"You put emphasis on winning the opener," says Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year last season. "It's a long season and all 16 games are important. But the opener is important because it's the start of the season."
Some clubs have excelled in openers. Some notable active NFL kickoff streaks:
• Mike Shanahan, head coach of the Denver Broncos, is 10-4 (.714) in career openers. The Broncos, who open at the Buffalo Bills, have won 13 of their past 18 openers. Denver is 30-6-1 (.824) in home openers since 1970. The Broncos, who host the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, have won seven home openers in a row, the longest current streak in the NFL.
• The Pittsburgh Steelers have won 36 openers, the most among AFC teams. The Steelers and Atlanta Falcons have each won their past four openers, the longest current winning streaks in the NFL. Both teams enter Kickoff Weekend led by a rookie head coach –- Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin and Atlanta's Bobby Petrino.
• The Arizona Cardinals open the season at San Francisco, the 18th time in the past 20 years the club has started the year on the road. The NEW YORK JETS host New England on Kickoff Weekend, just the 13th time in the team's 48-year history the club has opened at home.
• Home sweet home: The Minnesota Vikings have won 16 of their past 20 openers at home and start the season by hosting the Atlanta Falcons…the Kansas City Chiefs, who host the Vikings in Week 3, have won 13 of their past 18 home openers…the Detroit Lions, who host Minnesota in Week 2, have won 11 of their past 16 home openers…the St. Louis Rams, who host the Carolina Panthers on Kickoff Weekend, have won 10 of their past 12 openers in St. Louis…and the San Diego Chargers, who open the season hosting the Chicago Bears, have won nine of their past 14 at home.