on the chippy side.

Wild Card Weekend in Cincy and the Steelers took a 15-0 lead into the final quarter of play before the Bengals took their only lead of the contest when Andrew McCarron (subbing for Dalton) and Green connected on a 25 yard pass with 1:50 left to play. The lead would not last very long as the Steelers as Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (Unnecessary Roughness) and CB Adam Jones (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) were flagged for 30 yards in penalties, allowing Pittsburgh to move the ball close enough for K Chris Boswell to connect on a 35 yard field goal with 14 seconds left. As in the first two meetings, the Steelers outrushed Cincinnati (167-91) and forced four Bengals turnovers. Although both clubs were successful in their only fourth down tries, neither club did anything to talk about on third down (Pittsburgh 2 of 13, Cincinnati 5 of 15) and the Steelers ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 30:37, while the Bengals found themselves on the short end, keeping it for 29:23.

The oddsmakers like the Steelers at home as 3 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 48 1/2. The over/under makes a lot of sense. The 3 1/2? Given that these two offenses can do some damage, that number’s a bit on the light side. This one might be closer but in the end, it might wind up being a pretty good game to watch. Steelers might not cover the 3 1/2 but they win in the Steel City.

San Francisco (1-0) at Carolina (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Fresh off their shutout win over the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers head eastward for a Sunday afternoon meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

San Francisco went full throtle on Los Angeles last Monday night in Santa Clara and shut out the Rams 28-0. The 49ers led 14-0 at the half and then proceeded to score two more TDs in the fourth quarter unchallenged. Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of TDs in the blowout win, as his team outrushed Los Angeles 150-65 and picked off Case Keenum twice. San Francisco was 8 of 17 on third down attempts in the late Monday night game and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Rams were 3 of 15 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 27:50 (both teams were 1 for 2 on fourth down tries).

The defending NFC champs return home to the Tar Heel State after their 21-20 loss to Denver last week in the Mile High City. The Panthers let a 17-7 halftime lead against the defending Super Bowl champs get away from them as Denver rallied to take the lead back. Carolina had a chance to win the game and pull off the upset, pulling to within one when Greg Gano connected on a 36 yard field late in the fourth quarter. Gano could have been the hero for Carolina but his 53-yard field goal try sailed wide left, giving Denver the win. Carolina outrushed Denver 157-148 and Newton (194 yards passing) threw a TD and ran for a TD in the contest. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the season opener (Denver was 5 of 10, Carolina was 9 of 15) and the Broncos were successful in their only fourth down try in the contest. Carolina, despite losing to Denver for the second time in a calendar year, did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:19 to Denver’s 27:41.

Carolina leads the series 11-7 and the Panthers have outscored San Francisco 448-396. San Francisco’s last win over the Panthers in regular season play came in 2001, when both teams were in the same division by a final of 25-22 in overtime in Charlotte; Carolina has won the last four meetings, including a 10-9 win on the West Coast in 2013.

Carolina’s favored by 13 1/2, the largest spread this season (Seattle was a 10 1/2 point favorite last week against Miami) and the over/under is 45 1/2. This one could be closer than 13 1/2. Carolina’s got a chip on their shoulders, they’re at home and that could be a dangerous combination. Panthers may not cover the 13 1/2 but there’s nothing finer in Carolina as they win at home.

New Orleans (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Brees. Eli. They meet in the Meadowlands as the Giants hope to make it 2-0, while the Giants are looking to stay unbeaten in the NFC East.

New Orleans fell to Oakland 35-34 in the Big Easy last SUnday. Brees had 423 pass yards, 4 TDs and 131.3 rating last week, marking his 14th career 400-yard pass game, tying Peyton Manning for most in NFL history. Brees had a 98-yard TD pass to WR Brandin Cooks, 5th TD of 98+ yards on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.QB Derek Carr passed for 319 yards and TD last week, while throwing the game-winning 2-point conversion to WR Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left in regulation. The Raiders are 4th team to score GW points on 2-point conversion in the final minute. Oakland trailed 17-10 at the half before they rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Saints 25-17 in the second half. Although Drew Brees threw for four TDs in the contest, Oakland did manage to outrush the Saints 167-88. Both teams were 4 of 11 on third down conversions (New Orleans was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and Oakland ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:25 to New Orleans’ 29:35.

The Giants chipped away a 16-13 deficit against a Tony Romo-less Dallas as Manning and Victor Cruz connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 6:13 left to play to come away 20-19 winnter in Arlington. For Dallas, it was Dax Prescott under center instead of Romo and he managed to outpass Manning 227-207, while Manning threw for three TDs in the NFC East contest. They lead 13-9 at the intermission, before Dallas rallied to take the lead before surrendering it and had a chance to take the win in front of the home folks and had an eight-play drive going before stalling when WR Terrence Williams failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Both teams did quite well on third down conversions (Dallas was 10 of 17, New York was 5 of 10) and Dallas ruled the clock, holding the ball for 36:43, while Eli and the G-Men held on to the pigskin for 23:17.

Including contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium, Yankee Stadium and the Yale Bowl, the Giants lead the series 15-13, outscoring the Saints 647-623. The Saints took a 52-49 win in the Big Easy last year (New York’s last win in the series came in 2012 in the Meadowlands by a final of 52-27.

In the week eight affair in the Big Easy, New Orleans led 28-21 at the half before being outscored by the Giants 28-24 in the second half. New Orleans outrushed Big Blue 103-87, with Brees (7) and Manning (6) combing for 13 TD passes in the contest. Bress also managed to outpass Manning 505-350, although he was picked off twice. In the Sunday night affair, New Orleans found success on third down tries, going 7 of 11 (they went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:55, while the Giants were 1 of 8 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:05.

The Saints are favored by 6 and the over/under’s 55 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both men have Super Bowl rings to their credit. Giants make it 2-0 to start the season, although the Saints could make it closer than the 6.

Dallas (0-1) at Washington (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Hatfields vs. McCoys. Dogs vs. Cats. Capulets vs. Montagues. Spy vs. Spy. Washington vs. Dallas. They STILL don’t like each other.

Both are coming off losses at home and both look to correct that problem.

A Tony Romo-less Dallas let a 16-13 lead after three quarters get away from them as Eli Manning and Victor Cruz connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 6:13 left to play to fall 20-19 in Arlington. For the season opener in the Lone Star State, it was Dax Prescott under center instead of Romo and he managed to outpass Manning 227-207, while Manning threw for three TDs in the NFC East contest. Trailing 13-9 at the intermission, Dallas rallied to take the lead before surrendering it and had a chance to take the win in front of the home folks and had an eight-play drive going before stalling when WR Terrence Williams failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Both teams did quite well on third down conversions (Dallas was 10 of 17, New York was 5 of 10) and Dallas ruled the clock, holding the ball for 36:43, while Eli and the G-Men held on to the pigskin for 23:17.

Washington let a 6-0 first quarter lead get away from them as Pittsburgh defeated the defending NFC East champs 38-16 in Landover last Monday night to open the 2016 season. Washington would go on to be outscored by Ben Roethlisberger 38-10 in the final three quarters for the loss and was held to 55 yards rushing (Pittsburgh had 147) and picked off Kirk Cousins twice in the Monday night affair. Pittsburgh was 9 of 14 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:18, while the Redskins were 3 of 10 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 26:42.

Dallas leads the series 66-42-2 and have outscored the defending NFC East champions 2,532-2,113. In the last four games in the series, the two teams have spilt the contests and last year, taking wins on the other team’s field.

First meeting… week 13 in Landover on a Monday night without Romo. Dallas and Washington went into the final 15 minutes of play even at 6-6. Dallas took the lead for the first time when Darren McFadden ran in from 6 yards out with 1:14 left to play. Washington would tie things back up when Kirk Cousins and WR De Sean Jackson connected on a 28 yard pass with 44 seconds left. Dallas had one last trick up its sleeve and used it to march down the field and take the lead back for keeps when Dan Bailey connected on a 54-yard field goal with nine seconds left. Neither club did anything to keep their fan bases happy on third down tries (Dallas had 97 yards, while Washington tallied 73) and Dallas turned the ball over three times. Third down tries? DISMAL and that’s being kind… Dallas was 9 of 9, while Washington was 6 of 16 and Washington did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:47 to Dallas’ 27:13.

Meeting number two… week 17 in the Lone Star State. The second meeting wasn’t as close as meeting number one, the Cowboys were still without Romo and out of the playoff picture and the Redskins had already clinched the NFC East. Washington led 24-14 at the half and then pulled away to take a 34-23 win in Arlington. Cousins threw for 174 yards and three TDs, although he was easily outpaced by backup QB Kellen Moore, who had 435 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked four times and picked off twice. Washington on third down tries in the second meeting was much better, going 7 of 14, while Dallas on third down was 2 of 10 (Both clubs were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and once again, the Redskins ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:58, while Dallas kept it for 26:02.

Washington’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 45 1/2. One team is the defending NFC East champ, while the other has been a dumpster fire the last few years. We like the champ in this one. “HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!” Washington covers the 3 and wins at home in Landover.

Tampa Bay (1-0) at Arizona (0-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Jameis Winston vs. Carson Palmer. A pair of top QB meet in the desert in Glendale as Arizona looks to break into the win column against Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay came out of Atlanta 31-24 winners last Sunday in the Big Peach. The Bucs led 17-13 at the half before Atlanta  rallied to make the contest closer but could come no further. Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan put on a passing clinic in the Georgia Dome last Sunday, combining for 6 TDs (Ryan with 2, Winston with four) Ryan threw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to WR Julio Jones (WR Mohamed Sanu had the other one). That was a good thing, because neither team’s rushing game was anything to talk about, Tampa Bay did manage to outrush the Falcons 90-52 and sacked Ryan three times, holding the Falcons off in a final drive that could have either tied the contest or given Atlanta the win. The Falcons were 3 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 32:23, while the Bucs, led by Winston’s 281 passing yards (4 TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:37.

Arizona comes back to the nest with in somewhat of a foul mood, losing at home to a Tom Brady-less New England 23-21. QB Carson Palmer passed for 271 yards with 2 TDs and 104.7 rating last week and has 100+ rating in 8 of past 11 games. Palmer’s favorite target, WR Larry Fitzgerald had 8 catches for 81 yards and 2 TDs vs. New England. The Pro-Bowlerc caught 100th career TD in Week 1, making him the 10th player in NFL history to reach mark. Since entering NFL in 2004, Fitzgerald ranks 1st in catches (1,026) and receiving yards (13,447) with 100 TDs.

Including games played when the Desert Angry Birds were in St. Louis, the series is even with each club taking nine wins but Tampa Bay has outscored Arizona 326-318. Both team’s last wins came in the other team’s backyard; Arizona’s last win came in the Sunshine State by a final of 13-10 in 2013, while the Bucs took a 38-35 win in the desert in 2010.

Arizona’s favored by 7 in the desert and the over/under’s 50. It’s plausible that both numbers could be reached. While it might be closer than the 7, Arizona reaches the .500 mark with the win at home.

Seattle (1-0) at Los Angeles (0-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD! There’s going to be a pro football in Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 when the Rams welcome the Seattle Seahawks, who take a 1,137-mile trip down I-5 for an NFC West showdown at the Coliseum.

Seattle trailed at home 10-6 with 4:08 left to play when Ryan Tannehill scored on a 2-yard run and took the lead for kees as WR Doug Baldwin and QB Russell Wilson connected on a 2-yard TD pass with 31 seconds left to come away 12-10 winners in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. Seattle outrushed Miami 112-64 and Wilson (258 yards) outpaced Tannehill (186 yards, five sacks) in the contest at CenturyLink Field. Seattle on third down tries? 5 of 16 (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:32, while the Dolphins were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, holding on to the ball for 25:28.

For the Rams, it will be their first game in Los Angeles since the Clinton adminstration (1994) and the homecoming could not come at a better time. Los Angeles found themselves on the short end of a 28-0 shutout loss last Monday night in Santa Clara the 49ers. Los Angeles trailed 14-0 at the half and then saw the 49ers score two more TDs in the fourth quarter unchallenged after both teams played a scoreless third period. Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of TDs in the blowout win, as his team outrushed Los Angeles 150-65 and picked off Case Keenum twice. San Francisco was 8 of 17 on third down attempts in the late Monday night game and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Rams were 3 of 15 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 27:50 (both teams were 1 for 2 on fourth down tries).

Seahawks lead the series 21-14, which includes contests that took place when the Rams were in St. Louis and they have outscored Los Angeles 784-702. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Rams swept the season series last year with Seattle (the Seahawks’ last win in the series came in 2014, when they were 20-6 winners in Seattle).

Meeting number one… week one in St. Louis. Seattle led 31-24 late in the game before St. Louis’ Lance Kendricks and Nick Foles connected on a 37-yard TD pass with 57 seconds left in regulation to tie things up. The Rams would go on to win the contest in overtime when K Greg Zuerlein kicked a 37-yard field goal for the 34-31 win. Seattle did outrush the Rams 124-76 but Foles outpassed Wilson (6 sacks, interception) 297-251 in the opener. The Rams were 6 of 11 on third down tries in the first meeting at Edward Jones Dome and held on to the ball for 28:32. Seattle struggled on third down conversions, going 8 of 19 (1 of 2 on fourth down) but did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 37:28.

Round two… the Pacific Northwest in week 16. It was another close contest in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks but once again, the Rams prevailed, taking a 23-17 win on the road. St. Louis led 16-3 at the break before Seattle rallied to outscore St. Louis 14-7 in the second half. This time, St. Louis’ running game was functioning, as they outrushed Seattle 102-59 and sacked Wilson four times in the contest. Both teams did struggle on third down tries in the second contest (St. Louis was 5 of 12; Seattle was 8 of 17, 1 of 1 on fourth down tries) but Seattle did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:06 to St. Louis’ 27:54.

Seattle is favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 38. Since this is the first game in Los Angeles since ’94, this one could be a good game to watch. In fact, because it’s Los Angeles, we’re going to make this one “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?”

The Rams will at the very least make this one close but Seattle prevails in Tinsletown and gets revenge for being swept last year. Seahawks take this one on the road and covers the 6 1/2.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Denver (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Two teams with one name in common… Manning… meet in Denver as the Colts travel to the Mile High City to face the Denver Broncos.

The Colts are looking to take their frustrations out on someone after they had led Detroit 35-34 with 37 seconds left in regulation against the Lions. QB Andrew Luck and TE Jack Doyle had connected on a 6 yard TD pass that gave them the lead briefly and we mean briefly. Detroit got the ball back and Matt Prater connected on a 43 yard field goal with four seconds left. Indy would later see insult added to injury on the kickoff when they got the ball back and tried several lateral passes to move the ball and keep the contest going. T.Y. Hilton threw what he thought was a forward pass from the end zone but the officials saw it differntly, calling it an illegal pass, which meant a safety for the Lions, who took the 39-35 win in the Hoosier State. Detroit outrushed Indy 116-82 but Luck (4 TDs) did manage to outpass Matthew Stafford (3 TDs) 385 to 340.  Both teams did well on third down tries (Indianapolis was 9 of 16, Detroit was 5 of 9) and the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:36 to Indy’s 29:24.

The defending Super Bowl champs squeaked out a 21-20 win over Carolina in a Super Bowl L (50) rematch in the Mile High City. Denver trailed 17-7 at halftime before pulling themselves up and taking Carolina to task. Carolina had a chance to win the game and pull off the upset, pulling to within one when Greg Gano connected on a 36 yard field late in the fourth quarter. Gano could have been the hero for Carolina but his 53-yard field goal try sailed wide left, giving Denver the win. Carolina outrushed Denver 157-148 and Newton (194 yards passing) threw a TD and ran for a TD in the contest. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the season opener (Denver was 5 of 10, Carolina was 9 of 15) and the Broncos were successful in their only fourth down try in the contest. Carolina, despite losing to Denver for the second time in a calendar year, did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:19 to Denver’s 27:41.

The Broncos lead the series 12-10 (which includes games that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore) and they have outscored the Colts 492-463. They met last year in the Hoosier State and it was the Colts holding off Peyton Manning and the Broncos by a final of 27-24. In the week nine contest at Lucas Oil Stadium, Denver managed to pull even with Indy when Manning and TE Owens Daniels connected on a 1 yard TD pass with 8:54 left in regulation. That tie would not last very long as the Colts marched downfield and took the lead for keeps when Adam Vinatieri connected on a 55 yard field goal with 6:13 remaining. Indy outrushed Denver 120-35 but Manning outpassed Luck 281-252, with each QB throwing a pair of TDs and an intercaption. Denver went 6 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 21:21, while the Colts were 12 of 20, keeping the pigskin for 38:39.

Denver’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 46. No Peyton here. Denver may not cover the 6 but they win in the Mile High City.

Jacksonville (0-1) at San Diego (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. It’s a 2,340 mile trip along I-10 as Jacksonville travels west to Southern California for a meeting on the Left Coast with the San Diego Chargers.

Jacksonville came up short against Green Bay in Florida’s first city, falling to the Packers 27-23 at EverBank Field. Jacksonville trailed 21-17 at the half and the two teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay, who outrushed Jacksonville 95-48, held off a late Jaguar rally that would have given the home team the win, stopping three Blake Bortles passes late in the game to end the threat. Bortles (TD) did manage to outpace Rodgers (2 TDs) 320-199 but found himself being sacked three times. Green Bay on third and fourth downs went 7 of 14 and 1 of 1, keeping the ball for 28:37, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, hoolding the ball for 31:23, while going 4 of 15 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Bolts let a 21-3 lead at the half at Kansas City get away from them and fell in overtime to the Chiefs 33-27. The Chiefs took care of business in the second half and overtime, outscoring the Philip Rivers-led Chargers 30-6 in the last three periods for the win over their AFC West rivals. Although they were outrushed by San Diego 155-83, Alex Smith did manage to outpass Rivers 363-243, while throwing a pair of TD passes and scoring the game-winner in overtime from two yards out. Kansas City was 5 of 14 on third down tries at Arrowhead (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:06 (including the overtime), while the Bolts went 7 of 15, keeping the ball for 34:01.

San Diego leads the series with Jacksonville 6-2, they have outscored the Jaguars 236-144 and have won the last five meetings, including a 31-25 win in Jacksonville last year (Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in 2007, when they came away 24-17 winners in the Sunshine State.

In the week 12 contest on Florida’s East Coast, San Diego led 21-9 at the half before Jacksonville pulled close, outscoring the Bolts 16-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Jacksonville managed to outrush San Diego 102-79 and outpassed the Chargers 329-300 (Bortles threw a pair of TDs, while Rivers threw four, with each getting sacked twice). Jacksonville on third down went 5 of 15 (2 for 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 28:36, while the Chargers were 6 of 14, 1 of 1 as far as third and fourth down tries were concerned and held on to the ball for 31:24.

San Diego’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 47. You might want to take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of either team) and watch that “NCIS” marathon on Ion Network (there’s nothing funnier than seeing Ziva smack Tony over the head!). Chargers “bolt” their way to the win on the Left Coast and cover the 3.

Green Bay (1-0) at Minnesota (1-0), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. They meet again. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Twin Cities as the Packers and Vikings open the newest NFL stadium, US Bank Field in Minneapolis in primetime.

Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers needed some help from their defense late against Jacksonville as they came away 27-23 winners in the Sunshine State. The Packers led Jacksonville 21-17 at the half and the two teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay, who outrushed Jacksonville 95-48, held off a late Jaguar rally that would have given the home team the win, stopping three Blake Bortles passes late in the game to end the threat. Bortles (TD) did manage to outpace Rodgers (2 TDs) 320-199 but found himself being sacked three times. Green Bay on third and fourth downs went 7 of 14 and 1 of 1, keeping the ball for 28:37, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, hoolding the ball for 31:23, while going 4 of 15 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Vikings trailed 10-0 against Tennessee, who was without Teddy Bridgewater, before they outscored the Titans 25-6 in the last 30 minutes of action to win 25-16 in Nashville. As far as the rushing game was concerned, there was nothing to write home about as neither club came close to the 100-yard barrier (Minnesota could only tally 65 yards on the ground, while Tennessee could muster only 64). Marcus Mariota did manage to outpass Bridgewater’s replacement, Sean Hill, with 271 yards and a pair of TDs (Hill had 236 in the air for the Vikings) in the season opener for both clubs.

Including contests that were played in Milwaukee and at old Metropolitan Stadium, the Packers lead the series 58-49-2 and Green Bay has outscored the Vikings 2,397-2,108. They met twice in the 2015 campaign and both took wins on the other team’s field.

First round… week 11 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Green Bay made short work of Minnesota in front of their fans, taking a 30-13 win. Eddie Lacy ran for 100 of the Packers’ 124 yards in the contest, while the Packer defense held Minnesota’s ground game to 94 (Adrian Peterson accounted for 45 of those yards). Even though Rodgers (212 yards) was outpassed by Bridgewater, he did manage to throw a pair of TDs without an interception, while Bridgewater (296 yards) was sacked six times. Both clubs could not breach the 50 percent mark on third down tries (Green Bay went 6 of 16; Minnesota was 5 of 13, 0 of 2 on fourth down) and time was on the side of the Packers, who kept the ball for 30:22 to Minnesota/s 29:38.

Round two… week 17… Lambeau Field. The second meeting was for all the marbles. The winner? NFC North champs. The loser? Wild Card. Green Bay trailed 20-3 after three quarters of play and rallied but fell short, falling to Minnesota in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst 20-13. In the season finale, Minnesota outran Green Bay 151-76 (Peterson accounted for 67 of their yards) and the Vikings defense sacked Rodgers (291 yards) five times. Third down tries in the second meeting? They went on a milk carton of sorts (Green Bay was 2 of 15; Minnesota was 2 of 11) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down (Minnesota was successful in their only try, while the Packers were 3 of 6). Green Bay ruled the clock this time, keeping the ball for 35:42, while the Vikings held it for 24:18.

Green Bay’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 43 1/2. New stadium. Old rivals in the NFC North (or as Chris Berman calls it the NFC Norris). Both teams are 1-0, which makes this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (for instructions on “The Drill,” see the Seattle-Los Angeles game). Green Bay’s got revenge and would love nothing more than to ruin the party for the Vikings and their fans. Packers cover the 2 1/2 and win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Chicago (0-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two concludes along the shores of Lake Michigan as the Monsters of the Midway host the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.

The Carson Wentz era began in the City of Brotherly Love as he passed for 278 yards and 2 TDs with 101 rating in NFL debut in their 29-10 win over Cleveland at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz became the 1st Eagles rookie to start at QB in season opener since 1939 (Davey O’Brien) and had the highest rating by Eagles rookie QB since John Reaves in 1972 (minimum of 20 pass attempts). Philadelphia outrushed the Browns in the season opener 133-120 and Griffin threw for 190 yards before his injury (he was sacked three times in the contest). Philadelphia held on to the ball for 39:20, while the Browns kept it for 20:40.

Da Bears return to the Windy City after their 23-14 loss to Houston last Sunday in the Lone Star State. Chicago led 14-10 at the half before the Texans went on to shut them out in the second half. Chicago was held to 73 yards rushing and Jay Cutler was sacked five times in the 9-point loss. Houston’s Lamar Miller led all rushers with 106 of the Texans’ 129 yards, while Brock Osweiler (231 yards) threw a pair of TDs, although he was sacked twice. Chicago was 4 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and kept the ball for 23:41, while the Texans kept the pigskin for 36:19, going 12 of 20 on third downs.

Da Bears lead da series 28-10-1 (which includes contests that were played when Chicago played at the corners of Clark, Waveland, Sheffield and Addison… Wrigley Field) and Chicago has outscored the Eagles 856-557. Philly won the last meeting between the two, coming away 54-11 in the City of Brotherly Love in 2013, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in Philly, a 30-24 win in 2011.

