SUPER STARTERS: History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive toward a Super Bowl championship is to win in Week 1.
The 56 Super Bowl winners have a 45-10-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LVI champion LOS ANGELES RAMS, who host the BUFFALO BILLS in the league’s annual primetime Kickoff Game on Thursday (8:20 PM ET, NBC), have won their last five Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFC. Last year marked the sixth time in the last seven seasons the eventual Super Bowl winner won the opening game of its championship season.
The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who have appeared in four consecutive AFC Championship Games, travel to play the ARIZONA CARDINALS in Week 1 (4:25 pm ET, CBS), a matchup of two 2021 playoff teams. Kansas City has won its past seven Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFL. With a win on Sunday, they can become the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to win eight consecutive season-opening games.
The teams with the most consecutive season-opening wins in the Super Bowl era:
Arizona, meanwhile, has won each of its last two Week 1 games and KLIFF KINGSBURY is one of four active head coaches without a loss on Kickoff Weekend (not including first-year head coaches).
Since 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 clubs, teams that are victorious in their season-openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than those that lose an opening game.
- Of the 319 teams that won openers…166 went to the playoffs (112 won division titles).
- Of the 317 teams that lost openers…78 went to the playoffs (48 won division titles).
Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season-opening games due to the inclusion of 2017 Week 2 victories by Miami and Tampa Bay, which was the season-opener for each team (their Week 1 meeting was postponed due to Hurricane Irma).
In 2021, the 14 playoff teams compiled a 9-5 record on Kickoff Weekend.
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STARTING STREAKS: The Rams and Chiefs aren’t the only teams that have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of other notable active NFL Kickoff Weekend milestones and streaks:
- Four other teams – the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS and SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – have won each of their past three season-opening games. The Raiders visit the Chargers to open the 2022 season (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
- The reigning NFC North division champion GREEN BAY PACKERS open their season on the road against the MINNESOTA VIKINGS (4:25 PM ET, FOX). The Packers have won 58 games on Kickoff Weekend, the most in the NFL. The CHICAGO BEARS, who rank second with 55 wins in season-opening games, host the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS in Week 1 (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
- The BALTIMORE RAVENS, who travel to play the NEW YORK JETS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), are 5-1 in Kickoff Weekend games since 2016 and have outscored their opponents 204-59 in that span.
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START ME UP: Some players have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable individual performances on NFL Kickoff Weekend:
- Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY has 43 touchdown passes in 19 career Kickoff Weekend games, the most Week 1 touchdown passes in NFL history. He also has 5,311 passing yards on Kickoff Weekend, trailing only DREW BREES (5,566 passing yards) for the most all-time. Brady is expected to become the first quarterback ever to make 20 career starts on Kickoff Weekend, surpassing Brees (19).
- Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON has compiled a 3-0 record as a starter and has nine touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 145.4 passer rating in four Kickoff Weekend appearances, the highest passer rating ever by a quarterback on Kickoff Weekend (minimum 75 pass attempts).
In four Week 1 starts, Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES is 4-0 with 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 133.7 rating, the second-highest rating ever in Week 1 games (minimum 75 pass attempts).
- Tampa Bay wide receiver JULIO JONES has 1,030 receiving yards in 11 career Kickoff Weekend games and is one of 11 players in league history with at least 1,000 career receiving yards in season-openers. If Jones records at least 70 receiving yards on Sunday Night Football at Dallas in his Buccaneers debut (8:20 PM ET, NBC), he will become the sixth player to reach 1,100 career receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend.
Jones also has 70 career receptions in Week 1 and can become the ninth player in league history to reach 75 career receptions on Kickoff Weekend.
- Last year on Kickoff Weekend, defensive end CHANDLER JONES recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles, becoming the third player to post at least five sacks in a Week 1 game since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. In 10 career games on Kickoff Weekend, Jones – now with the Las Vegas Raiders – has 11 sacks, tied with Baltimore linebacker JUSTIN HOUSTON and two others for the sixth-most on Kickoff Weekend since 1982.
If either Jones or Houston records at least two sacks on Sunday, they would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (12.5 sacks in 12 games) for the fourth-most sacks in Week 1 contests since 1982.
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HISTORY-MAKING DEBUT: Indianapolis quarterback MATT RYAN will be making his Colts debut when the team travels to play Houston on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). He enters the season ranking eighth in league history with 59,735 passing yards and needs 265 passing yards on Kickoff Weekend to become the second-fastest player ever (223 games) to reach 60,000 career passing yards.
The players to reach 60,000 career passing yards in the fewest games in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||GAMES TO REACH 60,000 PASSING YARDS|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||215|
|Peyton ManningHOF||Indianapolis, Denver||226|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego/L.A. Chargers, Indianapolis||231|
|*Has 59,735 career passing yards|
Ryan also enters his first season in Indianapolis with 73 career games with at least 300 passing yards, tied with PHILIP RIVERS for the fourth-most such games in NFL history. Only DREW BREES (123 games), TOM BRADY (108) and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (93) have more.
