Here's your Week 1 Sunday/Monday Cheat Sheet


Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...

Key game-time decisions

All players questionable unless noted

Cam Newton (ribs) QB, Carolina Panthers

Newton was a full participant in Friday's practice. Coach Ron Rivera spoke optimistically, but Newton will be a true game-time decision. UPDATE: Rivera is considering holding Newton out to help him get healthy for the next 15 games, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday. Newton feels good, and players think he's ready to play, but Rivera might err on the side of caution with the star QB, per Rapoport.

Tom Brady (calf) QB, New England Patriots

Brady mysteriously missed practice Thursday and was limited Friday. We fully expect him to be fine.

Rob Gronkowski (knee) TE, New England Patriots

Gronk is back! While Bill Belichick played coy this week about the tight end playing, he's expected to suit up. UPDATE: Rapoport reports that Gronkowski is expected to see a limited number of snaps against the Dolphins.

Brian Orakpo (ankle) LB; Jordan Reed (thumb) TE, Washington Redskins

Orakpo is on the record saying he'll be ready to go. Reed participated in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He also plans to be ready. UPDATE: NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Sunday that Orakpo and Reed are a go baring a pregame set back.

Kenny Stills (quadriceps) WR -- OUT -- New Orleans Saints

The Saints downgraded Stills to out on Sunday. The positive to Stills being out is that we should see more of rookie Brandin Cooks, who has looked dynamic in a Saints jersey.

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Cecil Shorts (hamstring) WR -- OUT -- Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags downgraded Shorts to out. That means Jacksonville's receiver show is left to rookies Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson (who is listed as probable with a hamstring injury).

Michael Crabtree (calf) WR, San Francisco 49ers

Crabtree said he was good to go after missing practice Wednesday and being limited Thursday and Friday.

Terrance Williams (back) WR, Dallas Cowboys

The wideout was limited Friday, but expected to be fine.

Garrett Graham (back) TE, Houston Texans

Graham is a true game-time decision. If the starter can't go, rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz will get the nod.

Darqueze Dennard (hip) CB, Cincinnati Bengals

The first-round pick didn't practice Friday and was deemed inactive Sunday morning. The Bengals signed corner Onterio McCalebb off their practice squad Saturday.

Garrett Graham (back) TE, Houston Texans

Graham was ruled out Sunday morning ahead of the Texans' opener against the Redskins, per Albert Breer, via a team source. Rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz will start in Graham's stead.

Monday's games:

Andre Ellington (foot) RB, Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians was optimistic Ellington could play after limited participation Saturday. The Cardinals won't know until he tests the foot during warm-ups.

Antonio Gates (hamstring) TE, San Diego Chargers

Gates appeared on the injury report for the first time after practice Saturday.

Weather tracking

If it weren't for domes or retractable roofs, there'd be four more games staring down thunderstorms.*

Patriots at Dolphins -- 88 degrees / Chance of thunderstorms (44 percent)

Panthers at Buccaneers -- 88 degrees / Chance of thunderstorms (63 percent)

Colts at Broncos -- 82 degrees / Chance of thunderstorms (10 percent)
*Forecasts courtesy of Weather Underground

Three matchups to watch

Colin Kaepernick vs. Cowboys' defense

Colin Kaepernick looked terrible this preseason, However, this is no time to panic. It's never pretty when your offensive line is in flux and your starting running back barely plays. I want to see Kap get in a groove against a Cowboys defense absent of any playmakers. After departures, injuries and suspensions, Dallas is without players who accounted for 54 starts, 19 sacks, 244 tackles, 7 interceptions and 31 QB hits in 2013. If Kaepernick performs poorly Sunday, we'll revisit the panic button.

Derek Carr vs. Jets secondary

The one starting rookie quarterback is greeted by a secondary that would get made fun of on the island of misfit toys. If Carr can withstand the Rex Ryan pressure packages, he could be in for a good first outing. Imagine if Carr goes into MetLife Stadium and lights it up. Both the acute joy from Raiders fans and apocalyptic mayhem in New York would be awesome to watch. It's too bad we can't enforce an edict that the losing team in this game is required to fire its coach. Imagine the never-ending stream of zero-coverage blitzes Rex would bring if he was standing underneath the guillotine.

Cam Newton vs. Gerald McCoy

If Cam plays, we will fear for his safety throughout. The Panthers' signal caller is dynamic because of what he can do with his feet and strength. If SuperCam's powers are diminished or play-calling completely restricted he could be a sitting duck. McCoy has been dynamic in Lovie Smith's defense. He'll face a revamped Panthers offensive line and a less than mobile Newton. This might not end well for Newton.

Did you know?

General knowledge

The 48 Super Bowl winners went 39-8-1 in season openers. Eight of the last 10 Super Bowl winners won in Week 1 (including Seattle in 2013).

In 2013, eight of the 12 teams that reached the playoffs won in Week 1. Two of the four who lost fell to other playoff teams (GB lost to SF; CAR lost to SEA)

At least one team has gone from worst-to-first in its division in an NFL-record 11 straight seasons (includes teams that tied for last). 2013 Last Place Teams: Bills, Browns, Texans, Raiders, Redskins, Vikings, Buccaneers/Falcons and Rams

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

Last season, the Saints' defense showed the largest year-to-year improvement in NFL history based on total yards per game allowed. The 2013 Saints allowed 134.4 YPG fewer and 9.4 PPG fewer than 2012.