On Monday nights, the Eagles have a better record than Da Bears. Philly is 31-26 and was 1-1 in their Monday night contests last year, while Chicago is 29-36 but picked their only MNF win last year. Chicago’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. This one might be worth watching, so you might want to tape “The Big Bang Theory” this week. Eagles pull off the upset in the Windy City and covers the 3.

After weeks of OTA’s, pre-season games, sweating in a hot sun, sleeping in college dorms, two-a-days, fighting teammates, the bugs and the heat… it’s finally time for football.

The National Football League got underway last Thursday evening in the Mile High City as the defending Super Bowl champions got their rings as they faced off against the team they beat for the Lombardi Trophy in Santa Clara last January, the Carolina Panthers.

Peyton’s gone, in case you’ve forgotten. He’s ridden off into the sunset and there was some talk as to who would replace him. In the end, the football gods decided that it would be …

As for the team that Denver beat to get to Santa Clara? New England? They’ll be without the services of Tom Brady for four games for his role in Deflategate a few years ago. Brady will be back in week five, when they take on the Cleveland Browns, who will also be without the services of Josh Gordon (failed drug test). That contest in Foxboro is already being billed as the “Suspension Bowl.”

But enough about that.

One game’s already in the books as Denver escaped with a one-point win aginst Cam Newton and the Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch. The Super Bowl 50 champions Denver Broncos have the top mark in the NFL. winning 23 of its past 25 home openers. It’s when things start to count.

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

AFC East champion New England, who travels to Arizona on Sunday Night Football, have a 16-4 record on the road against NFC teams over the past 10 seasons. The Patriots have the fifth-most Kickoff Weekend wins among AFC teams (31).

AFC South champion Houston, who opens the season hosting Chicago, have won five of their past six home openers.

NFC West champion Arizona, who hosts New England on Kickoff Weekend, have the third-longest current winning streak among NFC teams in home openers (six).

NFC East champion Washington and the San Francsico 49ers start the season at home against Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, respectively, during a Monday Night Football doubleheader. Washington has 48 wins in home openers – the fifth-most amongst NFC teams – while San Francisco has won 14 of its past 20 home openers.

Green Bay, traveling to Jacksonville on Kickoff Weekend, hold the record for the most wins in road openers (54) and the second-best winning percentage in openers on the road (.581, 54-39-2).

Pittsburgh, who travels to Washington on Monday night of Kickoff Weekend, have the most wins (41) among AFC teams on Kickoff Weekend.

Atlanta, who will host Tampa Bay to open the 2016 campaign, has won eight consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks, who host Miami on Kickoff Weekend in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, have won seven
consecutive home openers, the second-longest streak in the league

The New York Jets host Cincinnati on Kickoff Weekend having won five consecutive home openers, the longest active streak among AFC teams

The Chicago Bears (65-27-4), who host Philadelphia in Week 2 on Monday Night Football, have a .707 winning percentage in home openers, the second-best mark in the NFL

The Dallas Cowboys, without Tony Romo (back) begin the year by hosting the New York Giants with a 38-17-1 (.691) record in openers at home, the fourth-best winning percentage in NFL history.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 14-7 (.667) on Kickoff Weekend and his 14 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Los Angeles’ Jeff Fisher (12-8; .600) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .500… Denver’s Gary Kubiak (6-3) and Buffalo’s Rex Ryan (6-1) have each won five consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches New York Jets’ Todd Bowles (1-0) of the Jets, Cleveland’s Hue Jackson (1-0) and Atlanta’s Dan Quinn (1-0) are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend.

As for new men roaming the sideline, there will be five – Miami’s Adam Gase, Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter, the New York Giants’ Ben McAdoo, Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey – make their Kickoff Weekend debuts in 2016.

The 2016 regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off Thursday evening in Denver and conclude on Sunday, January 1 with 16 division games. The Denver-Carolina contest marked the first time that a Super Bowl rematch took place on Kickoff Weekend since 1970, when the Chiefs and Vikings met.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m. featuring the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys in a clash between NFC East rivals. Among the highlights in the 1 p.m. ET window on Kickoff Weekend is the New York Jets at home on September 11 hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 11 when the Arizona Cardinals host the New England Patriots at 8:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium. Both clubs advanced to the Conference Championship Game last season.

Monday night fans? You haven’t been left out. There are going to be two MNF games in the first week.

Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 12 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Washington Redskins will host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:10 p.m. in the first game followed by the return of the Los Angeles Rams, who visit the San Francisco 49ers in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

As for Monday night, ESPN will be the place to be for football and they 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. ESPN will also broadcast the Pro Bowl on Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. which will be played at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

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 Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m., CBS) on Thanksgiving Day and the Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks (4:25 p.m. CBS) in Week 11 (Sunday, November 20). Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

Other highlights of the 2016 schedule include:

In Week 2, the Rams will return home to Los Angeles when they host the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon (4:05 p.m., FOX). That night in primetime (8:30 p.m., NBC), the Minnesota Vikings will open their new home – U.S. Bank Stadium – when they host the rival Green Bay Packers.

On Monday night, September 26, the New Orleans Saints will host the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina when the Saints defeated the Falcons 23-3 on Monday night, September 25, 2006.

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 24. The first game will send the Minnesota Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on CBS. The late afternoon game will feature the Washington Redskins visiting the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. on FOX in an NFC East matchup and the holiday concludes with the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

In Week 16, the majority of games will be played on Saturday, December 24 due to the Christmas holiday, highlighted by a primetime matchup on NFL Network between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans at 8:25 p.m. There will be two games played on Christmas – the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens on NFL Network at 4:30 p.m. followed by the Denver Broncos visiting the Kansas City Chiefs on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

Get that passport ready! The NFL will continue its International Series of regular-season games with three games being played in London and the league’s return to Mexico City. On Sunday, October 2, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Indianapolis Colts at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. on CBS (Be sure to set the DVR in case you have an early church service!). In the first-ever NFL game at Twickenham Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams will host the New YorkGiants on Sunday, October 23 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The following week, the Cincinnati Bengals will host the Washington Redskins at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX and the ). The NFL will return to Mexico City on Monday, November 21 (8:30 p.m. ESPN) when the Oakland Raiders host the Houston Texans in the first-ever Monday Night Football game to be played outside the United States.

This season, the NFL will use a “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital  (Twitter) for 10 Thursday Night Football games. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to a global audience across devices for free on Twitter. CBS will start in Week 2 Thursday, September 15) with the Buffalo Bills hosting the New York Jets at 8:30 p.m. and NBC’s package begins in Week 11 (Thursday, November 17) with the New Orleans Saints travel to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with the Carolina Panthers at  8:25 p.m. Additionally, NFL Network will also exclusively televise an eight-game schedule comprised of four Thursday Night Football games, two late-season Saturday contests, a Sunday morning London matchup and a Christmas Day game.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 13.

“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 January 1. 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 7-8. 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 14-15. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 22. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 5 in Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium (FOX).

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. on 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.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, January 1. For the seventh consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications. Additionally, over the final three weeks there are 33 division games, tied for the most in NFL history.

What to look for as far as teams are concerned in 2016?

The New York Giants need three victories to become the third team in NFL history with 700 total victories. The Giants (697-591-33) would join Chicago (758-573-42) and Green Bay (752-568-37) as the only teams to accomplish the feat. Their stadium mates, the New York Jets, need one victory to reach 400 total victories. The Jets’ all-time record is 399-470-8. The Houston Texans need one victory to reach 100 total victories. Houston’s all-time record is 99-129.

As far as players go…

Drew Brees, QB-New Orleans, needs 459 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most all-time. In 15 seasons, Brees has 60,903 passing yards.

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 eight seasons.

Brees can become the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times in his career. Sonny Jurgensen (5) and Dan Marino (5) are tied for the second-most such seasons in NFL history. Brees has led the NFL in passing yards six times.

Brees needs two 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 15 seasons, Brees has 13 400-yard passing games.

Brees can extend his NFL record of 300-yard passing games. In 15 seasons, Brees has 96 300-yard passing games. Brees has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can become the only player to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

Brees has led the league in completions four times and can join Dan Marino (6) and Sammy Baugh (5) as the only players to lead the league in completions at least five times.

Brees has led the league in pass attempts three times in his career and can join Dan Marino (5) Sammy Baugh (4), Johnny Unitas (4) and George Blanda (4) as the only players to lead the league in attempts at least four times.

TOM BRADY, QB-New England, needs seven wins to surpass Peyton Manning (200) and Brett Favre (199) for the most overall (regular season and postseason) wins by a quarterback in NFL history. In 16 seasons, Brady has 194 overall wins.

Brady needs 3,334 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most all-time. In 16 seasons, Brady has 58,028 passing yards. Brady has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can become the only player to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

ELI MANNING, QB-New York Giants, needs six touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Manning has 294 touchdown passes.

PHILIP RIVERS, QB-San Diego, has led the league in average yards per pass three times in his career and can join Steve Young (5) and Sid Luckman (7) as the only players in NFL history to do so in at least four seasons.

Rivers needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 12 seasons, Rivers has eight 400-yard passing games (see Brees, Palmer and Roethlisberger note).

Rivers needs 19 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Rivers has 281 touchdown passes.

CARSON PALMER, QB-Arizona, needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 13 seasons, Palmer has eight 400-yard passing games.

Palmer needs 41 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 13 seasons, Palmer has 259 touchdown passes.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB-Pittsburgh, needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 12 seasons, Roethlisberger has eight 400-yard passing games

Roethlisberger needs 28 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Roethlisberger has 272 touchdown passes.

AARON RODGERS, QB-Green Bay, needs 43 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 11 seasons, Rodgers has 257 touchdown passes.

ADRIAN PETERSON, RB-Minnesota, needs 10 rushing touchdowns to join LaDainian Tomlinson (9) 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 (8).

Peterson has six 200-yard rushing games, tied with O.J. Simpson (6) for the most all-time. Peterson needs one 200-yard rushing game to move into sole possession of first place in NFL history.

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

Peterson needs 2,010 rushing yards to surpass LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) for the fifth-most all-time. In nine seasons, Peterson has 11,675 rushing yards.

Peterson has led the league in rushing yards three times in his career and can become the sixth player to lead the league in rushing yards four times.

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

LARRY FITZGERALD, WR-Arizona, needs 85 receptions to surpass Jason Witten (1,020), Isaac Bruce (1,024), Andre Johnson (1,053), Reggie Wayne (1,070), Terrell Owens (1,078), Tim Brown (1,094), Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most all-time. In 12 seasons, Fitzgerald has 1,018 receptions.

Fitzgerald needs two touchdown receptions to become the 10th player in NFL history with 100 touchdown catches. In 12 seasons, Fitzgerald has 98 touchdown receptions.

BRANDON MARSHALL, WR-New York Jets, can extend his NFL record of seasons with 100 receptions to seven. Andre Johnson and Wes Welker are the only other players with at least five 100-reception seasons.

ANTONIO GATES, TE-San Diego, needs eight touchdown receptions to surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most career touchdown receptions by a tight end. In 13 seasons, Gates has 104 touchdown receptions.

ROB GRONKOWSKI, TE-New England, has three seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and can join Tony Gonzalez (4) and Jason Witten (4) as the only tight ends with at least four seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

Gronkowski can extend his NFL record of five seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions by a tight end.

JASON WITTEN, TE-Dallas, needs 83 receptions to surpass Isaac Bruce (1,024), Andre Johnson (1,053), Reggie Wayne (1,070), Terrell Owens (1,078), Tim Brown (1,094), Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most all-time. In 13
seasons, Witten has 1,020 receptions.

JULIUS PEPPERS, LB-Green Bay, needs 14 sacks to become the fourth player with 150 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 14 seasons, Peppers has 136 sacks.

DE MARCUS WARE, LB-Denver, 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.

Ware needs 7.5 sacks to surpass Jared Allen (136), Julius Peppers (136), Richard Dent (137.5), John Randle (137.5), Jason Taylor (139.5) and Michael Strahan (141.5) for the fifth-most sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 11 seasons, Ware has 134.5 sacks.

J.J. WATT, LB-Houston, can increase his NFL record total of 20-sack seasons. In five seasons, Watt has two seasons with 20 sacks.

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.

AQIB TALIB, CB-Denver, needs two interception-return touchdowns to become the fourth player with 10 all-time. In eight seasons, Talib has eight interception-return touchdowns.

ADAM VINATIERI, K-Indianapolis, needs 36 field goals to surpass Gary Anderson (538) for the second-most all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 503 field goals.

Vinatieri needs 44 field goal attempts to surpass George Blanda (641) for the third-most attempted field goals all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 598 field goal attempts.

Vinatieri needs 182 points to surpass Gary Anderson (2,434) for the second-most points scored all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 2,253 points (742-pat, 503-fg, 1 2-pt).

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, K-New England, has led the league in scoring five times in his career and can surpass Don Hutson (5) and Gino Cappelletti (5) as the only player to lead the league in points scored at least six times.

Gostkowski has led the league in scoring for four consecutive seasons (2012-15) and can join Don Hutson (5) as the only players to lead the league in scoring for five consecutive seasons.

Gostkowski has led the league in field goals three times in his career and can join Lou Groza (5), Ward Cuff (4), Jack Manders (4) and Mark Moseley (4) as the only players to lead the league in field goals at least four times.

SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI, K-Oakland, has 52 50-yard field goals, tied with Jason Hanson (52) for the most all-time. Janikowski needs one 50-yard field goal to move into sole possession of first place in NFL history.

As for the coaches? There are some milestones that four current coaches will want to reach in 2016…

BILL BELICHICK, New England, needs four victories to join Don Shula (347), George Halas (324) and Tom Landry (270) as the only coaches to reach 250 career wins. In 21 seasons, Belichick has 246 career victories.

MIKE TOMLIN, Pittsburgh, needs two victories to reach 100 career victories. In nine seasons, Tomlin has 98 career victories.

SEAN PAYTON, New Orleans, needs seven victories to reach 100 career victories. In 10 seasons, Payton has 93 career victories.

JOHN HARBAUGH, Baltimore, needs 13 victories to reach 100 career victories. In eight seasons, Harbaugh has 87 career victories.

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 554 teams which won openers…288 went to the playoffs (173 won division titles).
Of the 555 teams which lost openers…134 went to the playoffs (77 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 2015, seven of the 12 playoff teams – Arizona, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City and New England – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

SCORING REACHED RECORD HIGHS IN 2015: A total of 11,680 points were scored in 2015, the second-highest total all-time (11,985 in 2013). And there were 1,318 total touchdowns scored, the second-most ever (1,338 in 2013).

YEAR – TOTAL POINTS SCORED
2013 – 11,985
2015 – 11,680
2012 – 11,651
2014 – 11,565
2011 – 11,356
2010 – 12,283

YEAR – TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS
2013 – 1,338
2015 – 1,318
2012 – 1,297
2014 – 1,293
2002 – 1,270
2010 – 1,270

Nine teams scored at least 400 points in 2015 – Carolina (500), Arizona (489), New England (465), Pittsburgh (423), Seattle (423), New York Giants (420), Cincinnati (419), New Orleans (408) and Kansas City (405) – tying the 2009, 2012 and 2014 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .667 winning percentage and seven of those clubs qualified for the playoffs.

Led by the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers, who finished 15-1 and scored an NFL-high 500 points on their way to an appearance in Super Bowl 50, many of the NFL’s top-scoring offenses translated those points into wins.

“To see how explosive we are and the points we’ve scored is special,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “You don’t know if you are going to be a high-scoring team when you start but that had a lot to do with our success. When teams have been together a while, it allows them to have continuity to develop offenses and have it morph into fitting around each other’s skill sets, then good things happen.”

The teams that scored at least 400 points in 2015:

TEAM (POINTS) W-L-T , PCT.
Carolina (500) 15-1, .938*
Arizona (489) 13-3, 813*
New England (485) 12-4, .750*
Pittsburgh (423) 10-6, .625*
Seattle (423) 10-6, .625*
New York Giants (420) 6-10, .375
Cincinnati (419) 12-4*
New Orleans (408); 7-9, .438
Kansas City (405); 11-5, .688*
*Playoff team

BEST KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCES, PAST 10 YEARS

MOST YARDS RUSHING (YARDS on Carries; Longest, TD)
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Indianapolis, 9/12/10 (231 yards on 33 carries; longest – 42, 3 TDS)
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Detroit, 9/7/08 (220 yards on 22 carries; longest 66t, 2 TDS)
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Washington, 9/9/13 (184 yards on 31 carries; longest – 34t, TD)
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Cleveland, 9/13/09 (180 yards on 25 carries; longest – 64t, 3 TD)
Chris Brown, Tennessee vs. Jacksonville, 9/9/07 (175 yards on 19 carries; longest – 42)
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo vs. New York Jets, 9/9/12 (169 yards on 14 carries; longeest – 56t, TD)
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco vs. Minnesota, 9/14/15 (168 yards on 26; longest – 18, 2 TD)
Darren McFadden, Oakland vs. Denver, 9/12/11 (150 yards on 22 carries; longest – 47)
Mike Bell, New Orleans vs. Detroit, 9/13/09 (143 yards on 28 carries; longest – 22)
Matt Forté, Chicago vs. Green Bay, 9/13/15 (141 yards on 24 carries; longest – 23, TD)

MOST YARDS PASSING (Yards, Completions-Attempts, TDs, Interceptions)
Tom Brady, New England vs. Miami, 9/12/11 (517 yards, 32 of 48; 4 TDS, INT)
Peyton Manning, Denver vs. Baltimore, 9/5/13 (462 yards, 27 of 42, 7 TDS)
Eli Manning, New York Giants vs. Dallas, 9/8/13 (450 yards, 27 of 42, 4 TDS, 3 INT)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs. New Orleans, 9/7/14 (448 yards, 31 of 43, 3 TDS)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Houston, 9/12/10 (433 yards, 40 of 57, 3 TDS)
Cam Newton, Carolina vs. Arizona, 9/11/11 (422 yards, 24 of 37, 2 TDS, INT)
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Green Bay, 9/8/11 (419 yards, 32 of 49, 3 TDS)
Chad Henne, Miami vs. New England, 9/12/11 (416 yards, 30 of 49, 2 TDS, INT)
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 9/8/13 (412 yards, 27 of 39, 3 TDS)
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs. Detroit, 9/13/15 (403 yards, 34 of 41, 2 TDS, 2 INT)

MOST YARDS RECEIVING (YARDS, CATCHES, LONGEST, TDS)
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 9/8/13 (208 yards on 13 catches, longest – 43, TD)
Randy Moss, New England vs. New York Jets, 9/9/07 (183 yards on 9 catches, longest – 51t, TD)
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Arizona, 9/11/11 (178 yards on 8 catches, longest – 77t, 2 TDS)
Keenan Allen, San Diego vs. Detroit, 9/13/15 (166 yards on 15 catches, longest – 21)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. New York Giants, 9/8/14 (164 yards on 7 catches, longest – 67t, 2 TDS)
Austin Collie, Indianapolis vs. Houston, 9/12/10 (163 yards on 11 catches, longest – 73t, TD)
A.J. Green, Cincinnati vs. Chicago, 9/8/13 (162 yards on 9 catches, longest – 45t, 2 TDS)
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville, 9/13/09 (162 yards on 10 catches, longest – 39, TD)
Antwaan Randle El, Washington vs. Miami, 9/9/07 (162 yards on 5 catches, longest – 54)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver vs. Baltimore, 9/5/13 (161 yards on 5 catches, longest – 78t, 2 TDS)

Please return your trays to the upright position… there will be a lot of travel for all 32 teams in the 2016 campaign and the majority of that will be in the skies of the United States. With three trips to London and a trip to Mexico, NFL teams will be able to get some of those frequent flier miles in. Here’s a look at the total miles that all 32 teams will travel and the notes on travel for the 2016 season.

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED & NOTES ON 2016 TRAVEL (2016 regular season)

1. Los Angeles – 35,952
2. Oakland – 31,622
3. Seattle – 27,766
4. San Francisco – 25,668
5. Miami – 25,548
6. Jacksonville – 23,676
7. San Diego – 23,410
8. Arizona – 21,288
9. Carolina – 19,476
10. New England – 19,336
11. Tampa Bay – 19,288
12. Indianapolis – 18,960
13. Dallas – 18,406
14. Buffalo – 18,370
15. Atlanta – 18,352
16. Denver – 16,874
17. Cincinnati – 16,868
18. New Orleans – 16,460
19. Washington – 16,382
20. New York Jets – 16,158
21. Houston – 15,318
22. New York Giants – 15,196
23. Kansas City – 13,440
24. Minnesota – 11,652
25. Philadelphia – 11,202
26. Tennessee – 10,614
27. Detroit – 9,518
28. Green Bay – 9,050
29. Chicago – 8,766
30. Baltimore – 7,084
31. Cleveland – 6,074
32. Pittsburgh – 5,142

•The total distance traveled by all teams during the regular season will be 552,916 miles.
•The teams of the NFC West (100,674) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions.
•The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC West (85,346), AFC East (79,412), NFC South (73,576), AFC South (68,568), NFC East (61,186), NFC North (38,986) and AFC North (35,168).
•Five teams – Los Angeles (35,952), Oakland (31,622), Seattle (27,766), San Francisco (25,668) and Miami (25,548) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

Eight teams (Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Los Angeles, Washington, Cincinnati, Oakland and Houston) will play contests outside of the United States this year. Get those passports ready.

NFL RATCHETS UP THE EXCITEMENT…HOPE IS ALIVE: The 2015 season was full of excitement but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL.

Many close games and great comeback victories…new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions…records falling…and so much more.

“What people love about the NFL,” New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees told the Times-Picayune and the Mobile Register, “is that every game, every week, no matter who is playing, anything
can happen. So many games come down to that last possession.”

The NFL is never short on surprises and the 2015 season was no different.

The 2015 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as nearly 55 percent were decided by one score – 140 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.

Comeback victories were also a trend. In 2015, there were 67 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most such games in a single season in NFL history.

The 2016 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new year with hope.

Four teams that missed the postseason in 2014 – Kansas City (11-5), Minnesota (10-5), Houston (9-7) and Washington (9-7) – advanced to the 2015 playoffs. 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 Redskins rebounded to win the NFC East division title after finishing in last place in 2014, which marked the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

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

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)

BEST OPENING MONTH RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS

Getting off to a strong start is important. Over the past 10 years, nine teams have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those nine clubs have combined for 58 playoff berths and 12 Super Bowl appearances – including four Super Bowl championships – during that span.

The nine teams with a .600+ winning percentage in the opening month over the past 10 seasons (2006-15):

TEAM (Record, Pct.)
New England (24-9-0, .727)
Denver (23-11-0. .676)
Dallas (22-11-0. .667)
Baltimore (22-12-0, .647)
Green Bay (22-12-0, .647)
Arizona (21-13-0, .618)
Cincinnati (20-13-0, .606)
Indianapolis (20-13-0, .606)
Seattle (20-13-0, .606)

DIVISION TITLES? UP FOR GRABS: Unpredictable NFL? It sure seems that way! In the 14 seasons since realignment in 2002, 28 different teams have won division titles.

“It’s great to win the division,” said Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, who helped lead the Texans to the AFC South title last season. He told the Housotn Chronicle, KPRC-TV and KHOU-TV, “It’s great for our team, great for our fans, it’s great for our city. This is what we expect. We expect to win the division, we expect to be in the playoffs.”

Last year, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer guided the Vikings to their first division title since 2009.

