NFL PREVIEW WEEK 2: KAMARA-MCCAFFREY, PRESCOTT-HERBERT, JACKSON-MAHOMES ON TAP IN ENCORE TO THRILLING KICKOFF WEEKEND
The only certain aspect of the National Football League might be its electrifying uncertainty.
Just ask the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, who overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Baltimore, 33-27, in just the second Week 1 overtime game in the history of Monday Night Football. After tying the game three times in the fourth quarter, including a 55-yard DANIEL CARLSON field goal at the end of regulation, the Raiders did not hold an official lead until ZAY JONES caught a 31-yard touchdown from DEREK CARR to stamp an exclamation point on one of the most thrilling kickoff weekends in league annals.
Or ask the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-0), who host the Raiders (1-0) on Sunday at Heinz Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). At Buffalo last week, the Steelers clawed back from a 10-0 halftime deficit to win, 23-16.
And ask the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who trailed by 12 at halftime before storming back to win, 33-29, over Cleveland.
So, amid that uncertainty, also be certain of this: NFL teams are never out of games and no lead is safe.
On Kickoff Weekend, nine games were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, including the CINCINNATI BENGALS’ dramatic win over Minnesota, the first regular-season game in NFL history with a game-tying score with no time remaining in regulation and a game-winning score with no time remaining in overtime.
The excitement is palpable. Stay tuned for the encore. Here comes Week 2.
MVP vs. MVP: Two of the past three NFL MVPs – PATRICK MAHOMES (2018) and LAMAR JACKSON (2019) — will battle on Sunday Night Football when the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-0) travel to play the BALTIMORE RAVENS (0-1) at M&T Bank Stadium (8:20 PM ET, NBC). The perennial AFC playoff teams are meeting for a fourth straight season, with Kansas City winning each of the past three.
- Sunday’s game along with Jackson and Mahomes’ Week 3 meeting in 2020 represent the only two instances of former MVPs under age 27 meeting as starting quarterbacks in NFL history.
- The Ravens have won two of their last three games against teams that played in the Super Bowl the previous year. Baltimore knocked off both New England and the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 before losing to the Chiefs in 2020.
- Mahomes passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 131.4 rating on Kickoff Weekend. Mahomes now has 14,489 career passing yards in 47 NFL starts and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (14,372) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 50 career starts in NFL history.
- Mahomes also has 117 touchdown passes in those 47 starts and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (116) for the most touchdown passes by a player in his first 50 career starts in league annals.
- Also in the Chiefs’ Kickoff Weekend win over Cleveland, tight end TRAVIS KELCE had 76 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. His second score was his 50th career touchdown reception in his 112th career game, allowing him to surpass VERNON DAVIS (115 games) as the fifth-fastest tight end to reach 50 touchdown receptions in NFL history.
- Chiefs head coach ANDY REID is 6-1 vs. the Ravens, including a 4-0 mark at the reins of Kansas City. Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH served as an assistant under Reid in Philadelphia (1999-2007) and the two as head coaches have combined for 379 career regular-season and postseason wins, including two Super Bowl titles.
HOLDING ALL THE CARDS: On the heels of an impressive Kickoff Weekend win at Tennessee, the ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-0) open their home schedule on Sunday against the MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-1) at State Farm Stadium (4:05 PM ET, FOX).
- In Week 1, Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY ran for a touchdown and threw for 289 yards with a career-high four touchdown passes, while linebacker CHANDLER JONES totaled a career-high five sacks with two forced fumbles.
- Murray now has four career games in which he’s scored at least one rushing touchdown and thrown for three-or-more touchdowns. That’s tied with JOSH ALLEN (four games) and JACK KEMP (four) for the most such games by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.
- Jones is the third player to record at least five sacks in a Week 1 game since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer DERRICK THOMAS (six sacks in 1998) and BILL GAY (5.5 sacks in 1983). Jones also is the sixth player to record at least five sacks and two forced fumbles in any game since 2002.
- Jones, who had two games with four sacks during the 2019 season (Weeks 7 and 16), is the fourth player since 1982 with three career games of at least four sacks, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DERRICK THOMAS (four games) and REGGIE WHITE (three), as well as LESLIE O’NEAL (four).
IMMEDIATE CONTRIBUTIONS: Last week, San Francisco’s TREY LANCE threw a 5-yard touchdown on his initial NFL pass attempt while Philadelphia’s DEVONTA SMITH registered an 18-yard touchdown on his first career reception. Then, on Sunday night, Chicago’s JUSTIN FIELDS marked his first NFL carry with a 3-yard touchdown run.
