A Matter Of Facts for NFL 2012: Week 1 Preview

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 05, 2012



By Russell S. Baxter
Cold Hard Football Facts' Fact Finder

It is here.

Welcome to the 2012 NFL season, highlighted by Wednesday night’s kickoff extravaganza between the Cowboys and Giants. And it’s important that both teams get off to good start tonight.

Maybe.

The team that eventually wins the coveted Lombardi Trophy is 37-8-1 in its first game of the season. But that has changed a bit in recent seasons. It’s worth noting that five of the last 11 Super Bowl champions came up short in Week 1. The 2001 Patriots (XXXVI), ’02 Buccaneers (XXXVII), ’03 Patriots (XXXVIII), ’07 Giants (XLII) and last year’s G-Men (XLVI) all lost their first game and would go onto win that final postseason contest of the season. And the ’01 Patriots and ’07 Giants actually started 0-2 on their way to a title.

So how crucial is the opener between Big D and Big Blue? We’ll see…

In case you’re wondering, last season’s win-loss records are included below…

Wednesday Night

Dallas (8-8) at N.Y. Giants (9-7): As if these teams didn’t know each other well enough, this marks the third time in the last five weeks of regular-season play (dating back to 2011) that these teams will meet. The Giants have a few things going for them here, mainly that they’ve beaten the Pokes in five of their last six meetings (and scored at least 31 points in each win). Also: the fact that defending Super Bowl champions have won their first game the following season 12 straight years bodes well for the Giants.

Sunday

Atlanta (10-6) at Kansas City (7-9): Four seasons under head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan and four winning seasons with three playoff appearances. But zero postseason wins has the duo under the gun. The Chiefs went from first to worst and from Todd Haley (who lost 5 games by 27-plus points) to Romeo Crennel last season, the former the recipient of injuries to Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel. Keep an eye on Ryan and wideout Julio Jones, the latter combining for six touchdowns in the final four games a year ago…

Buffalo (6-10) at N.Y. Jets (8-8): The Bills lost eight of their last nine games last season and went winless for the summer. Rex Ryan’s club dropped their last three games in 2011 and also went 0-4 this preseason. Many feel that this will be the battle for second in the AFC East this season and if that’s the case, Buffalo may want to not only end a five-game losing streak to the Green and White but do something about that 4-20 mark vs. divisional rivals since 2008. And Jets’ right tackle Austin Howard, meet new Bills’ left defensive end Mario Williams…

Carolina (6-10) at Tampa Bay (4-12): Two teams that were headed in opposite directions last season as the Panthers went 4-2 down the stretch while the Buccaneers closed 2011 with 10 straight losses, most of those of the ugly variety. And that includes a pair of losses to Carolina in which Tampa surrendered a combined 86 points while Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw four touchdown passes and ran for four scores. But this is a new-look Bucs’ team and a healthier Panthers’ defense…

Indianapolis (2-4) at Chicago (8-8): The Colts are a team that will need and receive a lot of “Luck” this season as they look to put a 2-14 season behind them via new faces just about everywhere. The Bears were a team that didn’t have a lot of luck last season, a 7-3 start wiped out by injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and later Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte. But this is also a new-look Chicago team that was bolstered not rebuilt and they take aim at an Indianapolis team that failed to win a road game last season…

Jacksonville (5-11) at Minnesota (3-13): No team gained fewer total yards and fewer yards through the air than the Jaguars last season. No club allowed more touchdown passes in 2012 than the Vikings. We don’t know how much of Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson we will see but we will be seeing second-year quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, who were drafted 10th and 12th, respectively, in 2011, who were sacked a combined 70 times during their rookies seasons…

Miami (6-10) at Houston (10-6): In their brief 10-year history, the Texans are just 65-95, but a perfect 6-0 against the Dolphins. Of course, 10 of those 65 victories came a season ago when the franchise won its first AFC South title. Scoring could be at a premium here if 2011 is any indication, Houston and Miami finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in fewest points allowed. And Dolphins’ rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill starts his career against a Wade Phillips defense…

New England (13-3) at Tennessee (9-7): The last time the Patriots lost their first game of the season, then-Titans’ quarterback Steve McNair was on his way to sharing league MVP honors with Peyton Manning in 2003. But that year eventually proved to New England’s year after all, winning it all. Not that much has changed per se as Bill Belichick’s team is once again coming off a Super Bowl season, but there are worries in Foxborough with an offensive line in disarray. But can these Titans (AFC-low 28 sacks in 2011) take advantage of that?

