Welcome to "Six Points" for Week 1, a quick trip around the league with Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.
When to expect Todd Gurley
And when Lynch gets his first handoff this season, it no doubt will draw some sarcasm in the social media world given that most think Lynch should have gotten the last carry of last season -- what most assume would have been a short Super Bowl-clinching plunge.
What we won't see is the first official rushing attempt by Todd Gurley, the former Georgia running back who was the Rams' No. 10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft despite having surgery to repair an ACL last November.
Gurley won't play Sunday, but he is playing "Beast Mode" for the Rams' scout team this week while he experiences the most physical contact he has had since joining the Rams. There will be no tackling Gurley to the ground, but he will be "bumped" and "thudded" by Rams defenders. The Rams will measure Gurley's readiness for the next phase before they suit him up for real, which is expected to happen sometime in the next month if he has no setbacks.
What are the expectations for a healthy Gurley?
Rams coach Jeff Fisher talks about the "size, power and acceleration" that the rookie brings to the team. The Rams, along with other teams in the NFL, believe Gurley is the best running back prospect to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2007 draft, while Lynch went 12th to the Buffalo Bills.
The Seahawks will be content not having to deal with Gurley, whom they rated as the best player in the draft, until they meet again Dec. 27 in Seattle.
Why Miami could start strong
Looking for a team poised to jump out to a white-hot start this season? Look no further than Miami.
Five of Miami's first six games will come against teams that faced significant quarterback questions heading into training camp or have made a starting quarterback change this summer. This after the Dolphins spent big money on improving their defensive line this offseason.
Miami opens against Kirk Cousins and the Redskins before traveling to Jacksonville for a matchup versus Blake Bortles. Then the Dolphins return home for back-to-back home games against Tyrod Taylor and the Buffalo Bills before playing the Geno Smith-less, Ryan Fitzpatrick-led New York Jets. Miami then has its bye, followed by games against the Tennessee Titans -- featuring rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota -- and then Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans.
The first time Miami is scheduled to face a quarterback who has experienced sustained success at the NFL level is in Week 8, when the Dolphins play a Thursday night game at New England and Tom Brady. This schedule sets up Miami to get off to a great start, and it better take advantage. Miami's last five games are scheduled to be against Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck and Brady.
Romo, Manning assess each other before matchup
Romo holds a 9-6 regular-season edge as the winning quarterback, although Manning has a 1-0 playoff record versus the Cowboys. The Giants won in Dallas en route to their Super Bowl upset of the Patriots during the 2007 season.
Manning was the first pick of the 2004 draft. Romo went undrafted in 2003. That "status" gap has not been an impediment to both quarterbacks paying attention to the other's talent. Via text and email, here are their assessments of each other:
Manning on Romo: "Tony is a very smart player. He understands his offense very well and has a great understanding of defenses as well. But his ability to create big plays when everything breaks down is what makes him fun to watch. He has that spin move out to his left that seems to always create a big play down field."
Romo on Manning: "I think one of his greatest strengths is his ability to understand defensive personnel, and he helps coaches and teammates get to the right look. He gets them out of bad looks a lot. It's really what separates QBs. He knows the offense and defense cold before he ever steps on the field. And his toughness is unquestioned. How many games in a row has he played? I'm still waiting for him to miss one."
The consecutive-games answer to Romo's question is that Manning has played in 167 straight regular-season games since he took over as the Giants starter during his rookie season in 2004.
Eli is third on the all-time list behind brother Peyton, whose consecutive game streak of 208 games ended in 2011. The all-time leader remains Brett Favre with a remarkable 297 regular-season game streak, which is relevant to all quarterbacks, but especially Romo, who grew up in Wisconsin idolizing the former Packers great.
Inside the Browns' quarterback carousel
Cleveland hasn't won a season-opening game since 2004, a 20-3 win over the Ravens. Since then, the Browns have dropped 10 straight Week 1 games, more than double the NFL's next-longest active streak of four straight opening-day losses by the Giants. But there usually is a common thread between losing and quarterbacking. And here it is: Since rejoining the league in 1999, the Browns have started an NFL-leading 20 different quarterbacks, and Josh McCown will become the 21st when he starts Sunday against the New York Jets.
Though McCown will start this season for Cleveland, many around the league still believe Johnny Manziel will finish it, even with the elbow tendinitis he has been battling.
The tendinitis is not thought to be a serious issue, at least at this time. Manziel's arm tends to get sore -- he never has had in-season problems with it -- and according to people familiar with the injury, Browns officials are not concerned it poses any kind of threat.
Now it's up to McCown to help the Browns win and compete in the AFC North, one of football's toughest divisions. If he fails to do what the previous 20 other starting quarterbacks in Cleveland also have -- lead the team into contention for a division title -- the Browns easily could go back to Manziel later this season and maintain their league-leading average of starting more than one quarterback per season.
And if both quarterbacks struggle, Cleveland could consider using a premium pick in 2016 on another quarterback, who would become QB No. 22.
The Bucs are even younger than you realize
When Tampa Bay opens the season at home against Tennessee, the spotlight will be squarely on No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. However, a youth movement has swept through Tampa Bay's entire offense, with the Buccaneers positioned to start in Sunday's regular-season opener five players on offense who are 22 years old or younger.
This is so exceedingly rare that the Buccaneers are on the brink of becoming the first team since the NFL merger in 1970 to start the first game of the season with five players on offense 22 years or younger.
Winston will start at quarterback, along with other potential offensive starters in wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, guard Ali Marpet and offensive tackle Donovan Smith. Smith and Marpet were the two picks made directly after Winston, and they will be in charge of protecting their quarterback and the face of the Buccaneers' franchise.
There might not be a younger and more inexperienced offense in the league than Tampa Bay's. It likely means that Winston will have some strong days but others that show this offense needs time to grow and mature.
Chip Kelly's production line at WR
For all the talk about Eagles coach Chip Kelly playing fast and loose with his offensive skill talent, let the record show that in two years in the NFL, he provides those players with opportunities to produce a lot of yards, score a lot of touchdowns and, yes, make a lot of money. Look no further than the two most productive receivers under Kelly during his first two seasons as coach.
Jeremy Maclin, contrary to popular belief, was offered $9.5 million per year to remain in Philadelphia. The two sides couldn't get a deal finalized and he was off to free agency, where he landed with Kansas City to reunite with Andy Reid, the coach who drafted Maclin in 2009. Maclin signed a five-year, $55-million contract with $22.5 million guaranteed.
Maclin knows playing for Kelly was profitable for his bank account, especially coming off a missed 2013 season with a torn ACL injury. He had his best season in 2014 when he caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now compare those numbers to DeSean Jackson's final Eagles' season in 2013 -- 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Yes, it was also Jackson's most productive year.
Whereas Maclin was welcome to remain an Eagle, Jackson was unceremoniously dumped but fattened his bank account when he signed with the Redskins.
Bottom line: The Eagles expect production from their young pass catchers, and given how well players produce in Kelly's system, they'll need to keep the supply of young offensive talent coming. Production means getting paid, and the Eagles can't sign everyone. Jordan Matthews, a second-round draft choice in 2014, showed real promise in his first season with 67 catches, 872 yards and eight TDs. This year's first-round pick, Nelson Agholor, is a good bet to be among the league's most productive rookie receivers. Thankfully for Kelly and the Eagles, both of those guys will be relatively cheap -- at least compared to Maclin and Jackson -- for a few years to come.