NFL turns 100 with a number of Week 1 trends Staff

August 19, 2019 at 9:11 pm.

By Charlie Mullen, Lindy’s contributor

The 100th NFL season gets under way on September 5. Fittingly, it will feature a matchup of the oldest rivalry in the league’s history when Green Bay travels to Chicago for the 196th meeting between the two iconic franchises.

This season promises to be one of the most exciting in history, and the tone for each team’s season can be set by a good, or bad, performance in its season opener.

Win, and expectations of a playoff place rise while defeat doesn’t necessarily mean the season will end in disappointment, but it adds pressure to their second game.

We have analyzed all 17 opening weekends since 2002 when the NFL was realigned following the addition of the Houston Texans. So which teams are quick out of the blocks and which are generally slow starters?

Super Bowl champion New England starts its season at home against Pittsburgh knowing they have the best opening day record of any team in the NFL. Of the 17 openers they have played since 2002, the Patriots have won 14 including 10 in a row between 2004 and 2013.

This will be the third time Pittsburgh kicks off its season in Foxborough, where they lost 30-14 in 2002 and 28-21 in 2015. Overall, the Steelers don’t have a bad opening-day record in recent times — with just one defeat in their last five, although they were given a scare on day one last season when Cleveland rallied from a 21-7 deficit to tie the game 21-21 after overtime in Pittsburgh.

The tie ended Cleveland’s run of 17 consecutive losses and denied them a rare opening day win. The only opening day win for the long-suffering Browns fans since 2002 came in 2004 against division rivals Baltimore when they won 20-3.

Last season’s record of 7-8-1 has lifted hopes in Cleveland where talk of making the post-season is no longer considered a joke. A home opener against Tennessee gives QB Baker Mayfield and his team the chance to celebrate an opening day win for the first time since Jeff Garcia was under center for the Browns.

Cleveland’s poor opening day record remains a mystery considering they have started the season at home more than any other team and their match-up with Tennessee will be their 14th home opener in the last 18 years.

The Titans have lost their last three openers conceding 25 points or more at home to Minnesota and Oakland and at Miami 12 months ago. Head coach Mike Vrabel managed a winning season in his first year in charge of the team and, if they are to push for a play-off place this season, their defense needs to set the tone right off the bat.

Oakland is another team who has not enjoyed much success on the first day of the season winning just four times, although two of those have come in the last three seasons when they won in New Orleans in 2016 and Tennessee in 2017.

This could be the last time the Raiders start a season in Oakland before they move to Las Vegas so the onus will be on head coach Jon Gruden to start with a win against Denver who have won 76.5 per cent of their openers since 2002.

The Raiders were the last team to beat the Broncos on the opening weekend of the season in 2011 thanks to Sebastian Janikowski’s record-tying 63-yard field goal as time expired. This will be the first time since losing 24-17 at Jacksonville in 2010 that Denver will start its season on the road.

Another team on the road on the opening weekend will be Cincinnati, who begin its season with a trip to Seattle. It will be the ninth time in 10 seasons the Bengals will have started the campaign with a road trip.

Despite the travelling, the Bengals have won five of those nine away games and will fancy their chances against the Seahawks, who have lost three of their last four season openers.

After losing the AFC Championship game in overtime to New England, many expect Kansas City to be genuine contenders to win Super Bowl LIV in Miami in February.

The Chiefs tend to start seasons with a win — having done so in five of their last six campaigns — and a trip to Jacksonville should hold no fears for QB Patrick Mahomes and a high-scoring offense that scored 26 points or more in all 18 games last season, including both playoff games.

In the NFC, victory at home to Washington will extend Philadelphia’s winning run on the opening weekend to nine. The last team to beat the Eagles in their opener was Green Bay in Philadelphia in 2010.

The Eagles have given up the fewest points on the opening weekend with their opponents scoring an average of just 16.4 points per game. Two of the Eagles’ eight straight wins have come against their NFC East rivals in the nation’s capital.

In 2013, Philadelphia won 33-27 and followed that up with a 30-17 success two years ago when Doug Pederson’s team went on to beat New England in Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.

The other two teams in the NFC East meet in Texas, as the New York Giants and Dallas start their season playing each other for a record seventh time since 2002.

The Cowboys have won five of those season openers with the Giants’ 20-19 win in Texas three years ago their only opening day success in the last eight years. The Giants’ trip to Dallas will be the fifth time they start their Super Bowl quest at the home of their division rivals.

Chicago’s home game with Green Bay will be its fifth opening day match-up in the last 18 years. The Packers have won the last three meetings, including last season’s dramatic come-from-behind victory when Aaron Rodgers returned from a leg injury to lead Green Bay to a 24-23 win after trailing 20-0 in the third quarter.

