2021 NFL season kickoff: Stats, notes and nuggets for every fan to remember entering Week 1

Think about this: you are lastly reunited along with your finest pal after years aside, and following an exuberant greeting you end up puzzled since you’re simply too rattling excited. 

That phenomenon — I will name it “Pleasure-Induced Mind Fog” — happens in the beginning of each NFL season. Here is the system: an excessive amount of anticipation plus a very long time away from soccer equals fan EIBF.

EIBF will infiltrate TV rooms and NFL stadiums beginning tonight with Buccaneers-Cowboys and proceed by most of September. So, I’ve pieced collectively every part you’ll want to keep in mind at the start of the 2021 season to fight the EIBF sensation.  

There’s at all times a wild upset or unusual final result in Week 1 

[Samuel L. Jackson voice] “Maintain onto your butts.” This may occur. It is the NFL’s model of The Upside Down on the outset of each season. So put together your self. Need proof? I acquired you. 

Final 12 months, the eventual 1-15 Jaguars beat the playoff-bound Colts in a weird Week 1 contest that featured just one Gardner Minshew incompletion and a 2.4 yards-per-carry common for Jonathan Taylor.  

No upset shattered the soccer panorama in 2019, however the Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. Arizona scored six factors by three quarters earlier than erupting for 18 within the fourth, and Detroit linebacker Christian Jones dropped what would’ve probably been a game-sealing interception in extra time. On that very same day, the eventual 11-5 Seahawks wanted a fourth-quarter, Russell Wilson-to-Tyler Lockett landing strike to beat the eventual 2-14 Bengals, 21-20. 

At the beginning of the prior season, the Buccaneers, who finally went 5-11, upended the 13-3 NFC North champion Saints, 48-40. Ryan Fitzpatrick averaged 14.9 yards per try (!) and had a QB ranking of 156.3. The Saints would go on to complete eighth in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA, the all-encompassing effectivity metric. 

In 2017, the 5-11 Broncos beat the 9-7 Chargers. In 2016, a 49ers crew that finally went 2-14, seemed like probably the most full crew in soccer in a 28-0 blanking of the just about equally as unhealthy, eventual 4-12 Los Angeles Rams. Blaine Gabbert was the beginning quarterback for San Francisco that afternoon. Jeremy Kerley led the 49ers in receiving. Heck, even in 2015, San Francisco beat the Vikings, 20-3, in Week 1. The 49ers completed 5-11. The Vikings received the NFC North at 11-5. 

So, if one rating does not precisely really feel proper in your football-loving bones in Week 1, it in all probability is not. Week 1 is a helluva drug. 

There shall be a foul name that wipes out a giant play on your crew 

Getting this out of the way in which early. 

Deep breath in. Slowly exhale. Bear in mind, your crew shouldn’t be alone. It would occur to everyone. All of it comes out within the wash. Really, it will occur greater than as soon as. Many instances. Transfer on to the subsequent play. 

Excited for the most important NFL schedule in historical past? Observe alongside on the CBS Sports app and get the most recent insights from our crew of NFL insiders, plus news from our crew of specialists, in addition to information insights on each player. If you have already got the CBS Sports activities app, ensure that to favourite the your favourite crew so you do not miss a factor!

Your crew ought to be passing extra

Sure, this has been the elemental plea of the NFL analytics motion for some time now. However for as irritated as you could be with it, it is true. Your crew must go extra this season. Of the 36 quarterbacks who tried at the least 200 passes final 12 months, solely Dwayne Haskins, Sam Darnold, and Carson Wentz averaged lower than 5.0 yards per dropback.

Strictly from a yardage perspective for qualifying backs, the Eagles had been the one crew within the NFL with the ultra-rare dynamic the place it was really extra helpful for them handy the ball to Miles Sanders (5.3 yards per rush) than have Wentz drop again to go (4.7 yards per dropback). 

Even the Washington Soccer Workforce gained a tick extra yards on common on a Dwayne Haskins dropback (4.97 yards per) than an Antonio Gibson run (4.7 yards per). 

Now, if new-age analytics are your factor, you in all probability find out about Anticipated Factors Added (EPA). In case you do not, to summarize — it assigns factors to performs relative to the expectation of that given scenario based mostly on all-time historical past. And “all-time historical past” is a quite giant pattern measurement, would not you say?

In 2020, there have been eight groups that completed with a detrimental EPA (a net loss for the offense) on go performs. Conversely, there have been solely 5 groups that posted a constructive EPA on their speeding performs. Learn that once more. 

