This will be the 100th season for the NFL. It’s a yearlong celebration that would be a real drag around here if the Eagles didn’t add a Super Bowl to their trophy case a couple of years ago.
Cleaned out the notebook and came up with a few more items to pass along.
1. The NFL likes to tout that in 15 of the last 16 years at least one team has won a division after finishing last the season before. The last-place teams in 2018 and our handicap of their chances for 2019: Giants, Cardinals, Raiders, Jets (not happening); Lions, Buccaneers, Bengals (not likely); Jaguars (not impossible).
2. Roman Catholic product Will Fuller missed the second half of last season after tearing his ACL. He was held out all of the preseason but will play for Houston in the opener at New Orleans on Monday. “He’s had a good camp,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He has good chemistry with [quarterback Deshaun Watson.] He’s ready.”
3. Cardinals backup quarterback Brett Hundley on his expectations of the offense with rookie starter Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick. “Get your popcorn ready and watch,” said Hundley. “It’ll be fun.” We’ll believe it when we see it.
4. Dak Prescott is the only quarterback in the last six years to be named AP offensive rookie of the year. Murray (7-4) is favored at Parx sportsbook. He’s followed by three running backs; Oakland’s Josh Jacobs (8-1), Chicago’s David Montgomery (12-1), and the Eagles’ Miles Sanders (14-1).
5. Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic has Washington’s Jay Gruden (3-1) favored for first coach to get fired. The Giants’ Pat Shurmur is next at 6-1.
6. Trivia question: Which two players are tied with the most touchdowns scored in the 2010s decade? Hint: one player is no longer active, the other was in the news this week. Answer below.
7. Baltimore, Cincinnati, and the New York Jets play all 16 of their games outdoors. The Eagles have one game in a dome (Week 6, at Minnesota) and two under retractable roofs (Week 2, at Atlanta; Week 7, at Dallas). The Eagles are also the only team that plays road games three consecutive weeks (at Minnesota, Dallas, Buffalo, Weeks 6-8).
8. Field judge Nate Jones and umpire Terry Killens, a former linebacker at Penn State, are first-year officials and the third and fourth zebras who played in the NFL. They join back judge Steve Freeman and down judge Phil McKinnely. None of the four played for the Eagles.
9. The Super Bowl is at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Feb. 2. This particular stadium is hosting the game under its fifth different name. It was Joe Robbie Stadium in 1989 and 1995, when the Niners won it, Pro Player Stadium for Denver’s win in 1999, Dolphin Stadium for the Colts in 2007, and Sun Life Stadium in 2010 for the Saints’ victory. And who could forget when it was called Land Shark Stadium in 2009? What a joke.
10. Ages of the coaches in the NFC West. Only one is allowed to ride the bus for free: Seattle’s Pete Carroll 67, Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury 40, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan 39, L.A.’s Sean McVay 33. Carroll turns 68 on Sept. 15
11. The Raiders do not play a home game from Sept. 16 to Nov. 2, a span of 48 days. They have four road games, a trip to London, and their bye during that span.
12. Oakland will travel 40,188 miles, most among the 32 teams. The Eagles are 27th (12,374) and the Jets (7,854) are last. The Eagles take one plane trip (Miami, Week 16) in the second half of the season.
13. If Philip Rivers (208) starts the first three weeks for the Chargers, he will pass Peyton Manning (208) and Eli Manning (210) and move into second place behind Brett Favre (297) for most consecutive starts by a quarterback. Rivers is projected to pass Favre in either Week 10 or 11 – in 2024, when he’s just about to turn 43.
14. Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt had 13 sacks last year, just three fewer than prominent big brother J.J. "The only stat is that we didn’t make the playoffs,” Watt said. “That’s all that really matters.”
15. Trivia answer: Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy have scored the most touchdowns this decade with 80. Antonio Brown is right behind them at 79, followed by Dez Bryant and Marshawn Lynch with 75.
Rushing yards for McCoy, who this week was reunited with Andy Reid in Kansas City:
16. The six new head coaches are Vic Fangio (Denver), Brian Flores (Miami), Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona), Freddie Kitchens (Cleveland), Matt LaFleur (Green Bay), and Zac Taylor (Cincinnati).
17. In the previous 13 seasons of HBO’s Hard Knocks, the featured team went on to have a better record than the year before six times. They had fewer wins five times, and the same record twice. This year’s team, Oakland, was 4-12 last season.
18. The NFC East is in New England’s schedule rotation this year. Here is Tom Brady’s record against each team: Eagles (3-1 regular season, 1-1 Super Bowls), Giants (3-1, 0-2), Redskins (3-1), Cowboys (4-0).
19. The Colts’ signing of quarterback Brian Hoyer was bad news for Temple product Phillip Walker, who is again on Indy’s practice squad. Hoyer will back up starter Jacoby Brissett now that Andrew Luck has retired. Both are former backups to Tom Brady, by the way. The Colts also have Chad Kelly, who is suspended for the first two games after he was arrested last fall.
20. Walker, known as P.J. early in his time at Temple, spent the last two seasons on Indy’s practice squad. He’s hoping to be the first Owls quarterback to play an NFL game since Henry Burris started the 2002 season finale for Chicago. Burris went on to have a great career in the CFL.
» FROM THE ARCHIVES: When P.J. Walker became Philip Walker