Vince’s View: NFL Week 1 Predictions and Game Notes; SB Preview, QBs vs. former teams highlight opening slate

Vince’s View: NFL Week 1 Predictions and Game Notes; SB Preview, QBs vs. former teams highlight opening slate

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Below is the game schedule with my Week 1 NFL game predictions. Winners straight-up are in bold. The line is my pick against the spread.

You’ll also see some tremendous notes on the games, teams and players provided by NFL Communications.

Listen to The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts, including myself, every Sunday, 10am to 12:30pm ET on 99.1 The Sports Animal here in Knoxville and streaming here at 991TheSportsAnimal.com, the WNML app or on your smart speakers. We’ll break down all these games, review what’s happened, share injury news, fantasy advice and more. You can call or text the show at 865-656-9900.

2021 Season Straight-Up: 158-97 (62%)
2021 Season Against The Spread: 140-115 (55%)

KICKOFF WEEKEND NFL SCHEDULE

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, September 8Buffalo at Los Angeles Rams (+1.5)NBC8:20
Sunday, September 11New Orleans (-5.5) at AtlantaFOX1:00
Cleveland at Carolina (Pk)CBS1:00
San Francisco (-6.5) at ChicagoFOX1:00
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-6.5)CBS1:00
Philadelphia (-4) at DetroitFOX1:00
Indianapolis at Houston (+7)CBS1:00
New England at Miami (-3.5)CBS1:00
Baltimore (-7) at New York JetsCBS1:00
Jacksonville at Washington (-2.5)FOX1:00
Kansas City (-5.5) at ArizonaCBS4:25
Las Vegas at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)CBS4:25
Green Bay at Minnesota (+1.5)FOX4:25
New York Giants at Tennessee (-5.5)FOX4:25
Tampa Bay at Dallas (+2.5)NBC8:20
Monday, September 12Denver (-6.5) at SeattleESPN/ABC8:15

Every story has an end, but in life, every end is a new beginning.

The story last season was the endings. In 2021, 34 regular-season games were decided by a game-winning score on the final play, the most ever in a single year. The encore featured all four Divisional playoff games decided on the final play, and both conference championships as well as the Super Bowl each decided by three points.

This week marks the beginning of a new story. After an action-packed offseason, the path to State Farm Stadium and Super Bowl LVII in Arizona begins Thursday when the NFL kicks off its 103rd year of competition.

The starting 11 entering Week 1…

1. BILLS, RAMS TO CHRISTEN 2022 SEASON: Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN returns to his native state when the BUFFALO BILLS begin the season against the defending Super Bowl champion LOS ANGELES RAMS on Thursday (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Allen, who has guided the Bills to consecutive AFC East titles, is 3-1 against teams from the NFC West, including a win in California over the 49ers in 2020. Meanwhile, the Rams’ SEAN MCVAY has won each of his five season-opening games as a head coach (2017-21). The last head coach to win his first six season-openers was MIKE SHANAHAN (1988-89, 1995-98). Incidentally, Shanahan hired McVay, then 24, as an assistant tight ends coach in 2010 with Washington.  

2. NUMBER OF THE WEEK – 25: Twelve teams are expected to open their seasons with a starting quarterback age 25 or younger. Two of the NFL’s three youngest quarterbacks expected to start in Week 1, the 49ers’ TREY LANCE, 22, and the Bears’ JUSTIN FIELDS, 23, meet at Soldier Field on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Meanwhile, when New England plays at Miami on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), MAC JONES, 23, meets TUA TAGOVAILOA, 24. Each of the last four Super Bowls have kicked off with a starting quarterback under 26.