The Bears, who have scored 341 points and conceded 341 points on the opening weekend, have given up 21 points or more in their last seven seasons openers. The Packers have been involved in 13 opening day games that have been decided by eight points or less – the most of any team since 2002. All 11 of Green Bay’s wins have been by 10 points or less.

Opening day games involving New Orleans have produced more points than any other team since 2002.

In those 17 matches, a total of 891 points have been scored with the Saints being outscored 478-413. Sean Payton’s side have been slow out of the blocks in recent seasons, with seven losses in their last eight openers including the last five. There could be another high-scoring shoot-out in the Big Easy when Deshaun Watson’s Texans visit for the season’s first Monday Night Football.

Detroit’s first game of the season has often produced high-scoring games, with the Lions scoring an average of 26.3 points, which is the most of any side. Detroit has also given up 25.8, which ranks as the fourth-most conceded on day one.

Detroit faces the Cardinals for the third time in an opener since 2002, with the previous two match-ups producing a total of 124 points at an average of 62 points per game.

Atlanta’s trip to Minnesota is expected to be a close battle. The Falcons’ last six openers have been decided by one possession, while the Vikings have won their last three opening weekend matches by 10 points or less.

Carolina has won back-to-back openers four times since 2002, but they have never recorded three in a row. The Panthers will be hoping to do so when they host the LA Rams, who have won their last two openers by 37 and 20 points.

Opening day wins since 2002:

14 – Patriots

13 – Broncos

12 – Eagles

11 – Jets, Steelers, Packers, 49ers

10 – Lions, Vikings, Falcons

9 – Ravens, Texans, Titans, Chiefs, Redskins, Seahawks

8 – Bengals, Chargers, Cowboys, Panthers

7 – Bills, Dolphins, Colts, Jaguars, Bears, Saints, Cardinals

6 – Giants, Buccaneers, Rams

4 – Raiders

1 – Browns


Opening day streaks:

W8 – Eagles

W7 – Broncos

W4 – Chiefs, Packers

W3 – Ravens, Vikings

W2 – Jaguars, Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams

W1 – Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Bengals, Redskins,

T1 – Browns, Steelers

L1 – Bills, Raiders, Cowboys, Lions, Falcons, 49ers

L2 – Texans, Giants, Seahawks

L3 – Titans, Chargers, Cardinals

L5 – Colts, Bears, Saints


Opening weekend points differential:

+7.9 Eagles

+4.8 Broncos

+4.7 Ravens

+4.4 Steelers

+4.2 Patriots

+4.1 49ers

+3.9 Jets

+3.5 Vikings

+2.8 Chargers

+2.6 Seahawks

+2.3 Bills

+1.7 Dolphins

+1.2 Falcons

+1.1 Titans

+0.5 Lions

0.0 Bears

-0.2 Texans, Cowboys

-0.7 Redskins

-1.1 Jaguars, Packers

-1.3 Chiefs, Panthers

-2.3 Giants

-3.1 Bengals, Cardinals

-3.7 Buccaneers

-3.9 Saints

-4.9 Colts

-6.0 Rams

-8.1 Browns

-8.6 Raiders


Average points scored on opening weekend:

16.0 – Browns

17.1 – Panthers

17.6 – Rams

18.0 – Jaguars, Redskins

18.4 – Buccaneers

18.5 – Raiders

19.5 – Bengals

19.6 – Titans, Seahawks

19.8 – Texans

20.0 – Dolphins, Bears

20.8 – Cardinals

21.0 – Colts

21.1 – Ravens

21.2 – Giants

21.4 – Bills

21.9 – Cowboys, Falcons

22.4 – Packers

22.8 – Vikings

22.9 – 49ers

23.2 – Chiefs

23.5 – Steelers

23.6 – Chargers

23.7 – Jets

24.2 – Saints

24.3 – Broncos, Eagles

26.1 – Patriots

26.3 – Lions

Average points conceded on opening weekend:

16.4 – Ravens, Eagles

17.0 – Seahawks

18.3 – Dolphins

18.4 – Panthers

18.5 – Titans

18.7 – Redskins

18.8 – 49ers

19.1 – Bills, Steelers, Jaguars

19.3 – Vikings

19.5 – Broncos

19.8 – Jets

20.0 – Texans, Bears

20.7 – Falcons

20.8 – Chargers

21.9 – Patriots

22.1 – Cowboys, Buccaneers

22.6 – Bengals

23.5 – Giants, Packers

23.6 – Rams

23.9 – Cardinals

24.1 – Browns

24.5 – Chiefs

25.8 – Lions

25.9 – Colts

27.1 – Raiders

28.1 – Saints