The players with the most games with at least 300 passing yards in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||GAMES WITH 300+ PASSING YARDS|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||123|
|Tom Brady||New England, Tampa Bay||108*|
|Peyton ManningHOF||Indianapolis, Denver||93|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego/L.A. Chargers, Indianapolis||73|
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BURROW BECKONING: Last season, Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW led the Bengals to a Super Bowl LVI appearance after recording 4,611 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes in the regular season, both single-season franchise records. He also eclipsed 400 passing yards in three games, tied for the most in the league, including in each of his final two games of the regular season.
With at least 400 passing yards against Pittsburgh on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Burrow would become the third player ever to record at least 400 passing yards in three consecutive regular-season games, joining RYAN FITZPATRICK (2018) and DAK PRESCOTT (2020). He would also surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (four games) for the most games with at least 400 passing yards by a player in his first three seasons all-time.
Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, enters the 2022 season with 7,299 passing yards in 26 career games. With 201 passing yards on Sunday, he will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (27 games) as the third-fastest player to reach 7,500 career passing yards in NFL history.
The players to reach 7,500 career passing yards in the fewest games in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM||GAMES TO REACH 7,500 PASSING YARDS|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||24|
|Justin Herbert||L.A. Chargers||26|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||27|
|*Has 7,299 career passing yards|
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OFF AND RUNNING: Philadelphia quarterback JALEN HURTS led all quarterbacks with 784 rushing yards last season, while Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON finished second with 767 rushing yards. Each signal-caller will be making milestone starts on Kickoff Weekend.
In 49 career starts, Jackson has 20 rushing touchdowns. With a rushing touchdown at the New York Jets on Sunday (1:00 pm ET, CBS), he will tie STEVE GROGAN (21 rushing touchdowns) and STEVE MCNAIR (21) for the fourth-most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in his first 50 starts since 1970. Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY also has 20 rushing touchdowns in his first 46 starts and can tie Grogan and McNair against Kansas City on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
The quarterbacks with the most rushing touchdowns in their first 50 career starts since 1970:
|Steve Grogan||New England||21|
|Steve McNair||Houston Oilers/Tennessee||21|
|*In 49 career starts|
|#In 46 career starts|
Additionally, Jackson has compiled a 37-12 record through his first 49 starts. With a win on Sunday, he would tie TOM BRADY (38 wins)and DANNY WHITE (38) for the third-most wins by a quarterback in his first 50 career starts since 1970. Only PATRICK MAHOMES (40 wins) and Pro Football Hall of Famer KEN STABLER (40) have more.
In 19 career starts, Hurts has 13 rushing touchdowns. With a rushing touchdown at Detroit on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX), he will tie JOSH ALLEN (14 rushing touchdowns) and Grogan (14) for the second-most ever by a quarterback in his first 20 career starts.
The quarterbacks with the most rushing touchdowns in their first 20 career starts in NFL history:
|Steve Grogan||New England||14|
|*In 19 career starts|
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200 IN A HURRY: Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON ranked second in the league with a career-high 1,616 receiving yards last season and ranked fourth with 108 receptions. His 3,016 career receiving yards are the most ever by a player in his first two seasons, while his 196 career receptions are tied with MICHAEL THOMAS for the most.
With four receptions against Green Bay on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Jefferson will tie ANQUAN BOLDIN (34 games) and REGGIE BUSH (34) as the fourth-fastest player ever to reach 200 career receptions.
The players to reach 200 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM||GAMES TO REACH 200 RECEPTIONS|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||N.Y. Giants||30|
|Michael Thomas||New Orleans||32|
|Reggie Bush||New Orleans||34|
|*Has 196 career receptions|
— NFL —
DUAL-THREAT BACKS: Last season, New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA totaled 1,337 scrimmage yards (898 rushing, 439 receiving) and nine touchdowns (five receiving, four rushing). He is the only player in league history to record at least 700 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards in each of his first five seasons.
Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY recorded 785 scrimmage yards (442 rushing, 343 receiving) in seven games last season and, since entering the league in 2017, leads all players with 113.8 scrimmage yards per game.
Each player enters the 2022 season with both a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown in nine career games. On Sunday, if either Kamara records a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown against Atlanta (1:00 PM ET, FOX), or McCaffrey does so against Cleveland (1:00 PM ET, CBS), they will become the first player ever to record 10 such games in his first six career seasons.
The players with the most games with both a rushing and receiving touchdown in their first six seasons in NFL history:
|Alvin Kamara||New Orleans||9*|
|*Entering sixth season|