And do not even get me began on first-down runs. I suggest they’re abolished from each offensive game-plan within the NFL.

This, from a season in the past, illustrates each crew’s EPA speeding the soccer and throwing the soccer on that ever-important first down.

Seems like Invoice Walsh was proper: first down is the perfect right down to throw the ball

Discover the distinction in baselines between speeding and passing performs. It is staggering. Solely the Browns — with that elite offensive line, the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and Kevin Stefanski’s time-tested operating scheme — and the Seahawks — Russell Wilson’s 6.2 yards-per-carry common should be thought-about — completed the common season with a constructive EPA on first-down rushes! 

I relaxation my case. 

The next cliches/drained narratives

You want a refresher on a few of your commonest cliches and drained narratives. Listed here are a number of to jog your reminiscence for others:

  • Tom Brady is older than [insert any football player on earth] 
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard, has performed on many groups
  • Bills Mafia likes to leap by tables whereas tailgating
  • Aaron Rodgers was mad on the Packers this offseason
  • A coach or analyst citing the next: “When Workforce X runs the ball [arbitrary threshold], they’re [awesome win-loss record.]”
  • Workforce social media accounts tweeting “one crew, one purpose” in the beginning of the playoffs

Your crew wants to make use of play-action extra, no matter its ground-game scenario

The analytics neighborhood has parsed it out — run-game success has no correlation to play-action efficiency. Briefly, a largely common operating again committee can have the identical affect on play-action than you probably have all 6-foot-3 and 250 kilos of Derrick Henry ready for a handoff in your backfield. 

Final 12 months, 34 of 42 qualifying quarterbacks had a better yards-per-attempt common on play-action than when not utilizing it. Nonetheless, 30 of those self same quarterbacks utilized play-action on lower than 30% of their dropbacks. Woof. 

When would play-action be rendered primarily ineffective as a result of it is anticipated? Nobody actually is aware of. However you must hope your crew’s offensive coordinator tries to seek out that price this season. 

There is no such thing as a Cowboys-Giants or Eagles-Cowboys sport on Sunday Night time Soccer for the primary time ever

Okay, so not a reminder, however for the reason that inception of NBC’s Sunday Night time Soccer [insert Cris Collinsworth slide in] there was both an Eagles-Cowboys or Cowboys-Giants sport as a part of the present’s schedule each single 12 months. Technically, the Eagles and Cowboys performed on Christmas in 2006, which was a Monday, however it was a SNF program. 

For as a lot as I perceive why these video games are scheduled for SNF annually — enormous markets, monumental fan bases, bitter rivalries — not getting both of these matchups on the marvelous Sunday Night time Soccer telecast shall be rattling refreshing. 

There shall be a bunch of recent groups within the playoffs

Final 12 months there have been six new playoff groups. That is near the conventional common. So “chalk” represents proper round half the postseason subject each season. Regulate your season predictions accordingly. 

You (in all probability) can affect the sport in case you’re in attendance this 12 months greater than ever earlier than

Information science doesn’t have my again on this one. But. I am borrowing this principle from my buddy Scott Kacsmar, previously of Soccer Outsiders and one in every of soccer’s finest statistical historians on the market. 

That is what he wrote in his latest season-prediction weblog submit: 

The crowds are again for now, so it will likely be very attention-grabbing to see what occurs to the offensive stats after 2020 was the highest-scoring season in NFL historical past at 24.8 factors per sport, a full 1.4 factors above the earlier file (2013). Yards per play (5.6) had been by no means increased and turnovers per sport (1.3) had been by no means decrease. We had extra first downs per sport (21.7) than ever earlier than as groups accomplished probably the most passes per sport (23.0) on the highest completion proportion (65.2%) ever recorded. That led to the very best passer ranking (93.6) for a season and the file for many landing passes (871 or 27.2 per crew).

We solely have full information for third downs again to 1991, however 2020 noticed offenses convert 41.6% of the time on third down, a brand new file. The one different season over 40% was 1995 (40.1%).

Astounding, proper? It certain does looks like crowds will change the sport this season. Like they used to, keep in mind? If you’re there, get loud. It’s going to go a great distance in restoring normalcy within the NFL. I in all probability did not must let you know about cranking the amount contained in the stadium. I simply did it as a safeguard towards Pleasure-Induced Mind Fog on sport days. | 2021 NFL season kickoff: Stats, notes and nuggets for each fan to recollect coming into Week 1


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