Taking a spin around the NFL to get you ready for Week 1:
The big questions
Can Adrian Peterson bounce back?
Running back Adrian Peterson signed a two-year deal with the Saints after the Vikings declined his option in February. The 32-year-old Peterson ranks third all time in rushing yards per game (95.5) among those who have played at least 100 games. However, he hasn’t been the same since Week 13 of the 2015 season.
Peterson has averaged only 3.09 yards per rush on 127 carries since that point, which ranks 56th among 58 players with at least 100 rushes. Peterson was averaging 4.91 yards per carry in the first half of the 2015 season. He went on injured reserve after just three games in 2016 with a torn meniscus. Peterson won’t have to carry the load anymore in a time-share with Mark Ingram, but can he find a new role in the Saints’ pass-heavy attack?
Is Seahawks at Packers an early playoff preview?
The Seahawks (81 percent) and Packers (73 percent) have the highest chances of making the NFC playoffs, according to the NFL FPI.
Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will meet for the sixth time (including playoffs), with the Seahawks holding a 3-2 edge. However, the Seahawks haven’t won in Green Bay since 1999 and the two losses in Green Bay were the two worst regular-season losses of Wilson’s career. Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions against the Packers in their Week 14 meeting last season.
The Packers and Seahawks have finished with the same victory total in each of the past three seasons, with the Packers making the playoffs for eight straight years. These two teams could be meeting again in the postseason.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck won’t be back for a while after offseason shoulder surgery, and neither will Teddy Bridgewater, who is still recovering from a significant knee injury that caused him to miss the 2016 season.
But there are quite a few quarterbacks who are coming back from major surgery or injuries, including Cam Newton (offseason shoulder surgery in March), Joe Flacco (missed training camp with a back injury), Marcus Mariota (fractured fibula in 2016) and Derek Carr (fractured fibula in 2016).
Carr and Mariota will face each other in their return this weekend. Carr has improved in each of his three seasons in the NFL, and his 81 career passing touchdowns are the fourth-most by a quarterback in his first three seasons.
Numbers that matter
4: Teams that open at home that did not play a season opener at home from 2013 to 2016. The Packers will open at home for the first time since 2012 and the Bengals have not opened at home since 2009.
8: Teams who have played 16 straight weeks since the NFL began scheduling bye weeks in 1990. The Dolphins-Buccaneers game this week was rescheduled to Week 11 because of Hurricane Irma. Of those eight teams, only the Patriots and Dolphins in 1992 played 16 straight because a game was moved due to weather (Hurricane Andrew).
11: Games in which Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant have been on the field together since 2014. The group has averaged 6.9 yards per play together, which would have led the NFL last season. Bryant did not play last year after being suspended for the entire season. Bell was suspended for three games last season and did not play in the season finale.
27: Quarterbacks the Browns have started since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Rookie DeShone Kizer will be the latest when he debuts against the Steelers on Sunday. The last quarterback to beat the Steelers in his first career start was Brett Favre in 1992.
245: Aaron Rodgers’ streak of regular-season pass attempts without an interception. Rodgers last threw an interception in Week 10 of the 2016 season.
What we’ll be talking about after Week 1
Do the Patriots have a problem? The Super Bowl champions came into Thursday night’s game with a perfect 8-0 record in home season openers under Bill Belichick. They gave up 42 points to the Chiefs and struggled at times on offense. On first down, Tom Brady completed only 5 of 15 passes and was sacked twice. The Patriots’ Week 2 game against the Saints will go a long way in determining whether the performance was a one-game fluke.
Which rookie running back is the real deal? Most of the draft attention centered on first-round pick Christian McCaffrey and second-round picks Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon. But it was third-round pick Kareem Hunt who set the bar on Thursday night. The Chiefs’ rookie running back set an NFL record with 246 yards from scrimmage in his debut. Hunt rushed 17 times for 148 yards and caught five passes for 98 yards.
Is it all doom and gloom for the Jets? ESPN’s NFL Football Power Index predicts the Jets will win four games and have a 0.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, the worst in the NFL in both categories. The Jets traded Sheldon Richardson, one of their best players, to the Seahawks, and will start 38-year-old Josh McCown at quarterback, who has the worst Total QBR (45) over the past three seasons.