Here’s a whimsical look at 15 Reasonably Fun Facts, or star-driven storylines, to ponder for Week 1 of the NFL season.
1. For his final 10 games last season (including the wild-card win over the Bengals), Steelers wideout Antonio Brown notched double-digit targets every time. Here’s one more thing to celebrate: Of his last seven outings on natural grass, Brown (three-year average: 125 receptions, 1,677 yards, 10 TDs) has absurdly averaged 11 catches, 141 yards and one score.
2. In 2015, Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson (1,485 rushing yards, 11 TDs) produced 12 games of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown, while posting his fourth campaign of 30 or more catches (40th in targets among running backs).
Regarding the Week 1 clash with the Titans, against AFC South opponents (eight career outings), Peterson holds robust averages of 107 total yards and 0.8 TDs.
3. Cincinnati (five straight playoff appearances) might be a Super Bowl contender, but the club also has one skeleton in the closet to conquer this week: In 25 lifetime meetings, the Bengals are a wretched 8-17 against the Jets — including nine straight losses in New York/New Jersey (Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium, MetLife Stadium).
The average final score during that road span: New York 24, Cincinnati 15.
4. Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has averaged 5,127 yards passing and 39 touchdowns since 2011, currently boasts a seven-game streak of 300 yards passing and/or three TDs at home. For this prolific Superdome run, the future Hall of Famer holds supreme averages of 371 yards passing and 3.3 TDs.
5. Here’s more justification for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski having a top-15 ADP in August, despite Tom Brady‘s September suspension (four games total):
a) Of his last 35 games (including the playoffs), Gronkowksi has notched 29 touchdowns.
b) During that span (2014-15), Gronk tallied 100 receiving yards and/or one touchdown 25 times.
c) Citing the last 2 1/2 seasons (accounting for major injury), Gronkowski has collected double-digit targets a staggering 20 times.
d) Gronk has scored at least one touchdown in eight of his last 11 road games (including the postseason).
6. There’s no disputing Falcons QB Matt Ryan‘s recent track record with season openers: Of his last five Week 1 outings, Ryan boasts robust averages of 334 yards passing and 2.2 TDs.
7. It’s worth noting: Citing 14 lifetime meetings, dating back to 1977, the Seahawks have never eclipsed the 30-point mark against the Dolphins.
8. From Weeks 3-15 last year, spanning 12 games, Browns tight end Gary Barnidge tallied 90-plus receiving yards and/or one touchdown 10 times. Of equal importance, Barnidge (79 catches, 1,043 yards, 9 TDs) never went more than five games without drawing double-digit targets.
9. Since 2013, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers sports excellent annual averages of 4,519 yards passing and 31 touchdowns. During that span (regular season only), the potential Hall of Famer has tallied 300 total yards and/or three touchdowns 24 times.
By comparison, over the last three regular seasons, Tom Brady also has 24 outings of 300 total yards and/or three touchdowns.
10. Head coach Andy Reid doesn’t paint a rosy picture when discussing Jamaal Charles‘ prospects for Week 1; and that’s OK in the short term. Against the Chargers last year, the Chiefs’ backup rushing tandem of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West combined for 136 total yards and one TD per game.
Speaking of Ware, when toting the rock seven or more times last season (six games total), the LSU product scored at least one touchdown five times.
11. Last year, Allen Robinson (at least one TD in back-to-back games six times) was the only NFL receiver to notch 100 receiving yards and/or one touchdown 13 times during the regular season.
And since Week 2 of last season, Robinson (1,400 yards/14 TDs in Year 2) has reeled off seven consecutive outings of 100 receiving yards and/or one touchdown.
12. Citing his first seven seasons with the Bears (2009-15), quarterback Jay Cutler has never passed for 300 yards in his first road start. During that span, Cutler holds middling averages of 187 yards passing and 1.9 TDs.
13. Tailback LeSean McCoy doesn’t have a long history against the Ravens, facing the club just once in his seven-year career (89 total yards, 1 TD in 2012). But he’s still a cherished asset for Week 1:
Since 2010 (with the Eagles and Bills), McCoy is a perfect 6 for 6 in racking up 95 total yards and/or one touchdown in seasonal debuts.
14. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (five-year average: 4,635 yards passing, 29 TDs) was lights-out in his final six games last season, averaging 276 yards passing and three TDs, while completing passes at a 73-percent clip.
Can Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter recapture that mojo early in 2016, especially without Hall of Fame-worthy receiver Calvin Johnson? Only time will tell.
Luckily, we can fall back on the numbers from Stafford’s last eight games played indoors: Per-outing averages of 288 yards passing and 2.6 touchdowns.
And last but not least …
15. The Panthers and Broncos square off on Thursday night, leading up to this final nugget:
Counting the last 20 years, there have only been two Super Bowl rematches in the following season:
2014: Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 (OT)
1997: Packers 28, Patriots 10
Going deeper … can you name the last time an immediate Super Bowl rematch was proffered in Week 1 of the following season?
That honor dates back to September 1970, with the Vikings exacting sweet revenge on the Chiefs (Super Bowl IV upset) in a 28-10 home rout.
That was a good year for redemption, apparently. In 1970, the Baltimore Colts — infamous losers in Super Bowl III (greatest upset in NFL history) — knocked off Joe Namath and the New York Jets twice that season (as divisional foes).
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media) and 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year (Fantasy Sports Writers Association), can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.