“I’m proud of this football team,” Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We started out two years ago trying to build something special. I told them it’s not a surprise that we are where we’re at and now we’ve made the playoffs.”

The teams that have won their divisions in the 14 seasons since realignment in 2002:

TEAM – DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS
New England – 12/12
Indianapolis – 9/12
Green Bay – 8/11
Seattle – 7/10
Pittsburgh – 6/9
Denver – 6/8
Philadelphia – 6/8
Carolina – 5/6
San Diego – 5/6
Baltimore – 4/8
Cincinnati – 4/7
Atlanta – 3/6
New York Giants – 3/6
New Orleans – 3/5
Dallas – 3/5
Minnesota – 3/5
Arizona – 3/4
San Francisco – 3/4
Chicago – 3/3
Houston – 3/3
Tampa Bay – 3/3
Kansas City – 2/3
Tennessee – 2/4
Washington – 2/4
New York Jets – 1/5
Los Angeles – 1/2
Miami – 1/1
Oakland – 1/1

2016 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Team (Opponents’ 2015 Pct. & Record; Games vs. teams .500 or better-Games vs. 2015 playoff teams)
Atlanta (.555; 142-114; 7-7)
San Francisco (.555; 142-114; 9-6)
Los Angeles (.551; 141-115; 9-6)
New Orleans (.547; 140-116; 8-6)
Seattle (.543; 139-117; 8-5)
Tampa Bay (.543; 139-117; 8-6)
Arizona (.531; 136-120; 9-6)
New York Jets (.531; 136-120; 10-7)
New England (.523; 134-122; 10-6)
Buffalo (.520; 133-123; 8-6)
Miami (.516; 132-124; 10-6)
Carolina (.512; 131-125; 8-6)
San Diego (.508; 130-126; 8-6)
Denver (.504; 129-127; 8-6)
Oakland (.500; 128-128; 9-6)
Kansas City (.496; 127-129; 8-5)
Washington (.492; 126-130; 6-6)
Minnesota (.488; 125-131; 7-6)
Baltimore (.484; 124-132; 8-6)
Houston (.484; 124-132; 8-6)
Cleveland (.480; 123-133; 8-6)
Indianapolis (.477; 122-134; 8-7)
Jacksonville (.473; 121-135; 9-6)
Pittsburgh (.473; 121-135; 8-5)
Tennessee (.473; 121-135; 8-6)
Philadelphia (.469; 120-136; 8-7)
Cincinnati (.465; 119-137; 8-6)
Dallas (.465: 119-137; 6-6)
Detroit (.465; 119-137; 7-6)
Chicago (.461; 118-138; 7-6)
New York Giants (.461; 118-138; 6-6)
Green Bay (.457; 117-139; 7-5)

WINNING IS A HABIT: Thirty-nine of the 50 Super Bowl champions (78 percent) finished the preseason with a winning percentage of at least .500. Last year, the Denver Broncos finished the preseason 3-1 en route to winning Super Bowl 50.

Since 2000, the 16 Super Bowl champions have combined for a 41-23 (.641) preseason record during their championship seasons.

FROM WORST TO FIRST: Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season. So yes, there is hope if your team faltered last year.

For the 12th time in the past 13 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 43 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 20 of them have done so in the past 13 years (2003-15), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

After finishing in last place in the division in 2014, the Washington Redskins won their final four games to close the 2015 campaign and claim the NFC East crown. After starting the season 2-4, the Redskins qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2012.

“I’m very satisfied to see how the tables turned,” Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins told WUSA TV and USA Today about the team’s turnaround last season. “Now we look forward and say: ‘Where can we go from here?’ and ‘How high can we take it?’”

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

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 5-11)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES

COACH, TEAM (W-L, Pct)
Todd Bowles, New York Jets (1-0, 1.000)
Jack Del Rio, Oakland (5-5, .500)
Hue Jackson, Cleveland (1-0, 1.000)
John Fox, Chicago (7-7, .500)
Dan Quinn, Atlanta (1-0, 1.000)
Bill O’Brien, Houston (1-1, .500)
Rex Ryan, Buffalo (6-1 .857)
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota (1-1, .500)
Bruce Arians, Arizona (2-1, .667)
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati (6-7, .462)
Bill Belichick, New England (14-7, .667)
Jim Caldwell, Detroit (2-3, .400)
Chip Kelly, San Francisco (2-1, .667)
Ron Rivera, Carolina (2-3, .400)
Gary Kubiak, Denver (6-3, .667)
Mike McCoy, San Diego (1-2, .333)
John Harbaugh, Baltimore (5-3, .625)
Mike Mularkey, Tennessee (1-2, .333)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (6-4, .600)
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis (1-3, .250)
Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles (12-8, .600)
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville (0-3, .000)
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay (6-4, .600)
Jay Gruden, Washington (0-2, .000)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (3-2, .600)
Adam Gase, Miami (0-0, .000)
Sean Payton, New Orleans (5-4, .556)
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay (0-0, .000)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (5-4, .556)
Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (0-0, .000)
Andy Reid, Kansas City, (9-8, .529)
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia (0-0, .000)

THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT IN 2015…

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

Games continued to be this close. If you like your football close, then 2015 was the season for you. In 2015, 131 of 256 games (51.2 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 131
2002 – 126
2011 – 125
2003 – 124
2013 – 123

Last season, 140 of 256 games (54.7 percent) were decided by eight points or fewer, the most since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE IN 2015

POINTS – GAMES (Pct.)
8 or Fewer – 140 of 256 (54.7 pct.)
7 or Fewer – 131 of 255 (51.2 pct.)
3 or Fewer – 59 of 256 (23 pct.)

Sixty-eight percent of games (174 of 256) in 2015 were within one score in the fourth quarter. The 174 such games are tied for the third-most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2002 – 177
2004 – 175
2015 – 174
2013 – 174
2007 – 173

BEST NFL RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS: Over the past 10 years, four NFL teams – New England (124-36, .775), Green Bay (104-55-1, .653), Indianapolis (104-56, .650) and Pittsburgh (100-60, .625) – have posted a winning percentage of .600 or better. Those four clubs have combined for 31 playoff berths, eight Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl championships during that span.

The New England Patriots, under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick, have the best regular-season record over the past 10 years, qualifying for the postseason nine times and winning Super Bowl XLIX.

“At the end of the day, they find ways to win,” says Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan about the Patriots. “That’s what championship teams do.”

The teams with the best regular-season records over the past 10 seasons (2006-15):

TEAM: W-L-T (Pct.; PLAYOFF BERTHS, SUPER BOWL BERTHS, SUPER BOWL WINS)
New England: 124-36 (.775; 9 Playoff Berths, 3 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)
Green Bay: 104-55-1 (.653; 8 Playoff Berths, 1 Super Bowl Berth, 1 Super Bowl win)
Indianapolis: 104-56 (.650; 8 Playoff Berths, 2 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)
Pittsburgh: 100-60 (.625; 6 Playoff Berths, 2 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)

NEW NFL RULES FOR 2016: Player safety will be the order of the day in 2016. Rule changes are made each season to improve the game and make it safer. Recent rules changes and points of emphasis focused on player safety have resulted in defenders adjusting their target zone and using the proper tackling technique.

In 2015, there were 10 players fined for hits on defenseless players, compared to 40 for the same offense in 2012.

FINES FOR HITS ON DEFENSELESS PLAYERS

SEASON – FINES
2012 – 40
2013 – 25
2014 – 11
2015 – 10

With player health and safety remaining a priority, here are the 2016 rules changes and points of emphasis:

CHOP BLOCK: All chop blocks are now illegal. A chop block is a two-man high-low block in which a defensive player is engaged above the waist by one offensive player and blocked at the thigh or below by a second offensive player. A chop block is a foul whether it occurs on a running play, a pass play or a kicking play.

If it is clear that the defensive player is initiating the contact above the waist, or that the offensive player is trying to slip or escape, then the block is legal.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT FOULS: A player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will be automatically disqualified.

These types of fouls include:
1. Throwing a punch or kick without making contact
2. Use of abusive or threatening language toward an opponent
3. Any act that constitutes taunting

HORSE COLLAR: The horse collar rule has been expanded for this season. Prior to this change, it was illegal to grab the inside collar of the back or the side of the shoulder pad or jersey and pull the runner toward the ground. Now it will also be illegal to grab the back or side of the jersey at the name plate or above and pull the runner toward the ground. The runner does not have to be pulled all the way to the ground. If his knees are buckled by the action, it is a foul.

This rule does not apply to the quarterback in the pocket or a runner in the tackle box but once the runner leaves the tackle box or the quarterback leaves the pocket the rule is back in effect.

TOUCHBACKS: For the 2016 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line.

There will also be points of emphasis on several existing rules this season (although the rules themselves have not changed):

2015 saw an increase in both fouls and fines for low hits on passers. The quarterback in the pocket in a passing posture is protected from forcible contact to the knee area or below. Low hits on passers will result in a  15-yard penalty for roughing the passer as well as potential discipline. Once the quarterback tucks the ball and takes a running posture or moves outside the pocket and throws on the run, he no longer receives protection from hits to the knee area or below.

Rules regarding sliding runners will be emphasized in 2016. A runner gains maximum protection when he slides feet first and before defensive contact is imminent. A runner that slides in this manner is treated like a player on the ground and may not be unnecessarily contacted to any part of his body. If a runner begins his slide after defensive contact is imminent then he loses protection from hits to the body, but the defender must still avoid forcible contact to the head or neck area. If a runner slides sideways or dives head first, he receives no special protection and may be hit anywhere until he is on the ground.

The rule regarding crown of the helmet hits on runners has been clarified for 2016. A defender may not lower his head and make forcible contact with the crown of his helmet to any part of a runner’s body. This rule applies outside the tackle box and a foul will be called regardless of the path the defender takes toward the runner.

Pre-snap movement on the offensive line will be a point of emphasis for the upcoming season as game officials will pay particular attention to movement of the football prior to the snap. Adjusting the football as the center gets into his stance is legal, but once the line is set, any abrupt or significant movement of the ball will result in a five-yard penalty for a false start. In addition, any quick or abrupt movement that is not part of the snap will also result in a false start. However, if the movement is smooth and deliberate, it will be deemed legal. Game officials will work with centers and long snappers during training camp and before each game to establish acceptable standards.

The last point of emphasis will involve blindside blocks on kickoff and punt returns. Any time a blocker is moving in the direction of his own end line, he cannot block his opponent in the head or neck area. These blocks are dangerous and will lead to a 15-yard penalty and potential discipline.

A brief overview of NFL rule changes focused on protecting player health and safety since 1982:

1982 – Hip pads must be covered by the outer uniform.

It is illegal for any player to use the crown or top of his helmet against a passer, a receiver in the act of catching a pass or a runner who is in the grasp of a tackler.

1983 – All mandatory player equipment must be designed and made by a professional manufacturer and cannot be altered, except by direction of the team physician.

A player who uses a helmet he is not wearing as a weapon shall be ejected.

The chop block rule applies to blocks at “thigh or lower.”

1985 – During the last two minutes of a half, the play ends when a quarterback kneels or simulates kneeling on the ground.

The ball is dead when any runner slides to the ground feet first, thereby declaring himself down.

1986 – Blocking below the waist on punts is prohibited during the entire down. The “lure” technique is prohibited. When a tackle shows pass set, a teammate lined up outside him cannot chop a defender who is lined up over the tackle, even if the tackle and defender are not engaged (a “lure”).

1987 – An offensive lineman may not clip a defender who, at the snap, is aligned on the line of scrimmage opposite another offensive lineman who is more than one position away, when the defender is responding to the flow of the ball away from the blocker. Example: A tackle cannot clip the nose tackle on a sweep to the opposite side.

It is illegal for the kicking team to block below the waist after a free kick or punt has been made. (Low blocks by the receiving team became illegal in 1979).

Both teams are prohibited from blocking below the waist after a change of possession.

1989 – A defender (approaching from any direction) who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback is prohibited from flagrantly hitting him in the area of the knee(s).

1990 – A player who butts, spears or rams an opponent may be disqualified if the action is flagrant or vicious.

1991 – Officials will whistle the play dead whenever a defensive lineman clearly penetrates beyond the neutral zone before the ball is snapped and continues unabated toward the quarterback.

1992 – For the first time, the chop block is illegal on some running plays: It is illegal on a running play for an offensive player who is lined up in the backfield at the snap to deliberately block a defensive player in the thigh or lower (chop) if the defensive player is engaged by an offensive player who was on the line of scrimmage at the snap. This action is prohibited whether on or behind the line of scrimmage in an area that extends laterally to the position originally occupied by the tight end on either side.

When a defensive player runs forward and leaps in an attempt to block an extra point or field goal, it is a foul only if the leaping player lands on other players.

1993 – It is not intentional grounding when a passer, while out of the pocket and facing an imminent loss of yardage, throws a pass that lands beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player has a realistic chance to catch the ball (including if the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or end line).

1994 – Defensive players are prohibited from blocking low during a punt, field goal or extra point attempt (kick), except those defensive players at the snap that are lined up on or inside the normal tight end position. Previously, all players on the defensive team could block low during the field goal or extra point attempt.

1995 – Protection for defenseless players is clarified and expanded. Since 1982, a defensive player was prohibited from using the crown or top of his helmet against a passer, a receiver in the act of catching a pass, or a runner who is in the grasp of a tackler.

The clarification provided that:

Defenseless players included a kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air and a player on the ground at the end of a play.

Defensive players are prohibited from lowering their heads to make forcible contact with the facemask or with the “hairline” or forehead part of the helmet, against an opponent, instead of only with the top/crown.

Defensive players are prohibited from forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head, neck or face with the helmet or facemask.

Defensive players are prohibited from launching into a defenseless player in a way that causes the defensive player’s helmet or facemask to forcibly strike the defenseless player’s head, neck or face, even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the defenseless player’s neck.

When tackling a passer during or just after throwing a pass, a defensive player is prohibited from unnecessarily and violently throwing him down and landing on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.

1996 – On running plays, a chop block is prohibited by an offensive player who is aligned more than one position away from the engaged defender when the block occurs away from the flow of the play.

A defender cannot be chopped even after he has disengaged from an offensive opponent, if he is still confronting the offensive player.

Prohibition of the “lure” technique is applicable all along the offensive line, instead of only to a player outside a tackle.

1998 – All face shields must be transparent.

1999 – Blocking from behind, at or below the knees in the clipping zone is prohibited.

After a blocking attempt in close line play, a blocker is prohibited from rolling up on the back of a defender’s legs (Unnecessary Roughness).

2002 – The chop block technique is illegal on all kicking plays.

It is illegal to hit a quarterback helmet-to-helmet any time after a change of possession.

2005  – It is illegal to grab the inside collar of the shoulder pads to tackle a runner (“horse-collar tackle”).

Unnecessarily running, diving into or throwing the body against a player who should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent is unnecessary roughness. Previously, the rule only protected a player who is out of the play.

A kicker/punter must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the play or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. An opponent may not unnecessarily initiate helmet-to-helmet contact to the kicker/punter during the kick or during the return.

An offensive player who is aligned in the tackle box at the snap and moves to a position outside the box is prohibited from initiating contact on the side or below the waist of an opponent if the blocker is moving toward his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side (“peel back block”). The near shoulder of the blocker must be in front of his opponent’s body.

2006 – Low hits on the quarterback are prohibited when a rushing defender has an opportunity to avoid such contact.

Blocks in the back above the waist by the kicking team while the ball is in flight during a scrimmage kick are illegal.

The definition of a “horse collar tackle” is expanded to include grabbing theinside collar of the jersey.

During a field-goal attempt or a try, a defensive player who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap must have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pad.

Personal or unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that occur during halftime or during intermission between the fourth period and an overtime period will be penalized on the ensuing kickoff.

During a free kick, at least four kicking team players must be on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked.

2007 – A block below the waist against an eligible receiver while the quarterback is in the pocket is a 15-yard penalty instead of a 5-yard penalty (an illegal cut block).

2009 – Teams are not permitted to intentionally form a wedge of more than two players on a kickoff return in an attempt to block for the runner.

The “bunch” formation on kickoffs is eliminated. The kickoff team must have at least three players outside each hash mark, one of whom must be outside the yard-line number.

It is an illegal “blindside” block if the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side and the initial force of the contact by the blocker’s helmet, forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of an opponent.

It is an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver if the initial force of the contact by the defender’s helmet, forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of the receiver.

The rule regarding low hits on passers is clarified:

A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in theknee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player.

It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him.

2010 – During a field-goal attempt, punt, or try-kick, a defensive team player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.

After a half has expired, dead ball personal fouls by either team will be enforced on the succeeding kickoff.

A player who has just completed a catch is protected from blows to the head or neck by an opponent who launches.

All “defenseless players” are protected from blows to the head delivered by an opponent’s helmet, forearm or shoulder.

Kickers and punters during the kick and return and quarterbacks after a change of possession, are protected from blows to the head delivered by an opponent’s helmet, forearm or shoulder, instead of just helmet-to-helmet contact.

The ball is declared dead at the spot if a runner’s helmet comes completely off.

2011 – The restraining line for the kicking team is moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line in an effort to increase touchbacks.

All kicking team players other than the kicker must be lined up no more than five yards behind their restraining line, eliminating the 15-20 yard running “head start” that had become customary for many players.

The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include a kicker/punter during the kick or during the return, a quarterback at any time after a change of possession, and a player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side. Previously, these players were protected against blows to the head but not against blows delivered by an opponent with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against other parts of the body.

A receiver who has completed a catch is a “defenseless player” until he has had time to protect himself or has clearly become a runner. A receiver/runner is no longer defenseless if he is able to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent. Previously, the receiver who had completed a catch was protected against an opponent who launched and delivered a blow to the receiver’s head.

2012 – The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include defensive players on crackback blocks, making it illegal to hit them in the head or neck area.

2013 – Players are required to wear protective knee and thigh pads.

It is illegal for a runner or tackler to initiate forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top or crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box.

“Peel back” blocks below the waist are illegal inside the tackle box.

The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include long snappers on field goals and PATs.

The “bunch” formation is eliminated on field goals and PATs. No more than six defenders may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap for these plays.

2014 – Clipping and unnecessary roughness penalties are expanded to prohibit blockers from rolling up on the side of a defender’s leg.

2015 – Rules prohibiting illegal “peel back” blocks are extended to cover all offensive players.

Offensive backs are prohibited from chopping a defensive player engaged above the waist by another offensive player outside the tackle box.

Defenseless player protections are expanded to cover the intended receiver of a pass in the immediate continuing action following an interception.

When a team presents a punt, field-goal or try kick formation, defenders are prohibited from pushing teammates on the line of scrimmage.

2016 – All chop blocks are prohibited.

The horse collar tackle rule is expanded to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.

In an effort to increase touchbacks, the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a kickoff is moved from the 20- to the 25-yard line.

So the 2016 season got underway last Thursday night with Carolina and Denver getting underway as the last two teams to take the field in the 2015 campaign squared off. It’s a long season and you can’t win the Super Bowl on the first day. 31 other teams are trying to get a Lombardi Trophy of their own, Denver’s trying to keep theirs.

It’s alsk 9/11 weekend as the NFL honors those that died that Tuesday morning in New York City, Washington and the farm field in Pennsylvania.

The National Football League and its clubs will commemorate the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001 during its games on Sunday. The NFL will feature special tributes to honor those who lost their lives and share an inspirational message of hope, unity and community service and engagement.

Prior to each game this Sunday, fans across the country will see video messages from President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush. Each club will have special guests on field for pregame activities and the playing of the National Anthem.

Among the special guests that clubs are hosting are first responders, community volunteers, hometown heroes and members of the military. In Philadelphia for the 1 p.m. Browns-Eagles game, Vice President Joe Biden will join 120 first responders in holding the American flag during the anthem. President Bush will be in Dallas for the Giants-Cowboys 4:25 p.m. game and will toss the coin accompanied on the field by First Lady Laura Bush and two NYPD officers who responded to the attacks at Ground Zero 15 years ago.

All team coaching staffs will be supplied with 9/11 lapel pins and a special 9/11 decal will be placed on players’ helmets.

The NFL will synch the pregame salutes during the Sunday afternoon CBS and FOX telecasts, followed by the Sunday night game on NBC. The pregame events that will be televised nationally also will be shown on the videoboards in each of the stadiums hosting games that day.

All games in each of the broadcast windows (1 p.m., 4:05/4:25 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., all times are Eastern) will feature the special presidential video message after the coin toss and prior to the playing of the National Anthem.
•1 p.m.: video message featuring President Barack Obama
•4:05 p.m.: video message featuring President Barack Obama
•4:25 p.m.: video message featuring President George W. Bush
•8:30 p.m.: video message featuring both Presidents Obama and Bush

NFL Films taped the presidential messages last month with President Obama at the White House and President Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

NFL Network previously announced special programming from NFL Films that will aired Friday night on the events of September 11, 2001.

The one-hour show, narrated by actress Mary McDonald-Lewis, tells the story of how the events impacted the entire NFL and specifically the New York Giants, New York Jets and Washington Redskins, from the decision to cancel the games the following week to personal stories of those directly impacted by the day’s events.

Among the areas covered in September 11th:
•The NFL’s decision to cancel games following the attacks
•Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi’s connection to the New York City Fire Department
•The story of Giants’ fan Tony Sichenzio who attended the Giants’ game in Denver on September 10 and was not at his office on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

As for last season, we were 167-89.

The preseason is over. It all starts for real. They’re playing for keeps. Each team will play 16 games and have a bye week to rest up. Who will step up? Who will be the king of the NFL mountain? As ESPN’s Chris Berman says, “that’s why they play the games.”

Having said that, here are the picks for Sunday and Monday’s games in week one.

Tampa Bay (6-10) at ATLANTA (8-8), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of southern rivals open the 2016 campaign in the Big Peach as Tampa Bay makes the 457-mile, seven-hour drive up I-75 to face off against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Dirk Koetter begins as he makes his debut as Tampa Bay head coach, taking over for Lovie Smith. Bucs QB Jameis Winston passed for 4,042 yards in 2015 and was 3rd rookie in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards. Winston 1 of 3 rookies in NFL history with 3,500+ pass yards (4,042), 20+ pass TDs (22) & 5+ rush TDs (6), meanwhile RB Doug Martin ranked 2nd in NFL with 1,402 rush yards & was 4th in NFL with 1,673 scrimmage yards and has 455 scrimmage yards (91 per game) & 4 TDs in 5 career games vs. the Falcons.

Atlanta started the 2015 campaign strong but struggled toward the end and missed the post-season for the second straight season. Matt Ryan had 4,591 passing yards last season, his 5th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Ryan passed for 21 TDs in 2015, his 7th consecutive 20+ TD season, while becoming the franchise leader in career pass yards (32,757), completions (2,915), TD passes (202), rating (90.9) & 300-yard pass games (35). Also on offense, RB Devonta Freemanled NFL RBs with 14 TDs (11 rush, 3 receieving) last season, ranking him 5th in NFL with 1,634 scrimmage yards (1,056 rush, 578 rec.) in 2015… Ryan’s favorite target WR Julio Jones, was tied for NFL lead with 136 catches last year, which tied him for 2nd most in season in NFL history. Jones became 3rd player in NFL history with 125+ receptions (136) and 1,700+ rec. yards (1,871) in season (Marvin Harrison, 2002 & Antonio Brown 2015)… The Falcons did make some improvemnents on defense as DE Dwight Freeney will make his Atlanta debut after playing for Arizona last year. Freeney lead the Cardinals with eight sacks, ranking him 4th in the NFL since 2002 with 119.5 sacks.