- It marked the first time during any week in 37 years that rookies produced touchdowns on their first career carry, first career reception and first career pass.
- Two of those rookies, Lance and Smith, are in action at Lincoln Financial Field when the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-0) meet the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
- The last weekend in which NFL rookies produced touchdowns on their first career carry, first career pass and first NFL reception was Week 2 in 1984. On that weekend, Vikings fullback ALFRED ANDERSON threw a 20-yard touchdown to quarterback Tommy Kramer, Saints running back TYRONE ANTHONY scored on his first rushing attempt, a 2-yard run, and two rookies – Packers tight end ED WEST (7-yard reception from Randy Wright) and Giants wide receiver LIONEL MANUEL (16-yard reception from Phil Simms) – scored on their first career catches.
- Smith, along with Cincinnati’s JA’MARR CHASE and Miami’s JAYLEN WADDLE, was one of three rookie wide receivers selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to catch a touchdown pass on Kickoff Weekend, making this the first season in the common-draft era in which three rookie wide receivers that were each selected in the first round of the NFL Draft registered touchdown receptions in Week 1.
- Chase and Fields meet this week when the CHICAGO BEARS (0-1) host the CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-0) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Chase’s teammate, rookie kicker EVAN MCPHERSON, converted a 33-yard field goal with no time remaining in overtime in the Bengals’ 27-24 win over Minnesota. He became the second rookie kicker in NFL history to kick a game-winning field goal with no time remaining in overtime, joining JASON SANDERS (Oct. 14, 2018).
PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF : NFL teams in 2020 combined to score 12,692 total points and 1,473 total touchdowns, both the most ever in a single season. Last week, the league combined for 90 touchdowns, tied with 2019 for the most through the first weekend in NFL history.
NOTHING COULD BE FINER THAN TO BE IN CAROLINA: A pair of NFC South rivals, the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-0) and CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-0), will clash at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The contest features two of the more exciting running backs in the league, ALVIN KAMARA of the Saints and CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY of the Panthers, each of whom entered the league in 2017.
- The New Orleans defense, led by coordinator DENNIS ALLEN, has now played a starring role in a pair of 38-3 victories over MVPs during a stretch of 10 regular-season games. On Nov. 8 last season at Tampa Bay, the Saints held eventual Super Bowl MVP TOM BRADY and the Buccaneers under 200 net yards of offense. Then, last week in an impressive win over Green Bay, New Orleans held reigning NFL MVP AARON RODGERS and the Packers to one third-down conversion.
- Allen and the Saints have a significant test this week with McCaffrey, who recorded nine receptions and 187 scrimmage yards (98 rushing, 89 receiving) in the Panthers’ Week 1 win over the New York Jets. McCaffrey now has seven career games with at least 75 rushing yards and 75 receiving yards, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (six games) for the third-most such games in the Super Bowl era. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (11 games) and PRIEST HOLMES (nine) have more.
|Alvin Kamara||New Orleans||6,255|
|Todd Gurley||L.A. Rams/Atlanta||5,830|
YOUNG GUNS SQUARE OFF AT METLIFE: The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (0-1) have a date with the NEW YORK JETS (0-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) at MetLife Stadium. When the Patriots’ MAC JONES and the Jets’ ZACH WILSON go under center, it’ll mark the earliest in a season since 2015 – when JAMEIS WINSTON and the Buccaneers opened the season at home against MARCUS MARIOTA and the Titans – that rookie starting quarterbacks drafted in the first round will meet in a game.
- Also in the division, the BUFFALO BILLS (0-1) travel to play the MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-0) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). With Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Miami’s TUA TAGOVAILOA, Jones and Wilson, the AFC East last week became the first NFL division since 1985 with four quarterbacks under the age of 26 to start Week 1 games.
SPEAKING OF DIVISIONS : Both the AFC West and NFC West are unblemished after Week 1. It’s the first time since the 1970 merger that two divisions are undefeated after the first week. Since the league realigned to eight four-team divisions prior to the 2002 season, only the 2002 AFC West and 2015 AFC East had opened a season 4-0.