3. MVP ROAD TOUR: All five active players with at least one Associated Press MVP open 2022 away from home.

  • TOM BRADY (Tampa Bay at Dallas, 8:20 PM ET, NBC) led the NFL in passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43) in 2021. He is expected to make his 20th career Week 1 start, surpassing DREW BREES (19) for the most by a quarterback all-time.
  • LAMAR JACKSON (Baltimore at N.Y. Jets, 1:00 PM ET, CBS) has nine touchdown passes with no interceptions and a 150.2 rating in three career starts on Kickoff Weekend. Since 2019, the Ravens have outscored opponents 124-49 (+75) in those three contests.
  • PATRICK MAHOMES (Kansas City at Arizona, 4:25 PM ET, CBS) is 4-0 as a starting quarterback on Kickoff Weekend with 13 touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 133.7 rating. He led the NFL with 22 touchdown passes on the road last season.
  • AARON RODGERS (Green Bay at Minnesota, 4:25 PM ET, FOX), the reigning back-to-back NFL MVP, led all qualified passers with a 109.7 rating on the road in 2021.
  • MATT RYAN (Indianapolis at Houston, 1:00 PM ET, CBS) makes his Colts debut and needs 265 passing yards to become the second-fastest player ever (223 games) to reach 60,000, trailing only DREW BREES (215 games).

4. SPOTLIGHT – INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: According to Next Gen Stats, Las Vegas defensive end MAXX CROSBY led the NFL with 82 quarterback pressures in 2021. On Sunday at SoFi Stadium (4:25 PM ET, CBS) he’ll line up across an offensive line featuring Chargers tackle RASHAWN SLATER, who earned Pro Bowl and second-team Associated Press All-Pro honors as a 2021 rookie. Slater’s quarterback, JUSTIN HERBERT, was pressured on only 4.2 percent of his dropbacks last season, fourth in the league behind TOM BRADY (2.9), JOSH ALLEN (3.6) and PATRICK MAHOMES (3.8). Herbert’s 9,350 passing yards and 69 touchdown passes are both the most ever by a player in his first two seasons.

5. SPOTLIGHT – TEAM MATCHUPTAMPA BAY at DALLAS on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC) is the NFL’s first instance since the 1970 merger in which the league’s top two offenses from the prior season (Dallas 407.0 yards per game in 2021, Tampa Bay 405.9) will meet in Week 1.

  • In 2021, the Buccaneers led the NFL in touchdown passes (43) while the Cowboys’ defense led the league in interceptions (26), including 11 by cornerback TREVON DIGGS, most by an NFL player since 1981.
  • The two clubs met in the annual kickoff game last season, with Tampa Bay defeating Dallas, 31-29. TOM BRADY (32 completions) and DAK PRESCOTT (42 completions, most ever in a Week 1 game) combined to complete 74 passes, the most in a single game in NFL history.

6. STREAK SPEAK: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS have opened each of the past seven seasons (2015-21) with a victory, the NFL’s longest active Week 1 winning streak.

  • With a win on Sunday at Arizona (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Kansas City will tie Pittsburgh (eight, 2003-10) for the league’s fourth-longest season-opening winning streak since 1981, when the Cowboys established the NFL record of 17 consecutive Week 1 victories (1965-81).
  • ARIZONA, meanwhile, has won four consecutive home games against head coach ANDY REID (regular-season wins in 2005, 2012 and 2014 as well as the 2008 NFC Championship Game).
  • In Miami on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Dolphins head coach MIKE MCDANIEL makes his NFL debut at age 39, the same age as BILL BELICHICK at the time of his first game as an NFL head coach, in 1991. The Dolphins have three straight wins over New England and with a victory would have their longest winning streak against the Patriots since a five-game stretch from 1999-2001.

7. DID YOU KNOW?: Teams with quarterback TOM BRADY have won seven Super Bowls and in four of those seven seasons (New England in 2001, 2003 and 2014; Tampa Bay in 2020), Brady’s teams lost their Week 1 games.

8. UNDER-THE-RADAR STORYLINE: Houston quarterback DAVIS MILLS was in fourth grade at Mason Elementary School in Duluth, Ga., when MATT RYAN made his NFL debut for the Falcons in 2008. On Sunday, Mills and the Houston Texans will meet Ryan and his new team, the Indianapolis Colts (1:00 PM ET, CBS).

  • Last season, Mills ranked second among qualified rookie passers in rating (88.8), touchdown passes (16) and completion percentage (66.8) and third in passing yards (2,664). On Oct. 10 vs. New England, Mills became the first rookie quarterback to record at least 300 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a passer rating of 140-or-higher in a single game in NFL history.

9. TREND TIME: For the first time since 2014, when SHAUN HILLJOSH MCCOWN and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING opened that season under center, three quarterbacks are expected to start Week 1 games against former teams.

  • RUSSELL WILSON and the Denver Broncos conclude the Week 1 schedule when they meet the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC). A nine-time Pro Bowler for the Seahawks, Wilson posted a 104-53-1 record as a starter and led Seattle to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, including a Super Bowl XLVIII win over Denver to conclude the 2013 season.
  • BAKER MAYFIELD and the Carolina Panthers host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield led the Browns to the 2020 playoffs.
  • JOE FLACCO is expected to start when the Jets host the Ravens on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Flacco played 11 years in Baltimore, including six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XLVII title.

10. THIS WEEK IN NFL HISTORY: Sept. 12, 1982 (40 years ago) – Rookie running back MARCUS ALLEN, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, recorded 180 scrimmage yards (116 rushing, 64 receiving) and ran for a touchdown in his NFL debut, leading the Los Angeles Raiders to a 23-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park.

11. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Cincinnati wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE, who like Pittsburgh general manager OMAR KHAN graduated from Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, La., begins his second NFL season on Sunday at home against the Steelers (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Chase trained with Pittsburgh running back NAJEE HARRIS prior to the players’ first-round selections in the 2021 NFL Draft and this week they square off for the fourth time in their combined college and NFL careers. Chase owns a 3-1 advantage in those games (1-1 with LSU against Alabama and 2-0 with the Bengals against the Steelers). Harris (1,667) and Chase (1,476) finished first and second, respectively, among rookies in scrimmage yards last season. 

SUPER STARTERSHistory 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: 

TEAMSEASONSCONSECUTIVE WINS
Dallas1966-8116
Miami1992-200211
New England2004-1310
Chicago1984-929
Pittsburgh2003-108
   
Kansas City2015-217*
*Active streak  

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.
 

— NFL —

STARTING STREAKSThe 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 RAIDERSLOS ANGELES CHARGERSNEW 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.

— NFL —

START ME UPSome 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. 

— NFL —

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:

PLAYERTEAM(S)GAMES TO REACH 60,000 PASSING YARDS
Drew BreesSan Diego Chargers, New Orleans215
Peyton ManningHOFIndianapolis, Denver226
Philip RiversSan Diego/L.A. Chargers, Indianapolis231
   
Matt RyanAtlanta222*
*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:

PLAYERTEAM(S)GAMES WITH 300+ PASSING YARDS
Drew BreesSan Diego Chargers, New Orleans123
Tom BradyNew England, Tampa Bay108*
Peyton ManningHOFIndianapolis, Denver93
Philip RiversSan Diego/L.A. Chargers, Indianapolis73
Matt RyanAtlanta73*
*Active 

— NFL —

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:

PLAYERTEAMGAMES TO REACH 7,500 PASSING YARDS
Patrick MahomesKansas City24
Justin HerbertL.A. Chargers26
Kurt WarnerHOFSt. Louis Rams27
   
Joe BurrowCincinnati26*
*Has 7,299 career passing yards   

— NFL —

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: 

PLAYERTEAMRUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
Josh AllenBuffalo28
Cam NewtonCarolina28
Daunte CulpepperMinnesota25
Steve GroganNew England21
Steve McNairHouston Oilers/Tennessee21
Lamar JacksonBaltimore20*
Kyler MurrayArizona20#
*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: 

PLAYERTEAMRUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
Cam NewtonCarolina17
Josh AllenBuffalo14
Steve GroganNew England14
Jalen HurtsPhiladelphia13*
*In 19 career starts 

— NFL —

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:

PLAYERTEAMGAMES TO REACH 200 RECEPTIONS
Odell Beckham Jr.N.Y. Giants30
Michael ThomasNew Orleans32
Jarvis LandryMiami33
Anquan BoldinArizona34
Reggie BushNew Orleans34
   
Justin JeffersonMinnesota33*
*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:

PLAYERTEAMGAMES
Ezekiel ElliottDallas9
Chuck ForemanMinnesota9
Alvin KamaraNew Orleans9*
Christian McCaffreyCarolina9*
*Entering sixth season

— NFL —

2022 SEASON MILESTONES
: For a look at upcoming season-long records and milestones that can be reached in 2022, click here

Ndamukong Suh – Buccaneers DL / Credit: ESPN Images

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