FOX Sports South takes a whimsical look at '15 Fun Facts,' or star-driven storylines to ponder for Week 1 of the NFL season. (Photos: Brad Mills/Chris Humphreys/Crystal LoGuidice-USA TODAY Sports)
Run To Daylight
FUN FACT #1 -- You can bet the proverbial farm on Matt Forte (1,933 total yards, 12 TDs last year) and C.J. Spiller (1,124 total yards) posting elite-level numbers in Week 1, going head to head. The Bears and Bills were the NFL's two worst run defenses for Weeks 13-17 last year, surrendering 197 and 151 yards per game, respectively. Plus, Forte has averaged 143 total yards and 1.3 TDs in his last four season-openers. (Photos: Charles LeClaire/Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
The Old Man And The 'D'
FUN FACT #2 -- Of his 16 career home games with the Broncos (regular season only), quarterback Peyton Manning (NFL single-season record 5,477 yards passing, 55 TD passes last year) has amassed either 300 yards passing or three touchdowns 13 times. And two of those under-threshold outings yielded averages of 287 yards passing and two scores. Not bad for a guy who's less than 17 months from turning 40.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
The End Is Near
FUN FACT #3 -- Counting the wild-card loss to the Chargers, Bengals wideout A.J. Green (98 catches, 1,426 yards, 11 TDs last year) hasn't registered a 100-yard outing in seven games -- the longest such drought of his prolific career. That streak could end in Week 1 ... against the same Ravens club that Green torched for eight receptions, 151 yards and one TD back in Week 10.
The Real McCoy
FUN FACT #4 -- Of his last four regular-season home outings (2010-13), Eagles tailback LeSean McCoy (2,146 total yards, 11 TDs last year) boasts stellar averages of 160 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns; and of his last three season-openers, McCoy has stealthily averaged 154 total yards and one TD.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsTim Heitman
Unleash The Beast
FUN FACT #5 -- The St. Louis Rams ranked 9th in rush defense last year (104 yards per game) ... but Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson has been a certifiable monster against NFC West foes, averaging 143 total yards and 1.3 touchdowns in his last nine outings against the NFL's toughest division. And that supreme tally includes a 65-yard, zero-TD clunker against Seattle last November.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
FUN FACT #6 -- It's no big deal that Colin Kaepernick (3,725 total yards, 25 TDs last year) has yet to face the Cowboys. Lest we forget the Dallas defense ranked 30th in passing yards alllowed and 32nd in total yardage allowed last season -- with departed stars Sean Lee (torn ACL), DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher (free agency) on the active roster. Plus, of his inaugural starts for the previous two seasons (2012-13), Kaepernick holds superb per-outing averages of 343 total yards and 2.5 touchdowns.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
FUN FACT #7 -- Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald (82 catches, 954 yards, 10 TDs last year) has never opened a season against an AFC team. For Week 1, he draws the Chargers -- the NFL's 29th-ranked pass defense in 2013. For good measure, Fitzgerald has also collected double-digit targets in his last two season-openers ... and double-digit targets in his last three home outings.
FUN FACT #8 -- Here's something short and sweet: Of Matthew Stafford's last three season-openers, the Lions quarterback boasts scintillating averages of 339 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
Dunk You Very Much!
FUN FACT #9 -- Of his last 11 games played indoors (including trips to Atlanta and St. Louis), Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (86 catches, 1,215 yards, 16 TDs last year) has tallied 12 touchdowns. Plus, of his last six outings against the Falcons, Graham -- the NFL's unofficial Slam Dunk King -- has found the end zone six times.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
FUN FACT #10 -- Here's something to remember with fantasygoers, specifically Points Per Reception leagues: Chicago's Brandon Marshall (left -- 100 catches, 1,295 yards, 12 TDs) and Washington's Pierre Garcon (right -- 113 catches, 1,346 yards, five TDs) were the only wideouts to collect eight-plus targets in 14 or more games last season. (Photos: Dennis Wierzbicki/Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)
FUN FACT #11 -- Forgive the Debbie Downer moment for this countdown: Of his last seven games against AFC foes, Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (3,692 total yards, 16 TDs in 13 games last year) hasn't racked up multiple touchdowns in any outing.
Dome Sweet Dome
FUN FACT #12 -- Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a superb record as a home starter (career 36-10 mark). Plus, of his last four games against the hated Saints, Ryan (three-year averages: 4,470 yards passing, 29 TDs) holds rock-solid averages of 293 yards passing and 1.5 touchdowns.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
FUN FACT #13 -- The wonderfully consistent Demaryius Thomas has notched at least 92 catches, 141 targets, 1,430 yards and double-digit touchdowns over the last two seasons. Of more importance to this weekend, the Broncos receiver also has a current streak of at least one touchdown in five straight games -- including the postseason (six overall).
FUN FACT #14 -- The Patriots are 11-1 in season-openers with Bill Belichick as head coach and Tom Brady as the starting quarterback. This run of opening-day dominance with Brady and Belichick, which began in 2002, also includes six Week 1 routs of 10 points or more. The lone blemish during this span: The 2003 Patriots, just days after releasing popular safety Lawyer Milloy, were whitewashed by the Bills, 31-0. For symmetrical purposes, the eventual Super Bowl champs got revenge on Buffalo in the regular-season finale, blanking the Bills, 31-0.
Mark L. Baer
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
FUN FACT #15 -- In the 12 seasons since NFL realignment, the NFC South champion has never repeated the following year. In fact, the division champ has a cumulative follow-up record of 82-94. As such, the 2014 Panthers might be underdogs for six road encounters with Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta. The home slate includes rough challenges with Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Seattle.