DON’T JUDGE BOOKS BY COVERS: Seven of the past 20 Super Bowl winners lost their Week 1 games before going on to win the Lombardi Trophy, including the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS in each of their championship seasons (2002 and 2020). Other teams in that span (2001-20) to lose on Kickoff Weekend before winning a Super Bowl were the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2001, 2003 and 2014) and the NEW YORK GIANTS (2007 and 2011).
ROAD SUCCESS : Road teams won eight games in Week 1, continuing a trend that started in 2019. Last season, road teams were 128-127-1 (.502), the highest winning percentage since the 1970 league merger. In 2019, road teams were 123-132-1 (.482), the third-highest winning percentage in that span.
PRESCOTT-HERBERT ANCHORS LATE-AFTERNOON WINDOW: A pair of former Associated Press Offensive Rookies of the Year, Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT and Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT, square off Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS) when the Chargers host fans at SoFi Stadium for the first time in a regular-season game. Prescott has thrown for at least 400 yards in four of his past five starts while Herbert has guided the Chargers to five consecutive wins, dating back to last season.
The nine quarterbacks to win Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year:
|Robert Griffin III||Washington||2012||258||393||65.6||3,200||20||5||102.4|
|Justin Herbert||L.A. Chargers||2020||396||595||66.6||4,336||31||10||98.3|
|Sam Bradford||St. Louis Rams||2010||354||590||60.0||3,512||18||15||76.5|
THE WAY THEY ALL BECAME THE BRADY BUNCH: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1-0) own a nine-game winning streak, including the postseason, entering Sunday’s game vs. the ATLANTA FALCONS (0-1) at Raymond James Stadium (4:05 PM ET, FOX). Over their last eight games in that streak, the Buccaneers are 8-0, scoring 30-or-more points in each game. Including the postseason, only two other teams in league history have won eight straight contests and scored at least 30 points in each, the 2007 and 2010 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Tampa Bay can establish the longest such streak in NFL history with a ninth straight win and 30-plus points on Sunday.
- Quarterback TOM BRADY needs 417 passing yards to become the second player in NFL history to reach 80,000 career, trailing only DREW BREES (80,358). Brady opened his 22nd NFL season on Kickoff Weekend with his 300th regular-season start, his 100th career game of 300-or-more passing yards, and his 40th career fourth-quarter comeback victory.
SEATTLE’S BEST: The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-0) host an interconference matchup against the TENNESSEE TITANS (0-1) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON is 99-45-1 in 145 regular-season starts and this week can become the second quarterback in NFL history to win 100 regular-season starts in his first 10 seasons. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (105 wins) has more.
- Last week, Wilson recorded four touchdown passes with zero interceptions and a 152.3 rating in the Seahawks’ win at Indianapolis on Kickoff Weekend. Wilson now has 11 career games with at least four touchdown passes and zero interceptions, surpassing TOM BRADY (10 games), Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (10) and AARON RODGERS (10) for the most such games by a player in his first 10 seasons in league annals.
FIGHT FOR CALIFORNIA: The GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-1) host the DETROIT LIONS (0-1) on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). The last time the Packers opened their home schedule on a Monday night was Sept. 8, 2008, when quarterback AARON RODGERS made his first NFL start, a 24-19 victory over the Vikings.
- Both Rodgers (selected No. 24 overall, 2005) and Lions quarterback JARED GOFF (No. 1, 2016) are former starting quarterbacks at the University of California. Both were drafted in the first round and both led their teams to a Super Bowl in their third seasons as an NFL starter (Rodgers in 2010, Goff with the Rams in 2018).
WEEK 2 NFL SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)
|Thursday, September 16||New York Giants at Washington||NFLN||8:20|
|Sunday, September 19||New Orleans at Carolina||FOX||1:00|
|Cincinnati at Chicago||FOX||1:00|
|Houston at Cleveland||CBS||1:00|
|Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis||FOX||1:00|
|Denver at Jacksonville||CBS||1:00|
|Buffalo at Miami||FOX||1:00|
|New England at New York Jets||CBS||1:00|
|San Francisco at Philadelphia||FOX||1:00|
|Las Vegas at Pittsburgh||CBS||1:00|
|Minnesota at Arizona||FOX||4:05|
|Atlanta at Tampa Bay||FOX||4:05|
|Dallas at Los Angeles Chargers||CBS||4:25|
|Tennessee at Seattle||CBS||4:25|
|Kansas City at Baltimore||NBC||8:20|
|Monday, September 20||Detroit at Green Bay||ESPN||8:15|