Tampa Bay leads the series 23-22, have outscored the Falcons 952-902 and swept the series with the Falcons in the 2015 campaign. (Atlanta’s last win over Tampa Bay came in the 2014 season, when they swept the series with the Bucs, taking wins in the Big Peach and the Sunshine State.)

First meeting… week eight in the Big Peach. Tampa Bay led 13-3 at the half against the Falcons, only to see the host team rally to tie things up in the second half before Connor Barth connected on a 31-yard field goal in overtime to take a 23-20 win in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta managed to outpace Tampa Bay 17-7 in the final 30 minutes of regulation before the Bucs scored first i the overtime, holding off the Falcons in their attempt in the extra period to either tie things up or win it at home. Tampa Bay outrushed at Atlanta 117-101 but Ryan (2 TDs) outpassed Winston (TD, 2 sacks) 397-177. Turnovers were a problem for Atlanta in the first meeting, as they would turn the pigskin over four times (three fumbles and a Ryan interception).

Both teams did reasonably well on third down tries (Atlanta was 6 of 12, while Tampa Bay was 6 of 13) and the home team did okay on fourth down tries, going 2 of 3, while Tampa Bay had only one fourth down try without success. Time was on the side of the Falcons, who held the ball for 39:05 to Tampa Bay’s 30:11.

Meeting number two took place in the Sunshine State in week 13 and again the Bucs stopped Atlanta, taking a 23-19 win. Atlanta led 9-7 at the intermission at Raymond James Stadium before they were outscored in the second half 16-10. Atlanta was held to 64 yards rushing and Ryan was sacked three times, while throwing for 269 yards and a TD (Winston threw for 277 in the contest). As was the case in the first meeting in the Peach State, both teams were somewhat successful on third down conversions (Atlanta was 8 of 16, Tampa Bay 6 of 11) but neither club had a fourth down try in the rematch. Tampa Bay won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15, while the Falcons kept the pigskin for 28:45. Atlanta’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Tampa Bay would like to make it three wins in a row against Atlanta, while the Falcons would like to have some revenge in their nest. Bucs make it closer than the 3 but Atlanta “RISES UP” to the occasion and takes the win at home.

Buffalo (8-8) at Baltimore (5-11), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV705. It’s wings vs. crabcakes as Rex Ryan and the Bills travel to Charm City to face off against the Ravens.

For Buffalo, it’ll be Tyrod Taylor under center. Taylor, in a twist of irony, was drafted by Baltimore in 6th round (No. 180 overall) of 2011 Draft. He spent 1st 4 years of his careeer (2011-15) with Ravens (14 games, 0 starts) and was 1
of 3 QBs in NFL last season with 3,000+ pass (3,035) & 500+ rush (568) yards. Buffalo led NFL in rushing (152.0 yards per game) in 2015 and RB Le Sean MCCoy is the only NFL player with 7,000+ rush (7,050) & 2,000+ rec. (2,266) yards since
2010. Has 209 rushes for 10+ yards since 2010, most in NFL. RB-PR Reggie Bush is only active NFL player with 5,000+ rush (5,493), 3,000+ receptions (3,508) and 500+ PR (781) yards…WR SAMMY WATKINS had career-high 1,047 rec. yards & 9 TDs in 2015.
Averaged 17.5 yards per catch last year, 2nd best mark in NFL by WR with 1,000+ yards…

Meanwhile, current Ravens QB Joe Flacco has guided Baltimore to playoffs in 6 of 8 seasons as starter, while RB Justin Forsett has 2,323 scrimmage yards (1,907 rush, 416 recieving) over past 2 seasons (1,161.5 yards per season) Flacco’s favorite target in the air, WR Steve Smith, Sr. has 13,932 career recieving yards and needs 73 to pass Hall of Famer James Lofton for 10th in NFL history. Smith and Hall of Famer Tim Brown are only 2 in NFL history with 900+ catches and TD via run, catch, punt return and kick return.

Once again, defense was the word of the day for the Ravens as LB Terell Suggs is franchise leader with 106.5 career sacks, LB Elvis Dumveril has 32.5 sacks in 3 seasons with Baltimore and LB C.J. Mosley has recorded 100+ tackles in each of 1st 2 career seasons. S Eric Weddle makes his Ravens debut this Sunday. Weddel was selected to 3 Pro Bowls with San Diego.

While the series is even at 3-3, the Ravens have outscored the Bills 120-102. Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City in 2010 in overtime by a final of 37-34, while the Bills won in 2013 along the shores of Lake Ontario by a final of 23-20. Baltimore’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 44 1/2. The 44 1/2? Makes sense. The 3? Sounds a little on the high side, considering that both offenses can do damage when they’re on task. Ravens cover the 3 at home in Charm City and takes the win.

Chicago (6-10) at Houston (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Cutler vs. Watt. A pair of marquee stars meet in the Lone Star State as Chicago looks to improve their position in the NFC North agianst the Houston Texans.

Chicago’s Jay Cutler had 3,659 pass yards with 21 TDs andcareer-high 92.3 passer rating last year. Cutler was the team’s franchise leader in rating (85.5), completions (1,939), completion percentage (61.9) and pass yards (22,384).

The Texans Won the AFC South last year, their 3rd division title in team history and QB Brock Osweiler makes his Houston.
debut. He started 7 games with Denver in 2015, replacing Peyton Manning and made 1st career start at Chicago (11/22/15), completing 20 of 27 (74.1 pct.) for 250 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs for 127.1 rating in 17-15 win. Meanwhile, Texans fans got some really good news as DE J.J. Watt (disc surgery) will take the field Sunday in the Lone Star State. Watt was named NFL Defensive Player of Year in 2015, winning the award in 3 of past 4 seasons (2012, 2014, 2015). Since entering the NFL in 2011, Watt has 74.5 sacks, most in NFL and is the only player in NFL history with 2 seasons with 20+ sacks (2012, 2014).

Houston and Da Bears have met three times in regular season action and have won all three meetings, while outscoring Chicago 68-35, with the Texans coming away 13-6 winners in the Windy City in 2012. Houston’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 44. Da Bears have been known to struggle on offense at times and the Texans hope to take advantage. While it’ll be closer than the 6 1/2, Houston wins at home.

Green Bay (10-6) at Jacksonville (6-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of teams with opposite records from 2015 meet on Florida’s east coast as the Packers make their way to the Sunshine State for a date with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mike McCarthy has led team to playoffs in 8 of his 10 seasons as head coach, while QB Aaron Rodgers has 104.1 career rating, highest in NFL history. In 2015, passed for 3,821 yards & 31 TDs, his 4th time in 5 seasons with 3,000+ yards & 30+ TDs… Rodgers will have WR Jordy Nelson back to throw to in the 2016 campaign. Nelson had career-high 98 catches and 1,519 recieving yards in 2014. Nelson also had 13 recieving TDs that season… LB Clay Matthews was 2nd on club with 6.5 sacks in 2015.

A much-improved Jaguars club will have Blake Bortles as their starting QB. Bortles passed for franchise-record 4,428 yards & 35 TDs in 2015, making him the youngest QB in NFL history with 4,400+ pass yards, 35+ pass TDs & 300+ rush yards (310) in season and had 39 completions of 25+ yards last year, tied for most in NFL with Rodgers.

Green Bay holds a 3-2 lead in the series and have outscored Jacksonville 117-98 in those meetings. Green Bay’s last win in the series came at Lambeau in 2012 with the Packers coming away 24-15 winners, while Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in the Sunshine State by a final of 20-16 in 2008. The Packers may be on the road but the oddsmakers in Vegas like them as 5 1/2 point favorites with a 48 over/under. Jacksonville’ll put up a fight but the Packers cover the 5 1/2 in the Sunshine State, taking the win.

San Diego (4-12) at Kansas City (11-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC West rivals open up their 2016 campaigns n the Show-Me State as the Chargers, who struggled throughout the 2015 season, meet the Andy Reid-led Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers ranked 2nd in NFL in 2015 with 4,792 pass yards and since 2008, has 34,759 pass yards, 2nd most in NFL. Has 5,157 career pass yards vs. KC, his most vs. any opponent. Rivers’ favorite target, TE Antonio Gates, ranks 2nd in NFL history among TEs with 104 recieving TDs and is 3rd among NFL TEs with 844 catches and 10,644 recieving yards. Gates also
21 games with 2+ recieving TDs, most by TE in NFL history. Rivers and Gates have  combined for 77 TDs, most by QB-TE duo in NFL history On defense, LB Manti Te’O led club with career-high 82 tackles last year…

After struggling to start the 2015 campaign, the Chiefs have won 10 consecutive regular-season games, with QB Alex Smith passing for career-high 3,486 yards last year & had 20 pass TDs with 95.4 rating.

Including contests that were played when the Chiefs were in Dallas and known as the Texans and the Chargers played their home games in Los Angeles, Kansas City leads the series 56-54-1, have outscored the Bolts 2,396-2,229 and won the last four meetings, including sweeps in 2014 and 2015. (San Diego’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2013, when they swept the series in that season, taking a 27-24 overtime win at Qualcomm that season.)

Meeting number one… Qualcomm in week 11. Kansas City led 9-3 at the half and never looked back, taking a 33-3 win on the Left Coast. The Chiefs went on to shutout San Diego in the second half 24-0, holding San Diego to 52 yards on the ground and sacking Rivers three times, picking him off once (The Chiefs rushed for 153 yards in the blowout win, Alex Smith threw for 253 yards). While the game was somewhat of a dud, third down tries in the first meeting were nothing to write home about (Kansas City was 5 of 12, San Diego was 4 of 13) but the Chiefs did find success on fourth down, making their only try in the game, while the Chargers were 0 of 1. Time was on the side of the Chiefs in the first contest, as they kept the ball for 33:28, while San Diego held on to the pigskin for 26:32.

Contest number two… Arrowhead in week 14. The Chiefs were looking to claim a playoff spot that week, while the Chargers were trying to keep them out of the post-season party. After a scoreless first quarter, Kansas City took a 10-0 lead with them to the intermission, then held on for dear life to come away 10-3 winners. Once again, the Bolts were outrushed by the Chiefs, this time by a 150-44 margin and Rivers found himself being sacked five times, even though he did outpace Alex Smith in passing yards 263-191.

Kansas City did a little better on third down conversions in the second meeting, going 6 of 11, while the Chargers were 6 of 18 (3 of 3 on fourth down). This time, San Diego won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:08 to Kansas City’s 28:52.

Kansas City’s favored by 7 with a 44 1/2 over/under. Given the histories between these two clubs, the 44 1/2 makes sense but the 7 in this case is on the high side. Chiefs stay up to date in Kansas City in the opener and wins at home, even though the Chargers will make it closer than the 7.

Oakland (7-9) at New Orleans (6-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. The Silver and Black make their way eastward to the Big Easy for a meeting in the great indoors, taking on Drew Brees and the Saints.

QB Derek Carr passed for career-highs in yards (3,987), TDs (32) and  rating (91.1) last season for the Silver and Black, making him the only QB in franchise history with 3,500+ pass yards and 30+ pass TDs in season and had 6 300-yard games in 2015… WR Amari Cooper led all rookies in 2015 with 72 catches & 1,070 rec. yards, both franchise rookie records, tallying five 100-yard games, most by NFL rookie last season. Had 6 rec. TDs, tying him for most by rookie. Meanwhile, WR Michael Crabtree led the Raiders last year with 85 catches (922 yards) and 9 recieving TDs, both tied for his career high. The Raider defense was a little better last year, as DE Khalil Mack was ranked 2nd in NFL last season with career-high 15 sacks & 23 tackles for loss. Mack will get some help this year LB Bruce Irvin joins Oakland after four seasons with Seattle.

For the Saints, Brees had league-leading 4,870 pass yards last year, his NFL-record 10th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Brees has 60,903 career pass yards & became 4th player in NFL history with 60,000+ yards and needs 459 pass yards to surpass Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) for 3rd most all-time. RB Mark Ingram has 2 consecutive season with 1,100+ scrimmage yards, scoring 5+ rush TDs in 4 of past 5 seasons.

The Saints lead the series 6-5-1, have outscored the Silver and Black 283-251 and have won the last three contests, including a 38-17 win in Oakland in 2012, while Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2000 in the Big Easy by a final of 31-22. New Orleans’ favored by a single point and the over/under is 51. Saints cover the 1 and win in the Big Easy.

Cincinnati (12-4) at New York Jets (10-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A team that made the playoffs last season travels to the Meadowlands as the Bengals take on a J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! team that almost made the post-season party last year.

For the Bengals, it’s always the bridesmaid but not quite the bride. They did win the AFC North in 2015 and have made playoffs in 5 consecutive seasons and tied a team record with 12 wins last year. That’s the good news. The bad news? They’ve been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs the last four years, something Cincy fans will hope their team will correct. QB Andy Dalton has 50-26-1 (.656) record, highest win pecentange by Bengals QB (minimum of 20 starts).

GangGreen eventually did get their QB situation taken care of and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for now. Fitzpatrick set franchise record with 31 pass TDs last season. Had career-high 3,905 pass yards, 2nd most by NYJ QB in season (Hall of Famer Joe Namath) and RB Matt Forte will make his Jets debut in the Meadowlands. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Forte has 12,718 scrimmage yards (8,602 rush, 4,116 recieving), most in NFL…Last year, WR Brandon Marshall set franchise records in catches (109) and recieving yards (1,502) and tied team mark in rec. TD (14). Is only player in NFL history with 6 100-catch seasons. WR Eric Decker had 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 TDs in 2015. In 2 career meetings, has 13 catches for 212 yards (106 per game) and 4 TDs (2 in each game). Marshall and Decker each had recieving TD in same game 9 times in 2015, most ever by teammates in season… On the defensive side of the ball, DE Muhammad Wilkerson had career-high 12 sacks last year and had 6 sacks in past 4 contests at home, while tallying a sack and interception INT in last game against the Bengals. CB Darrelle Revis was only player in NFL last season with 5+ interceptions (5) and 4+ fumble recoveries (4).

While GangGreen leads the series 15-8 and have outscored the Bengals 569-507, Cincy did win the last meeting in the Queen City by a final of 49-9 in 2013. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! last win? 2010 in the Meadowlands by a 26-10 score. Cincy’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. This could be closer than 2 1/2 but Cincy prevails on the Jersey Shore Sunday.

Cleveland (3-13) at Philadelphia (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. It’s new signal callers and coaches in the City of Brotherly Love as Cleveland travels to Philadelphia for an afternoon contest with the Eagles.

As far as the men calling the plays… Hue Jackson will lead the Browns, while Doug Pederson, who took over for Chip Kelly late last season, will be the man to lead Philly.

Both clubs will have new signal callers as well. For the Browns, it’s Robert Griffin III, taking over for Johnny Manziel. Griffin will make his Cleveland debut and has five starts against the Eagles, while with Washington, coming into the contest with a 98.3 passer rating. In the November 18th meeting while with the Redskins, he completed 14 of 15 (93.3 pct.) for 200 yards with 4 TDs without an interception for 158.3 rating and also rushed for 84 yards…

As far as the Eagles are concerned… Sam Bradford? Out. Shipped off to Minnesota. In? QB Carson Wentz. who lead North Dakota State to consecutive NCAA Divison 1 FCS national titles in 2014 and 2015.

Cleveland leads the series 31-16-1 and they may have outscored the Eagles 1,201-901 but… Philly has taken away wins in the last four contests, including a 17-16 win along the shores of Lake Erie in 2012. Cleveland’s last win in the series came all the way back in 1994, when they left old Veterans Stadium with a 26-7 win. The Eagles (or egguhls as they say in Philly) are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 41. Both teams have new coaches, both teams have new quarterbacks and that makes this one interesting but not “Drill Worthy.” Eagles cover the 4 and soar to the win at home in the Keystone State.

Minnesota (11-5) at Tennessee (3-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. The defending NFC North champs travel to the Music City to take on Tenneseee in the Volunteer State.

The Vikings won NFC North last season, 1st division title since 2009 with Teddy Bridgewater under center. This time, it’s Shawn Hill taking over for Bridgewater (knee) with Sam Bradford coming from Philadelphia as a backup. Bradford passed for a career-high 3,725 yards with 19 TDs last year with the Eagles and set single-season Eagles records for completions (346) & completion pct. (65.03) RB Adrian Peterson was back to his old form, leading the NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) and tied for NFL lead with 11 rush TDs last year. Peterson is 1 of 3 in NFL history (Hall of Famers Marion Motley and Curtis Martin) to lead NFL in rushing at 30+ years old.

The Titans can now take the interim title off Mike Mularkey’s name. Tennesee named him the 18th head coach in team history in January. QB Marcus Mariota had 4 games with 3+ TD passes in 2015, tying Peyton Manning for most by rookie and became only rookie in NFL history to have 2 games with 4+ pass TDs and no interceptions. RB De Marco Murray left Philadelphia and makes his Titans debut. Since 2013, when he was with Dallas, Murray leads all active players with 28 rush TDs and is 2nd with 3,668 rush yards. Murry will get some help in the backfield as the Titans picked up RB Derrick Henry from Alabama. Henry was selected as the 45th overall pick in the April draft after winning the Heisman Trophy with the Crimson Tide.

Mariota will have another target to throw to in the form of WR Andre Johnson, who joins Tenneseee and is the active leader in catches (1,053) and reciveing yards (14,100), averaging 76.2 reciveing yards per game, 4th best mark in NFL history (minimum of 100 games). On the defensive side of the pigskin, LB Brian Orakpo has 47 career sacks and needs 3 to reach 50.

Including contests that took place when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers, the Purple Gang leads the series 8-4 and have outscored the Titans 320-188. Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2012 in the Twin Cities in the great indoors of the Metrodome by a final of 30-7, while Tennessee took a 30-17 win over the Vikings in the Music City in 2008.  Minneosta’s favored by 2 with a 41 over/under. The Vikings look to repeat as NFC North champs, the Titans look to stay out of the AFC South cellar. Vikings cover the 2 and win in the Music City.

Miami (6-10) at Seattle (10-6), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of opposites meet in the Pacific Northwest as Miami travels to Seattle for a late afternoon (Eastern time) affair with the Seahawks.

For Miami, it will be their first game with Adam Gase as head coach and QB Ryan Tannehill aims for 3rd straight 4,000-yard pass season. Tannehill and Hall of Famer Dan Marino are only QBs in franchise history with 4,000-yard pass season. After departing Houston, RB Arian Foster makes his Miami debut and is Is only NFL player since 2010 with 6,000+ rush yards (6,215), 50+ rush TDs (51) & 2,000+ recieving yards (2,175).

For the fourth season in a row, the Seahawks have made it to the playoffs and have won 10+ games in each of past 4 seasons. QB Russell Wilson led NFL with 110.1 rating last season. In 2015, became 1st QB in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards (4,024), 30+ pass TDs (34) & 500+ rush yards (553) in season. Wilson will not have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield but will have RB Thomas Rawls in his place. Rawls led team with 830 rush yards & 4 TDs last season. Rawls has also rushed for 756 yards (108 per game) & 4 TDs in 7 career starts. Seahawks are 6-1 when Rawls starts.

Miami leads the series 8-3, has outscored Seattle 237-187 but Miami took wins in the last two meetings, including a 24-21 win in the Sunshine State in 2012. Seattle’s last win in the series came in 2004 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, coming away 24-17 winners at the Kingdome. For the Seahawks, they are favored by a whopping 10 1/2 points, the largest spread this season to date and the over/under is 44. The ‘fins make this one somewhat interesting and if you’re a fan of either team, by all means, watch this one; otherwise, you’re better off watching that “Law And Order:SVU” marathon on USA Network Sunday (Benson slapping the cuffs on someone is downright sexy!). Seattle may not cover the 10 1/2 but they take the win in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks.

New York Giants (6-10) at Dallas (4-12), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. It’s another NFC East rivalry as the Giants and Cowboys meet in JerryWorld (AT&T Stadium). While Eli will be there, the Cowboys will be without Tony Romo (back).

Ben McAdoo takes over for Tom Coughlin, making his debut as Giants head coach and QB Eli Manning is becoming the NFL’s answer to Cal Ripken, making his 183 consecutive start, longest active streak in NFL. In 2015, Manning passed for 4,000+ (4,432) yards for franchise-record 5th time. Threw 35 TDs last season, 2nd most in season in franchise history (Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, who had 36 in 1963). Manning has 100+ rating in 3 of past 6 games vs. Dallas. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. had 96 receptions last year, 2nd most in season in franchise history. Beckham 2,755 career recieveing yards (1,305 in 2014 & 1,450 in 2015), most by player in 1st 2 seasons in NFL history

For Dallas, it’s QB Dak Prescott, not Romo, that will be under center for a while. Prescott was selected in 4th Round (Number 135 overall) by Dallas in 2016 NFL Draft and is all-time leading passer in Mississippi State history with 9,376 yards & 70 TDs. He’ll have two major targets to throw the pigskin to this season. Since 2012, WR Dez Bryant ranks 2nd with 44 recieving TD and Bryant has 1,200+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4 seasons. TE Jason Witten (1,020) is 1 of 2 TEs in NFL history with 1,000+ catches. Ranks 2nd in NFL history among TEs with 11,215 recieving yards and LB Sean Lee led team with 128 tackles last season and has 12 interceptions since entering NFL in 2010, the most by LB, while K Dand Bailey has highest FG pct. (90.6) in franchise history (minimum of 100 FG made).

The series? Dallas leads it 62-43-2 and the Cowboys have outscored the G-Men 2,423-2,089. The two teams split last year’s meetings, with each taking wins in front of the home crowds.

Game one… JerryWorld (aka AT&T Stadium) in week one. The Giants let a 26-20 lead get away from them as Tony Romo and TE Jason Witten connect on an 11-yard TD pass with seven seconds left to take a 27-26 win in Arlington. Dallas trailed 13-6 at the break before rallying in the final 30 minutes of action. Neither club managed to break the 100-yard barrier but New York did manage to outrush Dallas 99-80, while Romo outpaced Eli Manning in passing yardage 356-189. While Romo did throw a pair of interceptions, he did manage to toss three TD passes, including the game-winner to Witten, who had 60 yards on eight catches.

Third down tries in the first meeting? Dallas went 6 of 11, while the Giants were 6 of 14 and the Cowboys ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 37:10, while the Giants held on the pigskin for 22:50.

That was the first meeting.

Meeting nubmer two… the Meadowlands in week seven. Another close game but with a much different outcome. This time, it was Dallas letting a 13-10 halftime lead get away from them as New York outscored Dallas in the final half for a 27-20 win at Met Life Stadium. New York managed to outscore Dallas in the second half 17-7 to take the win over the NFC East rivals. The rushing game came to life in the second meeting, as Dallas did manage to outrush the Giants 233-132 (Darren McFadden led all rushers with 152 yards and a TD) but this time, it was Matt Cassel, not Romo under center (broken collarbone). Cassel was no Romo, throwing for 227 yards and was picked off three times, while Manning threw for 170 in the rematch. Third down tries in game two… Dallas? 6 for 11 (0 of 1 on fourth down). New York? 3 for 11. Dallas did manage to rule the clock in the second meeting, holding the ball for 38:04 to New York’s 21:56. The Giants are favored by 1 and the over/under comes in at 46. As bad as both teams were last year, both numbers make a lot of sense. Dallas will have to live without Romo for a while but they’ll cover the 1 and win at home in JerryWorld.

Detroit (7-9) at Indianapolis (8-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A couple of teams that play their games in the great indoors and barely missed the postseason party meet in the Hoosier State in a late Sunday afternoon contest with two teams with automotive histories.

