What To Look For — NFL Kickoff 2008 Weekend

(Sept 4 2008 – TMRZoo.com) SUPER STARTERS: There are never any guarantees in the NFL, but there are trends. And they start as early as Kickoff Weekend. History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive towards a possible Super Bowl championship is to win in Week 1.

The 42 Super Bowl winners have a 34-7-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. However, as the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants proved, a loss on Kickoff Weekend can still lead to a championship season.

Since 1978, when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious on Kickoff Weekend are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:

Of the 426 teams which won openers…225 went to the playoffs (130 won division titles).

Of the 426 teams which lost openers…99 went to the playoffs (55 won division titles).

In 2007, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Seattle, Tennessee and Washington – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

“Season openers,” says Washington Redskins tight end CHRIS COOLEY, “set a standard for your team.”

KICKOFF WINNERS: The season kicks off on Thursday night when the Super Bowl XLII champion NEW YORK GIANTS host the WASHINGTON REDSKINS. The contest will feature two of the NFL’s most successful teams in season openers. The Giants rank second in history with 46 Kickoff Weekend victories and the Redskins tie for sixth with 37 wins.

The teams with the most wins on Kickoff Weekend:

TEAM

KICKOFF-WEEKEND WINS

Chicago

49

Green Bay

48

New York Giants

46

Detroit

42

St. Louis

38

Pittsburgh

37

Washington

37

KICKOFF 2008 WEEKEND

STREAKING INTO HISTORY:

The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS became the first team in NFL history with a perfect 16-0 regular-season record last year. Dating back to the last three weeks of 2006, New England has won 19 consecutive regular-season games, the longest streak in league annals. The Patriots, who also have the second-longest such streak in history (18 games, 2003-04), will seek to reach 20 in a row on Sunday when they host Kansas City.

Following are the teams with the longest regular-season winning streaks in NFL history:

TEAM

YEARS

STREAK

New England

2006-07

19*

New England

2003-04

18

Chicago Bears

1933-34

17

Chicago Bears

1941-42

16

Miami Dolphins

1971-73

16

Miami Dolphins

1983-84

16

Pittsburgh Steelers

2004-05

16

*Active streak

MVP QBs: Last season, New England quarterback TOM BRADY was named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player after setting an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes. Brady, who led New England to Super Bowl XLII, hopes to continue the success of MVP quarterbacks this Sunday. The past 10 QBs to be named the NFL MVP have posted a passer rating of at least 88.5 on Kickoff Weekend the following season.

The past 10 MVP quarterbacks and their performances on Kickoff Weekend the following season:

NAME

TEAM

DATE

ATT.

COMP.

PCT.

YARDS

TD

INT

RATING

Steve Young

SF

9/3/95

27

21

77.8

260

2

0

131.5

Brett Favre

GB

9/1/96

27

20

74.1

247

4

0

141.5

Brett Favre

GB

9/1/97

22

15

68.2

226

2

1

113.1

Brett Favre

GB

9/6/98

32

24

75.0

277

2

0

121.5

Kurt Warner

StL

9/4/00

35

25

71.4

441

3

3

106.5

Kurt Warner

StL

9/8/02

41

32

78.0

315

0

1

88.5

Rich Gannon

Oak.

9/7/03

38

24

63.2

264

2

0

101.2

Peyton Manning

Ind.

9/9/04

29

16

55.2

256

2

1

93.5

Steve McNair

Ten.

9/11/04

14

9

64.3

73

1

0

101.2

Peyton Manning

Ind.

9/11/05

36

21

58.3

254

2

0

98.6

KICKOFF 2008 WEEKEND

THANK DEVIN: Chicago Bears return specialist DEVIN HESTER has scored 14 touchdowns (seven punt-return TDs, four kickoff-return TDs, two receiving TDs and a missed-FG return TD) in his first two NFL seasons. The two-time All Star averages 80.9 yards per touchdown, the highest such mark in NFL history (minimum 10 touchdowns).

The players with the highest yards-per-touchdown average in history (minimum 10 TDs):

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

TDs

YARDS

AVG.

Devin Hester

Chicago

14

1,132

80.9*

Mel Gray

NO, Detroit, Hou./Tenn., Philadelphia

10

781

78.1

Tamarick Vanover

Kansas City, San Diego

11

757

68.8

Dante Hall

Kansas City, St. Louis

21

1,438

68.5*

Deion Sanders

Atlanta, SF, Dallas, Washington, Baltimore

22

1,461

66.4

*Active

Hester’s 11 combined kick-return touchdowns (seven PR-TDs, four KR-TDs) already rank as the third most in history. With another kick-return touchdown, Hester will tie DANTE HALL and ERIC METCALF (12) for second all-time, one behind BRIAN MITCHELL’s NFL mark (13).

The players with the most combined kick-return touchdowns in history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

YEARS

PR-TDs

KR-TDs

COMBINED TDs

Brian Mitchell

Washington, Philadelphia, NY Giants

1990-03

9

4

13

Dante Hall

Kansas City, St. Louis

2000-07

6

6

12*

Eric Metcalf

Cle., Atl., SD, Ari., Car., Was., GB

1989-02

10

2

12

Devin Hester

Chicago

2006-07

7

4

11*

Three Tied

9

*Active

TDs FOR T.O.: Entering his 13th NFL season, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver TERRELL OWENS has 129 receiving touchdowns, the third most in history. With two touchdowns this Sunday against Cleveland, Owens will move past CRIS CARTER (130) into second place all-time in the category. Owens had two touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend last year and has six receiving TDs in his past four openers.

The players with the most receiving touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

YEARS

REC. TDs

Jerry Rice

SF, Oak., Sea.

1985-2004

197

Cris Carter

Phi., Min., Mia.

1987-2002

130

Terrell Owens

SF, Phi., Dal.

1996-Present

129*

Randy Moss

Min., Oak., NE

1998-Present

124*

Marvin Harrison

Indianapolis

1996-Present

123*