Since Mike Smith and Matt Ryan arrived in Atlanta (2008), the Falcons have lost nine of 12 games to the Saints.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

A.J. Green has 260 receptions through his first three seasons, which is the most in NFL history -- one reception more than Anquan Boldin's total over his first three seasons.

With Ray Rice on the field (since 2010), Joe Flacco enjoys a 93.8 passer rating, 61.7 completion percentage and 11 INTs (90.1/61.8/4 in 2013). Without Rice on the field, Flacco has a 79.3 passer rating, 56.1 completion percentage and 12 INTs (66.1/56.4/7 in 2013).

Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears

Stats Sammy Watkins is trying to overcome: Only two rookies have recorded 800 or more receiving yards for the Bills: Jerry Butler and Lee Evans. Only one draft pick has ever caught 50 passes in his rookie year for the Bills: Joe Cribbs, who had 52 receptions in 1980.

Matt Forte took 71.5 percent of his team's rush attempts in 2013, by far most in the NFL. He was the only player with over two-thirds of his team's rush attempts.

Washington Redskins at Houston Texans

This game between Jay Gruden and Bill O'Brien marks the first time since 2000 (Al Groh, Jets & Mike Sherman, Packers) that two first-year NFL coaches face off in Week 1.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

In 2013, Jake Locker completed 76.1 percent of passes thrown under 10 yards, the best in the NFL (min. 100 passes). (Good sign for Ken Whisenhunt's death-by-1000-paper cuts offense?)

Jamaal Charles led the Chiefs in rushes, rush yards, rush TD, receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions last season. First player to lead a team in all since Joe Cribbs in 1983 (BUF).

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Tom Brady has thrown one or fewer interceptions in 17 straight games. He has thrown more than two picks once in his last 105 games -- four picks, Week 3, 2011 at Buffalo.

During his time with Pittsburgh, Mike Wallace caught 43 percent of passes thrown 40-plus yards in his direction. However, with Miami in 2013 he caught just 17 percent of passes thrown 40-plus yards downfield.

Oakland Raiders at New York Jets

The Raiders have lost their last 13 games at 1 p.m. in the Eastern Time zone. Their last win came in 2009, Week 13 at Pittsburgh.

The Jets defense' has been trending in the wrong direction under Rex Ryan:

Jets Total Defense since 2009 (yards per game/NFL rank)
2009 252.3 1st
2010 291.5 3rd
2011 312.1 5th
2012 323.4 8th
2013 334.9 11th

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' plays per game -- something we expected would be through the roof in Chip Kelly's system -- actually went down slightly from 67.4 ppg in 2012 (under Andy Reid) to 65.9 ppg in 2013.

The Jags recorded just 31 sacks in 2013, tied for last in the NFL. It was the second straight season they've been at the bottom and finished 25th or worse in sacks in five straight seasons.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Browns have lost nine straight season openers -- tied for the longest streak in NFL history. They last won their opener with Jeff Garcia at quarterback (2004 vs BAL).

The Steelers' last division title was in 2010 (three years without winning). Since 1970, the Steelers have had just one instance where they have gone longer than three years without a division title: 1985-1991 (seven years).

Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams

The Vikings have not had a QB throw for 3,000 yards in a season since Brett Favre (4,202 yards in 2009). All 31 other teams have had at least one such passer since 2010.

Cumulatively, the Rams' receivers group has just three receiving touchdowns in 80 of their last 82 individual games:
Tavon Austin: 2 TD in last 11 games
Brian Quick: 1 TD in last 10 games
Chris Givens: 0 TD in 21 straight games
Stedman Bailey: 0 TD 16 career games
Kenny Britt: 0 TD in 13 straight games
Austin Pettis: 0 TD in 11 straight games

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

Jim Harbaugh has a 41-14-1 record including playoffs, which is the second-most wins by any coach in his first three seasons, including playoffs (George Seifert, 42-11).

No player has more game-winning drives than Tony Romo in the last three seasons (13).

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In 2013, Cam Newton completed just 20 percent of passes thrown 20-plus yards in the air, the lowest percentage in the NFL (min. 40 attempts).

Lovie Smith's teams have ranked in the top 10 in takeaways in nine of 12 seasons (includes three seasons as Rams defensive coordinator) and led the NFL in takeaways three times.

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos

The Colts went 3-0 against the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos in 2013. Those teams were a combined 38-7 against the rest of the NFL.

Only two Super Bowl losers came back to win the Super Bowl the following season. It happened in consecutive years in 1971 and 1972 (DAL, MIA). The last Super Bowl loser to make it back was the 1993 Bills.

New York Giants at Detroit Lions (Monday)

Each time LeBron James has lost in the NBA Finals, the Giants have gone on to win the Super Bowl that season:
2007: Spurs defeat LeBron's Cavaliers -- NYG win Super Bowl vs NE; 2011: Maverick's defeat LeBron's Heat -- NYG win Super Bowl vs NE; 2014: Spurs beat LeBron's Heat 4 games to 1 -- Super Bowl TBD

Matthew Stafford completed 32 percent of his throws 20 or more yards downfield last season. That percentage jumps to 41 percent on deep throws in the middle of the field. (Hello, Eric Ebron.)

San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (Monday)

Chargers had only 23 three-and-out drives in 2013 (13.8% of drives) -- best in the NFL.

The Cardinals' offense has allowed one or more sacks in 51 straight games, the longest active NFL streak.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" recaps the season opener and previews every Week 1 game.