For the Lions, it’s going to be life without Megatron (Calvin Johnson). Meanwhile, QB Matthew Stafford passed for 4,262 yards in 2015, his 5th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Stafford has 23,174 pass yards since 2011, 3rd most in NFL. Since 2011, he averages 289.7 pass yards per game, 2nd among NFC QBs (Drew Brees). WR Anquan Boldin will pick up where Johnson left off with 1,009 career catches, 1 of 13 in NFL history with 1,000+ catches and WR Golden Tate has 189 catches in past 2
seasons, 5th most in NFL. Has 4 TDs in past 4 games…DT Haloti Ngata had interception last meeting vs. Indianpolis, when he was part of the Baltimore Ravens on October 5th of 2014.

Meanwhile… Colts QB Andrew Luck passed for 391 yards & 4 TDs – including game0-winning TD with no time remaining – in only start vs. Detroit. Luck, in taking over for Peyton Manning, has 14,838 career pass yards and needs 162 to reach 15,000. Can reach mark in 56th career game and would be tied for 2nd fastest in NFL history. RB Frank Gore leads active players with 12,040 rush yards. Gore has a rushing TD in all 5 career games vs. Detroit and in 5 career meetings, has 590 rush yards (118 per game) Since 2014, WR T.Y. Hilton is averaging 16.4 yards per catch, best mark in NFL (minimum 100 catches). Has recorded 1,000+ recieving yards & 5+ TDs in 3 consecutive seasons. Hilton had 6 catches for 100 yards in only meeting… K Adam Vinatieri ranks 3rd in NFL history in FGs (503) and points (2,253).

The Colts lead the series 21-18-2 (which includes contests that took place in Baltimore, Tiger Stadium and the Silverdome), have outscored the Lions 895-811 and won the last four meetings, including a 35-33 win in the Motor City in 2012. Detorit’s last win over Indy came in 1997 in Detroit at the old Silverdome by a final of 32-10. Indy’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under is 50 1/2. Two teams hoping to get back to the post-season party in 2016 after decent but not great records last year. Again, this one’s interesting but not in the “DRILL WORTHY” mode. However, Indy races to take the win in the Hoosier State.

New England (12-4) at Arizona (13-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s the “Bradyless Bowl” as Bill Bellichick and the New England Patriots travel westward to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in the first Sunday night contest of the 2016 campaign.

New England is the only team in NFL history to win 12 division titles in 13 seasons and the Pats have won 12+ games in 6 consecutive seasons, 2nd team to accomplish feat (Indianapolis from 2003-09). In case you’ve been given a concussion, Brady is out, serving a four-game suspension for his part in “Deflategate” and QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center, making his first NFC start. He will have some of Brady’s weapons to use in RB Le Garrette Blount, who rushed for 120 yards and a pair of TDs in his lone game against Arizona, when he did it on October 31st of 2010 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, Brady’s favorite target, TE Rob Gronkowski led team with 11 TD catches in 2015 and is only TE in NFL history with 5 career 10+ TD seasons and since entering NFL in 2010, has 65 recieving TDs, most in NFL.

The Desert Angry Birds in setting a franchise record with 13 wins, won NFC West and advanced to NFC Champ Game last season before losing to Carolina in Charlotte. Arizona scored team-record 489 points (30.6 avg.) and led NFL in total offense (408.3 yards per game) in 2015. QB Carson Palmer set franchise record with 35 pass TDs, 4,671 pass yards & 104.6 rating in 2015. Palmer is only QB in team history with 2 4,000-yard seasons. Had 100+ passer rating in 11 games last year, most in NFL, while WR Larry Fitzgerald had team-record 109 catches in 2015, his 3rd 100-catch season. The All-Pro reciever had 1,215 recieving yards, his club-record 7th 1,000-yard season and  S Tyrann Mathieu tied for team lead with 5 INTs in 2015.

The Desert Angry Birds lead the series 7-6, which includes contests that took place when the Cardinals were in St. Louis and the Pats played their home games at Fenway Park. However…. the Patriots have outscored Arizona 256-242 in the 13 meetings. Arizona came away 20-18 winners in Foxboro in their last meeting in 2012, while the Pats’s last win in the series came in Foxboro in 2008 by a 47-7 final.

Since these two teams almost made it to the promised land last year and there’s no Brady, this one being the first Sunday night game is “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”

As for the oddsmakers in Vegas, they see the Desert Angry Birds as 6 point favorites and the over/under’s 47. Even without Brady, New England will play enspired football. It’ll be closer than the 6 but the Pats come away with the win.

Pittsburgh (10-6) at Washington (9-7), 7:10 p.m. on ESPN. It’s the first of two Monday night contests as Pittsburgh and Ben Rothelisberger take the show from the Steel City to the nation’s capital, taking on the defending NFC East champs in Landover.

The Steelers have 41 wins on Kickoff Weekend, most by AFC team, with Roethlisberger leading the NFL with 328.2 pass yards per game in 2015 (3,938 yards in 12 games), 3rd-highest single-season avg. in NFL history. Has won 9 of past 11 starts on MNF. Is 3-0 in career as starter vs. Washinhton. Last year, WR Antonio Brown had career-best 136 catches, tied for 2nd most in season in NFL history. Brown was 2nd in NFL with franchise-record 1,834 recieving yards and had 265 catches in past 2 seasons, most ever in any 2-year span and 110+ catches in 3 consecutive seasons. Since 2013, he leads NFL with 375 catches and 5,031 recieving yards On defense, LB James Harrison had 1.5 sacks in last game at Washington…

In all the craziness of the NFC East, Washington won NFC East in 2015 and the Redskins have 48 wins in home openers, 5th most in NFC. QB Kirk Cousins made Washington fans forget about RGII, setting a club record last year with 4,166 pass yards. Was 1st QB in team history to pass for 4,000+ yards and 25+ TDs (29) in season, while tallying a career-high 101.6 rating in 2015.

Washington leads the series 42-32-3 and have outscored the Steelers 1,431-1,221, including games that were played when the Redskins were in Boston and the Steelers merged with the Eagles during the Second World War. As far as MNF games are concerned, the Steelers are 43-24 and won their only Monday night meeting last year, while the Redskins are 28-38 with a loss to Dallas under their belts in 2015.

Pittsburgh’s favored by 3 with a 50 over/under in the first Monday night contest. Two years ago, Washington fans were saying “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” This week, they’ll be saying “Hail to the Redskins!” Washington may not cover the 3 but they take the win at home in Landover.

Los Angeles (7-9) at San Francisco (5-11), 10:20 p.m. on ESPN. The second of two Monday night games take place in Napa wine country as a pair of NFC West foes take their place in the spotlight in Santa Clara. For the 49ers, it’s a chance to find their way back to the post-season, while for the Rams, it’s a return to the West Coast for the first time since the 1990s.

I Love LA! For the first time since the Clinton adminstration, there is football in Los Angeles as the franchise returns to Tinseltown for 1st time since 1994. Rams QB Case Keenum has won three of his past four starts under center and RB Todd Gurley took home 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of Year honors. Gurley led NFL rookies with 1,106 rush yards and 10 rush TDs, joining Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (1983) as only Rams rookies with 1,000+ rush yards & 10+ rush TDs. Gurley was also the first Rams rookie RB with 1,000+ rush yards since Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis did it in 1993. In addition to Gurley, K Greg Zuerlein has 2 career 60+ yard FGs & is 1 of 2 players in NFL history (Sebastian Janikowski) with multiple career 60+ yard FGs.

Chip Kelly is back on the West Coast, after his stint in the City of Brotherly Love, making his debut as San Francisco head coach. Complied 26-21 record as head coach of Eagles (2013-15) and led Philadelphia to 2013 NFC East Division title. It’ll be Blaine Gabbert, not Colin Kaepernick under center for the 49ers. Gabbert has a has 85+ passer rating in 5 of past 7 and passed for 354 yards and TD for 86.7 passer rating in last start vs. the Rams.

The 49ers lead the series 65-64-3 (which includes contests that took place in Cleveland when the Rams played along the shores of Lake Erie and the 49ers played their home games at Keezar Stadium and Candlestick Park) and have outscored Los Angeles 2,923-2,816. They met twice last year and spilt both contests, with each team taking wins at home.

First meeting… week eight and it was “Meet Me In St. Louis” as the Rams held San Francisco to a pair of Pat Dawson field goals in the first half, taking a 27-6 victory over the 49ers. Taking a 20-6 lead with them to the intermission, the Rams outscored San Francisco 7-0 in the second half (the two clubs went scoreless in the third quarter). San Francisco found themselves held to 38 yards rushing in the first meeting and Kaepernick was sacked three times, while rookie RB Gurley running amok, rushing for 133 yards and a TD. Third down tries in the first contest were not anything to talk about in the first meeting, with the Rams going 1 of 12. The 49ers weren’t that much better, going 3 of 17 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 28:02, while the victorious Rams held on to the pigskin for 31:58.

Round two… the season finale for both teams in Santa Clara. St. Louis let a 16-10 halftime lead at Levis Stadium get away from them as the 49ers would go on to outpace St. Louis, scoring their last nine points in the contest to take a 19-16 overtime win. Gabbert and Anquian Bolden connected for the contest’s first TD early in the second quarter to give the 49ers a short-lived 7-3 lead. The Rams would answer with a 4-yard TD romp from RB Tre Mason and a 44-yard field goal by  Zuerlein with four seconds left before halftime.

San Francisco would then respond with a pair of Dawson field goals to tie things up and then it was Dawson that would send the home crowd assembled at Levis’ Stadium happy with a 23-yard field goal for the win. Both teams managed to rush for over 100 yards in the second meeting and St. Louis outrushed San Francisco 133-108 and Gabbert threw for 354 yards, outpacing Rams signal caller Case Keenum, who threw for 231. There was a great deal of improvement on third down tries in the second contest but neither team reached the 50 percent threshold, San Francisco going 8 of 18 and the Rams going 3 of 13 (both teams were 0 of 1 on fourth down). Despite the overtime loss, the Rams did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 38:30 to San Francsico’s 33:03.

As far as Monday nights are concerned… the Rams are 26-31 and this will be their first MNF contest since 2014, where they were 0-1. San Francisco? 47-25 under the lights and won their only Monday night meeting last year. San Francisco’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 43. It’s California dreaming for one team. The Rams will make this one closer than the 2 1/2 but San Francisco wins this one in Wine Country to close out the week.

Webster’s defines the word milestone as a significant or important event, e.g. in the history of a country or in somebody’s life.

While some teams struggled in the 2015 campaign, others improved their standing from last season and put themselves position for a playoff spot. All 32 teams made milestones and there were some key players that accomplished that feat as well. All 32 teams had events that were not only important to them, they were important to their fans.

A sampling of NFL records set and milestones reached in 2015:

THE TEAMS

ARIZONA CARDINALS (13-3)
•Had 13 wins in 2015, the most in a single season in franchise history.
•Led the NFL in total offense, averaging 408.3 yards per game.
•Defeated San Francisco 47-7 in Week 3 and became the first team since the 1945 Green Bay Packers to have two interception-return touchdowns, a safety and score at least 40 points in a game.
•In Week 2 at Chicago, rookie RB David Johnson became the first player in franchise history to have a kickoff-return touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Ollie Matson on December 13, 1958.
•QB Carson Palmer set a franchise record for most touchdown passes in a single season (35).
•RB Chris Johnson became the first Cardinal with four 100-yard rushing games in a season since 1985 (Stump Mitchell, four).

ATLANTA FALCONS (8-8)
•Became the first team in NFL history to start 5-0 with four of those wins coming when trailing at some point in the fourth quarter.
•WR Julio Jones tied for the league lead with 136 receptions, the most receptions in a single season in franchise history.
•In Week 3, became the third team in NFL history to have both a rusher with at least 100 yards with three touchdowns (Devonta Freeman, 141 yards and three touchdowns) and a receiver with at least 150 yards with two touchdowns (Jones, 164 yards and two touchdowns) in the same game.
•Freeman became the first player in franchise history to have seven rushing touchdowns in the team’s first four games to begin a season.

BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-11)
•WR Kamar Aiken had at least five receptions in nine consecutive games (Weeks 8-17), surpassing Derrick Mason (eight games in 2007) for the longest such streak in franchise history.

BUFFALO BILLS (8-8)
•Earned 400th total victory in Week 1, a 27-14 win at home against Indianapolis. Buffalo’s all-time record is 407-466-8.
•Led the NFL in rushing (152.0 yards per game).
•Defeated the Miami Dolphins 33-17 in Week 9 and became the first team to have two 100-yard rushers – RBs Le Sean McCoy (112 rushing yards) and Karlos Williams (110) – and a 150-yard receiver – WR Sammy Watkins (168 receiving yards) – in the same game in NFL history.
•QB Tyrod Taylor rushed for 568 yards, the most by a quarterback in a single season in franchise history.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (15-1)
•Finished 15-1, the best record in the NFL in 2015 and the most wins in franchise history.
•Became the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to start a season 14-0, joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins, 2007 New England Patriots and 2009 Indianapolis Colts.
•Led the NFL in turnover margin (+20).
•CB Josh Norman became the first player in franchise history to have two interception-return touchdowns in the team’s first four games to begin a season.
•QB Cam Newton tied the franchise single-game record with five touchdown passes (Steve Beurlein, January 2, 2000) in Weeks 11 (vs. Washington), 13 (at New Orleans) and 15 (at New York Giants).

CHICAGO BEARS (6-10)
•In Week 10 at St. Louis, QB Jay Cutler became the first quarterback in franchise history to throw two touchdown passes of at least 80 yards in the same game (87 and 83 yards).

CINCINNATI BENGALS (12-4)
•Earned a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season, the longest streak in franchise history.
•Overcame a 24-7 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Seattle in overtime in Week 5, only the third time in NFL history that a team erased a fourth-quarter deficit of 17+ points to defeat a team which played in the Super Bowl the previous season.
•WR A.J. Green had 227 receiving yards in Week 3 at Baltimore, the second-highest single-game total in franchise history (Chad Johnson, 260 yards on November 12, 2006 vs. San Diego).
•DE Carlos Dunlap led the team with 13.5 sacks, bringing his career total to 49 and surpassing Eddie Edwards (47.5) for the most in franchise history.

CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13)
•QB Josh McCown threw for 457 yards in Week 5 at Baltimore, the most passing yards in a game in franchise history.
•McCown became the first quarterback in franchise history with three consecutive 300-yard passing games (Weeks 3-5).

DALLAS COWBOYS (4-12)
•QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant have combined for 50 career touchdowns, the most by a QB-WR tandem in franchise history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin (49).

DENVER BRONCOS (12-4)
•Led the NFL in sacks (52), total defense (283.1 yards per game) and pass defense (199.6 yards per game).
•Have won 15 consecutive divisional road games, the most consecutive road wins against divisional opponents in NFL history.
•Defeated Baltimore 19-13 in Week 1 and improved their record to 42-13-1 (.764) in home openers, the top mark in the NFL.
•Head coach Gary Kubiak (12 wins) tied Red Miller (1977) for the most wins in their first season as head coach in franchise history.
•Kubiak led the Broncos to a 7-0 start in his first season with the team, becoming the fourth head coach to lead his team to a 7-0 record in his first season with a new team since 1970.

DETROIT LIONS (7-9)
•RB Theo Riddick had 80 receptions, the most by a running back in a single season in franchise history.
•K Matt Prater converted a 59-yard field goal in Week 17 at Chicago, the longest in franchise history.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-6)
•Earned the 750th total victory in franchise history in 2015. The Packers are 751-567-37 and joined the Chicago Bears (758-573-42) as the only teams in NFL history to reach 750 total wins.

HOUSTON TEXANS (9-7)
•WR De Andre Hopkins set a franchise record with 11 touchdown receptions.
•Hopkins joined Andre Johnson as the only players in franchise history with at least 100 catches (111) and 1,400 receiving yards (1,521) in a season.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-8)
•Defeated Houston 27-20 in Week 5, their 16th consecutive divisional win dating back to December 30, 2012, surpassing the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins (15) for the longest streak since 1970.
•K Adam Vinatieri (1,095 points) surpassed Mike Vanderjagt (995) as the Colts’ all-time scoring leader.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-11)
•QB Blake Bortles set single-season franchise records in passing yards (4,428) and touchdown passes (35).
•WR Allen Robinson tied for the league lead with 14 touchdown catches, the most in a single season in franchise history.
•WR Allen Hurns caught a touchdown in seven consecutive games (Weeks 3-10), the longest streak in franchise history.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-5)
•Finished with an 11-5 record and became the first team in NFL history to win 11 games in a season in which it had a five-game losing streak.
•Won 10 consecutive games from Weeks 7-17, the longest winning streak in franchise history.
•In Week 8 vs. Detroit, four different Kansas City players rushed for a touchdown – QB Alex Smith, RBs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West and WR De’Anthony Thomas – marking the first time since October 2, 1960, when the team was known as the Dallas Texans, that four different players rushed for at least one touchdown in the same game for the franchise.
•TE Travis Kelce had six catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win at Houston in Week 1 and joined Tony Gonzalez as the only tight ends in franchise history with at least 100 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in a game. He is the only Kansas City tight end to accomplish the feat in a season opener.
•Became the first team in NFL history to have a 90+ yard interception return-touchdown (CB Marcus Peters, 93 yards) and a 70+ yard fumble-return touchdown (S Tyvon Branch, 73 yards) in the same game in Week 15 at Baltimore.

MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
•WR Jarvis Landry set a single-season franchise record with 110 receptions (O.J. McDuffie, 90 in 1998).
•QB Ryan Tannehill (15,460) joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Bob Griese as the only players in franchise history with 15,000 career passing yards.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6)
•WR Stefon Diggs had 52 receptions, the third most by a rookie in franchise history (Randy Moss, 69 in 1998 and Percy Harvin, 60 in 2009).
•Diggs became the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in receptions.
•S Harrison Smith set a franchise record for interception-return touchdowns in a career (four).
•LB Eric Kendricks led the Vikings with 105 tackles and became the second rookie in franchise history to lead the team in tackles (Rip Hawskins, 1961).
•K Blair Walsh tied a franchise record with his fourth career season with at least 100 points (135).

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-6)
•Won 12 games and became the fifth team in NFL history and first since the 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers (16) with at least 15 consecutive winning seasons.
•Became the second team in NFL history with 13 consecutive 10-win seasons (1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers, 16).
•Became the second team in NFL history with at least 12 regular-season wins in six consecutive seasons (Indianapolis Colts, seven from 2003-2009).
•Clinched a first-round bye for the sixth consecutive season, the longest streak of any NFL team since the current playoff format began in 1990.
•Scored points in 38 consecutive quarters from Weeks 1-11, surpassing the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams (31) and 2005 Indianapolis Colts (31) for the longest such streak in NFL history.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-9)
•Led the NFL in passing offense (310.6 yards per game).
•WR Marques Colston has 28 career 100-yard receiving games, tied with Joe Horn for the most such games in franchise history.

NEW YORK GIANTS (6-10)
•QB Eli Manning passed for 4,436 yards, the second-most in a single season in franchise history behind his 2011 season (4,933).
•Manning threw 35 touchdown passes, the second-most in a single season in franchise history (Y.A. Tittle, 36 in 1963).
•WR Odell Beckham, JR. had 96 receptions, the second-most in a single season in franchise history (Steve Smith, 107 in 2009).

NEW YORK JETS (10-6)
•QB Ryan Fitzpatrick set a single-season franchise record with 31 touchdown passes.
•WR Brandon Marshall set single-season franchise records with 109 receptions and 1,502 receiving yards.
•Marshall became the first Jet with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games in a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Maynard in 1968.
•Marshall and WR Eric Decker each had a touchdown reception in the same game nine times, the most by teammates in the same season in NFL history.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-9)
•DE Khalil Mack had five sacks in Week 14 at Denver and tied Howie Long (October 2, 1983) for the most sacks in a game in franchise history.
•WR Amari Cooper set franchise rookie records for most receiving yards (1,070) and receptions (72).

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (7-9)
•QB Sam Bradford had five 300-yard games in 2015, tied with Donovan McNabb (2004) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen (1961) for the most in a single season in franchise history.
•WR Jordan Matthews set a franchise record for most receptions (152) in a player’s first two seasons and ranks second in receiving yards (1,896) and touchdowns (16).

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6)
•Became the only NFL franchise to have three head coaches with at least 90 career regular-season wins – Mike Tomlin (92), Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Noll (193) and Bill Cowher (149).
•QB Ben Roethlisberger (113) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw (107) for the most regular-season wins by a quarterback in franchise history.
•In Week 9 against Oakland, became the first team in NFL history to have one player with at least 300 scrimmage yards (WR Antonio Brown, 306) and another player with at least 200 scrimmage yards (RB De Angelo Williams, 225) in the same game.
•Brown tied for the league lead with 136 receptions and finished second in the league with 1,834 receiving yards, both the highest marks in a single season in franchise history.
•Brown set single-game franchise records for catches (17) and receiving yards (284) in Week 9.

ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-9)
•Rookie RB Todd Gurley had 1,106 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (1,808 yards in 1983) and Jerome Bettis (1,429 in 1993) as the only Rams rookies with at least 1,000 rushing yards.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-12)
•QB Philip Rivers (281 touchdown passes) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Fouts (254) for the most touchdown passes in franchise history.
•In Week 6 at Green Bay, Rivers set single-game team records for completions (43), attempts (65) and passing yards (503).
•Rivers and TE Antonio Gates have combined for 77 career touchdowns, the most by a QB-TE duo all-time.
•WR Keenan Allen had 15 receptions on Kickoff Weekend, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow (15 receptions on October 7, 1984 at Green Bay) for the franchise’s single-game reception record.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-11)
•WR Torrey Smith had three touchdowns receptions of 70+ yards, the first player in franchise history to accomplish the feat in a single season since JOHN TAYLOR (1989).
•LB Ahmad Brooks has 45.5 sacks as a member of the 49ers, the second-most in franchise history by a linebacker since 1982 (Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley, 66.5).

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-6)
•Led the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 277 points (17.3 per game).
•Head coach Pete Carroll recorded his 100th career victory in Week 15 with a 30-13 win over Cleveland. Including the playoffs, Carroll has a 101-72 career record.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-10)
•QB Jameis Winston set franchise records for most passing yards (4,042) and touchdown passes (22) by a rookie.
•In Week 11 at Philadelphia, became the first team in NFL history to have a quarterback with at least five touchdown passes (Winston, five) and a running back with at least 200 rushing yards (Doug Martin, 235) in a road game.

TENNESSEE TITANS (3-13)
•TE Delanie Walker set franchise records for most catches (94) and receiving yards (1,088) by a tight end in a single season.
Walker is the first tight end in franchise history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (9-7)
•Overcame a 24-point deficit in Week 7 to defeat Tampa Bay 31-30, the largest deficit overcome in a victory in franchise history.
•QB Kirk Cousins set a franchise record with 4,166 passing yards and became the first quarterback in team history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns (29) in a season.
•Cousins joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen (14 games in 1967) as the only players in franchise history to throw a touchdown pass in every game of a season.
•Cousins completed 20 of 25 passes (80 percent) for 324 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating – the highest attainable mark – in Week 10 and became the first Redskins quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and post a rating of at least 150 in a game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh in 1948 (October 31).

Teams not only had milestones in 2015. Some of its stars made milestones of their own. Here’s a look at the players

THE PLAYERS

ACCOMPLISHMENT(S)

KEENAN ALLEN – WR, San Diego Chargers
•Had 15 catches in Week 1 against Detroit, the most by a player on Kickoff Weekend since the 1970 merger.
•Had 62 receptions in San Diego’s first seven games, the most of any NFL player through his team’s first seven games to begin a season in NFL history.