Philadelphia (8-8) at Cleveland (4-12): Andy Reid arrived in Philadelphia the same year the current franchise set up shop in Cleveland. The Eagles are 126-81-1 under his command while the Browns are 68-140. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden got a glimpse of the Philadelphia defense a few weeks ago and couldn’t have liked what he saw. And the Browns have lost seven straight season openers dating back to 2005. Meanwhile, the Birds look to pick up where they left off late in 2011; winners of their last four games after a less-than-dreamy 4-8 start…

St. Louis (2-14) at Detroit (10-6): We’ve seen both of these clubs put up some ugly seasons in recent years and dating back the last five seasons, the Rams (15-65) and Lions (25-55) are a combined 40-120 (as many wins as the Cardinals since ’07). Last season, Detroit finally got back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. But counting that Wild Card loss at New Orleans, Jim Schwartz’s team allowed 90 points in their last two games (ouch!). Then again, the 2011 Rams’ offensive unit managed only 16 touchdowns, as much as Lions’ wideout Calvin Johnson…

San Francisco (13-3) at Green Bay (15-1): There is a slew of numbers working against the 49ers here. Including playoffs, the Pack has taken eight straight in this series, have won 13 straight regular-season games at Lambeau Field and have prevailed in five straight season openers. It’s also a battle between the teams that tied for the NFL lead in takeaways in 2011 (38), while the Niners (10) and Packers (14) were 1-2 in terms of fewest turnovers committed. But don’t discount Jim Harbaugh’s team, an impressive 6-2 on the road a year ago…

Seattle (7-9) at Arizona (8-8): A year ago, the Cardinals dealt for Eagles’ quarterback Kevin Kolb, but John Skelton is the starter for this Week 1 tilt. Earlier this year, the Seahawks signed Packers free agent signal-caller Matt Flynn, so naturally third-round pick Russell Wilson gets the nod behind center this Sunday. Both clubs would love to pick up where they left off. The Seahawks won five of their last eight games after a 2-6 start. The Cardinals went 7-2 in their final nine contests after opening 1-6…

Washington (5-11) at New Orleans (13-3): It’s the latest new era in the nation’s capital as rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III takes aim at a Saints’ defense still in school on coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system and one that’s still looking for a pass rush up front. But can the Redskins keep pace at the Superdome, where the home team won nine games last season (including playoffs) by a combined 374-171 score, including 45 points in their last three outings? Jim Haslett may not enjoy this return trip to New Orleans…

Sunday Night

Pittsburgh (12-4) at Denver (8-8): It’s a playoff rematch in the Mile High City, sort of. But this time around, the Pittsburgh defense takes aim at Peyton Manning instead of Tim Tebow. And Mike Tomlin’s team is hoping to put the “steal” back in the Steelers (work with me here) this season as the team forced an NFL-low 15 turnovers a year ago. Better yet, can the Broncos’ defense make life miserable for Ben Roethlisberger via Von Miller (11.5) and Elvis Dumervil (9.5), who combined for 21 of the team’s 41 sacks last season…

Monday Night

Cincinnati (9-7) at Baltimore (12-4): These AFC North rivals open and close the season against each other. There were scary similarities between the quarterbacks’ numbers last season. Both Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco threw 20 touchdowns passes while the former threw one less interception (12). But keep an eye on these numbers. Last season, Baltimore totaled 43 sacks and forced 24 turnovers in their dozen wins, while totaling only five sacks and a pair of takeaways in four losses. Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh is 4-for-4 in season openers…

San Diego (8-8) at Oakland (8-8): Oh, that wacky AFC West. Last season, it gave us three 8-8 teams and a 7-9 club and a .500 team won the division for the second time in four years. Both the Bolts and Raiders got off to decent starts only to fail late, San Diego opening 4-1 and Oakland winning seven of its first 11 games.

Darren McFadden looks healthy for the Silver and Black and the Chargers were 20th vs. the run a year ago. Philip Rivers is always healthy and the Raiders gave up an AFC-high 31 touchdown last season. Should we keep going?


From our partners




Join Insider Today!
Must See Videos
2014 NFL Combine Winners
2014 NFL Combine Most Impressive Performances
2014 NFL Combine Losers

Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...
Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI