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NFL Random Thoughts on Week 1

   by Larry Ness - 09/12/2012

NFL Week 1 Random Thoughts:

The 2012 NFL season opened a week ago Wednesday with the Cowboys, who have playing in the ‘shadow’ of the Giants since 2000 (three Super bowl appearances, including two wins), beating the defending champs 24-17. The Giants became the first defending champs to lose its season opener since 1999. Romo (307 yards with three TDs and one INT) outplayed Eli (23 yards with one TD and no INTs)and the Cowboys basically outplayed the Giants in almost every aspect of the game, ending with a 433-to-269 advantage in yards. Week 1 concluded with a MNF ‘doubleheader,’ as the Ravens blasted the Bengals 44-13 and the Chargers beat the Raiders 22-14, a game which should have convinced most that the Broncos are clearly the AFC West favorites (the Chiefs, the fourth team in that division, lost 40-24 at home on Sunday to the Falcons).

Let’s start with Peyton’s return to the playing field after 611 days away. The four-time MVP (most-ever) was coming off four neck surgeries that wiped out his final season in Indianapolis last year but he completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and two TDs. The first TD pass was the 400th of his career, reaching that milestone in 209 games, the fastest ever (Marino got there in 227 games and Favre, 228). He was sacked twice and bounced up both times without trouble. The marquee game on Sunday was San Francisco (13-3 last year) at San Francisco (15-1). Jim Harbaugh let everyone know with complete certainty, that last year’s seven-win improvement (Niners were 6-10 in 2010) was “for real,” as the 49ers ended Green bay’s 13-game regular season home winning streak with a 30-22 win (San Francisco was a six-point underdog).

Storylines were many in Week 1, with seven teams sporting new head coaches and six QBs getting their first-ever NFL starts, five of them rookies. Just one of the seven new head coaches was able to win in Week 1, Greg Schiano of Tampa Bay. The former Rutgers head coach led his Bucs to 16-10 home win over the Panthers (as a three-point ‘dog), in his first-ever NFL job. However, the other six didn’t fare as well (0-6 SU and 2-4 ATS), in group including long-time Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, who was making his debut with the Rams, to the youngest active head coach in the league, Oakland’s Dennis Allen. Not for nothing but Allen should have been forced to show his birth certicate. He claims he’s 38, but he looked 15 standing on the sidelines.

It was pretty much the same story for Week 1’s first-time starters at QB. The group included No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck (Colts) and Heisman-winner and the draft’s No. 2 pick, RG III. Tannehill (Miami), Weeden (Browns) and Wilson (Seattle) were the other rookies, with second-year pro Jake Locker (Tennessee) joining that group in making his first-ever start. You've all season the highlights by now, as RG III was quite impressive (19-of-26 for 320 yards with two TDs and no INTS / 10 carries for 42 yards rushing), while the other five all struggled, none more so than Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden (12-of-35 for 118 yards with no TDs and four INTs). Griffin led the ‘Skins (plus-8 1/2) to a 40-32 win at New Orleans (Saints had won NINE straight at home, including last year’s wild card win over the Lions), while the other five were 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS. Ironically, it was Weeden’s Browns who got the only cover, losing 17-16 to the Eagles, as 8 1/2-point home dogs.

You may have heard that passing yards accounted for almost 72 percent of all yards from scrimmage, the largest percentage of any Week 1 in NFL history. It’s hard to argue against the fact that the NFL is clearly a passers’ league these days but let me interject a few interesting factoids. Teams which ran the ball for more yards in Week 1 were 11-5 SU and 9-7 ATS plus the team with the most rushing attempts in a game for Week 1 went 9-6 and 11-4 ATS. (in the SD/Oak game, each team ran the ball exactly 20 times). There were five, 100-yard rushing efforts in Week 1 by RBs and those teams went 4-1 SU and ATS, while in comparison, nine QBs reached 300 yards passing, with those teams going 5-4 SU and just 3-6. Kind of makes you go hmmmm, doesn't it? (I’ll follow these stats all season).

It was a very high-scoring week, as the 16 games averaged 49.9 PPG (a record five teams scored at least 40 points in an opening week!) but yet, overs only outnumbered unders, 9-7. Home teams checked in at 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS with home dogs going 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS.

Join me Friday for my CFB & NFL weekend preview.

Good luck...Larry

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