TAVON AUSTIN – WR/PR, St. Louis Rams
•In Week 1 against Seattle, became the fifth player in the past 20 years to score a touchdown on a punt return (75 yards) and a rush (16 yards) in the same game.

DOUG BALDWIN – WR, Seattle Seahawks
•Became the third player in NFL history to catch at least two touchdown passes in four consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1995) and Calvin Johnson (2011).
•Had 10 touchdown receptions in Weeks 12-15, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1987) for the most TD catches in a four-game span in a single season in NFL history.

ODELL BECKHAM, JR. – WR, New York Giants
•Has 2,755 career receiving yards (1,450 in 2015) and surpassed Randy Moss for the most receiving yards in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history.
•Has nine career games with at least 140 receiving yards, the most ever by a player in his first two NFL seasons.

TRAVIS BENJAMIN – WR, Cleveland Browns
•Became the first NFL player with four 50+ yard touchdowns in the first two games of a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown in 1963.

•Had three catches for 115 yards with two touchdowns (60 and 50 yards) and added a 78-yard punt-return touchdown in Week 2 against Tennesee and joined Tavon Austin (November 13, 2013) as the only players in NFL history with a 75+ yard punt-return touchdown and two 50+ yard touchdown catches in the same game.

ANQUAN BOLDIN – WR, San Francisco 49ers
•Reached 1,000 career receptions (1,009) and became the 13th player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Boldin, who accomplished the feat in his 185th career game in Week 15 against Cincinnati, surpassed Reggie Wayne (195) for the fifth-fewest games in NFL history to reach the milestone.

BLAKE BORTLES – QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
•Threw 35 touchdown passes and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in a season at age 23 or younger.

SAM BRADFORD – QB, Philadelphia Eagles
•Became the first quarterback in NFL history to start and win a regular-season overtime game on his birthday in Philadelphia’s 33-27 victory over Dallas in Week 9.

TOM BRADY – QB, New England Patriots
•Has 428 career touchdown passes and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (420) for the third-most touchdown passes in NFL history (tied with Drew Brees, 428).
•Became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to reach 55,000 career passing yards (58,026).
•Led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and joined Peyton Manning (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons.
•Has thrown at least 25 touchdowns passes in 11 different seasons and tied Brett Farve for the second-most such seasons in NFL history (Manning, 16).

DREW BREES – QB, New Orleans Saints
•Has 60,903 career passing yards and joined Peyton Manning (71,940), Brett Farve (71,838) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) as the only players in NFL history with at least 60,000 career passing yards.
•Led the league with 4,870 passing yards and became the first player to lead the league in passing yards six times.
•Has seven career 4,500-yard passing seasons, the most in NFL history and recorded his NFL-record sixth consecutive season with at least 4,500 yards.
•Passed for 400+ yards twice in 2015, bringing his career total to 13 such performances. He is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Marino for the second-most such games in NFL history and one shy of the NFL record held by Manning (14).
•Passed for 323 yards in Week 17 at Atlanta, his 96th career 300-yard passing game, the most in NFL history.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER – QB, Minnesota Vikings
•In Week 15 against Chicago, became the second quarterback in NFL history to complete at least 85 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions and rush for a touchdown in a single game.

ANTONIO BROWN – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
•Tied for the league lead with 136 receptions and has 265 total receptions over the past two seasons, surpassing Marvin Harrison (252 in 2001-02) for the most catches in any two-season span in NFL history.
•Joined Wes Welker (2007-09) as the only players in NFL history with three consecutive 110-catch seasons (129 in 2014; 110 in 2013).
•Had four 185-yard receiving games in 2015, the most in a single season in NFL history.
•Became the only player in NFL history with at least 100 receptions and a punt return-touchdown in multiple seasons and has done so in each of the past three seasons (2013-15).
•Reached 400 career receptions in Week 2 against San Francisco in his 72nd career game, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow as the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach the milestone. Only Anquan Boldin (67) and Larry Fitzgerald (71) reached 400 catches in fewer games.

DEZ BRYANT – WR, Dallas Cowboys
•Has a touchdown catch in 14 consecutive interconference games, the longest such streak in the NFL since the 1970 merger.

MARTAVIS BRYANT – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
•Had an 88-yard touchdown reception in Week 6 against Arizona and became the second player in NFL history with an 88+ yard touchdown catch in each of his first two career seasons (94 yards on December 7, 2014.)

AMARI COOPER – WR, Oakland Raiders
•Joined De Sean Jackson (2008) as the only NFL rookies in the past 30 years with two 100-yard receiving games in their team’s first three games.
•Had three 100-yard receiving games in Oakland’s first six games and became the first rookie with three 100-yard receiving games in his team’s first six games since Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka in 1961.

MASON CROSBY – K, Green Bay Packers
•Converted all five of his field goal attempts (42, 47, 40, 42 and 52 yards) in the Packers’ 30-13 victory at Minnesota in Week 11 and became the first player in NFL history to convert at least five field goals without a miss with each attempt coming from at least 40 yards.

ANDY DALTON – QB, Cincinnati Bengals
•Passed for 3,250 yards and joined Peyton Manning and Cam Newton as the only players in NFL history with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of his first five NFL seasons.

•Earned his 24th career road victory in a 37-3 victory at Cleveland in Week 13 and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (23), Ben Roethlisberger (23) and Matt Ryan (23) for the most road wins by a starting quarterback in his first five seasons during the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

LARRY FITZGERALD – WR, Arizona Cardinals
•Fitzgerald (1,018) became the eleventh player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions and is the youngest player all-time to reach the milestone (32 years, 97 days).
•Surpassed 13,000 career receiving yards in Week 11 against Cincinnati and became the third-youngest player in NFL history to reach the mark (32 years, 76 days old), trailing only Randy Moss (31 years, 298 days old) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (32 years, 59 days).

RYAN FITZPATRICK – QB, New York Jets
•Surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer SID LUCKMAN (Columbia, 137) for the most passing touchdowns all-time by an Ivy League quarterback (Harvard, 154).

MATT FORTÉ – RB, Chicago Bears
•Reached 8,000 career rushing yards (8,602) and 3,500 receiving yards (4,116) in his 111th game, the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach those marks (Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, 107 games).

DEVONTA FREEMAN – RB, Atlanta Falcons
•Became the only player since at least the 1970 merger to rush for at least three touchdowns in each of his first two career starts.
•Became the first player to rush for at least seven TDs in his team’s first four games to start a season since La Dainian Tomlinson (eight) in 2005.
•Became the fourth player at age 23 or younger to rush for at least 600 yards (621) and nine touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958 and 1959), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Emmitt Smith (1992).

ANTONIO GATES – TE, San Diego Chargers
•Has 104 career touchdown receptions and joined Tony Gonzalez (111) as the only tight ends in league annals with 100 receiving touchdowns.
•Has 21 career games with at least two touchdown catches, the most ever by a tight end.

WILLIAM GAY – CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
•Returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown in Week 14 against Cincinnati and scored a touchdown on five consecutive interceptions, surpassing TEDY BRUSCHI (four), CHARLES TILLMAN (four), and CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN (four) for the longest such streak in NFL history.

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI – K, New England Patriots
•Led the NFL in scoring for the fifth time in his career with 151 points and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

A.J. GREEN – WR, Cincinnati Bengals
•Had 1,297 receiving yards, his fifth consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards, and joined RANDY MOSS (six) as the only players in NFL history with at least five 1,000-yard receiving seasons to begin a career.

•In Week 3 against Baltimore, had 10 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including the seven-yard game-winning score with 2:10 remaining in the fourth quarter and became the second player in NFL history with 10+ catches, 225+ receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning TD in the fourth quarter or overtime in the same game (Miles Austin on October 11, 2009 vs. Kansas City).

ROB GRONKOWSKI – TE, New England Patriots
•Reached 60 career touchdown receptions in his 71st career game in Week 7 against the New York Jets, the third-fastest player to reach the milestone and the fastest tight end to do so.

TODD GURLEY – RB, St. Louis Rams
•Led all rookies with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
•Had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most such games by a rookie in NFL history.
•Had 566 rushing yards in his first four starts, the most through four starts by any NFL player that began his career in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

PERCY HARVIN – WR, Buffalo Bills
•Had a 51-yard touchdown catch in Week 1 against Indianapolis and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer OLLIE MATSON as the only players in NFL history with at least four career 50-yard touchdown catches and three 100-yard kickoff-return touchdowns.

MATT HASSELBECK – QB, Indianapolis Colts
•Joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon (four) and Brett Farve (four) as the only quarterbacks to win four consecutive starts after their 40th birthday in the Super Bowl era.

DE ANDRE HOPKINS – WR, Houston Texans
•In Weeks 4-6 (at Atlanta, vs. Indianapolis and at Jacksonville), Hopkins became the first player in NFL history with at least nine catches and 145 receiving yards in three consecutive games.

CHRIS IVORY – RB, New York Jets
•Became only the fourth undrafted player in NFL history to gain at least 140 rushing yards in two consecutive games in Weeks 4 (at Miami) and 6 (Washington).

DE SEAN JACKSON – WR, Washington Redskins
•Has 20 career touchdowns of at least 60 yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth for the fourth-most in NFL history.

SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI – K, Oakland Raiders
•Tied Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

CALVIN JOHNSON – WR, Detroit Lions
•Surpassed 11,000 career receiving yards (11,619) in his 127th game in Week 8 against Kansas City, the fewest needed to reach the milestone in NFL history.

DAVID JOHNSON – RB/KR, Arizona Cardinals
•Became the first player in NFL history with a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown in his first two games to begin a career.
•First rookie since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) to have multiple rushing touchdowns (three), multiple receiving touchdowns (two) and a kickoff-return touchdown in his team’s first five games of a season.
•Joined Sayers as the only rookies in NFL history with at least four rushing touchdowns (eight), four receiving touchdowns (four) and a kick-return touchdown in a season.

JULIO JONES – WR, Atlanta Falcons
•Led the league in receiving yards (1,871), the second-most yards in a single season in NFL history (Calvin Johnson, 1,964 in 2012).
•Became the third player in NFL history with at least 125 receptions (136) and 1,700 receiving yards (1,871) in a season (Marvin Harrison, 2002 and Antonio Brown, 2015)
•Became the first player in NFL history to record at least 135 receiving yards in each of his team’s first three games.

JARVIS LANDRY – WR, Miami Dolphins
•Has 194 career receptions, the most by any player in his first two seasons in NFL history.

JEREMY LANGFORD – RB, Chicago Bears
•In Week 10 at St. Louis, became the third rookie in NFL history with at least 70 rushing yards (73), a touchdown run, 100 receiving yards (109) and a touchdown catch in the same game.

TYLER LOCKETT – WR/PR/KR, Seattle Seahawks
•Joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five touchdown receptions (six), a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown.
•Had a 57-yard punt-return touchdown in Week 1 against St. Louis and became the first rookie to score a touchdown on his first career return on Kickoff Weekend since 2005 (San Francisco’s Otis Amey).
•Became the second rookie in NFL history (Tony Green, 1978) to have both a punt-return touchdown and a kickoff-return touchdown in his team’s first three games to start a season.

ANDREW LUCK – QB, Indianapolis Colts
•Reached 100 career touchdown passes in his 55th career game in Week 9 vs. Denver, the fourth-fewest games to reach the mark in NFL history.

KHALIL MACK – DE, Oakland Raiders
•Posted nine sacks in Weeks 12-14 (at Tennessee, vs. Kansas City, at Denver), tied for the third-most sacks through any three-game span in a single season since the statistic became official in 1982.

ELI MANNING – QB, New York Giants
•Passed for 4,436 yards in 2015 and moved into 11th place on the all-time passing yards list (44,191).

PEYTON MANNING – QB, Denver Broncos
•Has 71,940 career passing yards and surpassed Brett Farve (71,838) for the most in NFL history.
•Earned his 186th regular season victory in Week 8 against Green Bay and tied Favre for the most of any starting quarterback in NFL history.
•Has 6,125 career completions and joined Favre (6,300) as the only players to reach 6,000 career completions.

MARCUS MARIOTA – QB, Tennessee Titans
•Had four games with at least three touchdown passes, tying PEYTON MANNING (1998) for the most ever by a rookie.
•Became the first rookie in NFL history to have two games with four touchdown passes and no interceptions (Weeks 1 and 9) (at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans).
•Scored touchdowns of at least 40 yards via passing (long of 61 yards), rushing (long of 87 yards) and receiving (long of 41 yards), the first player to accomplish the feat in a single season since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back WALTER PAYTON in 1983.
•Had six touchdown passes in his first two games, the most by any NFL player in his first two career games.
•Completed 13 of 16 passes (81.3 percent) for 209 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in Week 1 and became first rookie in NFL history to post a 158.3 passer rating on Kickoff Weekend (minimum 14 attempts), which is the highest attainable rating.

BRANDON MARSHALL – WR, New York Jets
•Had 109 receptions and became the first player in NFL history with six 100-catch seasons.
•Had 1,502 receiving yards and became the first player in NFL history with a 1,000-yard receiving season with four different teams (Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets).

LAMAR MILLER – RB, Miami Dolphins
•Had a 54-yard touchdown reception and an 85-yard TD run – both in the second quarter – in Week 7 against Houston. Miller joins Chris Johnson (September 20, 2009) as the only players in NFL history with an 85+ yard touchdown run and 50+ yard TD catch in a single game. Miller is the only player to accomplish the feat in a single quarter.

CAM NEWTON – QB, Carolina Panthers
•Has 117 passing touchdowns and 43 rushing touchdowns in his career and is the only player in NFL history with at least 100 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons.
•Had 35 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season.
•Had 3,837 passing yards and 636 rushing yards and became the only player in NFL history to have five different seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards.
•Recorded a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game 31 times in his career, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young for the most in NFL history.
•In Week 15 at the New York Giants, became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 passing yards (340), 100 rushing yards (100) and five touchdown passes in a single game.

JOSH NORMAN – CB, Carolina Panthers
•Became the first cornerback with two interception-return touchdowns in his team’s first four games to begin a season since Charles Woodson in 2008.

BROCK OSWEILER – QB, Denver Broncos
•Became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first career start and win on his birthday in Denver’s 17-15 win at Chicago in Week 11.

JULIUS PEPPERS – LB, Green Bay Packers
•Has 136 career sacks and surpassed John Abraham (133.5) and DE MARCUS WARE (134.5) to tie for the ninth-most sacks (Jared Allen) since the stat became official in 1982.

ADRIAN PETERSON – RB, Minnesota Vikings
•Led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards and became the third player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing after his 30th birthday.
•Tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (eight) and La Dainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.
•Scored his 100th career touchdown in Week 14 at Arizona in his 117th career game and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN and Smith and Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history with at least 10,000 rushing yards and 100 total touchdowns in the first 117 games to begin a career.
•Rushed for at least 125 yards five times in 2015 and has 30 career games with at least 125 rushing yards, the sixth most in NFL history.
•Has 18 career games with at least 150 rushing yards, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith for the fourth-most in NFL history.
•Rushed for 203 yards in Week 10 at Oakland, his sixth career 200-yard rushing game, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson for the most 200-yard rushing games in NFL history.

THOMAS RAWLS – RB, Seattle Seahawks
•Had 712 rushing yards in his first six starts, the most rushing yards by an undrafted player in his first six career starts since the 1970 merger.
•In Week 11 against San Francisco, became the first rookie with at least 250 scrimmage yards (255), a rushing touchdown and a touchdown catch in the same game in NFL history.

PHILIP RIVERS – QB, San Diego Chargers
•Reached 40,000 career passing yards in his 159th career game in Week 12 at Jacksonville, the fourth-fastest in NFL history.

AARON RODGERS – QB, Green Bay Packers
•Reached 30,000 career passing yards in Week 6 against San Diego in 3,652 attempts, the fewest needed to reach 30,000 passing yards in NFL history. Rodgers reached the mark in his 116th career game, the fourth-fewest games of any player to reach the milestone.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER – QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
•Reached 40,000 career passing yards in Week 8 in his 163rd game and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon (165 games) for the fifth fewest games to reach the milestone.
•Passed for 379 yards in Week 10 against Cleveland, the most ever by a quarterback who did not start the game.
•Completed 40 passes in Week 15 against Denver and became the first player in NFL history with two career games with at least 40 completions (40 on October 26, 2014).

MATT RYAN – QB, Atlanta Falcons
•Surpassed 30,000 career passing yards in his 117th career game, the fifth-fastest in NFL history.

ALEX SMITH – QB, Kansas City Chiefs
•Did not throw an interception in 312 pass attempts, the second-longest streak in NFL history (Tom Brady, 358 attempts).

STEVE SMITH, SR. – WR, Baltimore Ravens
•Had 13 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3 against Cincinnati at 36 years old, joining Tony Gonzalez (36) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tim Brown (36) as the only players to have 13 or more receptions after turning 36 years old. His 186 receiving yards are the second-most in a game by a player at age 36 or older, trailing only Terrell Owens (36), who had a 222-yard receiving performance for Cincinnati in 2010.

DARREN SPROLES – RB/PR, Philadelphia Eagles
•Had a punt-return touchdown (89 yards) and a rushing touchdown (one yard) in Week 3 against the New York Jets, his second career performance with a punt-return touchdown and a rushing touchdown (November 10, 2014). He is the fourth player in NFL history to record multiple games with both a punt-return touchdown and a rushing touchdown, joining Ockie Anderson, Curly Oden and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.
•Is the only player in NFL history with at least 25 receiving touchdowns (28), 15 rushing touchdowns (20) and five punt-return touchdowns (seven).

MATTHEW STAFFORD – QB, Detroit Lions
•Reached 25,000 caree​r passing yards (25,976) in his 90th game in Week 14 at St. Louis, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (92) for the fewest games to reach the milestone.

RYAN TANNEHILL – QB, Miami Dolphins
•Completed 25 consecutive pass attempts over a two-game span in Weeks 6 and 7 (at Tennessee, vs. Houston), the most consecutive completions in NFL history.

TYROD TAYLOR – QB, Buffalo Bills
•In Week 5 at Tennessee, became the fifth player in NFL history – and only the second in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) – with 100+ passing yards (109), 70+ rushing yards (76) and a reception in the same game.

J.J. WATT – DE, Houston Texans
•Led the NFL with 17.5 sacks and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players with at least 15 sacks in three of their first five seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.
•Has 21 career multi-sack games, the second-most of any player in his first five seasons. Only White (24) had more multi-sack games in his first five seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.
•Surpassed 70 career sacks in Week 12 against New Orleans in his 75th game, the second-fewest games of any NFL player since the statistic became official in 1982, trailing only White (57 games).

KARLOS WILLIAMS – RB, Buffalo Bills
•Joined Robert Edwards (six in 1998) as the only players to score a touchdown in each of his first six career games.

RUSSELL WILSON – QB, Seattle Seahawks
•Became the first quarterback in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards (4,024), 30 touchdown passes (34) and 500 rushing yards (553) in a season.
•Threw 24 touchdown passes and one interception in Weeks 11-17 (vs. San Francisco, vs. Pittsburgh, at Minnesota, at Baltimore) and became the only player in NFL history to pass for at least 24 touchdowns and have one or zero interceptions in a seven-game span within a season.
•Has 24 games with multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions, the most such performances by any player in his first four seasons since the 1970 merger.
•In Weeks 11-15, became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least three touchdowns and no interceptions in five consecutive games.
•Has seven career games with a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown and no interceptions. Only Cam Newton (12) has more such games in a player’s first four seasons to begin a career.

JAMEIS WINSTON – QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
•Passed for 4,042 yards, the third-most passing yards by a rookie in NFL history.
•Threw 22 touchdown passes, tied with Charkue Conerly for the fourth-most by a rookie in NFL history.
•Had five touchdown passes and no interceptions in Week 11 at Philadelphia and joined Ray Buivid (December 5, 1937) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

JASON WITTEN – TE, Dallas Cowboys
•Has 1,020 career receptions and joined Tony Gonzalez (1,325) as the only tight ends in NFL history with 1,000 career catches.
•Surpassed 1,000 career receptions in Week 13 at Washington at 33 years, 215 days old, the youngest tight end in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions.

CHARLES WOODSON – S, Oakland Raiders
•Had five interceptions in 2015 and has 65 career interceptions, tied with Ken Riley for fifth on the all-time list.
•Has recorded an interception in 18 consecutive seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green (19 seasons) as the only players to accomplish the feat.
•Recorded two interceptions in Week 5 against, the only player in NFL history with two interceptions in a game at age 39 or older. Woodson is one of three players in NFL history with an interception at age 39 or older, joining Green and Clay Matthews, JR.

ADAM VINATIERI – K, Indianapolis Colts
•Is the first player in NFL history to score at least 1,000 points with two different teams (1,095 points with Indianapolis; 1,158 with New England).
•Has made 503 career field goals and surpassed Jason Hanson (495) for the third-most in NFL history.
•Vinatieri also joined Morten Andersen (565) and Gary Anderson (538) as the only players to make 500 career made field goals in a career.

GREG ZUERLEIN – K, St. Louis Rams
•Converted a 61-yard field goal in Week 9 at Minnesota and joined Sebastian Janikowski as the only players in NFL history with two career 60-yard field goals.
 

 

Fans can partially rejoice.

They know who they’ll play and where in 2016.

Patience, Grasshopper. You will know when they will play in April.

The National Football League announced this week the opponents for all 2016 regular-season games have been determined and a complete list of each team’s home and away matchups.

The scheduling formula implemented in 2002 with realignment guarantees that all teams play each other on a regular, rotating basis.

Under the formula, every team plays 16 games as follows:

•Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).

•The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).

•The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).

•Two intra-conference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.

Beginning in 2010, a change was made to how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the AFC and NFC West divisions would not be required to make two West Coast trips (e.g. at San Francisco and at Seattle), while other teams in their division had none (e.g. at St. Louis and at Arizona).

The official 2016 schedule, with playing dates and times, will be announced in the spring.

NFL Kickoff 2016 Weekend will begin on Thursday night, September 8, and the regular season will conclude on Sunday, January 1.

Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas will be played on Sunday, February 5, 2017.

