Every Wednesday, Dan Hanzus combs through the NFL Media Research Notes to share five nuggets that interest, fascinate, frighten or change him on a fundamental level. This is Adventures In Research Notes: Week 1.
You don't have to win this weekend, but yeah, you probably should
History is instructive. And history tells us that your favorite team's season will be in grave danger if they lose their opener. Since 1990, just 25 percent (OK, 24.9 percent) of teams who dropped their opener went on to make the playoffs. The difference between 1-0 and 0-1 seems minor, but the numbers simply do not back that up. My goal here is not to upset you or ground your upcoming weekend with a steady bass line of existential dread and general unease. But, you know, just remember this moment when it's December and you're furiously clicking refresh for Danny Jeremiah mock drafts that aren't gonna come.
Aaron Rodgers laughs uproariously at your piddly 'Legion of Boom'
The nadir of Aaron Rodgers' career came on Jan. 18, 2015, when the Packers blew a 12-point lead with five minutes to play in an agonizing 28-22 loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. The loss will stay with Rodgers forever, but he's had much better luck against Seattle since. The Packers have won both matchups since with Rodgers producing like his dominant self. A few qualifiers here: Both games were at Lambeau, Kam Chancellor missed the 2015 affair and Earl Thomas was injured and missed Green Bay's Week 16 blowout last December. Sunday's matchup will again be in Green Bay, but the Legion of Boom will be a full strength. Translation: Don't expect Rodgers to slice and dice with as much ease this time around.
Julio Jones better than we realized, but I always knew he was amazing
We are in a golden age of wide receivers, but it might be time to recognize that Jones exists on his own plain. Perhaps we've simply gotten used to Jones' consistent greatness, but averaging 100 yards per game for four years? That is scary production. I don't know if anyone will ever touch Jerry Rice's nearly 23,000 career receiving yards, but Jones has 7,610 in just five seasons (remember he missed 11 games in the 2013 season with a foot injury). If he keeps up this pace over the next five years, he'll find himself in the top five all-time. The gold jacket is coming.
When Julian Edelman went down with a season-ending knee injury last month, the prevailing sentiment was that the Patriots' offense would overcome. After all, the addition of Brandin Cooks had already fortified the wide receiver corps entering the season and -- lest we forget -- the Patriots hoisted another Lombardi Trophy with Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve last season. But Edelman is different.
I'm out the business of predicting the end for Brady after my #gradualdecline prediction blew up in about the most awful way possible in 2016. But don't rule out the Pats getting out of the gate slowly on offense this year. It might take time to figure this out.
A 21-year-old starting at QB for the Browns -- What could go wrong?
Truth time: This is probably not what the Browns wanted. In an ideal world, Brock Osweiler would have been competent or Cody Kessler would have shown substantial developmental progress. In either case, it would have allowed DeShone Kizer to be eased into the NFL. Instead, the kid is playing in Week 1, against the freaking Steelers of all teams, and you just have to hope a Cleveland Browns-like scenario is not ready to play out in terrifying slow motion. Good luck, young man -- I suspect you'll need it.