Taking a spin around the NFL to get you ready for Week 1:
The big questions
Can Adrian Peterson bounce back?
Running back Adrian Peterson signed a two-year deal with the Saints after the Vikings declined his option in February. The 32-year-old ranks third all time in rushing yards per game (95.5) among those who have played at least 100 games. However, he hasn’t been the same since Week 13 of the 2015 season.
Peterson has averaged only 3.09 yards per rush on 127 carries since that point, which ranks 56th among 58 players with at least 100 rushes. Peterson was averaging 4.91 yards per carry in the first half of the 2015 season. He went on injured reserve after just three games in 2016 with a torn meniscus. The upside for Peterson is that he won’t have to carry the load anymore in a timeshare with Mark Ingram. He’s also proved to have unprecedented ability to bounce back from injury. Peterson was named league MVP in 2012, rushing for 2,097 yards after returning from a torn ACL and MCL in just eight months.
Is Seahawks at Packers an early playoff preview?
The Seahawks (81 percent) and Packers (73 percent) have the highest chances of making the NFC playoffs, according to ESPN's Football Power Index.
Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will meet for the sixth time (including playoffs), with the Seahawks holding a 3-2 edge. However, the Seahawks haven’t won in Green Bay since 1999, and the two losses in Green Bay were the two worst regular-season losses of Wilson’s career. Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions against the Packers in their Week 14 meeting last season.
Rodgers didn’t have to face Seattle safety Earl Thomas last year (Thomas broke his tibia the previous week). Without Thomas, quarterbacks had a passer rating of 105 against the Seahawks. With him, the average passer rating was 77.9
The Packers and Seahawks have finished with the same victory total in each of the past three seasons, with the Packers making the playoffs for eight straight years. These two teams could be meeting again in the postseason, and the winner could be leading the FPI and Power Rankings heading into Week 2 after the Patriots' loss to the Chiefs.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck won’t be back for a while after offseason shoulder surgery, and neither will Teddy Bridgewater, who is still recovering from a significant knee injury that caused him to miss the 2016 season.
But there are quite a few quarterbacks who are coming back from major surgery or injuries, including Cam Newton (offseason shoulder surgery in March), Joe Flacco (missed training camp with a back injury), Marcus Mariota (fractured fibula in 2016) and Derek Carr (fractured fibula in 2016).
Carr and Mariota will face each other in their return this weekend. Carr has improved in each of his three seasons in the NFL, and his 81 career passing touchdowns are the fourth most by a quarterback in his first three seasons. He completed 63.8 percent of his passes last season for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Raiders lost the season finale, and a first-round bye without him, and were knocked out of the wild-card round of the playoffs by the Texans.
Mariota finished the season with a career-best 3,426 passing yards and 26 touchdowns (nine interceptions), but his injury ended the Titans’ playoff chances.
Numbers that matter
4: Teams that will be opening the season at home for the first time since at least 2012 -- a list that includes the Bengals, who have not opened at home since 2009.
8: Teams that have played 16 straight weeks since the NFL began scheduling bye weeks in 1990. The Dolphins-Buccaneers game Sunday was rescheduled to Week 11 (the bye week for both teams) because of Hurricane Irma. Of those eight teams, only the Patriots and Dolphins in 1992 played 16 straight because a game was moved due to weather (Hurricane Andrew).
11: Games in which Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant have been on the field together since 2014. The group has averaged 6.9 yards per play together, which would have led the NFL last season. Bryant did not play last year after being suspended for the entire season. Bell was suspended for three games last season and did not play in the season finale.
27: Quarterbacks the Browns have started since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Rookie DeShone Kizer will be the latest when he debuts against the Steelers on Sunday. The last quarterback to beat the Steelers in his first career start was Brett Favre in 1992.
245: Aaron Rodgers’ streak of regular-season pass attempts without an interception. Rodgers last threw an interception in Week 10 of the 2016 season.
What we’ll be talking about after Week 1
Do the Patriots have a problem? The Super Bowl champions came into Thursday night’s game with a perfect 8-0 record in home openers under Bill Belichick. They gave up 42 points to the Chiefs and struggled at times on offense. On first down, Tom Brady completed only 5 of 15 passes and was sacked twice. The Patriots’ Week 2 game against the Saints will go a long way in determining whether the performance was a one-game fluke.
Which rookie running back is the real deal? Most of the draft attention centered on first-round pick Christian McCaffrey and second-round picks Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon. But it was third-round pick Kareem Hunt who set the bar on Thursday night. The Chiefs rookie running back set an NFL record with 246 yards from scrimmage in his debut. Hunt rushed 17 times for 148 yards and caught five passes for 98 yards.
Is it all doom and gloom for the Jets? ESPN’s FPI predicts the Jets will win four games and have a 0.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, the worst in the NFL in both categories. The Jets traded Sheldon Richardson, one of their best players, to the Seahawks, and will start 38-year-old Josh McCown at quarterback, who has the worst Total QBR (45) over the past three seasons.