2016 OPPONENTS

AFC EAST

1. New England
Home: Buffalo, Miami, New York Jets, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, St. Louis, Seattle
Away: Buffalo, Miami, New York Jets, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Arizona, San Francisco

2. New York Jets
Home: Buffalo, Miami, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle
Away: Buffalo, Miami, New England, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Arizona, San Francisco

3. Buffalo
Home: Miami, New England, New York Jets, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Arizona, San Francisco
Away: Miami, New England, New York Jets, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Oakland, St. Louis, Seattle

4. Miami
Home: Buffalo, New England, New York Jets, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Arizona, San Francisco
Away: Buffalo, New England, New York Jets, Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Diego, St. Louis, Seattle
AFC NORTH

1. Cincinnati
Home: Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, Washington
Away: Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Houston, Dallas, New York Giants

2. Pittsburgh
Home: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New England, New York Jets, Kansas City, Dallas, New York Giants
Away: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Washington

3. Baltimore
Home: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, Oakland, Philadelphia, Washington
Away: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Jacksonville, Dallas, New York Giants

4. Cleveland
Home: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, San Diego, Dallas, New York Giants
Away: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Miami, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Washington

AFC SOUTH

1. Houston
Home: Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit
Away: Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, New England, Green Bay, Minnesota

2. Indianapolis
Home: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit
Away: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, New York Jets, Green Bay, Minnesota

3. Jacksonville
Home: Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Denver, Oakland, Baltimore, Green Bay, Minnesota                                      Away: Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit

4. Tennessee
Home: Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Denver, Oakland, Cleveland, Green Bay, Minnesota
Away: Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville Kansas City, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, Detroit

AFC WEST

1. Denver
Home: Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Houston, Indianapolis, New England, Atlanta, Carolina
Away: Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Tampa Bay

2. Kansas City
Home: Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New York Jets, New Orleans, Tampa Bay
Away: Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Houston, Indianapolis  Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Carolina

3. Oakland
Home: Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Houston, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Atlanta, Carolina
Away: Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Baltimore, New Orleans, Tampa Bay

4. San Diego Chargers
Home: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa Bay
Away: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Houston, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Atlanta, Carolina

NFC EAST

1. Washington
Home: Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Minnesota, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh
Away: Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Arizona, Baltimore, Cincinnati

2. Philadelphia
Home: Dallas, New York Giants, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh
Away: Dallas, New York Giants, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore, Cincinnati

3. New York Giants
Home: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Cincinnati
Away: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh

4. Dallas
Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cincinnati
Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh

NFC NORTH

1. Minnesota
Home: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Dallas, New York Giants, Arizona, Houston, Indianapolis
Away: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Jacksonville, Tennessee

2. Green Bay
Home: Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, Seattle, Houston, Indianapolis
Away: Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tennessee

3. Detroit
Home: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Tennessee
Away: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, New Orleans, Houston, Indianapolis

4. Chicago
Home: Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Tennessee
Away: Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Houston, Indianapolis

NFC SOUTH

1. Carolina
Home: Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Arizona, San Francisco, Minnesota, Kansas City, San Diego
Away: Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington, Denver, Oakland

2. Atlanta
Home: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Arizona, San Francisco, Green Bay, Kansas City, San Diego
Away: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, Oakland

3. New Orleans
Home: Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, Detroit, Denver, Oakland
Away: Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Arizona, San Francisco, New York, Kansas City, San Diego

4. Tampa Bay
Home: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, St. Louis, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Oakland
Away: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Arizona, San Francisco, Dallas, Kansas City, San Diego

NFC WEST

1. Arizona
Home: St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Washington, New England, New York Jets
Away: St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, Minnesota, Buffalo, Miami

2. Seattle
Home: Arizona, San Francisco, St. Louis, Atlanta, Carolina, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami
Away: Arizona, San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets

3. St. Louis
Home: Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami
Away: Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Detroit Lions, New England, New York Jets

4. San Francisco
Home: Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Dallas, New England, New York Jets
Away: Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Buffalo, Miami

Once again, the Dallas Cowboys are the most expensive NFL team to go see in person. It would seem that way, with the amount of money that Jerry Jones paid for the team.

Using data collected by Team Marketing during surveys of National Football League teams, Yahoo!Sports created the Adult Cost Index (ACI), which is how much it might cost one fan to attend a game. This is a derivative of Team Marketing’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), which looks at how much it costs a family of four to attend a game.

The ACI is the cost for a single fan to purchase an average-priced ticket, one beer, one soft drink, one hot dog and half the cost of parking at the stadium. (You’d be better off tailing before or eat afterward; it’s somewhat cheaper, a lot less expensive and you can go back for seconds)

The Cowboys top the list as attending a game and consuming some standard concession items, will set a person back about $167. You might want to consider saving those pennies now or try to dig for oil in your back yard.

Here is a closer look at how much it costs fans to go see all 32 NFL teams. (prices are as of this past regular season)

#1 Dallas Cowboys — $166.70
Average ticket: $110.20
Small Beer: $8.50
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $5.50
Half the cost of parking: $37.50
Fan Cost Index: $634.80

#2 San Francisco 49ers — $159.00
Average ticket: $117.00
Small Beer: $10.00
Soda: $6.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $20.00
Fan Cost Index: $640.00

#3 New England Patriots — $157.25
Average ticket: $122.00
Small Beer: $7.50
Soda: $4.00
Hot Dog: $3.75
Half the cost of parking: $20.00
Fan Cost Index: $624.70

#4 New York Giants — $152.40
Average ticket: $123.40
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $3.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $15.00
Fan Cost Index: $629.62

#5 Chicago Bears — $152.19
Average ticket: $108.44
Small Beer: $9.25
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $5.00
Half the cost of parking: $24.50
Fan Cost Index: $601.20

#6 Washington Redskins — $150.75
Average ticket: $102.00
Small Beer: $9.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $28.75
Fan Cost Index: $597.51

#7 Baltimore Ravens — $141.44
Average ticket: $100.19
Small Beer: $8.50
Soda: $7.75
Hot Dog: $5.00
Half the cost of parking: $20.00
Fan Cost Index: $538.66

#8 Philadelphia Eagles — $134.19
Average ticket: $98.69
Small Beer: $8.50
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $5.00
Half the cost of parking: $17.50
Fan Cost Index: $530.76

#9 New York Jets — $132.16
Average ticket: $105.66
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $3.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $553.63

#10 Green Bay Packers — $127.37
Average ticket: $89.37
Small Beer: $7.75
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $5.75
Half the cost of parking: $20.00
Fan Cost Index: $495.87

#11 Seattle Seahawks — $122.60
Average ticket: $84.60
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $3.00
Half the cost of parking: $25.00
Fan Cost Index: $472.40

#12 Pittsburgh Steelers — $121.97
Average ticket: $83.97
Small Beer: $8.00
Soda: $4.75
Hot Dog: $5.25
Half the cost of parking: $20.00
Fan Cost Index: $481.78

#13 New Orleans Saints — $121.62
Average ticket: $84.87
Small Beer: $9.00
Soda: $4.75
Hot Dog: $5.50
Half the cost of parking: $17.50
Fan Cost Index: $507.49

#14 Houston Texans — $121.08
Average ticket: $88.98
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $4.75
Hot Dog: $5.75
Half the cost of parking: $16.60
Fan Cost Index: $491.11

#15 Denver Broncos — $118.96
Average ticket: $87.96
Small Beer: $6.75
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $4.75
Half the cost of parking: $15.00
Fan Cost Index: $482.22

#16 San Diego Chargers — $117.8
Average ticket: $84.55
Small Beer: $9.00
Soda: $5.75
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $478.19

#17 Indianapolis Colts — $115.19
Average ticket: $87.44
Small Beer: $7.00
Soda: $5.50
Hot Dog: $5.25
Half the cost of parking: $10.00
Fan Cost Index: $462.75

#18 Atlanta Falcons — $108.33
Average ticket: $78.83
Small Beer: $7.50
Soda: $6.50
Hot Dog: $5.50
Half the cost of parking: $10.00
Fan Cost Index: $438.33

#19 Minnesota Vikings — $105.09
Average ticket: $84.59
Small Beer: $7.00
Soda: $3.00
Hot Dog: $3.00
Half the cost of parking: $7.50
Fan Cost Index: $474.86

#20 Arizona Cardinals — $104.65
Average ticket: $82.15
Small Beer: $7.25
Soda: $4.25
Hot Dog: $4.00
Half the cost of parking: $7.00
Fan Cost Index: $436.09

#21 Oakland Raiders — $104.30
Average ticket: $64.80
Small Beer: $10.75
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $6.75
Half the cost of parking: $17.50
Fan Cost Index: $420.70

#22 Carolina Panthers — $103.82
Average ticket: $78.82
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $5.00
Half the cost of parking: $10.00
Fan Cost Index: $415.24

#23 Detroit Lions — $103.41
Average ticket: $79.16
Small Beer: $7.50
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $6.25
Half the cost of parking: $5.50
Fan Cost Index: $437.63

#24 St. Louis Rams — $100.96
Average ticket: $72.71
Small Beer: $9.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $4.25
Half the cost of parking: $10.00
Fan Cost Index: $431.85

#25 Kansas City Chiefs — $99.38
Average ticket: $68.38
Small Beer: $7.25
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $5.75
Half the cost of parking: $13.50
Fan Cost Index: $396.02

#26 Cleveland Browns — $97.63
Average ticket: $69.13
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $401.52

#27 Cincinnati Bengals — $97.62
Average ticket: $71.12
Small Beer: $5.00
Soda: $5.25
Hot Dog: $5.25
Half the cost of parking: $11.00
Fan Cost Index: $398.47

#28 Tennessee Titans — $97.15
Average ticket: $67.15
Small Beer: $7.00
Soda: $4.00
Hot Dog: $4.00
Half the cost of parking: $15.00
Fan Cost Index: $404.58

#29 Buffalo Bills — $96.01
Average ticket: $64.01
Small Beer: $9.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $5.50
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $391.04

#30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $93.59
Average ticket: $63.59
Small Beer: $7.75
Soda: $4.50
Hot Dog: $5.25
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $373.76

#31 Miami Dolphins — $92.91
Average ticket: $65.16
Small Beer: $7.75
Soda: $4.00
Hot Dog: $6.00
Half the cost of parking: $10.00
Fan Cost Index: $398.12

#32 Jacksonville Jaguars — $86.15
Average ticket: $57.65
Small Beer: $6.00
Soda: $5.00
Hot Dog: $5.00
Half the cost of parking: $12.50
Fan Cost Index: $347.60

Fan Cost Index (FCI) is calculated by Team Marketing and is the cost for a family of four to attend a game and requires the purchase of additional items such as programs and caps.

While there are 11 games that have playoff implications and a chance to either win a Lombardi or keep it, there are five games that mean nothing to some of the teams involved, aside from who is picking first in the 2016 Draft in Chicago in April.

That’s a spot nobody wants.

Picking first in the draft.

It’s like buying a prom dress or a tux and there’s one dress or tux left. Five games taking place this weekend will decide who moves up or down in the draft. It’s a thankless job but someone’s gotta do it.

Here are those five games with what’s at stake. (take notes… there will be a quiz afterward)

(In case you’re wondering, the draft order is determined by record, using strength of schedule, and then conference and division records as tiebreakers (record and strength of schedule are official tiebreakers to determine draft order). 

Tennessee (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8)

Tennessee holds a comfortable lead in the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker (.493 to .529) with Cleveland and their respective Week 17 opponents will do nothing to close that gap. As such, Tennessee is poised to claim the number 1 pick with a loss to the Colts. If Tennessee beats the Colts and gives up the top pick to Cleveland, it also holds a tiebreaker edge over other contenders for the number 2 pick.

Meanwhile, the Colts, who announced that they are parting company with Chuck Pagano, are currently in the number 17 draft position, which is good. But… three other teams (Buffalo, St. Louis and Oakland) also have a 7-8 record, so the Colts’ draft position could still swing significantly in the final week. Indy’s also fighting Houston for the AFC South title, which means that a win by the Colts and a Houston loss would take them out of the loop.

Pittsburgh (9-6) at Cleveland (3-12)

Aside from fighting the Jets for a playoff spot, the Steelers have nothing to worry about draft-wise.

For the Browns, the number 1 pick looks to be out of their hands as they enter the final week of a dismal 2015 season for Cleveland fans. In order for them to get the top spot in the draft, they would need to lose to Pittsburgh and hope
for a Titans win to take the top spot in the draft. But… they can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat if they somehow upset the Steelers at home, which means they would no longer have the number two pick. San Diego (.511) has a current tiebreaker edge over the Browns and Dallas (.529) is currently tied with Cleveland in SOS.

San Diego (4-11) at Denver (11-4)

San Diego’s strength of schedule rating of .511 has the Chargers holding the No. 3 position entering the week. If Tennessee and Cleveland both lose, however, San Diego can’t climb any higher than that. With a game against the 11-4 Broncos upcoming, San Diego’s SOS rating figures to rise.

Washington (8-7) at Dallas (4-11)

Dallas’ dismal season has the Romo-less, Dez Bryant-less Cowboys within reach of a top-five pick and a loss to the division-leading Redskins would guarantee it. Where the Cowboys’ draft position really could swing is with a win. Three 5-10 teams behind Dallas (Miami, Jacksonville and Baltimore) all have sub-.500 SOS ratings and as such, it’s possible that a Dallas win could sink the Cowboys’ first pick as low as number 8 overall, depending on other outcomes.

St. Louis (7-8) at San Francisco (4-11)49ers

San Francisco holds the nuber 5 pick entering the week, trailing the four-win Chargers and Cowboys in the tiebreaker. With an NFL-high SOS rating of .556, the 49ers will likely draft behind any team with an identical final record, regardless of what that record is. Like Dallas, San Francisco could slip to the number 8 pick with a win if Jacksonville, Baltimore and Miami (all at 5-10) end the season with a loss.

We’re halfway home!

The NFL has entered the second half of the season and the excitement is building as playoff races tighten.

Two teams remain undefeated – Carolina (9-0) and New England (9-0) – and this marks the fourth season in league history with multiple 9-0 teams (1934, 1990, 2009).

“We take it one game at a time and the focus goes to preparing for the next one,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “All the record tells you is that you’re in position for the next thing, and that would be the playoffs. So hopefully we can continue to play well and give ourselves an opportunity to get there. It’s a long season but it’s a quick season because the next thing you know, we’re on to our next opponent.”

Entering 2015, 19 teams in the Super Bowl era started 9-0. Of those 19 clubs, all 19 made the playoffs, 11 advanced to the Super Bowl and seven won the Super Bowl.

“It’s a week-to-week league,” Patriots cornerback Malcom Butler told the Boston Globe. “You’ve just to keep moving and keep improving.”

As the season moves into the second half, it’s all still to be decided, with plenty of football left to play. And while every club would like to be 9-0, don’t count anyone out. Since 1990, 21 teams have qualified for the playoffs with a losing record through nine games. Last year, Carolina (3-5-1) accomplished the feat and advanced to the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

“This whole football team is growing,” says head coach John Fox of the 4-5 Chicago Bears, who have won four of their past six games after starting the season 0-3. Fox told the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, WBBM-TV, WGN-TV and WGN-Radio, “This is a new system with a lot of new players. We are starting to know our football team better. A lot has changed over the nine weeks quite a bit. Last week was the halfway point. The way we are trending, I like the way the guys are going about their business.”

And entering Week 11, there are currently 23 teams with a 4-5 record or better. That means there’s still hope for a playoff spot for some. There’s still a lot of football left on the docket.

“This win means everything for us,” says Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry about the Dolphins’ come-from-behind win at Philadelphia last week. “It’s a great way to build momentum at this point in the season. Now, in the second half of the season, it’s time for us to start peaking. It’s time for us to gain momentum and go on a winning streak.”

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 11

HOPE IS ALIVE: Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 21 clubs with a losing record after nine games have made the playoffs and at least one has done so in each of the past four seasons.

Last season, the Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) had a losing record through nine games before advancing to the postseason.

The 21 clubs to qualify for the playoffs since 1990 with a losing record through nine games:

YEAR – TEAM, RECORD AFTER NINE GAMES (FINAL RECORD, ADVANCED TO)
1990 – Houston Oilers, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
1990 – New Orleans, 4-5 (8-9, Wild Card)
1992 – San Diego, 4-5 (11-5, Divisional)
1994 – Detroit, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
1994 – New England, 3-6 (10-6, Wild Card)
1995 – Detroit, 3-6 (10-6, Wild Card)
1995 – San Diego, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
1996 – Jacksonville, 3-6 (9-7, AFC Championship)
1997 – Detroit, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
2001 – Tampa Bay, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
2002 – Cleveland, 4-5 (9-7, Wild Card)
2002 – New York Jets, 4-5 (9-7, Divisional)
2003 – Green Bay, 4-5 (10-5, Divisonal)
2008 – San Diego, 4-5 (8-8, Divisional)
2009 – New York Jets, 4-5 (9-7, AFC Championship)
2011 – Denver, 4-5 (8-8, Divisonal)
2012 – Cincinnati, 4-5 (10-6, Wild Card)
2012 – Washington, 3-6 (10-6, Wild Card)
2013 – Philadelphia, 4-5 (10-6, Wild Card)
2013 – San Diego, 4-5 (9-7, Divisional)
2014 – Carolina, 3-5-1 (7-8-1, Divisional)

TD GALORE: Quarterbacks have combined to throw 480 touchdown passes in 2015, the second-most through the first 10 weeks of any season (499 in 2014).

Of the 480 touchdown passes, there have been 149 individual two-touchdown performances. With three individual two-touchdown performances in Week 11, the 2015 season would have the second-most such performances in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST INDIVIDUAL TWO-TOUCHDOWN PERFORMANCES THORUGH WEEK 11
2014 – 164
2013 – 151
2015 – 149*
2010 – 147
2012 – 146
*Through Week 10

TEN-WIN SEASONS: New England has won nine games in a row and have an AFC-best 9-0 record entering Week 11. With a win against the Bills at Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football, the Patriots would clinch their 13th consecutive season with 10 or more wins, the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Only the San Francisco 49ers (1983-1998) have posted a longer streak of consecutive 10-win seasons (16).

The teams with the most consecutive 10+ win seasons:

TEAM, YEARS (CONSECUTIVE 10-WIN SEASONS)
San Francisco, 1983-98 (16)
New England, 2003-14 (12)*
Indianapolis, 2002-10 (9)
Dallas, 1975-81 (7)
Many tied with 6
*Active streak

PASSING YARDS LEADERS: New England quarterback Tom Brady (3,043) and San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (3,033) rank first and second, respectively, in the NFL for the most passing yards through nine games.

With 346 passing yards against Buffalo, Brady would surpass Andrew Luck (3,388 in 2014) for the second-most passing yards through a player’s first 10 games of a season in NFL history.

With 356 passing yards against Kansas City, Rivers, who has passed for at least 300 yards in six games this season, would also surpass Luck.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who leads the NFC with 2,972 passing yards through nine games, can also join the top-five for the most passing yards through 10 games in a season.

The most passing yards through a team’s first 10 games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM, YEAR (PASSING YARDS THROUGH 10 GAMES)
Peyton Manning – Denver, 2013 (3,572)
Andrew Luck – Indianapolis, 2014 (3,388)
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 2013 (3,369)
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 2011 (3,326)
Peyton Manning – Denver, 2014 (3,301)
Tom Brady – New England, 2015 (3,043)*
Philip Rivers – San Diego, 2015 (3,033)*
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 2015 (2,972)*
*Total through nine games

WITTEN AIMS FOR 1,000: Dallas tight end Jason Witten ranks second all-time amongst tight ends with 992 receptions. With eight catches on Sunday against Miami, Witten would join Tony Gonzalez (1,325) as the only tight ends in league annals with 1,000 career receptions.

The tight ends with the most receptions in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM(S) (RECEPTIONS)
Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta, Kansas City (1,325)
Jason Witten – Dallas (992)*
Antonio Gates – San Diego (816)*
Shannon Sharpe – Baltimore, Denver (815)
Ozzie Newsome – Cleveland (662)
*Active

Witten also ranks sixth all-time amongst tight ends with 59 touchdown receptions. With two touchdown receptions on Sunday, Witten would surpass Jerry Smith (60) for the fifth-most touchdown catches by a tight end in NFL history.

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

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (REC. TDs)
Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta, Kansas City (111)
Antonio Gates – San Diego (101)*
Rob Gronkowski – New England (62)*
Shannon Sharpe – Baltimore, Denver (62)
Jerry Smith – Washington (60)
Jason Witten – Dallas (59)*
*Active

10-SPOT: Indianapolis wide receiver Andre Johnson has 24 receptions for 288 yards with three touchdowns this season. In 13 seasons, Johnson has 13,885 career receiving yards.

With 48 receiving yards on Sunday against Atlanta, Johnson would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (13,899) and Steve Smith, Sr. (13,932) for the 10th-most all-time.

The players with the most receiving yards in NFL history:
PLAYER – RECEIVING YARDS
Jerry Rice – 22,895
Terrell Owens – 15,934
Randy Moss – 15,292
Isaac Bruce – 15,208
Tony Gonzalez – 15,127
Tim Brown – 14,934
Marvin Harrison – 14,580
Reggie Wayne – 14,345
James Lofton – 14,004
Steve Smith, Sr. – 13,932*
Cris Carter – 13,899
Andre Johnson – 13,885*
*Active

SO CLOSE: Week 10 continued the trend of close games as eight games were decided by seven or fewer points.

76 games have been decided by seven points or fewer this season, the most such games through Week 10 in NFL history.

The most games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 10:

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN POINTS OR FEWER
2015 – 76
1999 – 73
2011 – 72
1987 – 72
1983 – 72

FOURTH QUARTER COMEBACKS: Close contests remain a staple of the 2015 season as six teams won after trailing in the fourth quarter in Week 10:

CONTEST (FINAL SCORE; FOURTH QUARTER DEFICIT OVERCOME)
Arizona at Seattle (Cardinals won 39-32; 4)
Houston at Cincinnati (Texans won 10-6; 3)
Jacksonville at Baltimore (Jaguars won 22-20; 1)
Miami at Philadelphia (Dolphins won 20-19; 3)
New England at New York Giants (Patriots won 27-26; 6)
Tampa Bay at Dallas (Buccaneers won 10-6; 3)

Teams have won after trailing in the fourth quarter 43 times this season, tied for the second-most through Week 10 in NFL history.

The most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter through Week 10:

YEAR – MOST WINS AFTER TRAILING IN FOURTH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 10
1989 – 44
2015 – 43
2011 – 43
1999 – 43
2012 – 41
1987 – 41

TURNAROUND TEAMS: In Week 10, Jacksonville (3-6; 3-13 in 2014), Minnesota (7-2; 7-9 in 2014) and Washington (4-5; 4-12 in 2014) all won and matched their 2014 win total, joining Atlanta (6-3; 6-10 in 2014), Carolina (9-0; 7-8-1 in 2014), the New York Jets (5-4; 4-12 in 2014), Oakland (4-5; 3-13 in 2014), Tampa Bay (4-5; 2-14 in 2014) and Tennessee (2-7; 2-14 in 2014) as the teams to match or exceed their win totals from last season.

The nine teams that have matched or exceeded their 2014 win totals:

TEAM (2014 RECORD, 2015 RECORD)
Atlanta (6-10, 6-3)
Carolina (7-8-1, 9-0)
Jacksonville (3-13, 3-6) (Played Thursday night)
Minnesota (7-9, 7-2)
New York Jets (4-12, 5-4)
Oakland (3-13, 4-5)
Tampa Bay (2-14, 4-5)
Tennessee (2-14, 2-7) (Played Thursday night)
Washington (4-12, 4-5)

PATRIOT WAY: The New England Patriots, who improved to 9-0 for the second time in franchise history (2007), are the fifth team in NFL history and first since the 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers (16) with at least 15 consecutive winning seasons.

The most consecutive seasons with a winning record:

TEAM. YEARS (CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS)
Dallas Cowboys, 1966-1985 (20)
Oakland Raiders, 1965-1980 (16)
San Francisco 49ers, 1983-1998 (16)
New England Patriots, 2001-2015 (15)*
Chicago Bears, 1930-1944 (15)

*Active streak; 9-0 record in 2015

The Patriots, who scored points in all four quarters against the Giants in Week 10, have scored points in 35 consecutive quarters, surpassing the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams (31) and 2005 Indianapolis Colts (31) for the longest such streak in NFL history.

The most consecutive regulation quarters with a score:

TEAM YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE REGULATION QUARTERS WITH POINTS SCORED)
New England Patriots, 2015 (35)*
St. Louis Rams,  1999-2000 (31)
Indianapolis Colts, 2005 (31)
New England Patriots, 1993-1994 (27)
Kansas City Chiefs, 2002 (27)
Oakland Raiders, 2002 (27)
*Active streak

AWESOME ADRIAN: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 203 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ 30-14 win at Oakland on Sunday.

The performance marked Peterson’s sixth career 200-yard game, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. SIMPSON for the most 200-yard rushing games in NFL history.

The players with the most 200-yard rushing games in NFL history:

PLAYER – GAMES WITH 200+ RUSHING YARDS
Adrian Peterson – 6*
O.J. Simpson – 6^
Tiki Barber – 5
Jim Brown – 4^
Earl Campbell – 4^
Barry Sanders – 4^
LaDainian Tomlinson – 4
* – Active
^ – Pro Football Hall of Famer

FAST STARTERS: Two teams – Carolina and New England – have started the season 9-0, the fourth time in NFL history there have been multiple 9-0 teams in a season (1934, 1990, 2009).

BOOMING BEN: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who did not start the game due to a foot injury, passed for 379 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers’ 30-9 win against Cleveland. Roethlisberger’s 179 passing yards are the most ever by a quarterback who did not start the game, eclipsing the mark previously held by Minnesota’s Wade Wilson (374 yards on December 16, 1990).

Roethlisberger’s three touchdown passes increased his season total to 10 and he has now thrown 10 or more touchdown passes in each of his first 12 seasons, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the third-longest streak to start a career in NFL history.

The players with the most consecutive seasons with 10 or more touchdown passes to begin a career:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(YEARS)(CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH 10+ TD PASSES TO BEGIN CAREER)
Fran Tarkenton – Minnesota, New York Giants (1961-76)(16)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (1998-2010)(13)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (2004-15)(12)*
Warren Moon – Houston, Minnesota (1984-95)(12)
*Active streak

RISING ROOKIE: Buffalo running back Karlos Williams, who had a 26-yard touchdown catch in the Bills’ 22-17 victory over the New York Jets, joined Robert Edwards (six in 1998) as the only NFL players to score a touchdown in each of his first six career games.

The NFL players with the most consecutive games with a touchdown to begin a career:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH TD TO BEGIN CAREER)
Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (2015, 6)*
Robert Edwards, New England (1998, 6)
Chuck Sample, Green Bay Packers (1942, 5)
Alan Ameche, Baltimore Colts (1955, 5)
Billy Howton, Green Bay Packers (1962, 5)
Joe Cribbs, Buffalo Bills (1980, 5)
Charlie Brown, Washington Redskins (1982, 5)
*Active streak

IMPRESSIVE IVY: New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets’ loss to the Bills on Thursday Night Football.

Fitzpatrick (Harvard), who now has 138 career touchdown passes, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Sid Luckman (Columbia, 137) for the most passing touchdowns all-time by an Ivy League quarterback.

COOL COUSINS: Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 20 of 25 passes (80.0 pct.)  for 324 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating – the highest attainable mark –  in the Redskins’ 47-14 victory over New Orleans.

Cousins is the first Redskins quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and post a rating of at least 150 in a game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh in 1948 (October 31).

STREAKING HURNS: Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Hurns, who caught a touchdown in the Jaguars’ 22-20 victory at Baltimore, has now caught a touchdown in each of his past seven games, the longest streak in franchise history.

As for week 11… forgetable pick-wise. 4-10. Worst. Week. Ever. That was the bad news. The good news? Still above the .500 mark at 91-51.

This week also features a Super Bowl rematch as Miami hosts the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon in the Sunshine State.

Week 11 kicked off on Thursday night when Jacksonville hosted the Tennessee in a matchup that feature two promising young quarterbacks in Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota. It concludes in Foxboro as the defending Super Bowl champions face off against Buffalo in a key AFC East prime time contest Monday night on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Here are the Sunday and Monday games for week 11.

Indianapolis (4-5) at ATLANTA (6-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. The Atlanta Falcons return to the Georgia Dome and the Big Peach to square off against the Indianpolis Colts, who will have Matt Hasselbeck under center instead of Andrew Luck (knee).

Both teams were off in week 10 and both come in from opposite directions. The Colts knocked Denver and Peyton Manning out of the ranks of the unbeatens two weeks ago by a 27-24 final in Indy, while the Falcons fell to San Francisco on the west coast 17-16. Including contest that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore, Indianapolis leads the series 13-2 and have outscored the Falcons 408-230. Atlanta won the last meeting between the clubs in 2011, taking a 31-7 win in Indy, while the Colts last beat Atlanta in 2007 by a final of 31-13 in the Big Peach.

Atlanta’s favored by 6 1/2 with a 46 over/under. Indy’s played some decent football of late, even though the AFC South is somewhat mediocre at best. The Falcons are looking to get back to the post-season and they’ll come away winners at home in the Big Peach, covering the 6 1/2.

Washington (4-5) at Carolina (9-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Washington winds its way south to the Tar Heel State to face Cam Newton and the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

The Redskins improved to 4-5 with a commanding 47-14 win over New Orleans in Week 10. Washington moved into a tie for second place in the NFC East and now sit just a half-game behind the first-place New York Giants (5-5). Against the Saints, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 20 of 25 passes (80 percent) for 324 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating – the highest attainable mark – and became the first Redskins quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and post a rating of 150+ in a game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh in 1948 (October 31).

“When we execute and everybody does their part, good things happen,” Cousins told the Washington Post. “It feels very gratifying.”

The Panthers have won 13 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last season and are the NFC’s lone unbeaten team. In last week’s win at Tennessee, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton recorded his 30th career game with both a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (31) has more such games in NFL history.

“It’s a great feeling to be 9-0,” says Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who is the only player in the NFL this season with at least three sacks and three interceptions. “We are not done yet and we still have work to do. We will watch this film, we will build off of it, we will continue to get better and we will move on to Washington next week.”

Washington leads the series 7-4 and have outscored Carolina 231-226. The Panthers have had the last laugh in the series, winning the last three contests, including a 21-13 win in Landover in 2012, while the ‘Skins’ last win over Carolina came in 2006 by a 17-13 final. Carolina’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 46. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Could Washington be the one that knocks Carolina off the unbeaten mountain? Not likely. Carolina’s finer at home in Charlotte and takes this one, although Washington makes this one closer than the 7 1/2.

Oakland (4-6) at Detroit (2-7). A pair of struggling teams meet in the Motor City as Oakland heads eastward to face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. This Sunday’s game between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions marks just the 12th regular season meeting between the two clubs. This will be the Raiders first trip to Detroit since 2003, and only their second appearance at Ford Field.

The Silver and Black head into the contest with a 30-14 loss at home to Minnesota and Teddy Bridgewater under their belts. Meanwhile, the Lions ended 25 years of frustration in Green Bay, taking an 18-16 win over the Packers last Sunday for their first win in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst in 8,376 days. 8,376 days. In that time, four men (George Hebert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, George Walker Bush and Barack Obama) have been in the White House, three men (John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis) have been pope and Elizabeth II has been on the throne of England in that time. The Lions stopped a Green Bay rally that would have given the Packers the win after TE Justin Perillo and QB Aaron Rodgers connected on 11 yard TD pass with 32 seconds left. Then, Green Bay, with no timeouts left, tried the onside kick, which WR Calvin Johnson could not handle and the Packers got the ball and moved their way into field goal position but K Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal try fell short.

Including contests that took place when the Raiders were in Los Angeles, the Silver and Black lead the series 6-5 and have outscored the Lions 265-223. Detroit has come away winners in the last three contests against Oakland, including a 28-27 win in 2011 in Oakland, while the Raiders’ last win over Detroit came in 1996 (also in Oakland) by a final of 37-21. Oakland’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. The Silver and Black are looking to get some revenge on the NFC North after their loss at home and they’ll come in the Motor City and leave with the win, covering the 2 1/2.

Dallas (2-7) at Miami (4-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Dallas makes its second trip to the Sunshine State as they travel to South Beach to face off against Miami.

The Cowboys have lost seven in a row, blowing leads in their last four contests, including a 10-6 loss at Tampa Bay last Sunday. Dallas let a 6-3 lead after three quarters get away from them as Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston ran in from a yard out with 54 seconds left to play. That was the bad news for the Cowboys. The good news? They could get Tony Romo (collarbone) back under center this week.

Meawhile, the Dolphins overcame a 16-13 halftime deficit to beat the Eagles 20-19 in the city of Brotherly Love. Miami took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter when Ryan Tannehill and WR Jarvis Landry connected on a 4-yard TD pass as thje final quarter of play had gotten started.

The Dolphins lead the series 7-5 but the Cowboys have outscored Miami 241-234 and took a 20-19 win in the Lone Star State in 2011, their last meeting. Miami’s last win in the series came in 2003, also in the Lone Star State by final of 40-21. They also met in Super Bowl VI and for Dolphins fans, it was a day they would just as soon forget as Roger Staubach and the Cowboys took Miami to the woodshed, taking a 24-3 win in New Orleans. The next year for Miami was perfection in the literal and figurative sense of the word.

Miami’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under is a whopping 46 1/2. Miami’s got a lot to prove if they want to catch Brady and the Pats, while the Cowboys are trying to keep their heads above water in the NFC East. Miami gets a little revenge over Dallas and takes the win, covering the 1 1/2.

St. Louis (4-4) at Baltimore (2-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. The Rams travel to Charm City for an early afternoon contest with the struggling Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Both teams enter the contest with losses from last week’s action and both teams lost at home.

The Rams were taken to task last Sunday at home by Da Bears, falling to Chicago 37-13. St. Louis let a 10-10 first quarter tie get away from them as they would be outscored by Chicago 27-3 in the final 45 minutes of action.

Baltimore also lost last Sunday and lost in a somewhat controversial manner, falling to Jacksonville 22-20 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens had the contest with the Jaguars won when the officiating crew for that contest made a key error that gave the Jagaurs a second chance, as they were leading 20-19. Jacksonville had the ball and was called for a penalty, which would have ended the contest at that point. Because of the error, the Jaguars were given another life and they made the most of it, as rookie K Jason Myers connected on a 53-yard field goal as the clock struck :00.

Baltimore holds a 3-2 lead in the series and have outscored the Rams 128-101. The Ravens won the last contest with St. Louis, taking a 37-7 win in 2011 in St. Louis, while the Rams’ last win in the series came in 1999, the year they won the Super Bowl by a final of 27-10 in St. Louis. Baltimore’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. This one might be somewhat entertaining but that’s about it. The Rams have been hot and cold at times, while the Ravens have struggled a bit. You might want to avoid this one (unless you’re a fan of one of these teams) and watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (yes, we still think that Ziva smacking Tony on the head is not only funny, it’s downright hilarious!). St. Louis covers the 1 1/2 and wins in Charm City.

New York Jets (5-4) at Houston (4-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans welcome the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to the Lone Star State for an AFC showdown.

GangGreen comes into the contest with a 22-17 loss to former head coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills last Thursday night in the Meadowlands, while the Texans played the role of spoiler last Monday night in Cincinnati, ending the Bengals’ bid for an unblemished season with a 10-6 win at Paul Brown Stadium.

GangGreen lead the series 5-1 and have outscored the Texans 145-89. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! won the first four contests in the series, with their last win coming in 2010 in the Meadowlands by a count of 30-27, while Houston’s lone win in the series came in 2012, also in the Meadowlands, by a final of 23-17.

GangGreen’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 41. This one could be a pretty good game to watch. New York’s looking to catch up to the Pats, while the Texans are looking to keep pace with the Colts in a less-than-flattering AFC South, where there may be only one winner making the playoffs. Houston keeps things going at home and takes the win over GangGreen, covering the 2 1/2.

Tampa Bay (4-5) at Philadelphia (4-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of 4-5 teams in the hunt for their respective divisions meet in Philadelphia as Tampa Bay faces the Eagles.

Tampa Bay rallied last Sunday against Dallas to take a 10-6 win over the Cowboys, giving Dallas their seventh loss in a row. The Bucs scored the game-winning TD late in the contest when rookie QB Jameis Winston scored from a yard out with 52 seconds left in regulation after they trailed 7-6 in the contest.

On the other hand… the Eagles are in a somewhat less-than-cheery mood as they let a 16-13 lead against Miami get away from them as they fell to the Dolphins 20-19 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Philly leads the series with Tampa Bay by an 8-5 margin and have outscored the Bucs 243-199, while taking wins in their last contests, including a 31-20 win in the Sunshine State in 2013, while Tampa Bay’s last victory over the Eagles also came in the Sunshine State, taking a 23-21 win in 2006.

Philadelphia’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Tampa Bay’s a lot better than their 4-5 record but the Eagles are trying to keep pace with Eli and the New York Football Giants in the NFC East. Eagles fans, get ready to feast on cheese steak. Philly gets revenge on a Sunshine State team in the City of Brotherly Love and takes this one at the Linc, even though they may not cover the 6 1/2.

Denver (7-2) at Chicago (4-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Denver limps into the Windy City, having lost two in a row after running off seven wins to face off against Da Bears at Solider Field.

While Peyton Manning did catch Brett Farve last week against Kansas City in Denver, the Broncos struggled and fell to the Chiefs 29-13. Manning threw four interceptions in the contest and would eventually find himself benched and then had to deal with a foot problem. With Manning on the shelf due to injury, Denver Broncos is handing the reins to fourth-year pro Brock Osweiler. What’s the book on Brock Osweiler? Who is Brock Osweiler, you ask?

The Broncos selected Osweiler in the second round (No. 57 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was a spectacular playmaker at Arizona State but not much more and since being selected by Denver, he’s been in the shadow of Manning for quite some time. Now it’s Osweiller’s turn.

Da Bears return to the Windy City with a 37-13 win over St. Louis in their hands. Chicago and St. Louis were even at 10-10 after the first quarter before they went on to outscore the Rams 27-3 in the last 45 minutes of play.

The series between the Broncos and the Monsters of the Midway is even at 7-7 and Da Bears have outscored Denver 276-233. Denver’s last win over Chicago? 2011 in the Mile High City as they would need overtime to come away 13-10 winners, while Chicago’s last win came in 2007 in the Windy City in overtime by a final of 37-34.

Denver’s favored by 1 and the over/under’s 42. The Bears have been pretty streaky this year, while the Broncos are in somewhat of a foul mood after losing two in a row after taking wins in their first seven contests. Even without Manning, Denver takes this one in the Windy City and covers the 1.

Kansas City (4-5) at San Diego (2-7), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. Despite their records, a pair of AFC West rivals hook up on the West Coast as the Chiefs travel to San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium to face the Chargers.

The Chiefs are coming off their 29-13 win over Denver last Sunday in the Mile High City, picking off Peyton Manning four times, while the Chargers return from their bye with a 22-19 Monday night loss against Chicago at home.

Including contests that were played when the Chiefs were based in Dallas and known as the Texans and the Chargers played their home games 121 miles north in Los Angeles, this will be their 110th meeting and the series is tied at 54-54-1 with the Chiefs outscoring San Diego 2,353-2,223. Kansas City swept the series last year, with their last win coming at Arrowhead by a final of 19-7, while the Bolts’ last win came in 2013 (they swept the series that year), taking a 27-24 win in overtime. The Chiefs find themselves as 3-point favorites on the West Coast and the contest carries a 46 over/under. The Chiefs would like nothing more than to finish their western swing on a high note, while the Chargers want to get back on track. Chiefs may not
cover the 3 but they win at Qualcomm.

Green Bay (6-3) at Minnesota (7-2), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. It’s a pair of old NFC North (or as ESPN’s Chris Berman calls the division the NFC Norris) in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Packers sqaure off against the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The Packers travel to Minnesota this weekend sitting a game behind the Vikings for first place in the NFC North. Green Bay, which won six in a row to begin the season, is looking to get back on track and start another winning streak. The Packers’ rally against Detroit fell short as the Lions took a win over the Packers in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst in 8,376 days by a final of 18-16. Green Bay made it a close contest when TE Justin Perillo and QB Aaron Rodgers connected on 11 yard TD pass with 32 seconds left. Ouf of time outs, Green Bay attempted an onside kick, which WR Calvin Johnson could not handle and the Packers got the ball and moved their way into field goal position but K Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal try that would have given the Pack the win fell short.

“We’re going to focus on getting better,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We need to keep working and fight our way out of this. We’ll keep things in perspective. We need to get ready for Minnesota.”

The Vikings have now won five in a row, including last week’s 30-14 win at Oakland. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 203 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run, in the victory. Peterson has six career 200-yard rushing games, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson for the most in NFL history. Peterson also surpassed 11,000 rushing yards in his career. With 11,151 rushing yards and 91 rushing touchdowns in 113 games, Peterson joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 11,000 yards and 90 touchdowns in the first 113 games to begin a career.

“We’re just going to stay in our shell and hopefully continue to stay under the radar,” Peterson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and KARE-TV about the Vikings’ 7-2 start. “But inside this locker room, we’re a pretty confident group.”

Green Bay leads the series 57-48-2 (which includes contests that were played in Milwaukee, at old Metropolitian Stadium in Bloomngton and the old Metrodome), has outscored the Purple Gang 2,354-2,075 and have taken wins in three of their last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (the two teams played to a 26-26 tie in overtime at Lambeau), with Minnesota’s last win over the Pack coming in 2013 in the Twin Cities by a final of 44-31.

Minnesota’s favored by 1 and the over/under is 45. Given the fact that the Vikings are in first place in the NFC North and not Green Bay makes this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those that know what “The Drill” is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention! We do NOT want any rookie mistakes here, k?… After you attend the 9:30 mass on Sunday (if you go to a Vigil Mass on Saturday, that counts as a mass attended. Don’t make us send the nuns after you, because if we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOO over!… head to your local grocery store or outlet (Target, K-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Wal Mart count) and purchase the vittles, including the adult beverages if your state allows purchase on Sundays and stock up. Be sure you have enough for your friends and co-workers, including that really cute teacher that lives above you and watch out for your cousin Connie… she’s the one that just turned 56, divorced twice and dates a 41-year former Marine that’s now the football coach at the high school. The girl wiped out your Super Bowl party two years ago by downing two bags of Double Stuf Oreos, an entire cheesecake, two 2-liter Cokes and two bacon and cheese burgers and didn’t gain a freaking pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”) Minnesota’s found some swagger in the NFC North, while the Packers are looking to somehow right their ship. Packers get back on track in the NFC North and wins in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

San Francisco (3-6) at Seattle (4-5), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Forget the records. It’s still “what’s your deal?” But this time, no Harbaugh for Pete Caroll to worry about. This time, these two struggling NFC West rivals meet in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks as the 49ers make the 840-mile trip up I-5 for an late afternoon (Eastern time) contest.

San Francisco enters the contest coming away 17-16 winners over Atlanta two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the defending NFC champs were taken to the woodshed by Arizona at home last Sunday night in primetime, falling to the Desert Angry Birds 39-32.

Seattle leads the series 17-15 and have outscored the 49ers 747-590. Seattle took wins in the last two regular season meetings, sweeping last year’s series, taking a 17-7 win in the Pacific Northwest for their last win, while San Francisco’s last win came in 2013, as they took a 19-17 win in Candlestick Park’s final season.

The Seahawks are favored by 11 1/2 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. These two teams don’t exactly like each other and both are trying to catch Arizona and become kings of the NFC West mountain in the process. This one will be a lot closer than the 11 1/2 but Seattle reigns in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks and takes the win.

Cincinnati (8-1) at Arizona (7-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of first place teams in their respective conferences and divisons meet in the desert as Cincinnati and Arizona meet in Glendale in prime time.

The Bengals enter Week 11 with an 8-1 record and as the leaders in the AFC North. Cincinnati will look to bounce back from the team’s first loss of the season, a 10-6 defeat to Houston on Monday night.

“We just have to put this one behind us,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who ranks fourth in the NFL with a 104.6 passer rating. “We can’t let this turn into another one. We can’t let there be any carry over. We know what we’ve done to this point. One game doesn’t define our season. We’re still 8-1. We’re still leading the division. We know where we are, so we just need to get back to what we’ve been doing and we’ll be just fine.”

The Cardinals will play their second consecutive Sunday-night contest after last week’s 39-32 win at Seattle. That victory gives Arizona a three-game lead in the NFC West over both St. Louis and Seattle. The team will look to continue its stellar play this Sunday in front of the home fans. It will mark the 100th Cardinals’ game at University of Phoenix Stadium (preseason, regular season and postseason) and every game has been a sellout. For Arizona, it will be their second straight game on “Sunday Night Football” this weekend and have their third primetime appearance in their last four games.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, who leads the NFC with 23 touchdowns passes and a 108 passer rating, has won 20 of his past 24 starts. Palmer, who was the No. 1 overall pick by the Bengals in the 2003 NFL Draft, guides the league’s top offense (421.1 yards per game) and the NFC’s highest-scoring team (302 points).

“We’re a resilient group,” Palmer told the Arizona Republic. “It trickles down from the head coach. I think good teams take on their coach’s mentality. I think that’s what B.A. (head coach Bruce Arians) brings and we’ve figured out how to let that trickle down to our minds by the way we work, by the way we prepare and ultimately, by the way we play.”

The Bengals lead the series 6-4 and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds Bengals 243-237. Cincinnati won the last meeting with the Desert Angry Birds, taking a 23-16 win along the shores of the Ohio River in 2011, while Arizona’s last victory came in 2007 (also in Cincy) by a 35-27 final. Arizona’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 48. This one’s “Drill Worthy” just based on their records and the possiblity they could meet in Santa Clara in February (for instructions on “The Drill, see the Green Bay-Minnesota game and follow the instructions).

Both teams lead their respective divisions (Cincy on top in the AFC North, Arizona king of the hill in the NFC West) and there’s a chance that they could meet in Santa Clara in February. Arizona could make this one close but the Bengals recover from their loss to Houston last Monday night at home and takes the win.

Buffalo (5-4) at New England (9-0), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The defending Super Bowl champs return to Foxboro to face the Bills in their second AFC East contest. Both teams won their contests last week, both teams did it against the two New York teams and both did the deed at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands.

The Bills have won two consecutive games – both against division opponents – and look to make it three in a row when they travel to New England to face the first-place Patriots. Last Thursday night, Buffalo knocked off the New York Jets 22-17 as running back Le Sean McCoy racked up 159 scrimmage yards and rookie running back Karlos Williams became the second player in NFL history (Robert Edwards, 1998) to score a touchdown in each of his first six career games.

“Everything is about one game,” says Bills head coach Rex Ryan. “You don’t worry about down the road. You worry about right now and how we can get better today and for that week’s game. This is where we’re at and this is what’s in front of us.”

New England’s Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 54-yard field goal with one second remaining to give the Patriots a 27-26 win over the New York Giants in Week 10. The victory helped preserve the team’s undefeated season as New England improved to 9-0 for the second time in franchise history (2007). With nine wins, the Patriots are guaranteed their 15th consecutive winning season, becoming the first team since the 1983-1998 San Francisco 49ers (16) to accomplish the feat. New England enters Week 11 having scored in 35 consecutive quarters, the longest streak in NFL history.

“We’re 9-0 and now we’re going to move forward and look at beating the Bills,” Gostkowski told the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, USA Today and the Christian Scientist Monitor.

Buffalo seeks revenge against Brady and the Pats after their 40-32 win over the Bills in week two along the shore of Lake Erie. New England led 24-13 at the intermission and never looked back, even though Buffalo outscored them in the final 30 minutes of action by a 19-16 margin. The Bills did hold New England to 56 yards on the ground, while Brady and Bills QB Tyrod Taylor each threw three TD passes in the contest.

Neither club has done well on Monday night, with the Bills carrying a 17-23 record into the contest (their last game was in 2009, which was a loss), while the Pats have done a little better, going 22-24 and lost their only contest in 2014, a 41-14 contest against the Chiefs in Kansas City. New England’s favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. The Bills are playing with house money, so to speak and would love nothing more to ruin the Pats’ hopes for an undefeated season, while Brady, Belichick and the Pats would like to keep things going. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. New England continues its march toward history and sweeps the series with Buffalo, taking the win, even though they may not cover the 9 1/2.